Peter A. CUNNINGHAM, et al., Editors, Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today. New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships. Foreword by Walter Cardinal Kasper. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011. Pp. [i]-xxxii + 302. $36.00 pb. ISBN 978-0-8028-6624-0.
Reviewed by Guy C. CARTER, Diocesan Institute, Harrisburg Catholic Diocese, P. O. Box 229, Etters, PA 17319-0229

This is the first publication of papers from the international ‘Christ and the Jewish People Consultations’ (CJPC), a symposium series flowing out of the celebration on September 25th-28th, 2005 of the fortieth anniversary of the promulgation of Nostra Aetate by the Second Vatican Council. Mandated by the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, this volume is accompanied by a foreword from the Commission’s president from 2001 to 2010, Walter Cardinal Kasper, who also headed the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity during that time. Hosting and organizing institutions of the original “Nostra Aetate Today” fortieth anniversary conference and of this round of consultations included the Cardinal Bea Center for Judaic Studies of the Pontifical Gregorian University at Rome, the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union at Chicago, the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding of Sacred Heart University at Fairfield, Connecticut, the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College, the Catholic University of Louvain and the Theology Department of Notre Dame University at South Bend, Indiana, and Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, the Institute for Jewish and Christian Studies at Goucher College in Baltimore, Xavier University in Cincinnati, the Central Committee of German Catholics, the Episcopal Academy of the Catholic Diocese of Aachen, the University of Salzburg, the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths of Saint Edmund’s College at Cambridge, Hebrew University at Jerusalem, Leo Baeck College, London and the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem. A subject index and directory of contributors is provided.

In his foreword, Cardinal Kasper traces the progress of Christian and Jewish dialog from Nostra Aetate in 1965 to Dabru Emet, an unofficial Jewish declaration on Christianity and Jewish-Christian relations issued by the National Jewish Scholars Conference in 2000, to The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, an official document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission issued in 2001.

Following an introductory essay in memory of consultation partner Michael Signer by Philip Cunningham, in which Nostra Aetate is also memorialized as a turning point for all Christian theology, the papers are grouped by twos and threes under the following flashpoints in understanding and relations between Christians and Jews: the exinanition and crucifixion of Jesus, ecclesiology and the end of supercessionism, the incarnation and the Jewish identity of Jesus, Jewish monotheism and the Holy Trinity, the Old Covenant-New Covenant dichotomy. For each set of papers by Catholic scholars, there is a Jewish response.

All of the articles and responses are of a brilliance that makes the reader wish to hear more. Two that may stand out to the Catholic reader particularly are Marc Saperstein’s response to John T. Pawlikowski’s “Historical Memory and Jewish-Christian Relations” and Mary C. Boys’ “Facing History: The Church and Its Teaching on the Death of Jesus,” and Liam Tracey’s “Affirmation of Jewish Covenantal Vitality and the Church’s Liturgical Life.” Saperstein calls on the historical memory of a Papacy in defense of the Jewish community and its religious integrity in Europe. Tracey celebrates the post-Vatican II inclusion of Old Testament pericopes as the First Reading for most of the liturgical year in the Roman rite, but points to pressure to drop this in the revised order for the Mass and to the danger of a real setback in the initiative begun by Nostra Aetate and Vatican II. Without undue digression, the second of two essays on the Jewish identity of Jesus, by Barbara U. Meyer, establishes the contemporary context of Christian insistence on this dimension of Christology in the Church’s struggle with the political theology inspired by National Socialism. Adam Gregerman’s recapitulation and response to the three essays on Trinitarian theology expounds the radical Jewish and Biblical affirmation of God as utterly and dynamically One as distinct from any simplex unitarianism. Daniel J. Harrington’s postulation of a gradual communal and institutional separation of Christianity from Judaism (based in part on the persistent existence of the Hebrew Christian Ebionites, with contemporary analogs in the movement of Jews into Christianity without abandoning observance of Torah) may astonish some who thought that the Bar Kokhba Revolt was the final moment in a whole series of partings of the way between the two Biblical communities and faiths.

This is a volume of enduring importance in the field of Jewish and Christian dialog. It ought to be considered for common reading by any dialog group that has worked its way through The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible.

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