Reflections for 12/9: Christianity and Judaism as Equal Paths?

Pawlikowski understands Kasper to say that from the Christian perspective Judaism is the only other religion to have legitimate revelation and therefore if the Jewish people continue to follow their religious tradition as they understand it they will be in line with God’s plan.  Pawlikowski sees ambiguity in the fact that Kasper continues to insist on the universality of salvation through Jesus and the consequent lack of clarity on whether or not the Jewish people need to gain salvation through Jesus.  The single covenant model says that there was one covenant made with the Jewish people at Sinai that Jesus extended to non-Jews while the double covenant model says that Jesus made a new covenant. Pawlikowski’s proposal at the end of his article does not fall into either category but rather replaces both saying that Judaism and Christianity are two paths that can be distinguished but which are not completely separate.

The Christian understanding of revelation is necessary in order to explain how God could have revealed something to the world by coming into the world as Jesus.  Revelation in general provides completeness to the Christian tradition that Greek philosophical language alone cannot provide.  The Christian perspective on incarnation and revelation has lost some of its “Jewishness” by ignoring the way these concepts are explored by Judaism and the relationship of the revelation to the Jews to Christianity.

For Boyarin incarnation is a way to explain how a God who is wholly other from the world can interact with the world and with humanity.  It is to unify the transcendence and immanence of God.  For Wyschogrod incarnation relates to God’s presence with and in the people of God.  It is not so much an abstraction but a question of how God is with a particular set of humans.

Pawlikowski argues that since Jews have access to legitimate revelation and since their path is on equal footing to the Christian path there is not a need for them to adopt Christianity.  This seems consistent with Wyschogrod’s recovery of incarnation insofar as God continues to be present among the Jewish people and to bless them.  Through these blessings their path still provides hope for salvation.  Boyarin’s recovery of incarnation is more tricky.  It would seem that if, as Boyarin contends, the controversy is in the details of God’s incarnation among humans then there is more mutual exclusivity between a view where God reveals Himself to the world through Jesus and any other method of incarnation.  With this mutual exclusivity there in turn is more of a barrier for salvation except through Jesus.

Pawlikowski’s argument seems to be consistent with Dei Verbum’s understanding that there is a role for reason (i.e. Greek philosophical language) and revelation in theological inquiry and that sometimes we overemphasize one at the expense of the other.  It also seems consistent to a certain degree with Nostra Aetate 4 in its emphasis on the unity between Christianity and Judaism and not making Judaism into something rejected by God.  I think the authors of Nostra Aetate, however, might have reservations about saying that Judaism is a path absolutely equal to Christianity as they would probably still see a need for Christ to have complete salvation.


One thought on “Reflections for 12/9: Christianity and Judaism as Equal Paths?

  1. JP, I really, really liked the points you made in the post, particularly in response to the last question about Pawlikowski’s comparisons and contrasts to Dei Verbum and Nostra Aetate. I think your point about the necessity of balance between reason and revelation or even reason in revelation is so important when we are looking at all of these texts and studying Scripture. Particularly in Theology, I don’t think we can “reason out” the mysteries of God, but, as Dei Verbum says, we can come to understand revelation by investigating “what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.” In this aspect, I completely agree that Pawlikowski seemed consistent with Dei Verbum, especially in regards to Christian necessity to look at the Old Testament and particularly the Torah in the context of those who wrote it, so that we may come to understand what the original writers intended. At the same time though, I think we can definitely recognize the contrast between Pawlikowski’s argument and Dei Verbum in that Dei Verbum states that the full revelation of God manifested in Jesus. I was wondering what you thought about that – do you think we can apply Pawlikowski’s argument to the New Testament as well, or would that not work?

    Again, awesome, awesome points, JP!


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