At BC, Scholars Affirm Christian-Jewish Ties

At BC, Scholars Affirm Christian-Jewish Ties

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Boston College was the setting earlier this month for the release by a group of Catholic and Protestant scholars of a document with far-reaching implications not only for Christian-Jewish relations, but Christian theology.


Boston College Center for Christian-Jewish Learning Executive Director Philip Cunningham speaks at a press conference held Sept. 5 in Burns Library to present a statement on Christian-Jewish relations by a group of Catholic and Protestant scholars. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
The 10-point statement composed by the Christian Scholars Group asserts an enduring saving covenant between the Jewish people and God that is not superseded by Christianity and, thus, requires a reappraisal of the traditional Christian understanding of salvation solely through Christ.

The document, released at a Sept. 5 press conference in Burns Library, also rejects the targeting of Jews for conversion to Christianity, and affirms the importance of the land of Israel to the Jewish people.

"We think it is saying things that Christians as a whole have never said before," said Christian Scholars Group Chairman Joseph Tyson, professor emeritus of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, noting the document is marked by "some reversals in Christian teaching.

"Our basic affirmation is, the God that Christians worship is the God of Israel, and this God is faithful to God's word."

Another group member, Sister Mary C. Boys, SNJM, professor of practical theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, described the revision of Christian teaching on Judaism and the Jewish people as "a central and indispensable obligation of theology in our time.

"This task is a sacred obligation," said Sister Boys, who joined two Christian Scholars Group colleagues and two Jewish rabbis in presenting the document.

One of the Jewish clergy members, Rabbi Gilbert Rosenthal of the National Council of Synagogues, hailed the statement as "heralding a new era in Christian-Jewish relations."

The statement, "A Sacred Obligation: Rethinking Christian Faith in Relation to Judaism and the Jewish People," comes weeks after a pronouncement by US Catholic bishops that the Old Testament covenant between Jews and God is eternally valid and that Jews need not convert to Christianity to be saved.

The Christian Scholars Group statement also comes two years after Jewish scholars issued "Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity," a historic document that called on Jews to reexamine their understanding of Christianity. It was as a response to "Dabru Emet" that the document released at BC on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, was conceived.

The statement is available online at: /bc_org/research/cjl/Christian_Scholars_Group/Sacred_Obligation.htm

The Christian Scholars Group, an association of Protestant and Catholic biblical scholars, historians and theologians that seeks to improve Christian-Jewish understanding, is sponsored by Boston College through the BC Center for Christian-Jewish Learning. The center's executive director, Philip Cunningham, also was present for the Sept. 5 press conference, along with Assoc. Prof. Rabbi Ruth Langer (Theology), a Judaica scholar.

 

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