Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible

by Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, S.J.


On October 6, 2008, at the Second General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Albert Vanhoye presented this report on the 2001 Document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission on "The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible."

Larger Work

L'Osservatore Romano


20 – 22

Publisher & Date

Vatican, October 22, 2008

In 1996, after its partial renewal, the Pontifical Biblical Commission was invited by its president, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, to choose a new subject of research, which would be important for the life and mission of the Church today. Several subjects were proposed and voted upon. The subject that obtained the majority of votes was "Anti-Judaism and the Bible". The term "anti-Judaism" was preferred to "anti-Semitism" because it is more precise. In fact, there are other Semitic people in addition to the Jews.

Consequently, the Biblical Commission has shown herself to be faithful to the choice of this term, but she did not keep it in the title of her work. She adopted a wider and more positive perspective defining her subject under another formulation: "The Jewish people and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible".

Then a colleague pointed out that the expression "their Scriptures" is too vast a term since this is applied to the Mishna, the Tospehta, and the Talmud besides the Hebrew Bible. This is why we changed the term to "Sacred Scriptures", an expression used by the Apostle Paul at the beginning of his Letter to the Romans and which has the advantage of depressing religious respect for the writings designated in this way.

"The Jewish people and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible": Two distinct and complementary themes can be found in this title, which correspond to two questions. The first is: how is the Jewish people presented in the Christian Bible, that is to say in the Old Testament and in the New?

The second question is: What place do the "Sacred Scriptures" of the Jewish people occupy in the Christian Bible? The Document deals with these two questions in inverse order.

First it deals with the place occupied by the Old Testament in the Christian Bible and then the way the Jewish people are presented in both parts of this Bible, Old and New Testament. Let us say immediately that this a more open and more positive way of posing questions obtained as a result of the word "anti-Judaism" not appearing in any of the titles of the Document, nor in any of the chapter titles, nor in any paragraph titles.

On the other hand, it can be found in many places in the text, because this problem was not avoided but clearly confronted, without taking up the whole perspective, which remained above all positive, which makes — let us say — this Document a more efficient antidote to anti-Judaism.

The work of the Biblical Commission was done, as usual, in three steps. Firstly, monographical studies were written down by each member of the commission and were discussed in the plenary assembly. Afterwards, when the plan for the Document was established, the drafting of different parts of it was entrusted to several colleagues and then submitted for discussion.

Finally, the third step in which the different contributions were unified in one draft that was discussed, revised and voted on. The final draft was therefore the fruit of a collegial work.

This work was accomplished with scientific rigor and with a spirit of respect and love for the Jewish people. The texts were not treated superficially but were studied and researched. So the Document is not always easy to read. And the texts themselves inspire respect and love for the Jewish people. "In the Old Testament" indeed, the plan of God is a union of love with his people, a paternal love, a spousal love and, notwithstanding Israel's infidelities, God will never renounce it, but affirms it in perpetuity (Is 54:8; Jr 31:3).

In the New Testament, God's love overcomes the greatest obstacles; even if they do not believe in his Son whom he sent as their Messiah Saviour, Israelites are still loved (St Paul affirms this in his Letter to the Romans 11:28). Whoever wishes to be united to God, must also love them" (n. 86, end).

The Biblical Commission clearly oriented herself in the direction indicated by Pope Paul VI in his homily of 28 October 1965, the day of the promulgation of the Conciliar Document Nostra aetate, which dealt with relations with the non-Christian religions, particularly the Jewish one. Speaking of Jews, Paul VI wished "that we would have respect and love to them" and he also added "and that we would have hope in them". This extremely positive orientation leaves no room for anti-Judaism. It should be maintained most faithfully.

The Document is comprised of three large chapters. The first is entitled "The Sacred Scriptures of the Jewish People, fundamental part of the Christian Bible". We used beforehand "complementary part", which would have meant that without the Sacred Scriptures of the Jewish people, the Christian Bible would not be complete. This is completely true, but it is insufficient.

The Old Testament is not simply a piece among others in the Christian Bible. It is the base, the fundamental part. If the New Testament was established on another basis, it would have no real value. Without its conformity to the Sacred Scriptures of the Jewish people, it could not be presented as the accomplishment of God's project. When the Apostle Paul wants to express the essential element of Christian faith, he underlines this conformity twice, saying: "Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that on the third day, he was raised to life, in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared" (1 Cor 15:3-5).

