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Nostra Aetate: Transforming the Catholic-Jewish Relationship RULE Unresolved Issues

Posted: October 20, 2005

A Catholic Perspective
A Jewish Perspective
Jewish-Catholic Relationship Transformed
Unresolved Issues
Teaching Nostra Aetate
Vatican Implements Nostra Aetate
Selected Church Documents on Jews & Judaism

Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor is ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs

Where Do We Go From Here? 1

"Unresolved issues and Suggested Solutions"
By Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor

The Journey  

It has been suggested that the forty-year journey from servitude to the steppes of the Promised Land was necessary in order to forge the riff-raff 2 from Egypt (erev-rav) into a unified people (am-echad). The original journey from Egypt to Sinai to Canaan should only have taken months, but years were necessary in order to acculturate former slaves so that they might live as free people. Not only did they have to learn to throw off their shackles of forced labor, but the shackles of forced behaviors and forced thinking had to be loosed in order for the Children of Israel to take hold of the land promised by God. It took forty years to turn slaves into free men and women. It took forty years to prepare a people to take hold of their spiritual inheritance.  

And even when they entered the Land, they had still not learned all the lessons necessary to behave in accordance with all they learned in their desert wanderings. Forty years was a long time, but not enough...  

Now, we stand on the cusp of another forty- year cycle coming to an end - one that started with a shattering of shackles and full of promise. This time, too, forty years feels like a long time, but not enough.  

Forty years ago, with the promulgation of Nostra Aetate (no. 4), 3 the shackles of anti-Judaism had been thrown off, and with that, a realization that the fullness of Christianity could only be revealed when examined through the lens of the Jewish experience that birthed it. No longer could Christianity see itself as the replacement of Judaism, but that which was inextricably linked to Judaism. In order to understand itself, the Church would have to begin to understand the environment from which it came - the Laws, rituals, beliefs and traditions of the religion of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and, Jesus.  

Nostra Aetate demanded that the Church examine itself anew - not only in the negative ways that it had portrayed "the root of that good olive tree..." 4 upon which it had been grafted, but the ways in which negative images had been introduced, and what might have been lost to its own self-understanding by misreading or ignoring the culture and tradition that gave it life.  

What Nostra Aetate did do was to create the necessary atmosphere in which the beginnings of reconciliation could take place. It quieted the mistrust and enmity that had marked the bulk of the Christian-Jewish relationship. It opened the possibility of understanding the commonalities and shared mores of Judaism and Christianity.   But what it did not do is expose the differences between these two traditions in a way that they can be appreciated and discussed in the fullness of mutual validation. The journey of forty years has taken us to the edge of a Promised Land, but we have yet to enter it.  

The First Obstacle  

Having gotten over the fears of the unfamiliar, the journey of forty years has allowed Jews and Christians to become comfortable and to create a discussion that has focused on our concerns for the world around us, and the problems that beset each faith community. We have raised the issues of prejudice and anti-Semitism, global terrorism and poverty. We have addressed, in broad strokes, religious liberty and the impact of secularism. But having done all of the above, we have yet to truly confront the other, and this presents us with the first major obstacle as we move beyond the past forty years: each faith tradition must grapple with the validity of the other.  

The very act of adopting
Nostra Aetate and its inclusion in the corpus of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council is, of course, an act of validation of the Jewish experience. Certainly, there can be little question that the cessation of the teaching of super-sessionism 5 was also an act of validation. 6 What does the Church teach about the validity of Judaism after the two communities parted ways? Is the Jewish experience salvific, in and of itself? 7 

It is quite obvious that the Church recognizes the unique relationship it has with the Jewish People. That is notable in
Nostra Aetate itself, as well as in the structure of departments in the Vatican. 8

But what remains unanswered for the Jewish community, despite the absence of an explicit notion of "conversion," is what the Church believes will occur at the end of days.  

Nostra Aetate offers a deceptively simple answer, basically stating that only God knows what will happen in the end. "In company with the prophets and the same Apostle [Paul], the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all will address the Lord in a single voice and 'serve him with one accord' (Soph. 3:9; cf. Is. 66:23; Ps. 65:4; Rom. 11:11-32)."  

