The Christian Scholars Group

on Christian-Jewish Relations

Historical Sketch

by Alice Eckardt and Franklin Sherman

Photographs by Alice Eckardt

February 18, 2002

Beginnings: 1969-1973

Study Topics and Statements




Papers Discussed at CSG Meetings 


Guests' Topics


Beginnings: 1969-1973

In Fall 1969 the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches called into being a "Study Group on Christian-Jewish Relations" to undertake an in-depth study and consideration of topics relevant to Christian-Jewish relations both historically and currently. This was the origin of the Christian Scholars Group. The NCC quickly accepted the proposal of the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops that it co-sponsor the undertaking. This new group of Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox scholars proposed to study the broad topic "Israel: People, Land, State."

Shortly afterwards, it became clear that the Faith and Order Commission was no longer able to continue financing the group. The National Conference of Christians and Jews offered to fund half the costs of the Fall `71 meeting of the group. After the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations also was compelled to withdraw its financial support due to a reduced budget, the NCCJ paid all the costs of the April `72 meeting. Two subsequent meetings (in `72 and `73) were funded by the combined contributions of the NCCJ and the Sisters of Sion.

Following completion of its published "Statement to Our Fellow Christians" in 1973 the group determined to continue the study and discussion of the many relevant issues not then being undertaken by any ecumenical group of Christian scholars. It continues in this work to the present, though of course with many changes in membership as more than thirty years have passed. 

Claire Huchet-Bishop, Franklin Sherman, Eugene Fisher - October, 1980

Roy and Alice Eckardt - 1981




After the first four years, sponsorship of the group was assumed for a longer period by the NCCJ, followed by partial support during one year by the American Jewish Committee. From the spring of 1988 until the spring of 2002, the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies in Baltimore hosted the group's scholarly activities. Beginning in 2002, the CSG has partnered with the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College. 

Marvin Wilson, Paul van Buren, Eva Fleischner - October, 1983

Over the years, meeting places have varied greatly and the length of the sessions changed from the initial one day meetings (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.) at Cathedral House in New York City to two day meetings at various locations, and currently to two and one-half day gatherings.  A unique session was held in May 1996 when CSG (though with reduced numbers in attendance) met in Jerusalem with the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity. Papers were presented by members of both groups. One of these sessions was open to the public.


Clark Williamson, John Pawlikowski, Walter Harrelson, Isaac Rottenberg


John Townsend, Edward Flannery

October, 1988




Over time, the group's name has changed as well. It was for a while known informally as the "Israel Study Group," but at a later date it formally became the "Christian Study Group on Judaism and the Jewish People," with a subsequent slight revision to "Christian Scholars Group on Judaism and the Jewish People." It is currently titled the "Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations." 

The original group consisted of 15-20 members with Franklin H. Littell, A. Roy Eckardt, and Sr. Ann Patrick Ware as the conveners. Other members at that time were Markus Barth, Roland de Corneille, Edward Flannery, Robert Handy, Walter Harrelson, William Harter, George Lindbeck, Vincent Martin, John Oesterreicher, Bernhard Olson, John Pawlikowski, Donna Purdy, J. Coert Rylaarsdam, John Sheerin, Theodore Stylianopoulos, Leonard Swidler, Rose Thering, John Townsend, and Eberhard von Waldow. 

After the "Statement to Our Fellow Christians" was issued in 1973, some members retired from the group and others were added, including: Paul van Buren, Claire Huchet Bishop, Philip Culbertson, Alice Eckardt, Eugene Fisher, Eva Fleischner, Ursula Niebuhr, Cornelius Rijk, Abbot Leo Rudloff, and Franklin Sherman.

Over the years there were many changes as some members retired or died and new ones were added. Additional members who were added at some point in the intervening years but who are no longer with CSG included: Beverly Asbury, Robert Bennett, Bruce Bramlett, Cynthia Bronson, Ellen Charry, Rufus Cornelson, Philip Culbertson, Ellen Davis, Robert Everett, Martin Geraghty, John Kelley, Deborah McCauley, Carol Rittner, John Roth, Isaac Rottenberg, David Simpson, Gerard Sloyan, William Weiler, Don Wilcox, Robert Wilken, Marvin Wilson.