The Christian faith then is not only based on events, but also on the conformity of these events with the revelation contained in the Sacred Scriptures of the Jewish people (n. 7). This constitutes evidently a very strong tie between Christians and Jews.

The first chapter presents a long demonstration of the affirmation contained in its title. First, it shows that "The New Testament recognizes the authority of the Sacred Scriptures of the Jewish people". It recognizes it implicitly by constantly using the same language of the one found in the Sacred Scriptures and by frequently alluding to passages of these texts. It also recognized this by using explicit quotations. The Document recalls in detail the multiple ways in which these explicit quotations are presented in the New Testament. The reader can tire of it, but this attention to these precise details demonstrates all its value.

Frequently, the New Testament uses some texts of the Jewish Bible to argue. "The New Testament recognizes a decisive value to an argumentation based on the Scriptures of the Jewish people". In the fourth Gospel, Jesus declares in this regard that the 'scripture cannot be set aside' (Jn 10:35). Its value comes from its being the 'word of God'" (ibid.).

"In his doctrinal argumentation, the Apostle Paul, particularly, relies constantly on the Scriptures of his people and he makes a clear distinction between scriptural argumentation and human reasoning. He attributes an irrefutable value to scriptural argumentation. For him, Jewish Scriptures are always valuable today to guide the spiritual life of Christians. In his Letter to the Romans, he writes: 'And all these things which were written so long ago were written so that we, learning perseverance and the encouragement which the scriptures give, should have hope' (Rm 15:4; cf. 1 Cor 10:11)".

Then the Document shows that "the New Testament asserts itself in conformity with the Jewish People's Scriptures". The New Testament manifests, in fact, a dual conviction: "on the one hand, what is written in the Jewish Bible has necessarily to be accomplished, as it reveals the design of God, which cannot fail to be realized. On the other hand, the life, the death and the Resurrection of Christ fully correspond to what was said in these Scriptures".

The Document delves deeply into the theme of the accomplishment of Scripture, because it is a very important theme in the relationship between Christians and Jews, and very complex. First this theme is dealt with in paragraph 8; it is picked up again in Chapter 2, paragraphs 19 to 21 at length.

The attainment of the Scriptures necessarily includes three aspects: a fundamental aspect of continuity with the revelation of the Old Testament, but at the same time an aspect of difference on certain points and a surpassing aspect.

A simple repetition of what existed in the Old Testament is not enough to allow us to speak about accomplishment. Decisive progress is essential. For example, let us take the theme of God's dwelling among his people. The first achievement was the Temple of Jerusalem built by Solomon. As splendid as it was, it was imperfect. At the moment of its inauguration, Solomon realized this, and said to God: "The heavens, the highest of the heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple built by me" (1 Kgs 8:27).

Soiled by the sins of the people, the Temple of Solomon was destroyed and the Jews were exiled. When they returned from exile, the temple was rebuilt. Was this then the accomplishment of God's project? Not at all, because again it had to do with a material construction, built by humans and could not really be God's home. It was different to Solomon's Temple, but instead of going towards decisive progress, the difference went towards inferiority. That is what the prophet Haggai noted when he asked the returning Jews: "Is there anyone left among you who saw this Temple in its former glory? And how does it look to you now? Does it not seem as though there is nothing there?" (Hg 2:3).

Therefore, the prophet announced an intervention by God. This intervention was realized in Christ's Paschal mystery. Jesus had announced it to the Jews saying: "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (Jn 2:19). The evangelist adds: "He was speaking of the Temple that was His body" (Jn 2:21). This time, the difference is radical.

As St Mark put it, instead of a "Temple made by human hands", it is a "Temple not made by human hands" (Mk 14:58) and this difference goes towards infinite superiority. The glorified body of Christ is really God's residence; "In him, in bodily form, lives divinity in all its fullness", as announced by the Letter to the Colossians (Col 2:9).

In paragraph 8, the Document states that conformity of the New Testament to the Jewish people's Scriptures is not complete, rather, it is "accompanied by some aspects of nonconformity". For example, this is the case in St Paul's Letters. "In the Letter to the Galatians and the one to the Romans, the Apostle argues starting from the Law" — that is to say the Old Testament — "to show that faith in Christ put an end to the regime of Law. It shows that the Law as revelation announced its own end as the necessary institution for salvation".