Meanwhile for the Jews, the time has come for the Jewish community to deal with the validity of the Christian experience - aside from grudging acknowledgement of the Church's presence in history - and even, in our history.

We must rid ourselves of the subconscious notion that the Christian enterprise has been a misguided pursuit of a false god. While acknowledging the painful history that the presence of the Church has, in large measure, helped to create, we must see the Christian community with new eyes.  

Pope Benedict XVI has articulated the responsibility of never forgetting the burden of history, 9 yet in parallel construct to the formulation of Nostra Aetate, I would like to suggest that what happened throughout our painful past 'cannot be blamed upon all Christians then living, without distinction, nor upon the Christians of today.'  

Jews must see our Christian neighbors as people of God, in pursuit of God, and desirous of doing "what is right and good in the eyes of God." 10

Certainly, as both faith traditions are informed by the story of creation, and to the extent that our own a posteriori knowledge 11 is often employed to verify that which we learn, we can assert with some surety that the Creator intended to create a diverse world - the world is filled with a multiplicity of crawling, flying, swimming, and walking living things, flora and fauna of every color and size, many exhibiting differences in gender as well. 12

All of this diversity is deemed as "Good." We verify this as we walk through life and notice the wonders of the created universe.  

The question is not if God has made room in creation for a diversity of beliefs and practices, but have we?  

We Jews and Christians must be able to feel authentic in the presence of the other and see the other as authentic as well. Ancient prejudices against the other must be loosed if we are to engage in true dialogue. But true dialogue cannot yet occur, until we address the second major obstacle: our differing hermeneutics and the differing definitions of common concepts.  

The Second Obstacle  

Despite our common patrimony, the past two millennia have found that the parting of the ways led to more than differences in ritual and emphasis. The very way we look at ourselves, the world around us and the texts that we use to frame and inform our experiences, developed separately. Who we are informs the way we approach sacred texts and literature.  

One of the revolutions that Nostra Aetate wrought - later elevated by Pope John Paul II - was the way that the Church had to relearn to read the Gospel narratives and attendant sacred writing in the New Testament in light of the authentic Jewish experience of the days of Jesus' life and the lives of his disciples. 13 

Texts that once were seen as divorced from the Jewish experience of Jesus' day, or read by Church fathers who were ignorant of the Jewish environment from which Jesus came, had to be re-examined. Some texts, which for ages were seen as evidence of early anti-Judaism, now must be read as a reflection of the forms and styles of rabbinic debate. 14  The change in tone of Paul's writings, from that of the gospel writers, must be seen against the backdrop of the community that Paul addresses 15 - and all of this must be seen in light of the diversity of the Jewish community from which Jesus came. 16 
Jesus was very much a product of his time and an active participant in the roiling debates about faith and action, redemption and salvation that were common themes of a difficult and contentious age and clime.

While it might be once seen as a desirable outcome, understanding the Jewishness of Jesus must now be seen as an imperative. It is necessary to a Christian self-understanding.  

Franz Rosensweig's notion that, while it is possible to understand oneself as a Jew absent knowledge of Christianity, it is impossible to understand oneself as a Christian absent knowledge of Judaism, must now be challenged.  

In this serious reading of the New Testament, Jewish scholars are coming to understand that one of the sole records of the debates of the Jewish community in the first and second century of the Common Era is found in the New Testament.  

If Jews are to gain an understanding of the development and flowering of the rabbinic period, evidence of who we were and who we were not -- and what we debated about - is found in this primary source. And we Jews must lose our fear of reading, and learning from, the Christian scriptures.  

At the same time, the Christian community must learn to approach the Hebrew Bible (
Pope John Paul II referred to the Hebrew Biblical canon in the Hebrew: Mikra) 17 without the typography common in Christian hermeneutics. Better, we must each learn how the other reads the text and allow for these differences when we meet the other in dialogue.  