Rosann Catalano, Mary Boys, Eva Fleischner - April, 1999



Present members in addition to those continuing from earlier years are Norman Beck, Mary Boys, Rosann Catalano, Philip A. Cunningham, Celia Deutsch, Deidre Good, Michael McGarry (in absentia while at Tantur, Israel), John Merkle, Peter Pettit, Peter Phan, Jean Pierre Ruiz, R. Kendall Soulen, Joann Spillman, Joseph Tyson, and Clark Williamson.

During the late 1980s-early `90s the CSG instituted an Honorary or Associate Member status for people who had been full members but who could no longer regularly attend the regular gatherings, but that has since been discontinued.

Qualifications for membership emphasize scholarly involvement and contribution with publications in the field highly recommended, rather than simply an interest in the subject. A balance of areas of study is maintained among members, and a proximate balance of confessions.



From time to time guest lecturers have been invited to participate in one or more meetings to present papers and join in the general discussion. Among such guests have been Annette Daum, Lloyd Gaston, Marc Gellman, Gershon Greenberg, Irving Greenberg, Peter Haas, Daniel Harrington, Arthur Hertzberg, Otto Huber, Steven Kepnes, Michael Kogan, Shira Lander, David Lewis, Tzvi Marx, David Novak, Peter Ochs, Michael Pragai, and Michael Ryan. 

Deidre Good, Jean Pierre Ruiz, Peter Phan - April, 2001

Study Topics and Statements

In the years when the original topic (Israel: People, Land, State) was under consideration, a number of published articles and papers by Jewish scholars were studied, along with those of some European Christian scholars, and some of the contemporary church statements. These statements included two  1970 documents of the Catholic Church in The Netherlands and of the Protestant General Synod of The Netherlands, a World Council of Churches Consultation on the Church and the Jewish People, a 1972 text on Jerusalem by the National Council of Churches’ Board, and a statement on the Yom Kippur War issued by a group of Christians in Toronto, Canada.

Other than the 1973 "Statement to Our Fellow Christians," the CSG has as a general rule refrained from issuing its own statements dealing with current issues, however there have been a few exceptions: 

  1. In April 1974, in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, a statement entitled "A Message to Israel" expressed solidarity with the people of Israel. It was signed by twelve members and issued under the letterhead of "Israel: People, Land, State." 

  2. At the October 1974 meeting, a statement regarding the invitation of Yassir Arafat to address the United Nations was signed by twelve members. It was published with additional signatures under the name of the Institute of Human Relations, New York.

  3. A March 1985 statement expressed dismay over President Reagan's proposals to visit the Bitburg cemetery in West Germany but to exclude a visit to a concentration camp.

  4. In September 2000 a private letter expressed the CSG's concern about the Vatican document Dominus Iesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church. It was drafted at the meeting, signed by most members, and sent to Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.



While individual members have many publications, including full volumes, of which quite a number have been initially explored or subsequently discussed with fellow members at the meetings, the CSG has not undertaken any publication project in its own name. However, the group did discuss Rosemary and Herman Ruether's The Wrath of Jonah and three members' responses were published in Continuum (1,1, Autumn 1990).  

The following is a partial listing of books published by members over the years: 

  • Markus Barth, Israel and the Church; Contribution to a Dialogue Vital for Peace. John Knox Press. 

  • Norman A. Beck, Mature Christianity in the 21st Century. Expanded and revised edition. The American Interfaith Institute/World Alliance and New York: Crossroad, 1994.

  • Claire Huchet Bishop, How Catholics Look at Jews; Inquiries into Italian, Spanish, and French Teaching Materials. Paulist Press, 1974. 

  • Mary C. Boys, Jewish-Christian Dialogue: One Woman's Experience. Paulist Press, 1997.

  • Mary C. Boys, Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding. Paulist Press / Stimulus Books, 2000.