We could point out that in reality there is no "non-conformity" to the Jewish people's Scriptures taken as a whole, rather, a non-conformity to their institutional aspect and a conformity to their prophetic aspect, which is present in the Torah. In fact, the Old Testament is full of tension between these two aspects.

In St Paul's Letters, "the most significant phrase is the one from Rm 3:21 where the Apostle states that the manifestation of God's justice, in the justification through faith in Christ, is made 'independently from Law', but is however 'conforming to the witness of Law and the prophets'.

In a similar way, the Letter to the Hebrews shows that the Paschal Mystery of Christ conforms to the prophecies and to the pre-figurative aspect of Scriptures, but involves, at the same time, an aspect of non-conformity to the ancient institutions". Christ's personal sacrifice conforms to the prophetic oracles that denounced a lack of animal immolations, even if prescribed by the Law. The situation of Christ glorified conforms to the oracle of Ps 109 [110]:4 on the priesthood "according to 'the order of Melchizedek'"; it is, because of this, non-conforming to the Levitic priesthood. Often we can find both conformity and non-conformity.

In paragraph 21, the Document returns to the notion of accomplishment and declares that it is "an extremely complex notion, that can be easily falsified, if one insists unilaterally on continuity and on discontinuity." Therefore, the pastoral must take care not to falsify the notion of the accomplishment of the Scriptures.

The Document continues saying that "Christian faith recognizes the accomplishment in Christ, in the Scriptures and in Israel's attempts, but does not understand this accomplishment as the realization of what was written. Such a concept would be a reduction. In truth, in the mystery of the crucified and risen Christ, accomplishment is achieved in an unforeseen way. It is a passing.

"Jesus does not limit himself by playing a pre-ordained role — the role of the Messiah (victorious) — but he confirms a fullness to the notions of the Messiah and salvation, that we could not imagine beforehand; he filled them with a new reality; we could even say, on this subject of "new creation" (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15) . . .

"The Messianism of Jesus has a new and unpublished meaning . . . This gives place to renouncing excessive insistence, characteristic of a specific apologetic, on the value of the proof attributed to the accomplishment of the prophecies. This insistence contributed to making the judgment of Christians on Jews more severe as well as on their reading of the Old Testament: the more we find evidence of mention of Christ in the texts of the Old Testament and the more we find the incredulity of [the great majority] of Jews as obstinate and inexcusable".

Further on, the Document declares: "Although the Christian reader is aware that the internal dynamism of the Old Testament finds its goal in Jesus, this is a retrospective perception whose point of departure is not in the text as such, but in the events of the New Testament proclaimed by apostolic preaching".

The Document then reaches a conclusion concerning the Jews who do not believe in Christ: "It cannot be said, therefore, that Jews do not see what has been proclaimed in the text, but that the Christian, in the light of Christ and in the Spirit, discovers in the text an additional meaning that was hidden there."

The expression, as you can see, has deep nuances. The Christian interpretation surpasses the literal sense of certain texts; it confirms "a surplus of meaning", but not in an arbitrary way; it discovers this "surplus of meaning" in the texts themselves, because it "was hidden there".

In paragraph 64, the Document expresses the same idea in other terms. It states: "Christian readers were convinced that their Old Testament hermeneutic, although significantly different from that of Judaism, corresponds nevertheless to a potentiality of meaning that is really present in the texts. Like a 'revelation' during the process of photographic development, the person of Jesus and the events concerning Him now appear in the Scriptures with a fullness of meaning that could not be hitherto perceived".

According to the Document, it follows that "Christians can and ought to admit that the Jewish reading of the Bible is a possible one, in continuity with the Jewish Sacred Scriptures from the Second Temple period, a reading analogous to the Christian reading which developed in parallel fashion".

But the Document clearly states that while it is possible for Jews who do not believe in Christ, this reading is not possible for Christians, because it implies accepting all the presuppositions of Judaism, in particular those that "exclude faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God". "Both readings are bound up in the vision of their respective faiths, of which the readings are the result and expression. Consequently, both are irreducible." This position is valid for the Jewish reading in its entirety. It is not valid for reading all the details of the Biblical texts, because often the Jewish reading of details does not imply the refusal of faith in Christ. It simply corresponds to a reading made before Christ's coming.

