A Statement of Methodology: Towards a Hebraic Perspective

By David Wharton

A Summary

  1. An Introduction
    IHS has developed a statement of methodology rather than one of orthodoxy or orthopraxy. We are striving towards a Hebraic perspective; it is a dynamic journey.
  2. A Hebraic Perspective—a Relationship
    Relationships, personal meaning, individual uniqueness are of primary importance within the context of the Hebrew Bible for seeking a Hebraic perspective.
  3. The Primacy of the Hebrew Bible
    The essential working presupposition is that the Hebrew Bible is the standard for understanding and judging Judaism and Christianity for the dialogue and commonality between the two.
  4. God is there, He has spoken, there is truth
    A Hebraic perspective is seeking to understand truth. We are deeply committed to two presuppositions: first, that God has communicated in and through the Hebrew Bible; and second, there is a process of understanding this message through the history of Christianity and Judaism.
  5. Jews and Christians Worship the Same God—an Attitude in Perspective
    The approach of seeking common ground between Judaism and Christianity is encompassed within a Hebraic perspective. The same God has communicated in the message and events of the Hebrew Bible. Viewing Christianity and Judaism as having a common well, the Hebrew Bible is a spring from which to draw fresh water.
  6. The Hebraic Study Process—an Attitude of Worship
    To quote Abraham Heschel, “study is not an ordeal but an act of edification; the school is a sanctuary, not a factory; study is a form of worship… the Hebrews learned in order to revere”. Developing an awe of God is a means and way of life for a Hebraic perspective.
  7. The Academic Approaches
    For IHS, there will an emphasis on texts, within the interdisciplinary approach of the three sacred bodies of literature, making use of scholarship. Within a Hebraic perspective, both diachronic and synchronic approaches are necessary. The Hebrew Bible has a context all its own, as does the Teaching of the Sages and the Teaching of the Apostles; this must be respected, accepted, and taught accordingly.
  8. The Impact of the State of Israel
    It must constantly be remembered that both Christianity and Judaism have changed and are changing because of the cultural force of the State of Israel, which influences a Hebraic perspective.
  9. The Hebrew Language—A Fundamental Building Block
    The Hebrew language will always be an important stepping stone into a Hebraic perspective. Understanding the Hebrew language, its thought forms and culture, is a means to see beyond one’s own traditions, and to understand the Bible anew and afresh apart from one’s cultural perspective.
  10. A Team Effort
    At IHS, we believe the interdisciplinary study must be taught by a team rather than by an individual. We envision one scholar representing each of the three fields of study—the Hebrew Bible and the sacred texts of Christianity and Judaism.
  11. Identity
    While each of the three areas of study is singularly ethnos oriented, but with a common matrix that is universal, each faith community retains its unique identity.
  12. To Strive for Unity
    The sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity will be viewed along side one another, rather than one superior to, triumphant or supersessionist over the other, seeking unity, with the Hebrew Bible forming the common matrix.
  13. The Impact of the HolocaustThe process of internalizing and emotionally embracing Jewish suffering of the past is a stepping stone that is an experiential presupposition necessary for a Hebraic perspective
  14. To Dream the Impossible Dream
    While there is an element of the impossible in the task at hand, still, at this point in history, it is hoped that we can recognize the problems, overcome the difficulties and move towards an interdisciplinary study in which the truth of Hebrew Bible can be understood and regained through the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity, viewed as complementary rather than contradictory.
  15. Dynamic versus Static
    We emphasize the dynamic process while seeking to use a methodology of interdisciplinary study of these three areas, not a static statement. There is a dynamic sense of journey that must be sustained, a continuing encounter of the sacred texts of the past, with reflection on the present, and discussion with others in their present place along the way.
  16. One Must Have Character
    Lastly, there is the necessity of a high degree of character: attentiveness, tolerance, an ability to listen, and a pursuit of truth for this process. One must have love—love for the Holy One of Israel and for those who have been created in His image.

1. An Introduction

We have stated that our purpose is to creatively bring people into a life journey of a Hebraic perspective.[1] These two buzzwords ‘Hebraic perspective’ could perhaps raise more questions than provide answers.

There are many questions in life that one can strive to answer. There are many paths that one can choose to travel which lead to different destinations. The wise person is one who asks wise questions in life. Here we ask, “What is a Hebraic perspective?” The answer given here is more of the ‘how’ of a Hebraic perspective than the ‘what’. (The ‘what’ is covered in the first class of Towards a Hebraic Perspective.) Here we are giving the foundational presuppositions by which one can build in the direction of their choice.

Some of the underlying presuppositions[2] that move one towards a Hebraic perspective will be described. Many will wonder, is the Beriot Institute of Hebraic Studies (hereafter called IHS – Institute of Hebraic Studies, see name for further explanation) affiliated with some religious institution or does IHS have a confessional or faith statement? In this statement of methodology we will lay out some of the presuppositions of the how of a Hebraic perspective and define in part these two words.

2. A Hebraic Perspective—a Relationship

What does a Hebraic perspective have to do with life?[3] A Hebraic perspective is a relationship. It is a journey in relationship to one’s self, one’s relationship to others, and with the Holy One of Israel.[4] We seek to shape these relationships and the journey in the context of the Hebrew Bible. One must have questions about these relationships, their meaning, and their purpose for an individual to seek to enter into a Hebraic perspective.

A Hebraic perspective deals with reality. Just as each individual is unique, so too, there is more than one way to enter into a Hebraic perspective. Just as there is not one exclusive definition of this view, there is more than one point of entry.

Unanimity – we do not study together in order to bring everyone to the same thinking and to the same practice. A Hebraic perspective has to be contemporary in order to relate to one’s self, others and the Holy One of Israel. One must proceed with humility, gentleness, and understanding, for along this path many are at different places in their journey. The journey of discovering and experiencing life anew, afresh, with energy, a perspective that is closely related to the reality of the world around us and who we are within the framework of the Hebrew Bible[5] is a Hebraic perspective.