  • Philip A. Cunningham, Education for Shalom: Religion Textbooks and the Enhancement of the Catholic and Jewish Relationship. The Liturgical Press and The American Interfaith Institute, 1995.

  • Philip A. Cunningham, A Story of Shalom: The Calling of Christians and Jews by a Covenanting God. Paulist Press/Stimulus Books, 2001. 

  • Roland De Corneille, Christians and Jews; the Tragic Past and the Hopeful Future. Harper and Row, 1966.

  • Celia M. Deutsch, Lady Wisdom, Jesus, and the Sages: Metaphor and Social Context in Matthew's Gospel. Trinity Press, 1996.  

  • A. Roy Eckardt, Reclaiming the Jesus of History: Christology Today. Augsburg Fortress, 1992.

  • A. Roy Eckardt, For Righteousness' Sake: Contemporary Philosophies (Indiana University Press, 1987)

  • A. Roy Eckardt and Alice L. Eckardt, Long Night's Journey into Day: A Revised Retrospective on the Holocaust. Wayne State University Press, 1988.

  • Alice L. Eckardt and A. Roy Eckardt, Encounter with Israel: a Challenge to Conscience. Hill & Wang, 1970.

  • Alice L. Eckardt, Jerusalem: City of the Ages.  University Press of America, 1987.

  • Alice L. Eckardt, ed., Burning Memory: Times of Testing and Reckoning. Pergamon Press, 1993. 

  • Eugene J. Fisher, Faith Without Prejudice; Rebuilding Christian Attitudes Toward Judaism.  Crossroad, 1993. 

  • Eugene J. Fisher and Leon Klenicki, eds., Spiritual Pilgrimage: Texts on Jews and Judaism 1979-1995 by John Paul II. Crossroad, 1995. 

  • Edward H. Flannery, The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism. Rev. ed. A Stimulus Book.  Paulist Press, 1985.

  • Eva Fleischner and Michael Phayer, Cries in the Night: Women Who Challenged the Holocaust. Theological Book Service, 1997. 

  • Eva Fleischner, Judaism in German Christian Theology Since 1945 : Christianity and Israel Considered in Terms of Mission.  Scarecrow Press, 1975. 

  • Deirdre J. Good, Jesus the Meek King. Trinity Press, 1999. 

  • Robert T. Handy, A History of the Churches in the United States and Canada. Chelsea Publishing, 1978. 

  • Walter J. Harrelson and Randall M. Falk, Jews & Christians: A Troubled Family. Abingdon Press, 1990.

  • Walter J. Harrelson, The Ten Commandments and Human Rights. Mercer University Press, 1997. 

  • George A. Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine : Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age. Westminster/John Knox Press, 1984. 

  • Franklin H. Littell, The German Phoenix. Doubleday & Co., 1960.

  • Franklin H. Littell, The Crucifixion of the Jews (Rose Reprints of Scholarly Excellence, Vol 12). Mercer University Press, 1986.  

  • Franklin H. Littell, ed., Hyping the Holocaust: Scholars Answer Goldhagen. Cummings and Hathaway, 1997.

  • Michael B. McGarry, Christology After Auschwitz. Paulist Press, 1977. 

  • John C. Merkle, ed., Abraham Joshua Heschel: Exploring his Life and Thought. Macmillan, 1985.

  • John C. Merkle, The Genesis of Faith: The Depth Theology of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Macmillan Library, 1985. 

  • John M. Oesterreicher, The New Encounter Between Christian and Jews. Philosophical Library, 1986. 

  • Bernhard E. Olson, Faith and Prejudice: Intergroup Problems in Protestant Curricula. Yale University Press, 1963. 

  • John T. Pawlikowski, Jesus and the Theology of Israel. Liturgical Press, 1989.

  • John T. Pawlikowski and Judith H. Banki, eds. Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust: Christian and Jewish Perspectives (Bernardin Center Series). Sheed and Ward, 2002.

  • Peter C. Phan, Responses to 101 Questions on Death and Eternal Life. Paulist Press, 1997. 

  • Peter C. Phan, ed., The Asian Synod: Texts and Commentaries. Orbis Books, 2002.

