Amy-Jill Levine is an interesting scholar. An Orthodox Jew she is at the same time, a Professor of New Testament studies in the Vanderbilt University Divinity school. I’ve recently read her book, The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus. She makes to points in direct opposition to points made by blog neighbor David Schraub.¬† Mr Schraub has contended on a number of occasion that the notion of a Judeo-Christian tradition is a false one. Ms Levin’s entire thesis and work is built on that bridge. Additionally, he has in a number of occasions advocated that for various situations apology for wrongs generations ago should be made by the descendents. In opposition to this notion in the context of anti-Semitism, Ms Levine offers (on more than one occasion in this book):

¬†Park guilt and entitlement at the door before engaging in interfaith conversation. Some Christians come t the interfaith table so aware of their history of supersessionism, anti-Semitism, and violence against Jews that they avoid claiming that Jesus is the Messiah, for to do so would be telling Jews that Judaism is wrong. [….] Conversely, aware of the tragic histry of supersessionism, anti-Semitism, and violence against Jews, some Jews come the the table with a sense of entitlement: they seek apologies rather than engagement. Neither approach is useful. Christians today are not responsible for the sins of the past; Jews today are not in the position to grant forgiveness for those sins. Neither Judaism nor Christianity has a pristine history, and victimization is not something to be celebrated. [note: emphasis mine]

These highlight the twin problems which Mr Schraub and the “apology” advocates in Jewish or racial matters miss.

  1. Those in the present are not responsible for past sins and those descendents of those wronged are not in a position to grant absolution or forgiveness for those sins at any rate.
  2. Coming to the table with an expectation of entitlement or a consciousness of guilt is not conducive to engagement or rapprochement.

Filed under: BooksCultureMark O.Race Issues

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