3. The Primacy of the Hebrew Bible

The presuppositions which frame a work have much to do with its outcome. We view the Hebrew Bible as essential for the framing of a Hebraic perspective – this is a working presupposition. Judaism and Christianity[6] seek authority from the same holy book, the Hebrew Bible. A Biblical view is a relationship; there are key elements within this relationship. There is dialogue between the two communities of Judaism and Christianity and within this new dialogue and relationship is the greatest part of a Hebraic perspective. Both Judaism and Christianity are necessary parts in this relationship, each within their respected communities and especially where the circles of the two communities intersect. We at IHS are academically seeking to stand between Judaism and Christianity and teach both within an interdisciplinary[7] methodology where they can influence one another.

The basis and motivation for this endeavor is to position and understand the Hebrew Bible as a priority over other sacred blocks of literature in this methodology.[8] The Hebrew Bible is a starting point, not an end point. Both the Teaching of the Sages (Rabbinics) and the Teaching of the Apostles (New Testament),[9] in an extremely complex manner, are based on and have come from the Hebrew Bible. We must remember that one’s presuppositions will determine a great deal of one’s outcome.

We are stating that the Hebrew Bible is the parent for the two sisters of Judaism and Christianity.[10] There are other factors which have shaped both the Teaching of the Apostles, which is Jesus[11] and the Teaching of the Sages, the Oral Torah. These two epicenters establish the importance and the view of the Hebrew Bible within their respective communities. Given both the similarities and differences between them, the hope of a better understanding of commonality, a matrix between the two sisters relates chiefly to the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible is an important workable stepping stone in entering the journey towards a Hebraic perspective. Using the Hebrew Bible as the sacred basis within a Hebraic perspective, we are seeking to take the Jewish-Christian dialogue and understanding to a higher level. The Hebrew Bible can be the balm to heal wounds within Jewish-Christian relations. The following three presuppositions in sections 4, 5, and 6 are based on the importance of the Hebrew Bible.

4. God is there, He has spoken, there is truth.

Is a Hebraic perspective only related to a scholarly understanding of the Hebrew Bible? A Hebraic perspective is seeking to understand the truth; truth is obtainable within a Biblical perspective because God has communicated within the Hebrew Bible. We are deeply committed to emphasizing two presuppositions; first, that God has communicated in and through the Hebrew Bible, but it does not stop there. There is a process of emphasizing an understanding of this message through the history of Christianity and Judaism. The journey into the Hebrew Bible and a Hebraic Perspective is not chasing after intellectual reconstructions of the past or of modern popular trends. It is not an accumulation of new information, nor the sharpening of one’s intellectual abilities. Rather, a Hebraic perspective is a journey for truth, before a personal God who is there, the Holy One of Israel, who has communicated.

The Holy One of Israel has stated, “I do not change”.[12] What has been revealed in the Hebrew Bible is not to be suppressed, nor progressed beyond, to make it obsolete. That is, continuity must be found and stressed between the Hebrew Bible and the two bodies of sacred literature of Judaism and Christianity. While the message of the Hebrew Bible must be understood within our culture of post-modernity, we are changing and culture is changing. Nevertheless, the message of the Hebrew Bible is timeless and needs refocus.

The point must be made that there is sense that the Holy One of Israel is working in a new way in history and this new work is bigger than IHS. God is there and can be personally experienced and worshipped; this is an integral part of the journey of a Hebraic perspective. As the Holy one of Israel has stated, “I do not change”, when we become connected to the unchanging truths of the Hebrew Bible, we will then experience the Holy One of Israel in our lives, and our communities, which is the ultimate hope in this journey towards a Hebraic ideal.

5. Jews and Christians Worship the Same God — an Attitude in Perspective

Even if Christianity and Judaism have an origin in the same sacred book, have they not developed so there is little common ground for using an interdisciplinary approach? The great statement of the Debur Emet says, “Jews and Christians worship the same God. Before the rise of Christianity, Jews were the only worshippers of the God of Israel. But Christians also worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Creator of heaven and earth. … through Christianity, hundreds of millions of people have entered into relationship with the God of Israel.”[13] This statement focuses on an attitude and a methodology for a Hebraic Perspective, looking for what is in common, a matrix of commonality rather than focusing on the disputes between Judaism and Christianity.

This approach of seeking commonality is encompassed within a Hebraic perspective. Both Judaism and Christianity must be understood from the stand- point that the same God has communicated in the message and events of the Hebrew Bible.

The point is to study and search for a common matrix between Christianity and Judaism, which starts in the Hebrew Bible, realizing that the two communities have separate identities, calendars, orthodoxy and orthopraxy.[14] Viewing Judaism and Christianity as having a common well, the Hebrew Bible is a spring from which to draw fresh water.

6. The Hebraic Study Process—an Attitude of Worship

Is a Hebraic perspective only an academic pursuit, a new view of the Bible? There is an assumption that must be understood in relationship to an academic approach. A presupposition for the ‘how to’ of a Hebraic journey is that the process of study must be viewed as worship, developing an awe of the Holy One of Israel. As Abraham Heschel has “poignantly observed: ‘genuine reverence for the sanctity of study is bound to be invoked in the pupil’s awareness that study is not an ordeal but an act of edification; that the school is a sanctuary, not a factory; that study is a form of worship.’”[15]

Further, without the presupposition of this attitude of study as worship, there will be little to no motivation to strive toward a Hebraic perspective, since this journey entails the interaction with sacred texts. A sense of awe or wonder is captured by Abraham Heschel who states, “Awe is more than an emotion; it is a way of understanding. Awe is itself an act of insight into a meaning greater than ourselves. The Greeks learned in order to comprehend. The modern man learns in order to use. The Hebrews learned in order to revere. We teach the children how to measure, how to weigh. We fail to teach the children how to sense wonder and awe.”[16] This attitude of reverence is extremely important within a methodological approach of a Hebraic perspective.

The goal is not to seek after more knowledge, facts, and information, but rather, the end point is the wonder of God. The reason for and the how-to of the process of study is to creatively gain this trait of the awe and reverence of the Holy One of Israel. With the interdisciplinary study of many different sacred texts there will be problems encountered, but with a continual attitude of the awe of God, one will find their way towards a Hebraic perspective, and a more meaningful life. In conclusion, developing the awe of God is a means and way of life for a Hebraic Perspective.

7. The Academic Approaches

What materials will be used at IHS? A scholar’s book or the latest idea for a guide in the interdisciplinary studies, of which there are several? While IHS does offer discussion classes based on books, a key methodological principle of IHS is to use primary sources, texts sacred to Judaism and Christianity, while emphasizing the common ground of the Hebrew Bible. The encounter with the sacred texts being viewed as worship is the necessary process. Further, we will encourage the use of scholarly and traditional materials, seeing both as helpful, contributing to understanding the body of sacred literature under examination.