  • Jean Pierre Ruiz, Ezekiel in the Apocalypse : The Transformation of Prophetic Language in Revelation 16,17-19,10. Peter Lang Publ., 1989. 

  • J. Coert Rylaarsdam, Transitions in Biblical Scholarship. University of Chicago Press, 1968. 

  • John B. Sheerin, A Practical Guide to Ecumenism. Paulist Press, 1966. 

  • Franklin Sherman, ed., Luther's Works: Christian in Society IV. Fortress Press, 1971. 

  • Franklin Sherman, The Promise of Heschel (The Promise of Theology series, ed. by Martin E. Marty).  Lippincott, 1970.

  • R. Kendall Soulen, The God of Israel and Christian Theology. Fortress Press, 1996.

  • Rose Thering, Jews, Judaism, and Catholic Education.  Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 1986. 

  • John T. Townsend, Midrash Tanhuma: Translated into English With Indices and Brief Notes: Genesis (S. Buber Recension Volume 1 Genesis).  Ktav, 1989.

  • Joseph B. Tyson, Luke, Judaism, and the Scholars: Critical Approaches to Luke-Acts. University of South Carolina Press, 1999.

  • Joseph B. Tyson, Images of Judaism in Luke-Acts. University of South Carolina Press, 1992.

  • Clark M. Williamson, A Guest in the House of Israel: Post-Holocaust Church Theology. Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993.

  • Clark M. Williamson and Ronald J. Allen. Interpreting Difficult Texts: Anti-Judaism and Christian Preaching. SCM Press and Trinity Press International, 1989.

  • Paul M. Van Buren, A Theology of the Jewish-Christian Reality: Part I, Discerning the Way (1980); Part II, A Christian Theology of the People of Israel (1983); Part III, Christ in Context (1987). New York: Seabury (Parts I and II). San Francisco: Harper & Row (Part III).


Papers Discussed at CSG Meetings 

Topics of papers written for the group and discussed at the assigned meetings have covered a wide range. The following list is almost complete:

  • "Kirchenkampf and Holocaust" (Franklin H. Littell)

  • "Catholics and Jews after 1967: A New Situation?" (Cornelius Rijk)

  • "The Two Covenants and the Dilemmas of Christology" (J. Coert Rylaarsdam)

  • "Israel’s Land Promises under the New Covenant" (John Townsend)

  • "Christ and the Christian-Jewish Dialogue: An Evaluation of Contemporary Perspectives" (John Pawlikowski)

  • "The Holocaust: Christian and Jewish Responses" (Alice L. Eckardt)

  • "A Response to J. Coert Rylaarsdam's ‘Judaism: The Christian Problem'" (John Townsend)

  • "A Liturgical Interpretation of Our Lord’s Passion in Narrative Form" (John Townsend)

  • "Antisemitism and Christian Doctrine" (Paul M. van Buren)

  • "The Resurrection and the Holocaust" (Roy Eckardt)

  • "Christian Mission to the Jews in the Light of the Bible" (Eberhard von Waldow)

  • "What Is an Adequate Post-Holocaust Theology?" (Isaac Rottenberg)

  • "Zionism: A Christian Perspective" (Edward H. Flannery)

  • "Antisemitism and Christian Doctrine" (Paul M. van Buren)

  • "Lessons of the Holocaust for Christians: A Response to a Paper by Eberhard Bethge" (Ann Patrick Ware)

  • "What Is An Adequate Post-Holocaust Theology?" (Isaac Rottenberg)

  • "The City of Jerusalem, the Jewish Law, and the Legitimation of Christianity" (Robert Wilken)

  • "Political Theology and Roman Catholicism" (John T. Pawlikowski)

  • "Political Theology and Protestantism" (Franklin Sherman)

  • "Political Theology and Judaism" (Marc Gellman)

  • "Political Theology" (Claire Huchet Bishop)

  • ""Political Power and the People of God" (A. Roy and Alice L. Eckardt )