Hermeneutics  18

When Jews interpret the Bible, they study not only the written Biblical text, but also a body of classic commentaries on the Bible. These commentaries are called the "Oral Torah" because although they were not part of the written Torah revealed at Sinai, they are seen as sacred revealed teachings that complement the written revelation and guide interpretation.  

The Oral Torah includes several genres of commentaries, including: targum, interpretive translation in Aramaic, the "street language" of the early rabbinic period; the Midrash, compilations of exegetical material, often filling in lacunae (holes) in the Biblical text, or expanding and explaining difficult Biblical passages; the Mishnah and Talmud, legal and homiletic material which expand Biblical principles, laws and other textual material; the Meforshim, the commentaries of various rabbis through the ages. Taken together, the written and the oral Torah make up the corpus of Jewish law and lore.  

The acronym PARDES, which means "orchard" or "garden," demonstrates the multiple levels of meaning on which the Rabbis studied the Bible in these texts:
* p'shat, the simple or plain reading;
* remez, the hint: to what other texts or information does the text refer;
* drash, explication - how have the rabbis expanded the text to fill in gaps;
* sod, the secret or mystical meaning.  

An example of this process might be in its application to Exodus 3:1:

Now Moses , tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock into the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God

P'shat level: We are able to gather important information about Moses: he is a shepherd, he was alone with his father-in-law's flock, and he went out into the wilderness. Additionally, since Sinai is also known as the
mountain of God, there seems to be a relationship between Horeb and Sinai.  

Remez level: One might ponder the relationship between shepherding a flock of animals and shepherding people. Further, one might look at the words Horeb and Sinai and probe their meanings for various hints within the text.  

On the Drash level, the rabbis teach us (Exodus Rabbah) that Moses was tested by God through the way he tended his flock; we also learn that David was tested by the way his tending his flock. The rabbis describe the m eritorious ways that
Moses and David cared for their animals, and only then would God have them care for God's flock.  

Sod level: what are the mystical elements suggested in the text? What of the relationship between the fire of the bush and the fire atop Mt Sinai during the giving of the law? What about the relationship between fire and revelation?  

In like manner traditional Christian hermeneutics may be seen as a "drilling down" 19 from the surface or literal meaning of the text to find deeper levels of understanding. For the sake of comparison, it might be helpful to view the Christian method in parallel to the Jewish PARDES, as outlined above.  

Christians begin with an understanding of the literal meaning of the text. The next stage of deciphering a text employs Typology, which comes from the patristic period. The early Church fathers searched for "types" in the Hebrew Bible that would prefigure or be predictive of events that would occur in the New Testament. This second level also seeks out allegories that can be drawn from the text. It has been noted: "nothing in the so-called Old Testament could be properly understood without reference to Christian revelation. To quote one of the preeminent church fathers,
Augustine : "In the Old Testament the New lies hid; in the New Testament the meaning of the Old becomes clear." 20 Further, the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament to Christians) must be read through the lens of Jesus ' life and teaching, "For a Christian, the authorized interpretation of God's own words is the way Jesus obeyed them, and asks us to observe them."  21

Digging further in the text, one would look for the moral implication and instruction that can be derived from the text. Finally, on the deepest traditional level, one searches out the mystical meaning of the text. 22  

Added to the traditional Jewish and Christian structures of Biblical investigation, modernity has added its own rubrics of textual study. These various modes of analysis, often created for the analysis of literature in general, have been applied to the Biblical text.  

Both from Christian and Jewish scholars there has been a host of methods used to understand the text, among them are the Documentary theory (Julius Wellhausen 1844-1918), which assumed different authorship of parts of the Bible, often referred to as J, E, P, D, and R. Wellhausen and his followers discern differences in the writing and assign authorship based upon the names of God employed, J stands for the Yahwist who referred to God with the letters Yod-Hay-Vav-Hay; E stands for the Elohist, who referred to God as Elohim; P stands for the Priestly writer, who wrote most of Leviticus and other sections redacted into later books; D stands for the Deuteronomist, the writer of Deuteronomy and parts of Joshua; and R, the Redactor, who harmonized the various strands of text into one whole.

