A Story of Shalom: The Calling of Christians and Jews by a Covenanting God

Phillip Cunningham
Boston College

Date: October 10, 2001
Location: 24 Quincy Road, Boisi Center


Is it possible to retell the Christian story in a way that avoids presenting it as a triumph over and replacement of the Jewish covenant? This was the task Philip Cunningham Director of Boston College’s Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, set for himself in writing his new book, A Story of Shalom: The Calling of Christians and Jews by a Covenanting God (Paulist Press/Stimulus Books 2001). Cunningham shared his work at a lunch seminar at the Boisi Center on October 10, at which he claimed that changes in the Catholic understanding of Judaism, as represented in the Vatican II Council document Nostra Aetate, need to be realized at the practical level, specifically in the training of ministry students.

Cunningham stated that key requirements for telling the Christian story in a "Post-Supercessionist Church" include: 1) affirmation of Judaism’s continuing relationship with God and the validity of Jewish self understanding, 2) the use of historical-critical methods of scriptural interpretation, 3) operation within a contemporary historical consciousness that also respects scientific insights, especially evolutionary theory, and 4) the promotion of Christian discipleship.

One participant raised the question of whether Christian theology recognizes Jesus as Jewish. Although Cunningham believes "we’ve got a long way to go" in this regard, he noted that the recent Vatican document Dominus Iesus is promising in that it emphasizes the work of the Logos through the human person of Jesus, who is undeniably a Jew. Another questioner asked whether this retelling of the Christian narrative might have implications for Christianity’s dialogue with other faiths as well. For Cunningham, the Jewish-Christian relationship is unique, and needs to be more fully worked out before its implications for other religious dialogues can be understood.