Anti-Semitism and the New Testament

By Krister Stendahl
Dean of Harvard Divinity School (Emeritus); former Bishop of Stockholm

In an article in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Jon Levenson asks the question, “Are there analogues to New Testament Anti-Semitism in the Hebrew Bible?” Is there demonizing and supersessionism in the Hebrew Bible? The answer he gives is “Yes”. So we have a problem together.

The self-conscious distancing of the Christian communities from “Israel”, that is, from the majority of the Jewish people, begins  already in the New Testament, not only in its interpretations. That distancing, along with a prophetic anger, grew into glee after the fall of the temple. It grew from name-calling to contempt, pogroms, and finally Sho’ah. The Constantinian triumphalism of the fourth century can be blamed for much, but that triumphalism starts well before there was any secular power in Christianity. Triumphalist rhetoric is perhaps permissible if you do not have power, but when the power enters into the game, something goes very wrong.

So there is anti-Semitism in the New Testament. But that is not the issue. The question is what to do about it. Now, I welcome the Clarified New Testament and I welcome the Scholars Bible. But I know of no single way to get at the problem of translation. Somehow we have to develop a multifaceted approach. We have to decide whether a simple retranslation of, say, the Gospel of John is a sufficient solution to the problem. Or is a more thorough interpretive treatment of the Gospel required in order to “demagnetize” and objectify it in a historical-critical manner. This is our problem.

One could reintroduce what the King James Version forbade in its translation of 1611: A full compliment of explanatory or exegetical notes.  We need notes.  We need to say that John used the word Jew in a pejorative sense. But my basic point is that simply retranslating in order to neutralize a dangerous text does not really neutralize it. Rather one is really smuggling out the difficult sense of the text by making it appear to be less dangerous than it really is. It is as if one buried that unwanted meaning in a winter’s snow—it will inevitably appear with the thaw. Euphemism is not an option. It is important that we recognize our scripture for what it is, dangerous texts and all.

I am all for these new translation strategies, for language is the only means we have for consciousness-raising. And we are engaged in consciousness-raising, not just a bit of academic translation. Such an enterprise is both an adjurnamento4r and a confrontation, employing even jarring words to wake people up.

Another approach has been to narrow the gap between Judaism and Christianity in the New Testament. This is done to displace the tensions which are to be seen in scripture between these two groups. Hence one leans on the assertion that Pilate was the true agent of Jesus’ crucifixion — not “the Jews.” One holds that since the Passion Narrative was written within the context of the Gentile Roman empire, it was natural, but inaccurate historically, for its author(s) to have emphasized the guilt of the Jews, while deemphasizing the guilt of Pilate. We might also conclude that what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount could just as well have been said, and indeed was said, by the sages of the time. We have all engaged in this type of interpretive strategy: narrow the gap, smooth out the differences. Yet this leads to whims.

Irving Greenberg once said that he thought that Martin Buber’s understanding of Jesus was wonderful until he recognized how similar Buber’s Christianity was to his Judaism. There is no difficulty in loving oneself in the other. Leveling differences, tensions, and conflicts certainly helps us to cultivate a strategy which we find in many forms in interfaith dialogue. But the time has come for us to avoid constructing special Chrisianities in order to smooth the way for dialogues  with various other religious traditions.

The time has also come in Jewish-Christian relations, and especially with respect to our attempt to disentangle our questions concerning our mutual use of the Bible, to experience one another in  our classical religious formulations, which are not confined simply to the first century in which our communities and our relations began to take shape. We have both traveled a long way from  that point and we need to be digging at many historical and theological levels if true understanding is to be achieved. For example, Jacob  Neusner as well as others have suggested that the proper points of departure for Jewish-Christian dialogue are the doctrine of Incarnation and the state of Israel. Though I would suggest that I would prefer the Trinity and the state of Israel as the issues at the heart of the Jewish-Christian encounter, I would whole heartedly agree with the assumption underlying Neusner’s suggestion: we need to liberate ourselves from a historicism of the first century. In order to do that, it would be healthy for the words in the biblical dimension of this exchange to become more integrated as a part of a multilateral conversation within a wider historical and cultural context.

