How Not to Conduct Jewish-Christian Dialogue
One of the most remarkable cultural developments of the past half-century has been the growth of interfaith dialogue. Members of religious communities that, on principle, had long avoided communication with each other are now in regular discussions characterized by mutual respect, and the discussions not infrequently involve precisely the points of theological difference that had long precluded contact.
Among the many positive consequences of these exchanges has been a dramatic shift in the Christian teaching about Judaism. The classical view, with its roots in the New Testament, portrayed Judaism as at best a preparation for the full and final truth of the Christian Gospel. In this account, the Jews, by killing their own messiah, had become the enemies of God, and were punished accordingly throughout the generations. As the Jewish crowd cries to Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect, in the Gospel according to Matthew, “His blood be on us, and on our children.”
In this Christian understanding, what was entailed for the Jews was not only the loss of God’s favor—and thus the elevation of a new chosen people, represented by the Church—but also the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and exile from their promised land. Not that the Jews themselves were to be destroyed: on the contrary, at least from the time of Augustine in the early 5th century C.E., the continued existence of the Jews in a state of degradation was seen as proof of Christianity’s truth. “The Jews, against whom the blood of Jesus Christ calls out,” Pope Innocent III wrote in 1208, “ought not to be killed, lest the Christian people forget the Divine Law,” but “as wanderers they ought to remain upon the earth, until their countenance be filled with shame.”
As the classical Christian view would have it, Judaism had become obsolete. Its adherents, missing the meaning of their own practices, concentrated fruitlessly on external rituals at the expense of genuine faith. Seeking salvation in their own works rather than in the mystery of divine grace, Jews had become ever more deeply entangled in petty legalism and lacked the means to draw closer to the God Who had sent His only begotten son for their salvation and for the salvation of the world.
The relationship between these theological teachings and Christian treatment of the Jews over the centuries is highly complex. On the one hand, as I have suggested, the Church generally frowned on violence against the Jews. On the other hand, persistent accusation, recrimination, and defamation took their toll, often paid in blood. For a chilling instance of the link between theology and incitement, one need look no farther than Martin Luther’s pamphlet, Of the Jews and Their Lies (1543):
First, their synagogues . . . should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity. . . . Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. For they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogue. For this reason they ought to be put under one roof as in a stable, like gypsies.
There is, to be sure, a difference between what Luther advocated and what his German compatriots put into action four centuries later, under Hitler. Whereas traditional Christian theology inspired the Protestant reformer, the Nazis were motivated by modern racism: they sought not the conversion of the Jews but their unqualified annihilation, and to this end the beliefs of the intended victims were irrelevant. Nonetheless, it strains the historical imagination to claim that nearly two millennia of Christian demonization of Judaism and the Jews played no role in laying the groundwork for the Final Solution.
In the wake of the Holocaust, many Christian groups, both Catholic and Protestant, have engaged in a soul-searching reexamination of the “teaching of contempt” (in the phrase of the French historian Jules Isaac) that long dominated their thinking about the Jews. They have often done so, moreover, with the help of Jewish interlocutors. The result has been a series of statements that reverse, or at least severely limit, the classical theology. In most cases, these statements have affirmed the family connection of Judaism and Christianity, acknowledging both the Church’s indebtedness to Judaism (especially for the set of scriptures it received from the Jews) and the continuing validity of the older tradition. In some instances, apologies have been proffered for the long history of anti-Jewish persecution, including the Holocaust. Especially moving have been the images of Pope John Paul II—a successor to Innocent III and a long line of other despisers of the Jews—politely visiting the Great Synagogue of Rome and praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.
How has this change in Christian attitudes been greeted by Jews? As a political and cultural matter, needless to say, it has been warmly welcomed, if with occasional signs of wariness. But what has been slower in coming—and what many Christians, after a painful reevaluation of their own tradition, have been most eager to receive—is a considered historical and theological response. Are the regrets of Christians accepted, or do Jews think that Christianity inherently leads to anti-Semitic persecution? Will Jews acknowledge that the two communities are members of the same larger spiritual grouping, or do they see Christians as an alien group, little closer to them in belief and practice than Hindus or Buddhists?