Therefore the Document can declare that "On the practical level of exegesis, Christians can, nonetheless, learn much from Jewish exegesis practiced for more than two thousand years, and, in fact, they have learned much in the course of history". The Document adds that, reciprocally, "it is to be hoped" by Christian exegetes "that Jews themselves can derive profit from Christian exegetical research" (n. 22).

To complete the study of relationships between the New and the Old Testament, the Document studies the existing relationships, in Judaism and primitive Christianity, between Scriptures and Tradition. It finds some correspondence: Tradition gives life to Scriptures and then accompanies it, because "no written text can adequately express all the riches of tradition". Tradition determined, in particular, the canon of Scriptures. This determination was made progressively and did not end in the same result for Christians and Jews. Christians have the writings of the New Testament, over the books of the Old Testament, and, for the Old Testament itself, the Christian canon is more extensive than the Jewish canon of Scriptures. It also includes books written in Greek, whereas the text cannot be found in the Hebrew Bible. The Document takes this into account.

On the other hand, it points out that the reception of the Scriptures is not the same in Judaism as in Christianity. "For all the currents within Judaism during the period corresponding to the formation of the canon, the Law was at the centre. Indeed, in it were to be found the essential institutions revealed by God himself governing the religious, moral, juridical and political life of the Jewish nation after the Exile".

In the New Testament, on the contrary, "the general tendency . . . is to give more importance to the prophetic texts, understood as foretelling the mystery of Christ. The apostle Paul and the Letter to the Hebrews do not hesitate to enter into polemics against the Law". This difference in perspective is due to the fact that the Church of Christ is not a nation. The Apostle Paul strenuously fought against imposing on original Christians from pagan nations, the legislation and particular customs of the Jewish nation.

The second chapter of the Document examines the situation in a more detailed way. It takes into consideration the "fundamental themes in the Jewish Scriptures and their reception into faith in Christ" (nn. 19-65).

The Jewish people's Scriptures are received in the Christian Bible under the name Old Testament. The Document immediately points out that "By 'Old Testament' the Christian Church has no wish to suggest that the Jewish Scriptures are outdated or surpassed. On the contrary, it has always affirmed that the Old Testament and the New Testament are inseparable. Their first relationship is precisely that. At the beginning of the second century, when Marcion wished to discard the Old Testament, he met with vehement resistance from the post-apostolic Church".

"The title 'Old Testament' . . . is an expression coined by the apostle Paul to designate the writings attributed to Moses" (cf. 2 Cor 3:14-15). There Paul speaks about "reading the Old Testament" and then "when we read Moses". The meaning of the expression was given, since the end of the 2nd century, to apply it also to the other Sacred Scriptures of the Jewish people found in the Christian Bible. "Today in certain circles there is a tendency to use 'First Testament' to avoid any negative connotation attached to 'Old Testament'. But 'Old Testament' is a biblical and traditional expression which of itself does not have a negative connotation: the Church fully recognizes the importance of the 'Old Testament' as the Word of God. As for the expression 'First Testament', it can be found in Latin as prius testamentum or primum in the translation of the Letter to the Hebrews (9:15; primum in 9:18), but then this is not the Scriptures. This is the Covenant concluded on the Sinai, and of this 'first Covenant' it can be said that God made it 'old', when he announced the 'news' and it was since then bound to disappear (Heb 8:13)".

Therefore, in the New Testament, the expression "Primum Testamentum" has a negative connotation and "Old Testament" does not.

The polemic text of the Letter to the Hebrews is, generally speaking, consciously or unconsciously, ignored in the soothing declarations on the permanent validity of the first Covenant. The Document does not quote this text, but takes it into account, because it refrains from asserting the permanent validity of the Sinai Covenant. It mentions the permanent validity of the "covenant-promise of God", which is not a bilateral pact such as the Sinai Covenant, often broken by the Israelites. It is "all merciful" and "cannot be annulled" (n. 41). It "is definitive and cannot be abolished". In this sense, according to the New Testament, "Israel continues to be in a covenant relationship with God" (n. 42).