We must, in order to make such a conversation possible, avoid the most powerful impediment to the respect and understanding of the other: we must avoid triumphalism. As I said, triumphalism without power is perhaps a tolerable metaphor, but triumphalism with power is lethal. There is a highly dangerous root metaphor of adversarial strife in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. Salvation is figured as victory, the fate of the “vanquished,” problematic at best. We must ask if there are other models and metaphors. Does Christianity have to  identify itself as that which is over and against Judaism? Indeed, is this really the case? Are there models of living together instead of over and against each other that do more essential justice to both of our faiths? We must somehow modify our symbol systems so that we do not continuously engender trends of demonization and contempt.

The Importance of Lectionary Revisions in the Repudiation of the Defamatory Anti-Jewish Polemic in the New Testament

By Norman A. Beck

There are many ways in which we can responsibly repudiate the most defamatory anti- Jewish texts within our specifically Christian Scriptures without damage to our Christian theology and to the theology of the New Testament.

The first and least intrusive action we can take in the repudiation of this Christian “Teaching of Contempt” for Jews is to avoid using the most defamatory texts in our private and public devotions. The most effective way to avoid use of such texts in public workshop is to remove them from our lectionaries our lists of selections from the Scriptures to be read during the annual church year cycles, or to prepare new lectionaries in which such texts are not included. The lectionary selections have a significant impact on Christian worshippers within the confessional denominations in which they are used, and in such congregations (involving approximately 90% of all Christians) the selections from the lectionaries are the primary texts upon which sermons and homilies are constructed. Therefore, lectionary revision and the preparation of new lectionaries that are sensitive to this issue and result in a conscious reduction or elimination of the hateful anti-Jewish texts must have a high priority among us as responsible, mature Christians.

The second action, the task of education and sensitization of more than 1.8 billion Christians in hundreds of languages and nations is enormous, especially when most Christians do not want to be educated and sensitized about this issue.

The third action that we can is to sensitize and educate the relatively few persons who are making new translations of the Greek New Testament into modern vernacular languages. Here we have to reach only a few thousand persons, rather than 1.8 billion. If those who make new translations of the texts by their use of various methodologies repudiate the Christian “Teaching of Contempt” for Jews, we can be much more optimistic about progress. Perhaps at a later date I shall enter into a more extensive discussion of the education and translation actions. In this present article, however, I wish to concentrate on the importance of lectionary revisions.

According to The Revised Common Lectionary (Nashville: Abington, 1992), lectionaries have been used in the Church since the fourth century of the common era. The so-called “historic pericopes ” were a one-year cycle of texts which included defamatory anti-Jewish texts in only one place, the lengthy reading from John 18:1-19:42 used each year on Good Friday.

After the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church produced a (three-year cycle of pericopes, published in English during 1969 as the Lectionary for Mass. Because it is a three-year lectionary, it includes more texts than had been used in the “historic pericopes.” Unfortunately, numerous texts that contain defamatory anti- Jewish elements were selected. This lack of sensitivity with regard to the defamatory anti-Jewish texts was continued a few years later when the Lectionary for Mass was adapted somewhat and introduced into Lutheran use.

The denominations that were involved in the Consultation on Church Union during the 1970s and 1980s developed their own adaptation of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran three-year lectionaries, and published it in 1983 as The Common Lectionary. It features semi continuous readings in various sections of the “Old Testament” and Epistles selections.