In the early 1990′s, an interfaith center in Baltimore called the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies assembled a group of Jewish academics to answer such questions and to consider more broadly the significance of Christianity’s new openness to Judaism. From these ongoing consultations there finally emerged, late last year, “A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity,” titled Dabru Emet (“Speak the Truth,” after the words of Zechariah 8:16). Written by four highly regarded professors of Jewish studies—Tikva Frymer-Kensky of the University of Chicago, David Novak of the University of Toronto, Peter Ochs of the University of Virginia, and Michael A. Signer of the University of Notre Dame—the statement was signed by some 170 other rabbis and Jewish scholars, and published in the New York Times and several other venues. It has since attracted numerous other signatories and a great deal of attention, most of it extremely positive.
Though Dabru Emet covers a wide range of complex issues, it is not a lengthy work. After two introductory paragraphs describing the recent sea change in relations between Christians and Jews, it consists of eight theses of one sentence apiece, each of which is then followed by a short explanatory paragraph. The theses, in order, read as follows:
- Jews and Christians worship the same God.
- Jews and Christians seek authority from the same book—the Bible (what Jews call “Tanakh” and Christians call the “Old Testament”).
- Christians can respect the claim of the Jewish people upon the land of Israel.
- Jews and Christians accept the moral principles of Torah.
- Nazism was not a Christian phenomenon.
- The humanly irreconcilable difference between Jews and Christians will not be settled until God redeems the entire world as promised in Scripture.
- A new relationship between Jews and Christians will not weaken Jewish practice.
- Jews and Christians must work together for justice and peace.
As the authors and signatories of Dabru Emet acknowledge, their brief and necessarily incomplete statement is but a “first step” toward a new Jewish understanding of Christianity. Still, one may wonder how useful a start it represents.
Dabru Emet suffers from one of the great pitfalls of interfaith dialogue as it has come to be practiced over the past several decades. Given the history of religiously inspired contempt and animosity, it is inevitably tempting in such exercises to avoid any candid discussion of fundamental beliefs and to adopt instead the model of conflict resolution or diplomatic negotiation. The goal thus becomes reaching an agreement, in the manner of two countries that submit to arbitration in an effort to end longstanding tensions or of a husband and wife who go to a marriage counselor in hopes of overcoming the points of contention in their relationship. Commonalities are stressed, and differences—the reason, presumably, for entering into dialogue in the first place—are minimized, neglected, or denied altogether. Once this model is adopted, the ultimate objective becomes not just agreement but mutual affirmation; the critical judgments that the religious traditions have historically made upon each other are increasingly presented as merely the tragic fruit of prejudice and misunderstanding.
In Dabru Emet, this imperative to find common ground is perhaps most evident in the earnest and anodyne platitude with which the document concludes. “Jews and Christians,” we are told, “must work together for justice and peace”—a stand that has no doubt provoked dismay among those bent on working apart in the service of injustice and war. But the overriding need to affirm similarities infects more substantive parts of the statement as well.
Consider the finely crafted paragraph explaining the thesis that Nazism was not “a Christian phenomenon.” Here we find the forthright qualification that not only individual Christians but Christianity itself did play a role in making the Holocaust possible. At the same time, the statement recognizes that some Christians resisted the Nazis and many more have in the ensuing years repudiated the traditional anti-Semitism out of which Nazism partly grew.
The problem comes with the speculation that “If the Nazi extermination of the Jews had been fully successful, it would have turned its murderous rage more directly to Christians.” This assimilates Jews and Christians much too readily. The Nazi war against the Jews was based on race; to the murderers, whether the victims believed in Judaism in any sense was not pertinent, and people of Jewish ancestry who were altogether secular or who had converted to Christianity were sent to their deaths alongside their most observant kinsmen. For Christians without Jewish ancestors, by contrast, it was hardly difficult to avoid the genocidal scrutiny of Nazi Germany. Only those few believers who spoke out against the regime were in any danger.
In suggesting that Christians, too, were intended victims of the Holocaust, the authors of Dabru Emet falsely put them in the same boat with Jews—or, to be more precise, on the same train to Auschwitz. To say the least, this is taking the interests of interfaith solidarity too far.
