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Lauren F. Winner


God of Abraham—and Saint Paul - part 2

This is the second installment in a five-part series.

Part 1 [November/December 2000], "Living by Law, Looking for Intimacy," explored what Christians can learn from the debates that divide American Jews, taking as a point of departure Samuel G. Freedman's book, Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry.

Next, part 3 will consider medieval anti-Semitism and the Eucharist (via Miri Rubin's Gentile Tales).

Part 4 will discuss German Jews, Edith Stein in particular.

Part 5 will conclude the series with Messianic Judiaism.

Christianity in Jewish Terms edited by Tikva Frymer-Kensky, David Novak, Peter Ochs, David Fox Sandmel, and Michael A. Signer, Westview Press, 256 pp.; $30

For many, "Jewish-Christian dialogue" conjures up images of earnest, well-meaning folks in the 1970s, sitting around informally over cake and coffee: Jews and Christians who want to get people together and embrace. Reconcile. Make friends. See that the Jews don't have horns or drink blood. See that the Christians aren't going to shove tracts down your throat or kill you.

Jewish-Christian dialogue, as it has proceeded in the half-century after the Shoah, has been measured, judicious, exquisitely sensitive—but even those of us with a strong stake in the outcome have found the conversation rather stale. Christianity in Jewish Terms might be the book to reinvigorate the dialogue. The volume's editors have gathered together 34 scholars, 23 Jewish and 11 Christian, to comment on ten theological themes: God, Scripture, Suffering, Redemption, and so on. Each chapter comprises three essays—a main piece by a Jewish scholar, and then two shorter responses, one by a Jewish scholar and one by a Christian.

The essays are governed by the prefatory "Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity," which first ran as a full-page ad in the New York Times. Though that statement makes historical points ("Nazism was not a Christian phenomenon") and normative assertions ("Jews and Christians ...

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