The Common Lectionary has recently been revised and reissued as The (Revised Common Lectionary, 1992, by the Consultation on Common Texts. The Revised Common Lectionary continues the basic structure of the Lectionary for Mass, in which the Gospel selection for each occasion is the dominating text, and “Old Testament” selections are chosen from wherever they can be found to provide a parallel, a contrast, or a prediction that is perceived as “fulfilled” in the Gospel selection. This provides a Christian interpretation of texts from the Hebrew Bible, with little regard for the meanings of the texts in their original context, a pattern of interpretation established already in the early Church and apparent in many places within the New Testament. This “prophecy- fulfillment” motif has been very influential in the Christian interpretation of the “Old Testament,” contributing to the popular understanding of prophecy as “a prediction of a future event”.

The reduction or avoidance of defamatory anti-Jewish texts was not high on the agenda of those who induced The Revised Common Lectionary.  There is no significant avoidance of such texts in the 1992 publication. An important opportunity to replace the defamatory anti-Jewish texts with other texts was missed. There are many positive, constructive texts in the New Testament that proclaim Christ and provide excellent guidelines for the Christian life that are not in the three-year lectionaries that we are currently using. In order to provide a sample, a test case of what can be done, I have prepared a new four-year lectionary that I shall include as an appendix to my sensitive new translation-redaction of the New Testament from Greek to English. It is my hope that this four-year model will stimulate interest in further revisions of the lectionaries on the denominational, interdenominational and international levels, where such revisions should occur.

Norman A. Beck
Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and
Chairman of the Department of Theology and Philosophy
Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, TX

Recent History of the Oberammergau Passion Plays

By Willehad Paul Eckert

In Freising, a meeting was  called to respond to the critics of the Oberammergau Passion Plays, particularly regarding their anti-Jewish tendencies. Representatives from other Passion Plays (such as Erl in Tyrol), theologians and theater personnel participated. Reports on these days of meeting were published under the title: Passion Plays Today? The representatives at the meeting agreed that Passion Plays continue, but that the anti-Jewish tendencies be eliminated.

In Oberammergau, Hans Schweighofer undertook replacing the Daisenberger text through recourse to the 1750 Nova Passio of the Benedictine Ferdinand Rosner from Ettal, which utilized the allegories so appreciated in the baroque period. In 1977 this Nova Passio was impressively performed on the Oberammergau open air stage. This was an experimental performance for those working on the revisions. Three years prior to the regular performance of 1980, it was to serve as an opportunity for further rethinking and revision. A majority of the municipal council did not agree with these efforts of reform. Hence the 1980 presentation remained with the Daisenberger text. But these efforts at reform were not futile. In 1987, ten years afterward, the Oberammergau community producing the play published a documentation on the 1977 performance of the baroque Passion entitled: The Rosner Play. Visitors to the 1990 Oberammergau Passionsspiele also had the opportunity to see the design and the costuming of the Rosner Passion script with the German revised Daisenberger draft.

Meanwhile the History of Bavaria Publishing House planned a publication titled Listen, Behold, Weep and Love: Passion Plays in the Alpine Region, edited by Michael Henker, Eberhard Dünninger and Evamaria Brockhoff, Munich, 1990. The Rosner Passion documentation, as well as that of the Alpine Region Passion Plays, gives evidence of the seriousness with which those responsible for the plays were dealing with the charge of anti-Judaism.

Having seen the 1970 and 1990 Oberammergau performances, I am convinced that they are now attempting to avoid all anti-Jewish tendencies. This is true for the text as well as for the dramatization. Jewish prayer forms have been taken into consideration. The prayer of Jesus and his apostles at the Last Supper for Israel and the nations is particularly impressive. Preparations for the performance in the year 2000 are marked by a similar effort at reform.

There may be concern that future directors of parish theater will be less cautious. This is possible and it is necessary to be on guard. But, today the Christian sensitivity which no longer accepts reference to the charge of “deicide” in a homily also rejects similar representations in a Passion Play.

Just as the earlier Passion Plays were, regrettably, an outlet for anti-Jewish sentiment, theatrical representations of the Passion after the Shoah can and must be an occasion to develop necessary new understandings on the part of Christians.

