But the document does come close to a full rejection of the concept that Christianity replaced Judaism, said Eugene Korn, director of Interfaith Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League. Since the document determines that Jewish scriptures are sacred and there is validity to Jews' wait for the Messiah, it implies that the covenant between God and the Jews is valid. That would overturn the traditional Catholic understanding of Judaism, Korn said. In addition, it is important that the document notes that the Christian Bible must be understood within a Jewish context, and cannot form the basis for anti-Semitism, Korn added.
The pope has made similar declarations over the last 10 years, but the document reaffirms that the negative discussion of Judaism in the New Testament must be understood in terms of an internal debate, not an official Christian view of Jews. Both Arian and Korn wonder how these messages will transcend the relative obscurity of the document and be disseminated to communities.
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Would developments in the dialogue between Jews and Christians be possible if not for the Holocaust? These changes have subtly occurred all over the world over the course of the last several decades. The most significant change is that Christian churches have shifted their attitude towards Jews and Judaism. It is now officially acknowledged that Jews can simply remain Jews, and that this is a valuable thing unto itself.
Of course this does not mean that everyone shares this point of view. There are many Christians who would certainly not agree with such a statement, but there is no doubt the official discourse regarding Jews has changed. Before, the general opinion was that Jews were definitely wrong, and that they should convert to Christianity. Now, the official perspective is much different. It has now been adopted not only by those heavily involved in this issue, but also by regular people, such as my students who have never heard of any official statements from any Christian or Jewish leaders , and even some Christian priests.
It has also been noticed by Jews. Naturally, this is not a black and white issue, but we can see that there has been a shift, especially in Western Europe and in the United States.
The Author and the Text
It is also noticeable in some other countries: in Australia, for example. Generally speaking, it appears in all the countries with similar cultural backgrounds. I have my doubts about some of the ideas in this book, but Connelly did. A relatively small group of theologists has managed to convince the whole community to change its perception of Jews as those who need to be convinced — either subtly or by force — to convert to Christianity.
Instead, they persuaded the community concur that it would be valuable and beneficial to all if the Jews kept their own rules and beliefs. Yes, it has been initiated by freshly converted Catholics who were raised in either Jewish or Protestant families. Connelly pays a lot of attention to these people. This shows that certain ways of thinking and certain value systems are so deeply rooted in some groups and institutions that they need a voice from outside in order to be challenged and questioned.
Only those who understand the issue deeply enough can question it.
And often it is those who joined the group from the outside, because they can identify problems no longer even noticed by the people who spent their entire lives within the framework. One of the key figures in this process was Karl Thieme. He thought that the Vatican was more likely to support the views shared by the rest of the world, and would not share the pro-German attitude favored by the Protestant community.
The situation has indeed changed dramatically in Poland, and is much different today. There are very few Protestants in Poland.
Being a minority themselves, they have developed a sensitivity to the problems of other minorities. This does, without a doubt, bring them closer to Jews. They share the experience of living in the shadow of the Catholic giant — who, if not careful enough, might seriously hurt them.
This is why Protestants and Jews seem alike in modern society.
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Another important figure was John Osterreicher, who seems to be better remembered than Karl Thieme. Osterreicher was a Czech-born Jew who lived in Germany until the war, and who then emigrated to America. At the beginning, he also believed Jews should convert, but his opinion changed over time. Even the most committed theologists, who are now considered leaders of the change in Christian teachings about Jews, wanted Jews to convert.
Sutra of Hearing the Messiah - Wikipedia
This lasted for a very long time, even after the war. Only when they began to study this issue more closely did they realize they were missing the whole point. The war was an incredibly important impulse which served as the first step to a gradual change of attitude towards Jews, but it did not cause an immediate reaction. People did not find out about the Holocaust overnight nor did they suddenly decide that their previous attitude towards Jews was wrong.
It is not enough to say that the war was a turning point. I am afraid that no one has written about this convincingly. I mean people outside of Poland, of course. In Poland, most people behaved as if the Holocaust never happened. For a short time after the war, very few artists and intellectuals spoke about how horrifying it was.
Most people remained silent, despite the sudden absence of Jews. Even the most influential people did not speak up. This statement was made in , as if there had been no Holocaust. And still, despite what happened during the war, she feared the role of Jews in the economy. This is both extraordinary and very typical of Poland.
The changes, which were, presumably, the consequence of a shocking realization what the war had been for Jews, arrived from the West.
They did not originate in Poland, even though it was in Poland that people witnessed the Holocaust first-hand. There was the famous Seelisberg Conference held in Switzerland in They also discussed the possible roots of anti-Semitism and its dire consequences. It stated that Jesus was a Jew, that his disciples were Jews, and that the calamity that met the Jews was not a consequence of their sinfulness or of their vicious nature. Back then, it was revolutionary. They feared these conclusions were too radical.
The War of the Messiah
The change that has taken place since then is astonishing: what was revolutionary in is considered obvious for most people fifty years later. However, and I must emphasize it once again, this transformation did not happen overnight. It was a series of small changes. My Catholic friends who belong to the Polish Council of Christians and Jews do not consider it a very well-known document.
I am talking about priests with knowledge of the issue.
Waiting for the Messiah - Together
It is not something that would easily be accepted by the public at large. It stems from some earlier Catholic documents, but if we look closely, we will see substantial changes were introduced. We should instead consider Christians a potential ally. Perhaps even more than just a potential one, despite all the difficult history we share that cannot be entirely forgotten.