Archeological findings (the works of
Albright , Glueck, and others) used the discoveries of modern archeology to understand the geography, venerated objects, culture and technology of the many Biblical periods. Documents, bowls and amulets that were discovered also proved helpful to understanding the Biblical text. Literary criticism compared the many styles of writing, such as prose, poetry, narrative, liturgy, song found in the Bible.  

Form criticism demonstrates that it is possible to discern different literary forms, both within the Biblical text and in comparison to the writings of other cultures. Redaction criticism looks at how the work of an outside redactor might weave together different versions of the same or similar narrative. Deconstructionism, 23 the attempt to rid ourselves of ideologies presumed in the text and rid ourselves of the belief that any single truth can be derived from that text.  

Taken together, although there are similarities in methodology, there is one aspect that is glaringly different: the faith, experience and religious narrative of the reader.  

Traditional Jewish Biblical analysis takes the text and reads it through the lens, experience and narrative of the Jewish people. In like manner, the Christian reader cannot help but employ the lens of the Christian experience and narrative - even when reading the Hebrew Bible - and here is the beginning of the problem: it is difficult to divorce ourselves from the ways that we encounter Scripture.  

Therefore, the dialogue over Scripture is already hobbled, because we bring to the table not dispassionate observers, but people of faith, ready to encounter the texts that undergird that faith. In early attempts at dialogue, there were those who glossed over the differences - looking for immediate paths of harmonization of religious ideals and values. This often led to failure as each rich religious tradition was reduced to pabulum, so that one side would not offend the other.  

The dialogue that must now evolve requires that we remain true to what our tradition teaches - without sugar-coating these notions for the other. "But dialogue when it is serious and honest does not involve merely an exchange of cheap kindness. Rather, we take each other seriously only when we maintain our different positions, when we sometimes and - in particular cases - speak in conscience." 24 Perhaps there are no greater stumbling blocks to understanding than the core concepts of Jewish and Christian faith: Covenant and
Mission .

The Obstacle Revealed: COVENANT  

Of late, much has been written about the nature of the Covenant (b'rit in Hebrew) - the relationship between God and Humanity, made specific. Was there a singular covenant, articulated once, but revised for each generation? Was there a progressive covenant - a contractual agreement that grew and expanded over time? Were there two separate covenants - one for
Israel and one for the Church? Was there one covenant, once abrogated and then re-established with a new partner? Further, how was the Hebrew word b'rit translated in Septuagint and in the Vulgate? 25 

It is quite clear that, up until now, when Jews employ the term b'rit, they mean something entirely different from what Christians might understand. And even when a Christian tries to examine the term in its "Old Testament" setting, it seems almost impossible to rid one of the typology that subconsciously is brought to bear on the text.  

In two important works,
Cardinal Kasper and then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI ) take up the issue of Covenant in the Hebrew Bible. 26 Both read and understand Covenant in a way that is entirely consistent with a Christian hermeneutic - but, I would humbly suggest, entirely inconsistent with what might be considered a Jewish understanding of the concept.  

For both, b'rit "...does not mean a two-sided contract between equal partners but a one sided commitment and stipulation whereby the powerful lord enters into a self-imposed obligation, while on the other hand obligations are imposed upon the passive recipient." 27 

In fact, relying on Christian exegetical scholarship, it is suggested that the Greek translators of the Hebrew Bible were correct when in 267 out of 287 instances of the use of the word b'rit, they translated it in such a way as to communicate the notion of one will establishing an ordinance. 28 

This makes perfect sense within a Christian reading of the text, as this sets up the transmutation of the Covenant with Israel (predicated on the imposed will of the Creator) into a "gift" (freely given out of love) which was rejected, and ultimately becomes a Covenant of relationship (revealed through the agency of Jesus). As I suggested, the reading of covenant as cited above, comes with a Christological reading, even when attempts are made to see the concept in its original environment.  