  • "Some Considerations of Theology and Politics, of Power and Powerlessness, especially in Light of Judaism and Jewish History" (Alice L. Eckardt)

  • "The Holy Land in the Christian Tradition" (Eberhard von Waldow)

  • "Sacred Space: Ancient Synagogue and Early Church" (Robert Bennett)

  • "On Political Duty: A Farewell to Arms Limitations" (A. Roy Eckardt)

  • "The People of God and Their Witness for Peace and Disarmament in the Nuclear Age" (Eberhard von Waldow)

  • "Christ and the Christian-Jewish Dialogue" (book in progress, John Pawlikowski)

  • "The Problem of a Christian Theology of the People Israel" (Paul M. van Buren)

  • "Theology of the Jewish-Christian Reality" (preview of book, Paul M. van Buren)

  • "Jewish-Christian Feminist Dialogue: A Wholistic Vision" (Deborah McCauley and Annette Daum)

  • "A Christian Apology for Israel: A Study in the Thought of James Parkes" (Robert A. Everett)

  • "The Christian Return into History" (A. Roy Eckardt)

  • "Passion Plays" (Eva Fleischner and Celia Deutsch)

  • "The Land in Tanakh" (Walter Harrelson)

  • "Zionism, Israel, and Christian Hope" (Robert A. Everett)

  • "The Transformation of Symbols: Revelation 21:1-22:5" (Celia Deutsch)

  • "Old Wine in New Skins? A Critique of Modern Christology" (Clark M. Williamson)

  • "Christianity in the Mirror of Judaism: Some Thoughts on Christian Self-Understanding in the Light of Jewish Self-Understanding" (Franklin Sherman)

  • "Reclaiming the Matthean Vineyard Parables" (Philip Culbertson)

  • "Tikkun Olam and the Christian Quest for Social Justice: An Inquiry Into Its Application" (Robert A. Everett)

  • "Re-Thinking the Christ Within the Christian-Jewish Dialogue" (Philip Culbertson)

  • "Evangelicals, and Jews in Conversation on Scripture, Theology, and History" (Marvin Wilson)

  • "Israel, the Enlightener" (Claire Huchet Bishop)

  • "The ‘New Right': A Few Points for Discussion" (Isaac Rottenberg)

  • "The Religious Right" (John Kelley)

  • ""Vatican Notes of June 1985" (Eugene J. Fisher)

  • "The Bible, Authority, and Oral Tradition" (John Townsend)

  • "The Authority of the New Testament After the Shoah" (Clark M. Williamson)

  • "Beyond the Fate of Zero-Sum: Liberation Thinking/Praxis and the ‘Arab-Israeli Conflict'" (A. Roy Eckardt)

  • "The Origins of Antisemitism: A Study in the Thought of James Parkes" (Robert A. Everett)

  • "The Concept of Covenant in the Christian-Jewish Encounter" (Bruce Bramlett)

  • "Wisdom in Matthew: Transformation of a Symbol" (Celia Deutsch)

  • "James Parkes: A Model for Christians in the Time After the Holocaust" (Robert A. Everett)

  • "Israel: The Themes of Land and State in Teaching Christian-Jewish Relations" (Bruce Bramlett & Robert A. Everett)

  • "Toward a Christian Theology of Loyal Opposition to Israel" (Philip Culbertson)

  • "The Shoah and the Affirmation of the Resurrection" (A. Roy Eckardt)

  • "The New Testament, Antisemitism, and Christian Interpretation" (John Townsend)

  • "Our Responsibility in Keeping the Specifically Christian Scriptures the Living and Active Word of God through Sensitive Translation-Redaction" (Norman A. Beck)

  • "The Ethic, Rhetoric, and Reality of Suffering" (Alice L. Eckardt)

  • "The Historical/Eschatological Jesus as Pivot Between the Covenants" (Franklin Sherman)

  • "Jesus Christ and ‘The Great Ways of Humankind’" (A. Roy Eckardt)

  • "The Challenge of Jewish Spirituality to Christian Faith" (John Merkle)

  • "Can the Few Become the Many? Some Catholics in France Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust" (Eva Fleischner)