My point of view favoring a revival of Passion Plays was reinforced by the performance during Holy Week in the square and church of Saint Laurent of Tullins, north of Grenoble. I was impressed by its careful use of text, by the spiritual atmosphere marking the performance, and by the fervor of the audience. In 1995 enthusiasm for the performance spread by word of mouth, resulting in seven sold-out showings. In 1997 there were fourteen performances before 5,500 people who were not mere spectators, but true participants. This 1997 showing involved nearly 180 actors along with approximately a hundred others who worked on costumes, sets, administration and organization.

This venture, begun by Madame and Monsieur Rosand, has resulted in great unity among the eleven parishes around Tullins.

Willehad Paul Eckert, OP
Former Catholic President, Coordinating Committee for Germany
of the Societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation
Reprinted from the SIDIC

The People of the Holy Week

Excerpted from a sermon by Pastor John T Galloway

Pontius Pilate appeared before the crowd and wondered what they wanted, and the crowd cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ When Pilate tried to  absolve himself of it the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children.” If one studies this very explosive subject, one cannot help but come to the conclusion that 2,000 years of anti-Semitism have to a great extent been borne of our misreading of our own Scripture. And not only misreading our own Scripture, but to a great extent losing the sub-stance of Jesus of Nazareth in the process.

Jesus was a Jew. The only bible that Jesus knew about was what we call the Old Testament. He never heard of a New Testament. He never heard the word “Christian.” The New Testament begins with Matthew tracing a genealogy of Jesus back to father Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. This is the lineage from which He came. In my lifetime, in the United States, Jesus, because he was Jewish, would have found it very difficult to land a job in certain American corporations. In my lifetime, Jesus of Nazareth would have found it very difficult to purchase a home in certain American neighborhoods. Even today, Jesus of Nazareth would find it almost impossible to gain membership in certain clubs.

One of the great heresies of Christianity across the years has been to deny the full humanity of Jesus. We are taught in our tradition, the right doctrine, that Jesus was fully God and fully man. If we deny the humanity of Jesus, we deny his Jewishness. But you lose the Jewishness of Jesus, you lose the humanity of Jesus, and when you lose the humanity of Jesus, you lose Jesus. Jesus breathed the air of Israel. Jesus thought in the categories of the Jewish tradition. He was psychologically and emotionally molded by a small, Jewish town, raised by a Jewish mother. One might have been given pause a half century or more ago. When a million and a half Jewish children were killed in the Holocaust, the Jewish mothers wept. We are reminded on Good Friday a Jewish mother wept at the death of her Jewish son. Someone has written, “Anti- Semitism of any kind is an act of violence against Jesus and against His people and an outright denial of everything he stood for, said and was.” And for us to take Jesus as our Lord and Savior is to have a Lord and Savior who was Jewish.

Though branded Christ-killers across the centuries, the Jews did not kill Jesus and the Bible does not say  that they did. The Romans killed Jesus. Now you cannot, as some recent writers are trying to, say that the Jews had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it; some Jews did conspire and contribute to trying to influence the Romans to do what the Romans did. But understand that crucifixion was the Roman method of  execution, carried out under Roman authority. Pontius Pilate could try to wash his hands of it and to declare his innocence, but he could not because it was ultimately his decision. And by deciding to step back and make no decision, Pontius Pilate was making a decision.