But through a Jewish lens, the contractual agreement entered into between God and
Abraham (Gen. 17: 1-27) was a bilateral agreement. 29 While Christian exegetical scholars make the parallel between the Covenant of the Old Testament and vassal agreements that were contemporaneous with Biblical culture, a Jewish hermeneutic sees the Hebrew Bible as a series of rejections of accepted practices, mores and laws of the cultures that surrounded them. 30 The b'rit finds echo in the bilateral relationship of God and Abraham recorded in the next chapter of the Book of Genesis (18:16ff) - God and Abraham debating and negotiating (as partners) over the fate of the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah. 31 Later, this style of bilateral relationship exists between Moses and God.  

Christian theologians would suggest that there are multiple covenants articulated in the Old Testament (
Paul in Romans 9 speaks in the plural) "Indeed, the Old Testament speaks of three signs of the covenant: the Sabbath, the rainbow and circumcision; these correspond to three stages of the covenant, or three covenants. The Old Testament related the covenant with Noah , with Abraham , with Jacob-Israel, the Sinai covenant, and God's covenant with David ." 32  

But from a Jewish point of view there is but one covenant between God and
Israel , reiterated, but unique and ongoing. In this bilateral agreement there are all the elements of a contract, necessary even today according to common law: intent, consideration and performance. 33 The notion of Covenant is wrapped up in the ongoing dynamic relationship between this people and this God.  

What is real and tangible for the Jewish community is the promise of covenant (explicitly, the end result of covenant for the Jews is redemption through the Land - a specific plot of land, described as stretching from "the Sea eastward, from the North towards the
Negev ). Paul makes the promise of land into a metaphor - land, to the Christian, is God's providential care for humanity: the promise of food, shelter and clothing. Covenant leads to redemption through Resurrection.  

The timelessness of the covenant, as seen through Jewish eyes, is transformed when compared to the establishment of the "New" covenant.
Paul , in 2 Corinthians describes the "Old" covenant (the Mosaic covenant) as transitory versus the "New" covenant as timeless or "eternal" (2 Cor. 13:20 ). Ultimately the question is: can there be a Christian reading of the concept of covenant that embraces and validates the Jewish understanding of b'rit? And, can there be a Jewish understanding of the Christian concept of covenant that does not require the negation, substitution or transmutation of b'rit?  

The Obstacle Revealed: MISSION  

For Jews, the notion of mission is implicit in the concept of b'rit. "Walk in My ways and be blameless"
Abraham is told in Genesis (17:1-2). In this manner, Abraham and his descendents are to be ohr l'goyim - a light (example) to the nations. Thus, adherence to the b'rit is testament to the Living and Present God. 34 Finally, explicit in the story of Creation is the notion that even when God rested and ceased the labors of worldly creation, the world was not yet complete. Since, as the text records, we human beings are created in God's image - and the only image of God in the first chapter of Genesis is "GOD-AS-CREATOR"; we were created to be creators, as well. And what are we to create? Whatever is necessary to complete the work of creation and lead God, who said at the end of the first week of creation "
V'Hinei Tov Ma'od !" (Behold, This is Really Good!), to now say, "It is Perfect." 35  

Christians see mission as explicit - it is the duty to evangelize - to share the "good news." "The word 'mission' is central in the New Testament. We cannot cancel it, and if we should try to do so, it would not help the Jewish-Christian dialogue at all. Rather, it would make the dialogue dishonest, and ultimately distort it." 36 

A Christian understanding of mission means a conversion from false gods and idols to the One True God. It is also clear that since Nostra Aetate, a mission to the Jews is anathema to true Christian witness. Therefore, one must ponder: Can a Christian speak of mission and not cause fear and concern in the heart of the Jew? Is it possible to give true Christian witness in a way that is not threatening to the Jew?  

Better, can we separate past understandings of mission (with all of its negative underpinnings) and validate the desire to reach out to the un-churched, while leaving Jews unperturbed and unafraid? One might assume that this is a "Jewish problem" but too often the old meaning of mission creeps in to the understanding of the Christian adherent.  

Thus, when Jews and Christians speak about mission, they may use the same term, but the meaning is entirely different.  

