Prominent Rabbi Provides Controversial Perscription for Interfaith Dialog, But is Viewing Jesus as an "Unfished Messiah" for the Gentiles Going Too Far?

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In more than 40 years of pioneering the Jewish-Christian dialog, the prominent rabbi, Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, has been at once embraced and ostracized by both Christian and Jewish leaders.

In more than 40 years of pioneering the Jewish-Christian dialog, the prominent rabbi, Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, has been at once embraced and ostracized by both Christian and Jewish leaders.

And for good reason. Never before has any religious leader, let alone an Orthodox rabbi, had the courage or insight to cut to the very heart of the divide between these religions—offering an honest critique of both—and with great hope, suggesting a visionary prescription for healing and change on both sides.

Now for the first time, religious leaders, scholars, and lay people of both faiths have access to this important theologian’s ideas and arguments in his new book, For the Sake of Heaven and Earth (Jewish Publication Society, $20 paperback). Within these pages (essays written from 1969-2000, as well as much new material) are Greenberg’s core assertions:

On the validity of pluralism: “It was God’s will that Christianity be born within Judaism,” says Greenberg, “that it separate itself and reach out to Gentiles with the good news of God the Creator, the God of Israel, and the Divine call to humanity to perfect the world. The two religions were intended to work side by side, appealing to different groups and disagreeing on important issues but as partners nevertheless with God and humanity, and with each other.”

On theological misreading: The theological misreading (e.g. Christian supercessionism and Jewish dismissal of Christianity as false or idolatrous) led to a destructive relationship for the past 1,900 years, which must now be corrected.

On the Christian Messiah: In his essay, Covenants of Redemption, Greenberg makes a convincing case that Jews and Christians are not as totally contradictory on this issue of Christ as is the popular impression. In this discussion, he presents his most provocative assertion—that for purposes of a “new encounter” Jesus can be viewed by both faiths as an “unfinished messiah for the Gentiles.” For Christians, this view acknowledges Christ’s unfinished work while at once affirming the Second Coming. For Jews, this view requires the acknowledgement that Jesus is a messenger of Divine to humanity. But whether or not this more modern theological thought takes deeper root in Christianity, ultimately both sides must “Leave it to God what religious messages should be given, and to other faith communities how signals should be heard…unless that have evil consequences.”

Five short responsive essays by noted Jewish and Christian scholars James Carroll, David Novak, Mary Boys, Michael Novak and Krister Stendhal and a study guide round out this breakthrough work and offer readers plenty of “spiritual food for thought.”

Contact:

Laurie Schlesinger

800-234-3151 ext. 5613

lschlesinger@jewishpub.org

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