We need to understand that the language of the New Testament was written by Jews who had decided to follow Jesus. Written by Jews, sometimes writing about Jews who decided not to follow Jesus. Written at a time when it would be death to come out in print and blast the Romans. So, not unlike the Book of Revelation, there are certain things understood: You don’t write about how the Romans killed Jesus. That would be the end of you. But, really what you have in the New Testament is a family feud, when Jewish Christian writers write about the non-Christian Jews. You have Jews arguing with Jews. It’s tough for Gentiles, 2,000 years later, to appreciate the context out of which this comes. So in a pluralistic culture we have a rather prejudicial reading when we read that the Jewish leaders conspired against Jesus. You don’t need to say “the Jewish leaders”, you just say “the leaders,” because the Jews were all they had in the beginning. Now, there wasn’t a problem with that when it was written because the Jews, whether Christian or non-Christian, didn’t have any money, didn’t have any power, didn’t have any influence, didn’t have any muscle, so you’ve got a family feud among poor folks. Then around the third century some interesting things happened. Some of the Christians began to fear that the Jewish Christians might lapse back into Judaism, so then they began to say some rather harsh things about Judaism and about Jews. And at about that time, the Christian religion went uptown. It became the religion of the empire and suddenly the Christians began to get the swords and the spears and the money and the influence. We have misread our own Scripture, we have misused it and we have abused it. But you cannot read the New Testament without understanding that once we were a family. What you have here is a Jewish document of Jews talking about Jews.

Luke tells when Jesus was led out to be crucified, the Jewish people, many of them, particularly women, cried out in protest and grief and mourning. Many of the Jewish people were very supportive of Jesus. You cannot generalize about the people as a whole, because the people were not all there at one spot.

If it is Matthew’s intent that there is some curse that the Jewish people have brought on themselves, he was undoubtedly thinking of the way in which the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. If there is ever any kind of cursing or punishment, it is a short duration thing. But the Scripture’s message is crystal clear. The mercy of the Lord endures forever! The steadfast love of God endures forever. If you want the word from the Lord on this subject, He was crystal clear. And He spoke it from the cross. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) If, indeed, one harbors anti-Semitism and if one lives out the notion of vengeance against the Jewish people, one isn’t listening to Jesus. Anti-Semitism has been a terrible, terrible fact for the last 2,000 years. It may well be that one of the most important things the Christian church can be doing in a post-Holocaust world is ridding Anti-Semitism from its pulpits, from its teachings and from its life.

May the Lord have mercy upon us. I sometimes wonder what we’ve done. Amen

Dr. John T. Galloway, Pastor
Wayne Presbyterian Church
Wayne, Pennsylvania

The Importance of Lectionary Revisions in the Repudiation of the Defamatory Anti-Jewish Polemic in the New Testament By Norman A. Beck

By Norman A. Beck

There are many ways in which we can responsibly repudiate the most defamatory anti- Jewish texts within our specifically Christian Scriptures without damage to our Christian theology and to the theology of the New Testament.

The first and least intrusive action we can take in the repudiation of this Christian “Teaching of Contempt” for Jews is to avoid using the most defamatory texts in our private and public devotions. The most effective way to avoid use of such texts in public workshop is to remove them from our lectionaries our lists of selections from the Scriptures to be read during the annual church year cycles, or to prepare new lectionaries in which such texts are not included. The lectionary selections have a significant impact on Christian worshippers within the confessional denominations in which they are used, and in such congregations (involving approximately 90% of all Christians) the selections from the lectionaries are the primary texts upon which sermons and homilies are constructed. Therefore, lectionary revision and the preparation of new lectionaries that are sensitive to this issue and result in a conscious reduction or elimination of the hateful anti-Jewish texts must have a high priority among us as responsible, mature Christians.

The second action, the task of education and sensitization of more than 1.8 billion Christians in hundreds of languages and nations is enormous, especially when most Christians do not want to be educated and sensitized about this issue.

The third action that we can is to sensitize and educate the relatively few persons who are making new translations of the Greek New Testament into modern vernacular languages. Here we have to reach only a few thousand persons, rather than 1.8 billion. If those who make new translations of the texts by their use of various methodologies repudiate the Christian “Teaching of Contempt” for Jews, we can be much more optimistic about progress. Perhaps at a later date I shall enter into a more extensive discussion of the education and translation actions. In this present article, however, I wish to concentrate on the importance of lectionary revisions.