  • "Teaching the Christian Life: Perspectives from the Jewish-Christian Dialogue" (Mary Boys)

  • "Holocaust Questions: Some Issues for Christians and Jews Together" (John K. Roth)

  • "Jews, Christians, and the Comic Vision" (A. Roy Eckardt)

  • "Anti-Judaism in Luke-Acts and the Problem of Biblical Authority: (Joseph B. Tyson)

  • "Israel As People" (William Harter)

  • "The Jewish People and the Jewish State" (Paul M. van Buren)

  • "Roman Catholic Feminism" (Rosann Catalano)

  • "Lady Wisdom" (Celia Deutsch)

  • "Jewish Involvement in the Death of Jesus: Recent Studies by Raymond E. Brown and John Dominic Crossan" (Joseph B. Tyson)

  • "Les Cahiers Clandestins du Temoinage Chrétien and the Jews" (Eva Fleischner)

  • "Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for Jewish-Christian Relations" (Walter Harrelson)

  • "Reformation Memories: Issues Still With Us" (Alice L. Eckardt)

  • "Teaching Courage as a Virtue in a Post-Shoah Age" (Michael McGarry)

  • "The Creative Transformation of Christ Jesus Through the History of the Church" (Clark M. Williamson)

  • "Images of the Church in the New Testament" (Celia Deutsch and Joseph B. Tyson)

  • "The Quest for the Historical Gospel" (Paul M. van Buren)

  • "Views of Judaism Among Christian Feminists" (Joanne Spillman)

  • "Anti-Judaism in the Critical Study of the Gospels" (Joseph B. Tyson)

  • "Four Recent Statements by U.S. and Canadian Churches on Christian-Jewish and/or Interfaith Relations" (Franklin Sherman)

  • "The One God: Jewish and Christian Versions of Monotheism" (John Merkle)

  • "Biblical Interpretation in Rabbinic Literature and its Relation to Greek Writings of Christian Testament and Early Church" (John Townsend)

  • "Particularism and Pluralism: A Complicated Clarity" (Mary Boys)

  • "Judaism and the Catholic Seminary Curriculum" (John Pawlikowski)

  • "The Seminary Project of the ICJS" (Walter Harrelson)

  • "Revisiting Ferdinand Christian Baur" (Joseph B. Tyson)

  • "How Are the Protestant Churches Responding 50+ Years After?" (Alice L. Eckardt)

  • "Who Is the God Revealed in the Gospel?" (R. Kendall Soulen)

  • "Interpreting the ‘Old Testament’ as a ‘Shared Testament’" (Philip A. Cunningham)

  • "The Christian Calendar and the Jewish-Christian Reality" (Peter Pettit)

  • "Removing Anti-Jewish Polemic from our Christian Lectionaries: A Proposal" (Norman A. Beck)


Topics Covered by Invited Guests:

  • "Feminism and Jewish-Christian Relations " (Annette Daum)

  • "Ethics in the Post-Shoah Era" (Peter Haas)

  • "Perspectives on Oberammergau" (Otto Huber)

  • "Demythologizing the Demonic: Reconstructing Christian Narrative Ethics (Darrell Fasching)

  • "Christology and Second Temple Judaism" (Daniel Harrington)

  • "The End (Telos) of the Law in Paul as it Affects the Jewish-Christian Dialogue" (David Novak)

  • "Implications of the Unfolding of the Covenant for Judaism, Christian, and Christian-Jewish Relations" (Irving Greenberg)

  • "Jewish Feminism" (Shira Lander)

  • "Liberation Theology: Implications for Jewish-Christian Relations" (Michael A. Ryan)

  • "The Fourth Commonwealth" (Marc Gellman)

  • "Wartime Responses to the Holocaust (Hurban): Two Musar Voices in Palestine" (Gershon Greenberg)

  • "Judaism and Christian Theology" and "Pragmatic Conditions for Jewish-Christian Theological Dialogue" (Peter Ochs)

  • "Original Sin, Atonement, and Repentance in Jewish Terms" (Steven Kepnes).