How to move forward: Lech L'Shalom (Go forth towards peace).  

The first steps forward are backward steps: we must go back and reexamine our understanding of common concepts from the point of view of the other. It is in that part of the process that we must employ the lessons of the psychologist and social scientist,
Carl R. Rogers , who suggested that we must become active listeners. 37 This involves understanding what the other is saying without passing judgment upon it at first. It also requires that the listener must verify whether or not what was heard, and repeated, accurately reflects what was said.  

This requires Christians to make sure that they accurately understand how Jews interpret key ideas, notions and concepts, without consciously or unconsciously adding a Christian interpretation. This requires Jews to investigate how Christians read Hebrew Scriptures and understand how those Scriptures might be used to explain the "
Jesus event."  

This is exceedingly difficult and it requires overcoming both the obstacle of validation and the misunderstandings that have occurred when we approach the other in dialogue without understanding the other's hermeneutic.  

The next part of our journey together is no longer about discovering the other but towards a path of peace and wholeness.  

This was the promise implicit in
Nostra Aetate , which is just another holy sign-post that God has put on our path since the signs that led us out of Gan Eden (the primordial garden). The first sign led us out, but all the rest have been pointing us back towards that place of creation and promise. hen we return, we just might be able to hear the words together, "It is not just very good - but now it is whole and complete."  


1. I recommend reading the Pontifical Biblical Commission's "The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the
Christian Bible " 2001. This important text does point out the difficulties of differing forms of exegesis. However, as Nostra Aetate has not been as widely disseminated and understood as we would have hoped, this critical document is even less known and incorporated into Christian understanding and praxis.


[1] Originally delivered at Pontifical Gregorian University, September 28, 2005, at the conference: "Nostra Aetate Today: Reflection 40 Years after its Call for a New Ear of Interreligious Relationships."

2 The favored translation of Dr. Harry M. Orlinsky z"l for the Hebrew: erev rav, the mass of people who exited Egypt – the implication of this term is that this mass was an admixture of Hebrew Slaves and others for whom Egyptian servitude held little promise.  The further implication was that this mass was not a unified people, simply Egypt's underclass.

3 Hereinafter, when Nostra Aetate is cited, it is to be understood that the section of Nostra Aetate to which we refer is section 4, specific to the relationship between the Church and the Jewish People.

4 As the Jewish community of Jesus' days is referred to in Rom. 11:17-24.

5 The classic notion that the Covenant joining God and the "stock of Abraham" was superceded by the Church.

6 As Nostra Aetate references Rom. 11:28-29 (and further "Lumen Gentium"), that God "does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues."

7 This question alone could serve as the basis for a lengthy excursis.  Then Cardinal Ratzinger's opus Dominus Iesus raised a spectre of concern – on the issue of the validity of the Jewish community's path towards salvation, there was much disagreement.  Some offered that the text implied that all paths (including the Jewish path) towards salvation were deficient save for that of the Roman Catholic Church.  Others (including this author) believed that DI did not address the question of the Jewish community.  Cardinal Ratzinger's addendum, published as "The Heritage of Abraham: The Gift of Christmas" in L'Observatore Romano, "…In the same way, let us pray that he may grant also to the Children of Israel a deeper knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth, who is their son, and the gift they have made to us.  Since we are both awaiting the final redemption, let us pray that the paths we follow may converge."  Still ambiguous?  One variation of an oft-told joke: When the Messiah comes, a Jew will be at the front of the line to query, "Excuse me, but have you been here before?"

8 The Pontifical Commission on the Religious Relations with the Jews is separate and apart from the office the deals with on-going relations with other faith communities.

9 Made in his first meeting with the representatives of the Jewish community (specifically, the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, or IJCIC) on June 9, 2005

0 Deut. 6:18

11using Kant's paradigms of knowledge, that which is experienced as opposed to a priori

12 Gen. 1:11-25

13 This is what Fr. Dr. Dennis McManus has called "The Wojtyla Revolution".  I note here, with much admiration and gratitude all that I have learned and gained from my interaction with Fr. McManus.  We have team-taught for the past two years, and each opportunity is a learning experience for me. 