If the statement is shaky on history, things go from bad to worse in those sections of it that touch on theological questions.
“Christians,” we are given to understand, “can respect the claim of the Jewish people upon the land of Israel.” The modal verb in this thesis gives a lot of wiggle room. Since many Christians do in fact respect the Jewish claim (while others do not), who would deny that they “can”?
What this assertion seemingly means to tell Christians is that they should support Israel. In particular, it applauds those who embrace the Jewish state “for reasons more profound than mere politics.” The question, however, is what those reasons are. The only one stipulated here is that “Israel was promised . . . to the Jews as the physical center of the covenant between them and God.” But what about those Christians, hardly few in number, who support Israel because they see the ingathering of the Jewish exiles as a necessary prelude to the second coming of Jesus and the conversion of all Israel to Christianity? Do the Jewish authors of Dabru Emet welcome the views of these Christians as well, or is there something deeply problematic in their theology? On this they are awkwardly silent.
The same flaw can be seen in the assertion that the fundamental disagreement between Jews and Christians “will not be settled until God redeems the entire world as promised in Scripture.” In this case, the authors simply assume that Christianity will be a participant in the events of the last days. But the two traditions have historically envisioned those events in ways that are not only different but incompatible. Why should Jews—as Jews—affirm as a matter of belief that the Church will survive until the final redemption?
The reverse question is easy for many Christians to answer. As Paul insists in the New Testament, the Jews have not been utterly rejected by God but remain “beloved because of the patriarchs [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]. For the gift and the call of God are irrevocable.” This affirmation, however, is pro-Jewish without being pro-Judaism. Its point is that God bears with the Jews despite the failure of so many of them to become Christians. “A hardening has come upon Israel,” the apostle writes, “until the full number of the Gentiles comes in [to the truth of Christianity], and thus all Israel will be saved.”
In recent years, Christians have made these ideas the basis for a positive evaluation of Judaism, and it is understandable that the authors of Dabru Emet should feel the need to reciprocate. But the relationship is not symmetrical. For classical Judaism, there is no covenant between God and the Church—no parallel, that is, to Paul’s belief in the irrevocable “call” of the Israelite patriarchs. Dabru Emet’s suggestion that the Church will survive until God finally redeems the world thus seems like a thin imitation of Christian doctrine, contrived for purposes of dialogue but without real foundation in Jewish thought.
Dabru Emet moves to only slightly more secure ground when, in another of its eight theses, it asserts that “Jews and Christians accept the moral principles of Torah.” But how many Christians ask themselves, “Are my morals in line with Torah?” They are more likely to ask, “What would Jesus do?” (hence “WWJD” on bumper stickers, T-shirts, etc.). In fact, Christianity has usually considered Jesus’ moral principles to be superior to those of the Torah, an improvement or radicalization and not just a restatement. Consider these examples from the Sermon on the Mount:
You have heard that it was said [in the Decalogue], “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you: if a man looks on a woman with lust, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” [Exodus 21:24]. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.
There is, of course, vastly more to the relationship between Christian morality and the Torah than the Sermon on the Mount indicates. And, with respect to these specific cases, we must not neglect to mention that the rabbis, too, viewed lust negatively, or that the Torah forbids vengeance and grudge-bearing. In fact, in its rabbinic interpretation (and arguably in the written Torah as well), the principle of “an eye for an eye” means monetary, not physical, compensation.
Even so, these passages show that alongside the theological debate between Christians and Jews there is a moral debate as well, and that historically, Christians have generally seen Jesus as instituting a new ethic at odds with that of the Hebrew Bible. In addition, they have not infrequently been critical of the law itself—of “commandments”—as a vehicle of the moral imagination, preferring instead love or the Spirit, what the Epistle to the Hebrews (following Jeremiah) calls laws written upon the heart. Thus, even when the substantive morality of Christians and Jews is the same, the principle of derivation often is not.