According to The Revised Common Lectionary (Nashville: Abington, 1992), lectionaries have been used in the Church since the fourth century of the common era. The so-called “historic pericopes ” were a one-year cycle of texts which included defamatory anti-Jewish texts in only one place, the lengthy reading from John 18:1-19:42 used each year on Good Friday.

After the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church produced a (three-year cycle of pericopes, published in English during 1969 as the Lectionary for Mass. Because it is a three-year lectionary, it includes more texts than had been used in the “historic pericopes.” Unfortunately, numerous texts that contain defamatory anti- Jewish elements were selected. This lack of sensitivity with regard to the defamatory anti-Jewish texts was continued a few years later when the Lectionary for Mass was adapted somewhat and introduced into Lutheran use.

The denominations that were involved in the Consultation on Church Union during the 1970s and 1980s developed their own adaptation of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran three-year lectionaries, and published it in 1983 as The Common Lectionary. It features semi continuous readings in various sections of the “Old Testament” and Epistles selections.

The Common Lectionary has recently been revised and reissued as The (Revised Common Lectionary, 1992, by the Consultation on Common Texts. The Revised Common Lectionary continues the basic structure of the Lectionary for Mass, in which the Gospel selection for each occasion is the dominating text, and “Old Testament” selections are chosen from wherever they can be found to provide a parallel, a contrast, or a prediction that is perceived as “fulfilled” in the Gospel selection. This provides a Christian interpretation of texts from the Hebrew Bible, with little regard for the meanings of the texts in their original context, a pattern of interpretation established already in the early Church and apparent in many places within the New Testament. This “prophecy- fulfillment” motif has been very influential in the Christian interpretation of the “Old Testament,” contributing to the popular understanding of prophecy as “a prediction of a future event”.

The reduction or avoidance of defamatory anti-Jewish texts was not high on the agenda of those who induced The Revised Common Lectionary.  There is no significant avoidance of such texts in the 1992 publication. An important opportunity to replace the defamatory anti-Jewish texts with other texts was missed. There are many positive, constructive texts in the New Testament that proclaim Christ and provide excellent guidelines for the Christian life that are not in the three-year lectionaries that we are currently using. In order to provide a sample, a test case of what can be done, I have prepared a new four-year lectionary that I shall include as an appendix to my sensitive new translation-redaction of the New Testament from Greek to English. It is my hope that this four-year model will stimulate interest in further revisions of the lectionaries on the denominational, interdenominational and international levels, where such revisions should occur.

Norman A. Beck
Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and
Chairman of the Department of Theology and Philosophy
Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, TX

Removing Anti-Judaism From the Pulpit

A new book edited by Howard Clark Kee and Irvin J. Borowsky
Reviewed by James F. Strange

This is an important set of essays and sermons by Christian academics and pulpiteers in two parts. The first part is comprised of eight essays devoted to a treatment of the subject. Each contributor makes specific recommendations about what can or should be done to remove anti- Judaism from Christian pulpits. Those contributing to the first part are Martin E. Marty, Cone Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Modern Christianity at the University of Chicago, John T Pawlikowski, 0.S.M., Professor of Social Ethics at the Catholic Theological Union, Clark M. Willimason, Indiana Chair of Christian Thought at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Ronald J. Allen (co-authoring with Williamson), Assistant Professor of New Testament and preaching at the same institution, Harry James Carps of the Department of Religion at Webster University in St. Louis, Robert J. Daly, SJ., Professor of Theology at Boston College, David H.C. Read, Minister Emeritus of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York, Frederick D. Holmgren, Research Professor of Old Testament at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, and Peter C. Phan, Professor and Chair of the School of Religious Studies Department of Theology at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The second is comprised of five “real” sermons which serve as examples of how one can go about being true to the gospel yet not give in to traditional anti-Judaism, even if it seems to appear in the text for the sermon. These are contributed by Carol Ann Morrow, Assistant Editor of the St. Anthony Messenger, Nancy M. Malone, 0.S.U., co-editor of Cross-Currents, Wallace M. Alston, Jr., Senior Minister of Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, Stanley Hauerwas, Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke, and William H Willimon, Dean of the Chapel at Duke and also a Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke. Hugh Anderson, Professor of New Testament Emeritus of the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, rounds out the second part with a commentary, while the conclusions are penned by Joseph Stouzenberger, though his affiliation and location are not given. Howard Clark Kee, Professor of Biblical Studies, Emeritus of Boston University wrote the introductions to the two sections, while Irvin J. Borowsky, Chairman of the American Interfaith Institute, contributed the Foreword.