How will a Hebraic perspective be realized? By pulling references out of context to reconstruct some non-existent wishful paradigm? True, many present only one view from sources or create a picture from texts that never existed. It is also true that there is a subjectiveness as to what topics are chosen to be studied within the three bodies of sacred literature. Nevertheless, topical, thematic and pericope study will be done in order to create an introduction, basis and picture for a Hebraic perspective.

This subjectivity within topical and thematic study is balanced by studying materials within their own contexts and seeking larger contextual understanding. Furthermore, it is necessary to dedicate some studies to a single body of sacred literature. The Hebrew Bible has a context all its own as does the Teaching of the Sages and the Teaching of the Apostles; this must be respected, accepted, and taught accordingly. Thus, there is, at times, a need for discussion and classes on texts only within the one area of study for the purpose of avoiding misunderstanding of one of the bodies of literature sacred to Judaism and Christianity.

Does not a historical critical approach claim that the Hebrew Bible, Teaching of the Sages, and Teaching of the Apostles were written in different time periods, thus having nothing, or very little, to do with each other? A diachronic[17] approach is a correct methodology so as not to mix materials from different time periods, thus creating reconstructions which never occurred. The significance is in how the Hebrew Bible has been understood, interpreted, and re-molded later in history for a Hebraic perspective.

However, historical reconstructions are subjective, endless, and many times full of flaws. The dating of a manuscript can be a very exact science but the dating of the ideas within a text is difficult and subjective. Once the scholar has become the final judge in the process, determining which pieces of the text are not historical or belong to a later period, or has dated certain ideas, the process itself has become the end product and, many times, has failed.

There is a place and necessity for a synchronic[18] approach. Where we stand in history is significant, with a look at the past and the great contributions that have been made, while seeking to utilize texts from all time periods in a leveled approach on a given subject. It is within the synchronic approach that the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity are processed and understood. Even though the location and time period may vary greatly between the three bodies of sacred literature, a synchronic interdisciplinary approach has great merit in understanding Judaism and Christianity. Within a Hebraic perspective both diachronic and synchronic approaches are necessary. One approach can not take precedence over or eliminate the other. There must be a balance of both approaches within a Hebraic perspective.

Academics for the sake of pure critical approach with question upon question, with the variety of literary critical approaches having a place within a Hebraic Perspective, is neither the chief means, nor the desired end product, for IHS or a Hebraic Perspective. Rather, the journey of encountering the text, including the discussion with others, is the more important part of the process and is viewed as a means of worship.

In conclusion, these are broad strokes regarding scholarship and methodology, not exhaustive, but intended as overview considerations of approaches used. For IHS, there will be an emphasis on texts, within the interdisciplinary approach of the three sacred bodies of literature, making use of scholarship. The purpose of our journey is not to produce the latest insight for academic consumption; rather, it is encouraging people to have an awe of the Holy One of Israel, a better understanding of Christianity and Judaism in searching for common ground, and to lead students into a dynamic living relationship with the Holy One of Israel.

8. The Impact of the State of Israel

For most of us, to enter into a Hebraic perspective is to enter into another culture with a different outlook, which is difficult, if not impossible. The question arises, how can a person develop a new cultural outlook, when the religious and cultural setting of one’s birth is different? The spirit of one’s culture is a motivating force to which we are always bound, no matter how much we seek after objectivity. As H. Richard Neibuhr says in Christ and Culture, “The forms and attitudes of one’s culture are in one’s mind; this allows one to make sense out of the objective world given him by culture. One can not dismiss the philosophy and science of his society as though they were external to him; they are in him. One can not rid himself of political beliefs and economic customs by rejecting the more or less external institutions; these customs and beliefs have taken up residence in one’s mind.”[19]

Does the modern State of Israel have any effect on a Hebraic perspective? To experience the reality of the State of Israel, with its cultural context, can propel one into a new way of looking at life. It was my personal experience from time I spent in Israel in 1973-74 during the Yom Kippur War that has driven me into a Hebraic perspective. Experiencing life and studying in Israel were the first stepping stones for my entrance into a different perspective. Without my experience in Israel I am not sure I would have embraced a Hebraic perspective.

We may try to separate ourselves from our culture, seeking insight into reality, Biblical truth, and our religious community. This objectivity is what scholarship seeks after with various critical approaches. But we are raised in culture with a language and it is difficult, if not impossible, to overcome our culture which gives us our perspective.

In the past, Christianity taught that the Jewish people were cursed and had to wander the world without a home; the year 1948 proved this teaching incorrect and thus forced a re-thinking of this age-old teaching of contempt.[20]

The answer to the cultural and historical blindness can be the present reality of the State of Israel, which serves as a spark that has ignited a new cultural contextual dynamic from which to look at the Hebrew Bible and the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity. This reality creates a different context with new and diverse presuppositions which can define and shape the outcome of practice and abstract truth. Both Christianity and Judaism have changed and are changing because of the cultural force of the State of Israel.

We are seeking to state presuppositions within this methodology that are part of an agenda. The Holy One of Israel has begun redemption in a new and different pattern. The year of 1948 is significant; it is the birth of the State of Israel. We will work together for a strong and secure State of Israel in the Middle East. IHS will seek to help Christians, and anyone else interested, learn to respect the Jewish biblical claim upon the land of Israel, and further, to assist the State of Israel to have secure recognized borders. IHS will uphold such efforts and those working to that end in their many diverse ways.

It is the cultural context of the modern State of Israel which can start many on a journey into a Hebraic Perspective since this affords one with the chance to see, feel and experience another cultural content for understanding the Bible.

IHS is dedicated to creatively forming methods by which we can bring students into a Hebraic perspective in conjunction with a person going to Israel. One’s experience in Israel cannot be repeated by simply sending another person to study in Israel. There must be means of entering and embracing a Hebraic perspective beyond just living in the culture of modern Israel and especially in Jerusalem.

In summary, a Hebraic perspective is bound up with the present State of Israel, which provides a means to see another cultural understanding that is closer to the Hebrew Bible, an understanding which can propel one into a journey of a Hebraic perspective.