A more appropriately worded thesis in tune with Jewish sources would have invoked not the Torah as a whole but the seven commandments—prohibitions against murder, robbery, sexual immorality, etc.—that constitute the Noahide laws, the basic norms that the talmudic rabbis thought incumbent upon Jews and Gentiles alike. To the extent that Christianity promotes adherence to these commandments, a longstanding Jewish tradition maintains, it aids its believers in attaining a proper relationship with God. In rabbinic parlance, it helps them merit “a share in the world-to-come.” But, amazingly, the Noahide laws go unmentioned in Dabru Emet (unless the “moral principles of Torah” are a garbled reference to them). Even more amazing, in a statement written by Jewish theologians, is the absence of the words law and commandment themselves.
Still more fundamental is the partiality of vision that allows the statement’s authors to declare that both faiths “seek authority from the same book,” known to Jews as the “Tanakh” (a Hebrew acronym for the three sections of the Jewish Bible) and to Christians as the “Old Testament.” This awkward gloss on how the two traditions refer to the “same book” already points to the problem. Christians do not refer to the Old Testament alone as the Bible, and Jews, for their part, do not consider the New Testament to be biblical in any way.
Nor do the dissimilarities end there. The Old Testament of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches includes Jewish books that never attained canonical status in rabbinic Judaism. The order of the two collections also differs in revealing ways. In its current form, for example, the Tanakh ends with the Persian emperor Cyrus’s decree in Chronicles that Jews may return to their homeland, where God has charged Cyrus to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The Old Testament, by contrast, ends with the prophet Malachi’s prediction that God will send the prophet Elijah “before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord”—an arrangement that makes a nice bridge to John the Baptist’s heralding of Jesus in the New Testament.
Even if we assume that Jews and Christians use “the same book,” Dabru Emet still skirts essential points. For the Tanakh and the Old Testament are, in major ways, subordinate to other elements in their respective traditions. In Christianity, the true meaning of the Jewish scriptures is thought to have been revealed in and by Jesus; thus, the idea that the Jews misread their own Bible. Paul could not be more explicit:
Therefore, since we have such hope, we act very boldly and not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites could not look intently at the cessation of what was fading. Rather, their thoughts were rendered dull. . . . To this day, in fact, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed.
Paul does indeed cast his argument as an exegesis of an event in the Jewish scriptures, but he does not simply “interpret the Bible differently,” as Dabru Emet blandly puts it. Rather, he delivers a broadside against the very way the Jews approach the Bible—that is, non-christologically. The statement’s observation that “we each take away similar lessons” from our Tanakh/Old Testament, while not altogether untrue, fails to mention that on certain fundamental points, the lessons “we” take away are not only different, they are mutually exclusive.
In their paragraph about the Bible, the authors of Dabru Emet also passed up an opportunity to correct one of the most common Christian misconceptions about Judaism—namely, that the Bible is its sole authority. They could have done so by pointing to the centrality of the oral Torah, that is, the Mishnah and subsequent rabbinic teaching. Did they refrain out of the (perhaps unconscious) recognition that this would have profoundly undermined their simplistic claim that the two communities appeal to “the same book”?
As it happens, some ancient Jewish affirmations of the critical importance of the oral Torah parallel Christian claims on behalf of the Gospel:
When the Holy One blessed-be-He said to Moses [Exodus 34:27], “Write down [these commandments, for in accordance with these commandments I make a covenant with you and Israel],” Moses asked that the Mishnah be put into writing. Since the Holy One blessed-be-He foresaw that the nations of the world would translate the Torah, read it in Greek, and say, “We are Israel,” and up to this point the scales are equally balanced [between Jewish and Gentile claimants to the status of Israel], the Holy One blessed-be-He said to the nations, “You say that you are My children. What I know is that those who have My secret with them—they are My children. And what is it? It is the Mishnah [teaching] which was given orally.”
Here, the key element is not the common Scripture but that which is not shared, God’s “secret,” the means, that is, for arbitrating between rival readings of the same text.
Dabru Emet is not wrong to draw attention to common scriptures and “similar lessons.” The problem is that it reduces what is not common to mere differences of opinion—as if the two traditions make no truth claims. This easygoing relativism profoundly impedes any sophisticated understanding of the two millennia of Jewish-Christian dialogue and dispute over the meaning of Scripture. A more accurate statement would note that it is precisely the points of commonality that make disputation over the differences inevitable—at least within communities committed to the idea of religious truth and not simply to the theological equivalent of “I’m OK, you’re OK.”