In the first part the recommendations about what can be done are simple, yet profound, fundamental and difficult. If Christians as a whole actually believed in the “essential Jewishness of Christianity” (Carps, p. 46) because they heard it from their pulpits, perhaps some of the warp might be removed from the collective Christian psyche. Establishing such a belief also calls for a thorough-going educational program. Cargas also stresses the need for seminar courses in the basically theological relationship of Judaism and Christianity. He calls for finding a new terminology for “Old Testament” and “New Testament” so that Jews are not insulted. Most controversial, in some circles, is his call that preachers abandon attempts to convert Jews.

In like fashion Daly calls for the preacher to give up supersessionism or the idea that God’s covenant with God’s people is no longer operational or has been replaced by the Christian “new covenant” (p. 52). Daly’s scholarship almost sings the melody of the sermon when he says, “it is from Jesus the Jew and from his Jewishness that there comes to us all that is most sacred, most loving, most healing and most forgiving, all that is most directly promising of the eternal life of God for which we yearn.” (p. 54)

Williamson and Allen go beyond the recommendations of their book, Interpreting Difficult Texts (1989), by insisting that it is not enough to view Jesus as Jewish. Rather, “…Jesus Christ is a gift of God to the church from the unconditional love of the God of Israel…”(p. 41). Furthermore, Williamson and Allen suggest that preachers preach against the text, on the ground that “Not everything in the Bible is biblical?’ They appear to mean that this specifically refers to what one hears around Passion Sunday, Good Friday, and during Holy Week with its undigested polemics against the Jews.

The sermons are sometimes deeply moving calls to repentance for Christians’ sins against the Jews. But there are more than calls to repentance. For example, Stanley Hauerwas contributes a deeply prophetic sermon which reminds the listeners, “…the resurrection not only means that we Christians have an obligation to accept forgiveness for the Holocaust, but we must ask the Jews to forgive us.” I cannot imagine that such a statement will fall on ready ears.

Hugh Anderson contributes an analysis of his own, a response to Willimon’s sermon on the Prodigal Son. Anderson contributes his own exegesis of Romans 15:7-9 in order further to nuance the relationship of Gentile and Jew.

Joseph Stoutzenberger’s Conclusion, reviews the focus of each essay and sermon of the collection. This essay, together with Borowsky’s contribution at the beginning, The language of Religion, forms a provocative précis of what one finds in this volume, namely both a formidable program for removing anti-Judaism from the Christian pulpit and a set of examples from preachers engaged in that very task.

These insights and concerns would find support in such works of theologians as those of Darrell J. Fasching: Narrative Theology After Auschwitz: From Alienation to Ethics (Fortress, 1992), The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Apocalypse or Utopia? (SUNY Press, 1993), and The Coming of the Millennium: Good News for the Whole Human Race (Trinity Press International, 1996)

James F. Strange, Professor
Department of Religious Studies
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

Removing Anti-Judaism from the Pulpit,
The American Interfaith Institute.
Order from Continuum Publishing Co. 370 Lexington Avenue
New York, New York 10017
144 pages hardcover 6 1/4 x 9 1/4 $19.95