9. The Hebrew Language — A Fundamental Building Block

Closely related to the significance of State of Israel is the importance of the Hebrew language and its relationship to breaking into a Hebraic perspective. What is the value of learning Hebrew for this journey?

Understanding the Hebrew language, its thought forms and culture, is desirable for the journey. It is a means to break out of one’s culture and to understand the Bible anew and afresh, apart from one’s cultural perspective. Because of its role within Judaism and Christianity, the presupposition is that the Hebrew language will always be an important stepping stone into a Hebraic perspective.

The language of the Sages was Hebrew, especially the Tannaitic[21] sources. IHS works under the assumption that Yeshua’s primary language was Hebrew.[22] The concepts and communication of the Tanach[23] were framed in the Hebrew language for a divine reason. Since the Tanach was written in Hebrew[24], it makes sense to learn Hebrew.

Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons, there will be those that choose not to learn Hebrew. We believe that one can travel this road without learning the language, although it must be stated that the experience will be all the richer by engaging in Hebrew language study. The journey must be such that the Hebrew language is not a barrier for those wishing to enter who choose not to learn Hebrew. Thus, we hope that a person could embrace a Hebraic perspective without learning Hebrew.

10. A Team Effort

Our working presupposition at IHS is that the interdisciplinary study must be taught by a team rather than by one individual. We envision having one scholar represent each of the three fields of study—the Hebrew Bible and the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity, working together with interdisciplinary studies.

The team must search together for a way of truth and life. This will take place with the balance of many working together with openness and willingness to learn and move ahead into a new perspective. If one person becomes the sole leader there will only be the stamp of that leader and not the stamp of the struggle of learning all three areas in the journey of a Hebraic perspective from the sources, with the Holy One of Israel being present in the process.

11. Identity

An identity question is raised with the tendency to be ethnic-centered within this methodology. We have been asked, ‘Are we making people into Jews?’ Since the interdisciplinary nature of the process is emphasizing the Jewishness of these three areas of study, one will naturally ask and think that this is leading to conversion to Judaism. To understand ethnos is necessary in the process of understanding a Hebraic perspective with the centrality of the Hebrew Bible and the sacred texts of both communities emphasized.[25] All three of these study areas are singly ethnos oriented.

This understanding is a necessary part of the journey and can raises issues. But the point is that there is a common matrix that is universal, while accepting that each faith community retains its unique identity with its ethnos orientation, its orthodoxy, and orthopraxy.

Thus, this presupposition states that this interdisciplinary journey is open to all, with the goal to broaden one’s understanding and add meaning and purpose to life, not seeking to change one’s ethnicity or religious community. So too here, as the ethnos center is Jewish in the materials that are studied, it must be held differently from the journey which can be universal. The point is that assimilation for Jewish people is not the agenda, nor is it for Christians to become Jews. Each will be encouraged to find meaning and life within their respective faith communities.

Three supportive examples of universal elements (the entire course ‘Towards a Hebraic perspective’ which is outlined elsewhere gives a boarder picture) deal with universal materials. In Isaiah, the Torah’s truth or Divine teaching, goes out to all, Jews and Gentiles.[26] Secondly, the sacred texts of Judaism will be viewed as for all to study, as Hillel stated, “Bring Torah to all creatures”,[27] even though rightly, Judaism seeks to keep them within its own ethnos. Thus, the study of Jewish sacred texts must be treated with great sensitivity by the non-Jewish person approaching the texts. Thirdly, Abraham is the father of us all[28] and to Abraham we must all look and learn. Our working assumption is that Abraham is the father of the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity, while understood differently within each context.

In short, this journey must be understood as open to all, not for any particular group, to be entered from within one’s own faith community.

12. To Strive for Unity

Does IHS have a predisposition to favor either Christianity or Judaism? One of the problems in the history of Jewish-Christian relationships has been to argue the correctness or truthfulness of one over the other.[29] Since Christianity has been the religion linked with political power and the majority since the Byzantine Empire, in one way or another, it has dominated Judaism. While culturally this historical trend does not presently exist to the extent it has in Western history, there is a new opportunity to reverse this historical trend in the study of the Bible. A presupposition of this methodology is to seek after a ‘leveling the playing field’, in contrast to the battle and separation that has marked the history of the two sisters of Judaism and Christianity.

The approach to leveling the playing field is a stepping stone into a Hebraic perspective. The underlying presupposition is that the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity will be viewed along side one another, rather than one superior to, triumphant or supersessionist over the other. This can be done because of where we are in history, with the Hebrew Bible viewed as the parent of the two sisters of Christianity and Judaism.

The imagery here is of two sisters who have had family arguments, are estranged because of them, and have gone their own separate ways. The arguments have so influenced the sisters that the parents, in a sense, are no longer recognizable and the sisters’ families are left quarreling. The time has come for the bickering to stop; there is opportunity for reconciliation, talking to each other, and accepting each other. We hope that by refocusing on the parents, the families will learn to get along. The parents can provide the impetus and guidance for this process; thus, the emphasis on the Hebrew Bible.[30]

When a new matrix is desired, then a new approach can be embraced. One simple example: instead of engaging in an apologetic to show that the Teaching of the Sages are better than that of Yeshua, or that the parables of Yeshua are better than those of the Sages, the methodology will be that the Sages taught in parables and Yeshua taught in parables. The study of both the parables of the Sages and the parables of Yeshua yield fruit by using this fresh approach of a Hebraic perspective.[31]

The results of this approach have yet to be seen; history is still in the making.

13. The Impact of the Holocaust

How does the long history of Jewish suffering influence a Hebraic perspective? Jewish suffering and the Christian persecution of Jews has left its bloody footprint throughout history and in the consciousness of Jewish people today. The causes for this persecution must be understood. A Hebraic perspective cannot contain any elements of the causes that have led to this persecution. This discussion must be sustained within the meeting of the three blocks of scared literature.

It must be understood that without the long history of Christian anti-Judaism and violence against Jews, Nazi ideology could not have taken hold, nor could it have been carried out without the Christian Teaching of Contempt. Too many Christians participated in, or were sympathetic to, Nazi atrocities against the Jews.[32] This realization is a motivation for creating a new perspective.