In the second chapter, the Document reviews no less than nine fundamental themes of the Jewish people's Scriptures, which are received in the faith in Christ. The two first ones have great breadth, because this is "God's revelation" and the situation of the "human person" under these two contrasting aspects of "grandeur and wretchedness".

The subsequent themes define God's plan, "liberating and salvific" plan, achieved through "the election of Israel", the people to whom God Offers "the Covenant" and "the Law".

The last themes deal with "prayer and cult, Jerusalem arid Temple". Then the "divine oracles of reproaches and condemnations", and finally the oracles of "promises".

The Document states that "the New Testament fully appropriates the great themes of the theology of Israel", but does not cease repeating what has already been written on this subject. It delves into them, and this requires surpassing in view of progression.

"The person and work of Christ together with the existence of the Church prolong this history". "Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the passage from one Testament to the other also involves ruptures. These do not submerge continuity. They presuppose it [on the contrary] in essentials. Yet these ruptures impinge upon whole tracts of the Law: for example, institutions like the levitical priesthood of the Jerusalem Temple; cult forms like animal sacrifice; religious and ritual practices like circumcision, rules concerning purity and impurity, dietary prescriptions; imperfect laws such as divorce; restrictive legal interpretations concerning the Sabbath. It is clear that — from the viewpoint of Judaism — these are matters of great importance. But it is also clear that the radical replacement in the New Testament was already adumbrated in the Old Testament and so constitute a potentially legitimate reading" (n. 64).

"Discontinuity on certain points is only the negative side of what is positively called progression. The New Testament attests that Jesus, far from being in opposition to the Israelite Scriptures, revoking them as provisional, brings them instead to fulfilment in His person, in His mission, and especially in His paschal mystery . . . In fact, none of the great Old Testament themes escapes the new radiation of Christological light" (n. 65).

In particular, "The New Testament takes for granted that the election of Israel, the people of the Covenant, is irrevocable: it preserves intact its prerogatives (Rm 9:4) and its priority status in history, in the offer of salvation (Acts 13:23 [Rm 1:16]) and in the Word of God (Acts 13:46).

But God has also offered to Israel a "new covenant" (Jer 31:31); this is now established through the blood of Jesus. The Church is composed of Israelites who have accepted the new covenant, and of other believers who have joined them. As a people of the new covenant, the Church is conscious of existing only in virtue of belonging to Christ Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, and because of its link with the apostles, who were all Israelites.

Far from being a substitution for Israel, the Church is in solidarity with it. To the Christians who have come from other nations, the apostle Paul declares that they are grafted to the good olive tree which is Israel (Rm 11:16, 17). That is to say, the Church is conscious of being given a universal horizon by Christ, in conformity with Abraham's vocation, whose descendants from now on are multiplied in a filiation founded on faith in Christ' (Rm 4:11-12; Gal 3:28-29)" (n. 65).

Therefore, the New Testament is situated in a line of deep faithfulness in relationship to the Sacred Scriptures of the Jewish people, however a faithfulness that is at the same time creative, conforming to the prophetic oracles that announced "the new covenant" (Jer 31:31) and the gift of a "new heart" and a "new spirit" (Ez 36:26).

The third chapter of the Document is called "The Jews in the New Testament". But it begins with a necessary statement, which is not lacking in usefulness, on the "different points of view" that exist "in Judaism after the exile" (nn. 66-69). In fact, it would be an error to conceive Judaism at that time as a monolithic reality. On the contrary, we must note the existence of different currents of thought and behaviour, which often opposed each other.

The Jewish historian Josephus distinguishes three "parts" or schools of thought, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and Essenes. However this list is not complete. "The relations between the different groups were at times severely strained, even to the point of hostility . . . The Qu'ran writings are full of polemics against the Jerusalem Sadducean hierarchy, wicked priests accused of violating the commandments, and they likewise denigrate the Pharisees".

The Document keeps this situation in mind, which is reflected in the New Testament writings. It distinguishes several subsequent periods: first, "the last centuries before Christ", then the 1st century after Jesus Christ, divided into thirds. The first third is the time of Jesus' life "which had already begun a little earlier, when Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great in 4BC", before [the beginning of] our era.