[1]4 Perhaps the most obvious example is Matt. 23:13-39 – this text must be read in the context of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Matthews account has Jesus speaking the language of the prophets.

15 Paul addresses a Gentile community after rejection from the Hellenistic (Greek-speaking) Jews

[1]6 We know of at least 7 different Pharisaic sects (from Philo), a number of Sadducee sects, Zealots, Essenes, the Fourth Philosophy, the Sicarii – it could not be called a "unified Jewish community" anymore than today's Jewish community could be seen as unified.  

[1]7 This is the classical rabbinic word for the Hebrew Bible ("that which is read).  He first used this word in a meeting with representatives of IJCIC at the Holy See in 1991.

[1]8 I commend reading the Ponticial Biblical Commission's "The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible" (2001).  This important text does point out the difficulties of differing forms of exegesis – however, as Nostra Aetate has not been as widely disseminated and understood as we would have hoped, this critical document is even less known and incorporated into Christian understanding and praxis.

[1]9 Perhaps an unfortunate, but apt use of "corporate speak" or the language of the business world.  Both Jewish and Christian hermeneutics begin with what is on the surface (or literal meaning) and digs deep below the text to find additional insight and meaning.

20 Dr. Christopher Leighton, The Old and the New: Challenges of Reading Noah in the Christian Tradition, The Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies

21 Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, speech delivered in Washington, DC, 2002

22 The Report of the Bishop's Advisory Committee on Christian-Jewish Relations – Diocese of Maryland.  "Questions Frequently Asked in Christian-Jewish Dialogue."  November 5, 1992

23 Of Jacques Derrida and others – certainly feminist analysis is based upon this rubric.

24 "The Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews: A Crucial Endeavour of the Catholic Church" Walter Cardinal Kasper, delivered at Boston College, November 6, 2002

25 While there are many textual sources for the issues of translation, I would suggest that Umberto Eco's Mouse or Rat (2003) has given us a fresh look at the difficulties of translation – not just of words, but content, substance and culture.

26 Walter Cardinal Kasper, "The Relationship of the Old and New Covenant as One of the Central Issues in Jewish-Christian Dialogue" Cambridge, December 6, 2004 and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger Many Religions – One Covenant: Israel, the Church and the World, Ignatius Press, San Francisco 1999 translated by Graham Harrison from Die Vielfalt der Religionen und der Eine Bund, 1998

27 Kasper op. cit.

28 Ratzinger, pg  49 op.cit.

29 With Abraham as a surrogate for all future generations who enter into the self-same covenant upon circumcision of males.

30 For example, Akedat Yitzhak, the story of the Binding of Isaac, in Christian typology is read as prefiguring the Passion of Jesus, whereas Jews would read that story as a rejection of the practice of human sacrifice.  In this case, the fact that other cultures accepted vassal agreements demonstrated the uniqueness of the Hebrew Bible b'rit.

31 God even asks, "Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?" (Gen. 18:17)

32 Ratzinger pg. 55 op. cit.

33 Needs and desires are articulated by both parties (Abram wants an heir, God wants a people).  Offerings are made (the heifer offered in pieces, circumcision in flesh, in exchange for land, population and ultimately, Torah). Each party has responsibilities and obligations.

34 As the covenant is bilateral – there must be two partners.  Acceptance of the b'rit is acceptance of the partnership, which is acceptance of the Partner.

35 This notion is best expressed by the Kabbalists who called this "L'takayn olam b'malchut Shaddai" (To repair the world for the sake of God – an assertion that all humanity takes part in finishing the work of creation and bringing about the time of redemption).

36 Walter Cardinal Kasper, November 6, 2002 speech, op.cit.

37 Though Rogers himself first thought about entering the clergy, he shifted career-paths and became one of the most influential psychologists – in the opinion of many, second only to Freud.




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Nostra Aetate: What is it?

Nostra Aetate: 40 Years of Catholic Jewish Ties
Op-Ed by Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs
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