Since the Holocaust, there has been dialogue between Christianity and Judaism which has resulted in many statements and new views. Also, as a result of the Holocaust and the modern State of Israel, there has grown a variety of movements relating to a new and different understanding of Christianity. As Christopher M. Leighton has stated, “Everything within the Christian tradition requires rethinking in the aftermath of the Shoah. As a consequence, any and every doctrine, indeed any and every theological affirmation, must undergo rigorous scrutiny, and the tradition must purge itself of those tendons of beliefs and practice that sanction contempt of the other, most especially the Jewish people. The task of neutralizing supersessionist patterns entails nothing less than the re-envisioning of the Christian narrative – from beginning to end.”[33]

Furthermore, many Jewish scholars have engaged in dialogue with Christians and have written on Christianity creating a new understanding.[34] This body of literature is of great importance for a Hebraic perspective, especially on the Christian side.

Judaism is not the same after losing one-third of its people and it has changed in response. The Judaism of Europe with its rich history has changed. The present cultural context for Judaism is mainly the United States and the State of Israel. The past suffering and persecution of Jews and Judaism has changed in our modern world. Nevertheless, the understanding of this history is crucial for a Hebraic perspective. These realities must consistently be taken into consideration for a Hebraic Perspective; the old must give way to the new.

The process of internalizing and emotionally embracing this Jewish suffering of the past is a stepping stone that is an experiential presupposition necessary for a Hebraic perspective. The discovery of this reality can drive a good deal of critical thinking about the Biblical sources, new thoughts about a framework and searching for a new approach to orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

The new persecution question is regarding the right of the State of Israel to exist within secure and recognized borders, and for the Jewish people outside of the State of Israel to have equal rights within the cultures in which they live. These two realities must consistently be taken into consideration for a Hebraic perspective; the old must give way to the new.

14. To Dream the Impossible Dream

It must be stated that there is an element of impossibility in this journey of finding a new matrix between the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity based on the Hebrew Bible. The sisters have battled with each other and this battle is embedded in the sources, with wounds too deep to heal, creating difficulties for one side or the other. In the Teaching of the Apostles, John’s gospel has a reference to the ‘synagogue of Satan’. There is a passage on Jesus in the Talmud, tractate Abodah Zarah, where Rabbi Eliezer was arrested for accepting his teaching and is labeled as apostate.[35]

It is hoped that we can recognize these problems, overcome them and move towards an interdisciplinary study in which the truth of Hebrew Bible can be understood and regained through the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity, viewed as complementary rather than contradictory.

Within this process, the uniqueness of the sacred texts becomes ever so clear that there might be deep appreciation and respect for the other one’s community of faith and practice. My teacher, the late Dr. Douglas Young, used to say frequently, “We must agree to disagree”. In short, Judaism cannot and will not accept a Trinitarian formula, nor the deity of Jesus Christ. This is a rupture of its covenant. Neither will Christianity accept the Biblical calendar and Shabbat within the Hebrew Bible, nor the Oral Torah along side of the Hebrew Bible. These two elements are what form the sisters with their respective uniqueness.

There is a Rabbinical passage about two sides of a halachic debate in which it is stated that ‘both of these are words of God’.[36] The logic that either A is right and B is wrong or vice-versa here is reconsidered. Rather, there is this different logic which seeks to see both as being right, ‘both as the words of God’. There can be understanding, there can be respect, but the practice and the identity of the communities will always be at odds; thus, ‘we will agree to disagree’ on many issues.

Nevertheless, there is hope, at this point in history, for a new level of understanding that is accessible like never before; we will attain to this new level.[37]

15. Dynamic versus Static

Why is only a methodological statement being made? It is because only a methodological statement should be made since it would be arrogant claiming to have gained a definitive understanding of a Hebraic perspective at this point in history with any final conclusion. The above section on the impossibility of the task is reason for only an attempted methodological statement. We are experiencing a dynamic process while seeking to use a methodology of interdisciplinary study of these three areas. There is a dynamic sense of journey that must be sustained, a continuing encounter of the sacred texts of the past, with reflection on the present, and discussion with others in their present place along the way.

Those that do have statements are at times using the past while they yet have to understand the depth of the battle scars from the fight between the two sisters, with one shedding too much of the other’s blood. The influence of history is immense and difficult to overcome. At one point, we wrote a confessional statement as a summary of a class called Our Father Abraham, only to later realize that it was conditioned by our understanding and discussion at that particular point. We determined it was not useful. These types of attempts, such as Debur Emet, are statements with which the search is ended or as a reason to exclude others who do not agree on some point(s).

God can not be put into a static box, a box of words or statements. It is expected that this methodological statement will be adjusted with time as a Hebraic perspective is dynamic, and we should expect our understanding to change in the process. There must be creativity with a dynamic reality of the journey.

We are not looking for unanimity in order that we all arrive at the same way of thinking or expression. Many will only study with those that agree to a certain confession statement or position of practice. We respect this, but with authentic interdisciplinary study it is not the goal.

IHS is made up of people with diverse views and practices who are interested in a journey towards a Hebraic Perspective; clarity should come through the discussion by individuals together with the use of a methodology and the process of creating a methodology, continually clarifying its presuppositions.

The unanimity is in the methodology and the sacred texts studied together. The process is dynamic. Relationships are formed through the process of learning and worshipping together as the sources are encountered and meaning in life is experienced.

16. One Must Have Character

There must be a high degree of character within those who pursue this journey. From Isaiah 51:1, we have often taught three underlying character qualities necessary for this journey. They are, first of all, attentiveness or an ability to listen to that which is different; secondly, being proactive for what is right; and, lastly, an openness to seeking out the Eternal One as character qualities needed for a Hebraic journey.

At one point, Hillel’s halachah was chosen not on the basis of scholarship, intelligence or argumentation but on the basis of his character and that of his disciples, which was kindness and modesty.[38] The ultimate working of the Holy One of Israel will be based on character, not intelligence or some new understanding. Within a methodological statement one can not set a presupposition of character. But a goal to love and have respect for the Holy one of Israel and those close to you is the responsibility of all who travel this road, for this is at the heart of the message of the Hebrew Bible and the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity.