Let me illustrate the point with one of the “similar lessons” that Dabru Emet thinks Jews and Christians derive from their common “Bible”: “God established a covenant with the people Israel.” That covenant is first announced to Abraham in Genesis 15, following a report that the childless future patriarch has exhibited trust in God’s unlikely promise to grant him innumerable progeny. The key verse (v. 6) reads, “And because he put his trust in the Lord, He reckoned it to his merit.” Two chapters later, God again announces the covenant with Abraham, only this time ordaining that it shall have a sign, the mandatory circumcision of Jewish males. Only several generations later is a covenant made with Israel at Mount Sinai under the leadership of Moses.
Early in his career, Paul, the “apostle to the Gentiles,” found himself confronted by Jewish followers of Jesus who insisted that non-Jews entering the new religion undergo circumcision and carry out the other commandments of the Torah. Given the example of Jesus himself, a Torah-observant Jew, this was not an unreasonable demand. In seeking to oppose it, Paul turned his exegetical genius to the chronology of covenants in the Torah.
Taking up Genesis 15:6, Paul construed it to mean that God considered Abraham righteous even before he became circumcised, and purely on the basis of his faith. Faith, that is to say, could substitute for the commandments of the Torah. In Paul’s own words at the end of his career, “It was not through the Law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith.”
At first glance, this may look like a quarrel of only peripheral relevance to Judaism, since the immediate issue concerns circumcision and Torah-observance, neither of which Judaism requires of outsiders. The rub is that, in Paul’s thinking, Abraham serves as a model not only for Gentiles or Christians but for all who wish to belong to Israel:
For not all who are of Israel are Israel, nor are they all children of Abraham because they are his descendants; but “It is through Isaac that descendants shall bear your name [Genesis 21:12].” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but that the children of the promise are counted as descendants.
Just as it is faith rather than circumcision that enables a man to attain the lofty status of Abrahamic descent, so it is faith rather than birth that determines who truly belongs to Israel.
The faith of which Paul speaks, moreover, is not some vague existential stance but faith in Jesus. This was the very point that Paul’s Jewish kinsmen, to his great disappointment and annoyance, had not accepted, preferring instead their Torah and its commandments:
What then shall we say? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have achieved it, that is, righteousness that comes from faith; but that Israel, who pursued the law of righteousness, did not attain to that law? Why not? Because they did it not by faith, but as if it could be done by works. They stumbled over the stone that causes stumbling, as it is written [Isaiah 28:16]: “Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion that will make people stumble and a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in Him shall not be put to shame.”
Abraham is today often called the common father of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Here, however, he serves a key role in advancing the quite specific claim that the Gospel has replaced the Torah (which, properly interpreted, always pointed to it) and that the Church (though Paul sometimes vacillates on this point) has replaced the Jewish people, Abraham’s natural descendants.
Not surprisingly, the traditional Jewish theology of Abraham moves in an altogether opposite direction. Two centuries before the emergence of Christianity, the idea had already appeared that Abraham observed norms only disclosed later, in the time of Moses—in other words, that he practiced Sinaitic religion even before Sinai. As the Mishnah, compiled about 200 C.E., would later put it, “We find that our father Abraham carried out the whole Torah before it had been given.” Whether by design or not, this view undercuts the Pauline use of Abraham as an object lesson in the sufficiency of faith at the expense of specific norms. In the rabbinic interpretation, the Pauline opposition between an Abrahamic and a Mosaic dispensation dissolves.
Much is at stake theologically in a dialogue grounded in these ancient sources. When, as in Dabru Emet, the two disputants are depicted as simply different and therefore out of each other’s way, everything that is at stake is made to evanesce. Elsewhere the statement affirms that “Christians know and serve God through Jesus Christ and the Christian tradition” while “Jews know and serve God through Torah and the Jewish tradition,” thereby achieving the desired comity by marking out friendly spheres of influence: Jesus Christ for the Christians, Torah for the Jews. Radically changed in the process is what both Jesus Christ and Torah have traditionally meant to those who embraced them.
