As a result of the renewal that has taken place in Jewish-Christian relations in the years since the Second World War, more and more Christians each year are coming to a deeper awareness of Christianity’s profound rootedness in the Jewish faith. This has involved a renewed interest in studying and praying with the Old Testament, curiosity about Jewish feasts and customs, and a recognition of Jesus’ own Jewishness.
Father John Meier, a prominent American Catholic scholar of the historical Jesus, reminds us that “from the Council of Chalcedon [AD 451] onwards, the touchstone of genuine Christian faith in Christ has been the formula ‘truly divine and truly human’. Yet it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that, in defense of the ‘truly divine,’ the ‘truly human’ has sometimes been obscured or swallowed up … To speak in Johannine terms: when the Word became flesh, the Word did not simply take on an all-purpose, generic, one-size-fits-all human nature … The Word became truly flesh insofar as the Word became truly Jewish. No true Jewishness, no true humanity.” This longstanding Christian understanding “leads to a ringing affirmation of the Jewishness of the flesh the Word assumed”.
In 1997, in an address to a colloquium studying the roots of anti-Jewish sentiment in Christian settings, Pope John Paul II himself forcefully reiterated this point: “The Scriptures are inseparable from the [Jewish] people, whose history leads us to Jesus, the promised and long-awaited Messiah … This is why those who consider the fact of Jesus’ Jewishness, and the Jewish world as His setting, as merely accidental cultural details—for which some other religious tradition could be substituted … not only are mistaken about the meaning of salvation history but, even more radically, attack the very truth of the Incarnation …”.
Because of our Christian reverence, both for the person of Jesus, and for the Scriptures which make up our Bible, the CBAC is committed to offering resources that help contemporary Catholics to understand and appreciate the unique and rich connectedness between Judaism and Christianity. We will be continue to provide materials that explore this Jewish heritage, the Jewish background of the New Testament, and the Hebrew language.
- “Righteousness” in the book of Job (by David Alcorn, diocese of Saint John, New Brunswick)
Some reflections on the consequences of Jesus’ Jewishness for us as Christian believers: On Jesus’ Jewishness
Some background on the first-century Jewish context of the Gospel of Matthew: First-century Judaism and the Gospel of Matthew
Some background on the Pharisees and their portrayal in the Gospels: Ferreting Out the Pharisees