It has been said that we need objective scholarship with no agenda. However, that does not exist and will not exist. We all have some type of agenda. This methodology statement is a statement of agenda for IHS. The agenda is first of all to understand the Hebrew Bible’s message with the tools we have within scholarship today and then, to understand the use, development and the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible within the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity, without being mutually exclusive, to form, where possible, a matrix of commonality while creating clarity of each faith community, and its uniqueness of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. This takes character, tolerance and grit.[39]

Ezra 7:10:

Ezra 7:10

 

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Footnotes & Definitions

[1] This term hashkafat haivrit is used throughout this statement. This term in English did not originate with us. I adopted it from Dwight Pryor or Dr. Marvin Wilson when I was working at the Center for Judaic-Christian Studies.

[2] Definition: a thing tacitly assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action: both men shared certain ethical presuppositions about the universe.

[3] The questions are used here as a device to introduce the materials. There is not an exhaustive nor thorough response given to these questions.

[4] This name for God occurs throughout the book of Isaiah, thirty-two times starting in 1:4; it is also used in Psalms 71:22, 78:41, 89:18 and I Kings. We have chosen to use this term as it is common to both Christianity and Judaism. Further, we sense it is very descriptive for a Hebraic perspective and is somewhat neutral. This title is not loaded with some history of use that has been argued over, such as, whether it should or should not be pronounced, as with the Divine name. The position of IHS is to follow Jewish practice to not pronounce the divine name out of reverence.

[5] This term is used in order to get away from the pejorative term ‘Old Testament’ which has a clear sense of something being done away with. We think that the title ‘Old Testament’ is too derogatory a term, with visions of a person with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Terms do not change realities or history, but we can re-define them as a starting point. The Hebrew Bible is used mainly for Christian readers; the acronym Tanach is much better, but I have found that Christian audiences do not like that term. I have explained the term at the beginning of a lecture, then used it, and have had people ask me what it meant at the end of the talk, saying they were confused. So, this appears to be the best term to use. While the word Hebraic does not exactly refer to the Hebrew Bible, nonetheless it is relatively close, pointing in the direction of a perspective from Hebrew. The other Hebrew words, Tanach, Mikrah, and kitvei ha-kodesh present a void of understanding for most people, thus the decision not to use them. By using another term or terms we know little will change; rather, we must be comfortable while being succinct in expressing our views with the terms we use.

[6] These two terms are very broad and need definition. Which Christianity and which Judaism? There are many types, sizes and shapes, so what is being referred to here is the question. These terms are used in an all-encompassing sense of the religions and their sacred literature.

[7] There are many new examples of interdisciplinary studies which are trying to work with parts of this approach. To name a few: Herschel Shanks, Editor, Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism (Biblical Archaeology Society, Washington, DC, 1992); J. Charlesworth and L. Johns, Hillel and Jesus, Comparisons of Two Major Religious Leaders (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1997); M. Tannenbaum, M. Wilson, A. J. Rudin, Evangelicals and Jews in an Age of Pluralism (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984).

[8] One example of this methodology on the Christian side is the phrase in the Teaching of the Apostles in Revelation 1:10, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day”. The question is, what is meant by the ‘Lord’s day’ te kuriake emera? The word kuriake does not occur in the LXX, and only here in the Teaching of the Apostles. If the framework for understanding this phrase is within the Hebrew Bible, then to interpret the ‘Lord’s day’ as first day of the week, i.e., Sunday would not be within the context of possibilities, but it would rather have to be an apocalyptic day of the Lord (Isaiah 13:6; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 30:3; Zeph. 1:7; etc.). But, if one uses the literature of the early church, i.e., the Church Fathers, for the context of this phrase, then the first day of the week—Sunday—is, in fact, the interpretation, since ‘this became’ (depending upon one’s dating) a technical term for Sunday by the Church Fathers. Thus, in this over-simplified example, which could be duplicated, the importance of the Hebrew Bible as a starting point presupposition creates a methodology for interpreting which will determine the outcome of one’s interpretation.

[9] The terms The Teaching of the Sages Torat HaChachamim and The Teaching of the Apostles Torat HaShlichim. The latter term I adopted from Joseph Shulam in Jerusalem. By the use of these terms we are not seeking to change anything per se. Terms do not change realities or history, but we can use re-defined terms as a starting point. Again, the pejorative term of New Testament implies something old and done away. Here, we use terms with which we are comfortable. To level the playing field, we use a similar term for Rabbinics as the source for Judaism, for the Sages were the framers who produced Rabbinics and Judaism as we have it today, just as the Apostles were those who framed and produced the basis for Christianity as we have it today. This, of course, is over-simplified. Further, the study must extend beyond the use of only the New Testament literature, at times, in order to understand the Christian side of history and the formation of Christianity.

[10] The origin of the image of the ‘two sisters’ came from Israel J. Yuval, Easter and Passover As Early Jewish-Christian Dialogue, P. Bradshaw, L. Hoffman, Passover and Easter, Origin and History to Modern Times (University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1999) page 103. The entire paragraph is worth quoting: “The perception of Passover as a time of redemption and sacrifice originates in the Bible that Jews and Christians shared. Similarly, in the case of parallels between rabbinic midrash and early Christian literature, sometimes a later Jewish text represents an earlier tradition that circulated orally and only later became crystallized in the Talmud or Midrash. We, however, should contest a method that gives automatic chronological precedents to midrashic text that may be compiled hundreds of years later, and Christian parallels. The Jewish view that sees Judaism as always influencing Christianity, but never the other way around, is theologically grounded, based on the assumption that Judaism is the mother religion of Christianity. But early Christianity and Tannaitic Judaism are two sister religions that took shape during in the same period and under the same conditions of oppression and destruction. There is no reason not to assume a parallel and mutual development of both religions, during which sometimes Judaism internalized ideas of its rival, rather than the other way around. During the second and third centuries there were all kinds of Jews and all kinds of Christians, all struggling against pagan Rome and all sharing the centrality of the messianic idea and the ritual of Passover.”