Finally, at the foundation of Dabru Emet’s theology, there is the claim that “Jews and Christians worship the same God.” Historically, this view would not have met with much dissent among Christians. However much Christian orthodoxy may have deemed Jewish modes of worship to be obsolete, it early on anathematized the belief that the God of the Church was a higher (and thus different) God from that of the Jews and their scriptures.
But here—as generally in Jewish-Christian relations—asymmetry reigns, and simple reciprocity is a dangerous course. For their part, Jews have not always been convinced that Christians worship the same God. Maimonides, for example, the great Sephardic legal authority and philosopher of the 12 th century, explicitly classifies Christianity as idolatry, thus forbidding contact with Christians of the sort permitted with practitioners of other, non-idolatrous religions. Even in the medieval Ashkenazic world, where a very different view of Christianity obtained, some authorities interpreted the monotheistic affirmation of the Shema, the mandatory daily declaration of Jewish faith, as an explicit denial of the doctrine of the Trinity.
The issue is even more basic than the familiar questions of whether Jesus was the messiah and whether the Torah is still in effect or has been superseded by the Gospel: it is a question of the identity of God Himself. For traditional Christianity sees Jesus not only as a spokesman of God, in the manner of a Jewish prophet, but also and more importantly as an incarnation—the definitive and unsurpassable incarnation—of the God of Israel. In the words of the Nicene Creed (recited liturgically in Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and many Protestant churches to this day), Jesus is “true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made.”
Participants in Jewish-Christian dialogue often speak as if Jews and Christians agreed about God but disagreed about Jesus. They have forgotten that in a very real sense, orthodox Christians believe Jesus is God.
The disturbing tendency to hide from inconvenient differences that is evident throughout Dabru Emet may help to explain the defensive tone of the statement’s most curious thesis. “A new relationship between Jews and Christians,” the authors assure us, “will not weaken Jewish practice.” Given the practical and theological positions articulated in the rest of Dabru Emet, worries over the maintenance of a separate Jewish identity—worries the authors here (anxiously?) dismiss—would seem to require a more convincing response.
One need hardly be an advocate of interfaith hostility to observe that two communities that feel an instinctive repugnance toward each other are unlikely to form an amalgam, whether through acculturation or intermarriage. By the same token, communities that have largely overcome their animosity and moved to mutual respect, as Jews and Christians have done to a significant extent in the United States, must look elsewhere for such reinforcements to group identity as existed under the older and more contentious arrangement. Under any conditions, the risks are higher for the smaller community—that is, the Jews. They are especially high if Jews and Christians really do stand in the relationship described by Dabru Emet.
For the thrust of this statement is to make the two communities look as alike as two peas in a single religious pod. Both, we are told, pray to “the same God,” appeal to “the same book” (from which they “take away similar lessons”), and abide by the same “moral principles”—in fact, the “moral principles of Torah.” Moreover, both were the targets (if with a difference in chronology) of the Nazis’ “murderous rage,” and both can now appreciate God’s gift of the Land of Israel to the Jews. Although the statement mentions disagreements and asks that they be respected, it is hard to come away from it without feeling that the nearly two thousand years of Jewish-Christian disputation were based on little more than the narcissism of small differences.
Is it mere coincidence that the recent rapprochement between Jews and Christians has been accompanied by soaring rates of intermarriage, and by a striking acceptance of this demographic calamity on the part of many Jewish organizations? If, as we are now told, the commonalities between the two religions really are so basic, and so encompassing, why indeed should intermarriage, or for that matter conversion to Christianity, be resisted as strenuously as their tradition has long enjoined Jews to do?
None of this need deter anyone from “speaking the truth” about the relationship of Jews and Christians as he sees it. But for the authors and signatories of Dabru Emet to assert that their version of this truth poses no hazards to Jewish practice and identity is not just wishful thinking; it is whistling in the dark.
Dabru Emet is available online at www.icjs.org/what/njsp/dabruemet. html. For a collection of essays in support of the statement and its approach, see Christianity in Jewish Terms, edited by Frymer-Kensky, Novak, Ochs, Signer, and David Fox Sandmel (Westview Press, 438 pp., $30.00).