The Document states that "Jesus did not belong to any of the sects existing within Judaism at the time. He was simply one of the common people. Recent research has attempted to situate him in various contemporary contexts: a charismatic rabbi from Galilee, an itinerant Cynic preacher, and even a revolutionary zealot.

He does not fit into any of these categories". As for the group of disciples, then, "they could very well reflect the pluralism that existed in Palestine at that time" (n. 67).

The second third of the 1st century is the time "where the disciples of the risen Christ greatly increased in numbers and were organized into churches". The last third begins with "the Jewish revolt of 66-70", which provoked the Jewish war, and the downfall and destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. "When they speak of Judaism, Christian writings from this period were more and more influenced by this rabbinic Judaism then in the process of being formed. In certain areas, conflicts between the synagogue leaders and Jesus' disciples were bitter" (n. 69).

After this necessary prologue, the Document studies the way the Jews are presented in the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles. Then, in the Letters of Paul, James, Peter and Jude and in Revelation. The first phase is very significant. It declares that "the Gospels and Acts have a basic outlook on Jews that is extremely positive because they recognize that the Jews are a people chosen by God for the fulfilment of his plan of salvation. This divine choice finds its highest confirmation in the person of Jesus, son of a Jewish mother, born to be the Saviour of his people, one who fulfils his mission . . . The attachment to Jesus of a great number of Jews, during his public life and after his resurrection, confirms this perspective, as does Jesus' choice of 12 Jews to share in his mission and continue his work" (n. 70).

Another aspect of this situation is expressed in the following terms: "The Good News, accepted wholeheartedly in the beginning by many Jews, met with opposition from the leaders, who were eventually followed by the greater part of the people. The result was that between Jewish and Christian communities a conflict situation arose that clearly left its mark on the redaction of the Gospels and Acts" (n. 70).

These two aspects of this situation, the first, very positive, the second negative, can be found in all the writings of the New Testament. The second aspect gave rise to expressions of rejection and the creation of polemical texts. However, the Document states: "In the New Testament, the reproaches addressed to Jews are not as frequent or as virulent as the accusations against Jews in the Law and the Prophets. Therefore, they no longer serve as a basis for anti Jewish sentiment. To use them for this purpose is contrary to the whole tenor of the New Testament. Real anti Jewish feeling, that is, an attitude of contempt, hostility and persecution of the Jews as Jews, is not found in any New Testament text and is incompatible with its teaching. What is found are reproaches addressed to certain categories of Jews for religious reasons, as well as polemical texts to defend the Christian apostolate against Jews who oppose it" (n. 87).

Reproach never corresponds to hatred. The Document reminds us that, in the Acts of the Apostles, "Israel's sin was to have put to death the Prince of Life (Acts 3:15). "This sin . . . is recalled only as a basis for an appeal to conversion and faith. Besides, [the Apostle] Peter attenuates the culpability, not only of the 'Israelites' but also of their 'leaders' by saying that they acted 'out of ignorance' (3:17). Such forbearance is impressive. It corresponds to the teaching [who told us to love our enemies] (Lk 6:36-37) and example of Jesus [he prayed for those crucifying him] (Lk 23:24)" (n. 75). St Stephen, the first of the martyrs, faithfully followed this example (Acts 7:60).

As for polemical texts, thereby provoked by Jewish opposition to the Christian apostolate, the Document points out that since the "situation has radically changed", there is no longer any need to "interfere with relations between Christians and Jews" (n. 71).

In concluding, the Document states that the New Testament is "in serious disagreement with the vast majority of the Jewish people", because "it is essentially a proclamation of the fulfilment of God's plan in Jesus Christ (announced in the Old Testament), puts it in serious disagreement with the vast majority of the Jewish people who do not accept this fulfilment . . . Although profound, such disagreement in no way implies reciprocal hostility. The example of Paul in Rm 9:11 shows that, on the contrary, an attitude of respect, esteem and love for the Jewish people is the only truly Christian attitude in a situation which is mysteriously part of the beneficent and positive plan of God".

"Dialogue is possible, since Jews and Christians share a rich common patrimony that unites them. It is greatly to be desired that prejudice and misunderstanding be gradually eliminated on both sides, in favour of a better understanding of the patrimony they share and to strengthen the links that bind them" (n. 87).

In this direction, complete docility to the Word of God urges the Church to progress.

© L'Osservatore Romano

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