The similar approach by A. Segal, Rebecca’s Children (Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1986) page 1, “The time of Jesus marks the beginning of not one but two great religions of the West, Judaism and Christianity. According to conventional wisdom, the first century witnessed the beginning of only one religion, Christianity. Judaism is generally thought to have begun in the more distant past, at the time of Abraham and Moses, or even as Ezra, who rebuilt the Temple destroyed by the Babylonians. Judaism underwent radical religious changes in response to important historical crises. But the greatest transformation was rabbinic Judaism, which generally became the basis of the future Jewish religion. So great is the contrast between previous Jewish religious systems and rabbinism that Judaism and Christianity can essentially claim a twin birth. It is a startling truth that the religions we know today as Judaism and Christianity were born at the same time and nurtured in the same environment. Like Jacob and Esau, the twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca, the two religions fought in the womb. Throughout their youth they followed very different paths, quarreling frequently about their father’s blessing. As was the case with Rebecca’s children, the conflict between Judaism and Christianity molded their characters and determined their destinies.”… Page 12 “like Rebecca’s children, Judaism and Christianity had a history of conflict. But like them, they may reach reconciliation, based upon mutual understanding and respect.”

The traditional view is to see the conceptual archetype for the beginning of the religions as being much earlier or even eternal. For the Oral Torah came from Moses, as in Pirke Avot, chapter one. Or, as in the Talmud, Mas. Pesachim 54a, “Surely it has been taught: Seven things were created before the world was created, and these are they: The Torah, repentance….” Or as in Christianity, Gospel of John 8:58 “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’” Or Paul, in Colossians 1:16 (NRA) “for in him (Jesus) all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things…”

[11] The Hebrew name for Jesus, Yeshua, will be used at times in the statement. See JerusalemPerspective.com, David Bivin, Jesus’ Hebrew Name

[12] Malachi 3:6 Malachi 3:6

[13] For the full statement see T. Frymer-Kensky, Christianity in Jewish Terms (Westview press, Boulder, Colorado, 2000) page xvii. It is also found in: M. Aumann, Conflict and Connection, The Jewish-Christian Triangle (Geffen Press, Jerusalem, 2003) page 271; C. Braaten and R. Jenson, Jews and Christians, People of God (Eerdmans Pub. Co. Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2003), page 179 (There is a ‘symposium’ given on the statement in this book.)

[14] orthopraxy: Greek orthos—straight, upright, standard, proper, Greek—praxis from prassein—to do, practice.

[15] M. Wilson, Our Father Abraham (Eerdmans Pub. Co. Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989) page 311.

[16] A. Heschel, God in Search of Man (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, NY, 1976) page 34. The awe of God is clarified in the lessons towards a Hebraic perspective. This is understood as common ground between Judaism and Christianity, for the Christian who wants to posit Yeshua as the important element at this point, for Judaism would posit the monotheistic God at this point. Here we choose the common ground of the awe of the Holy One of Israel as a place within the Hebrew Bible, as an element that is repeated in both the Teaching of the Sages and the Teaching of the Apostles. It is here understood and hoped that the awe of God will strengthen Jews, Christians and any person in-between.

[17] A diachronic approach is concerned with the way in which something has developed and evolved over time, often contrasted with a synchronic approach. Often a ‘historical’ approach is considered diachronic. Further, usually the academic critical approach is diachronic in nature.

[18] Synchronic is concerned with something as it exists at one point in time. There is no earlier or later, as if everything existed at one point in time. This approach is often in contrast to a diachronic approach. Often a ‘theological’ approach is considered synchronic in contrast to a historical approach. Frequently, the traditional approaches are synchronic. As Byron Sherwin states, “The theologian seeks a total gestalt, unencumbered by historical considerations. For the theologian, the corpus of tradition is the body of his or her beloved. The theologian strives to know the personality of his or her beloved in ways unavailable to the historian of religion. The variety of knowledge available through anatomical research is not the kind of knowledge available through an act of love.” (Toward a Jewish Theology (Edwin Mellen Press, New York, 1991, page 13). The Rabbinical passage that is quoted frequently in connection to this is in the Talmud, Mas. Pesachim 6b, “Because lo! Moses was standing on the First Passover and giving instructions about the Second Passover, as it is said, ‘Moreover, let the children of Israel keep the Passover in its appointed season’; and it is written, And there were certain men, who were unclean by the dead body of a man. And R. Simeon b. Gamaliel? He answers you: Because he was engaged in the laws of Passover, he instructed them in all the laws of Passover. What is R. Simeon b. Gamaliel’s reason? Because lo! Moses was standing at the beginning of the month and giving orders about the Passover, as it is said, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. And it is written, Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their father’s houses, etc. But how do you know that he was standing at the beginning of the month; perhaps he was standing on the fourth or the fifth of the month? Rather, said Rabbah b. Shimi in Rabina’s name, It is deduced from here: And the Lord spoke unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year; and it is written, Moreover let the children of Israel keep the Passover in its appointed season. But here too, how do you know that he was standing at the beginning of the month: perhaps he was standing on the fourth or the fifth of the month? Said R. Nahman b. Isaac: The implication of wilderness here is learned from wilderness elsewhere. Here it is written, in the wilderness of Sinai, while there it is written, And the Lord spoke unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month: just as there [it was] at the beginning of the month, so here too at the beginning of the month. Now, let [the events of] the first month be written first, and then that of the second month? Said R. Menasia b. Tahlifa in Rab’s name: This proves that there is no chronological order (earlier or later) in the Torah.”

[19] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture (Harper & Row, New York, 1975) page 69, “Christ claims no man purely as a natural being, but always as one who has become human in culture; who is not only in culture, but into whom culture has penetrated… The forms and attitudes of his mind which allow him to make sense out of the objective world have been given him by culture. He can not dismiss the philosophy and science of his society as though they were external to him; they are in him… He can not rid himself of political beliefs and economic custom by rejecting the more or less external institutions; these customs and beliefs have taken up residence in his mind. If Christians do not come to Christ with the language, the thought patterns, the moral disciplines of Judaism, they come with those of Rome; if not with those of Rome, then with those of Germany, England, America, India or China.”

[20] See J. Isaac, Teaching of Contempt: Christian Roots of Anti-Semitism (translated by Helen Weaver, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1964).

[21] M. Fernandez, An Introductory Grammar of Rabbinic Hebrew (Brill, Leiden, 1977). This gives a good overview to Tannaitic language and sources; H. Strack, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (Augsburg Fortress Publishers; Reprinted edition, 1992).

[22] See JerusalemPerspective.com; D. Bivin, R. Blizzard, Jr., Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus (Center for Judaic-Christian Studies, Dayton, OH 2001 );

Flusser reference

[23] Tanach—another term for the Hebrew Bible.

[24] We understand that there are some sections written in Aramaic but the majority is in Hebrew.

[25] This problem was honestly but inadequately dealt with by R. Lindsey, Israel in Christendom (unpublished).

[26] Isaiah 2:3-4, with the many peoples or many nations ammim rabim (occurs again in 17:12) in the context fits into Isaiah’s theme of a universal message. Isaiah 2:3 (NASU), “And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths. For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war’”.

[27] Pirkei Avot 1:12: Hillel was in the habit of saying: You should be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, and you should be one who loves one’s fellow creature and brings them close to the Torah.

Pirkei Avot 1:12

[28] Abraham is the father of us all (Genesis 12:3, Isaiah 51:2, Romans 4:1-12 & 16, Galatians 3:6-9 & 29, Talmud Mas. Chagigah 3a Rabbah expounded: What is the meaning of the verse: ‘How beautiful are thy steps in sandals, O prince’s daughter’. It means: How comely are the feet of Israel when they go up on the festival pilgrimage. ‘Prince’s daughter’: means daughter of Abraham our father, who is called prince, as it is said: The princes of the peoples are gathered together, the people of the God of Abraham. ‘The God of Abraham’ and not the God of Isaac and Jacob? It must mean, therefore, the God of Abraham, who was the first of the Proselytes., Talmud Mas. Yoma 28b Rab said: Our father Abraham kept the whole Torah, Midrash Rabbah – Genesis 48:9 R. Abbahu said: The tent of our father Abraham opened at both sides., Midrash Rabbah – Genesis 39:3 Rabbi Berekiah commenced: We have a little sister– ahot: this refers to Abraham, who united the whole world for us., Midrash Rabbah – The Song of Songs 1:59: My beloved is to me as a bag of myrrh. What is a bag of myrrh? R. Azariah in the name of R. Judah applied the verse to our father Abraham. Just as myrrh is the most excellent of spices, so Abraham was the chief of all righteous men., Talmud Mas. Baba Bathra 91a/91b On the day when Abraham our father passed away from the world all the great ones of the nations stood in line and said: ‘Woe to the world that has lost its leader and woe to the ship that has lost its pilot’., also see Psalms 47:10, Psalms 105:5-8, II Chron. 30:1, Matthew 8:11).

[29] See G. F. Moore, Christian Writers on Judaism, Harvard Theological Review, XIV, 1921, and E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1977). The chapter devoted to this subject is “The persistence of the view of Rabbinic Religion as one of legalistic works-righteousness”.

[30] An example with the ‘minim and enemies’ in sacred literature: In Pauline passages in the Teaching of the Apostles, the “enemies” of Paul could be seen not as Judaism and the Sages, but as Gnostic heretics. The minim in the Teaching of the Sages could be seen not as Christians but as pagan religions of the Greco-roman world. These types of paradigms and interpretations can go a long way in pulling together and unifying instead of separating and creating further division.

[31] See: B.Young, The Parables: Jewish Tradition and Christian Interpretation (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 1998). Many Christians are unaware that the only other literature which contains ‘parables’ is the Teaching of the Sages. This very fact shows a great area of common ground.

As David Flusser states, “The parables are at home exclusively in rabbinic Judaism. They are a typical form of teachings that characterize thought patterns near to the Pharisees.”

[32] R. Eckardt, Your People, My People: The Meeting of Jews and Christians (Quadrangle, New York, 1974). See especially chapter one, ‘The Christian Predicament’.

[33] C. Leighton, Christian Theology after the Shoah”, T. Frymer-Kensky, Christianity in Jewish Terms (Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 2000) page 42.

[34] To name a few books on this point: C. Braaten, and R. Jenson, Jews and Christians, People of God (Eerdmans Pub. Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., 2003), I. Greenberg, For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter Between Judaism and Christianity (Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 2004), D. Novak, Jewish-Christian Dialogue: A Jewish Justification (Oxford University Press, New York, 1989), F. Rothschild, Jewish Perspectives on Christianity ( Continuum, New York, 2000), T.Frymer-Kensky, Christianity in Jewish Terms (Westview press, Boulder, Colorado, 2000).

[35] Avodah Zarah 16b-17a “Our Rabbis taught: When R. Eliezer was arrested because of heresy they brought him up to the tribune to be judged… Said he to me: Thus was I taught [by Jesus the Nazarene—not in all manuscripts], ‘For of the hire of a harlot hath she gathered them and unto the hire of a harlot shall they return. They came from a place of filth, let them go to a place of filth.’ Those words pleased me very much, and that is why I was arrested for apostasy.”

[36] Eiruvin 13b Then a bath kol [heavenly voice] issued announcing, ‘both these and these are the words of the living God.’

Eiruvin 13b

[37] Moshe Aumann’s statement is appropriate at this point: “right now, in our own generation—into an epoch making change in the very nature of the Jewish-Christian encounter. It is a change that has the potential for reversing the negative relationship that has characterized this encounter ever since the inception of Christianity two thousand years ago. And yet, so few are aware of it, in both the Christian and the Jewish communities, that its continuation and full fruition in the years and decades to come is truly in jeopardy. For, clearly, such a process can feed only on widespread active participation by the members of both communities; and how can we have such participation in a process of which most people are still unaware?” (Aumann, Moshe, Conflict & Connection, The Jewish-Christian Triangle (Geffen Press, Jerusalem, 2003, page 38)

[38] Eiruvin 13b R. Abba stated in the name of Samuel: For three years there was a dispute between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel, the former asserting, ‘The halachah is in agreement with our views’ and the latter contending, ‘The halachah is in agreement with our views’. Then a bath kol-_heavenly voice issued announcing, ‘both these and these are the words of the living God.’, but the halachah is in agreement with the rulings of Beth Hillel’. Since, however, both are the words of the living God’ what was it that entitled Beth Hillel to have the halachah fixed in agreement with their rulings? Because they were kindly and modest, they studied their own rulings and those of Beth Shammai, and were even so humble as to mention the actions of Beth Shammai before theirs.

[39] *I want to give thanks to the following people for their help and input on this statement: Joshua and Lindsey Tallent, Cindy Wright, Elaine Ginn, David, Melinda and Stephen Torrence, Norbert Grabowiecki, and especially my lovely wife Joy.