Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

THEO 393 - Ecclesia and synagoga: an overview of the christian-jewish encounter

Spring 2012

Course Description:

By way of a comparison of the formative period of Christianity in the Jewish-Greco/Roman culture of the centuries I-V with the renewed understanding, manifest in the Catholic Church's stance toward Judaism since the promulgation of the declaration "Nostra Aetate" in 1965 at the II Vatican Council, this class will examine the complex, yet vital theological character of the relationship which links Christianity to Judaism. Students who take this course will:  (1) familiarize themselves with primary texts, learning to apply the relevant tools of critical analysis to the various kinds of documents covered in the course; (2) analyze and evaluate secondary literature; (3) synthesize the major elements of the material covered in the course; (4) learn to question, confirm, validate, and/or correct individually held uncritical attitudes.


Learning Objectives:

(1) Students will become acquainted with a selection of foundational Christian Scripture texts (Gospel of John; Pauline letters) as well as theological literature of various genres ("apologetics", "polemics", "dialogue") of the patristic period and present time, in order to gain a knowledge of the paths Christian communities have taken toward a theology of self-identity in relationship to their origin, Judaism. Through these texts the students will approach and become further sensitized to the common pool of theological terminology and belief statements that is the source for mutual antagonism and dialogue, ultimately underscoring the role of historical and present-day Judaism as an indispensable source of Christian Self-Understanding. 

            (2)    to systematic theological declarations. Moreover, students will become aware of the fundamental distinctions and, at the same time, close relationships between a religious text, the story of its reception in a religious community, and the doctrinal interpretation the text receives.

            (3) Students will be able to critically analyze the process of development, clarification and distinction of the Church's stance towards Jews and Judaism, thereby opening perspectives for the future of Christian identity in dialogue with other religions.

            (4) Students will be able to understand the intrinsic character of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity as a question of Christian self-identity, demonstrate knowledge of and the capacity to articulate a sufficiently mature and well-educated understanding of the historical and doctrinal texts dealing with the Christian posture toward Judaism, and develop an ability to reflect upon the applications of his/her beliefs or faith traditions concerning the Christian-Jewish relationship to decisions in his/her personal, professional, and civic life.



Assigned Readings:

·         Edward Kessler, Jewish-Christian Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

·         Weekly reading assignments (CN = “Classnotes”) made available on BLACKBOARD


Requirements for the Course and Evaluation:

Regular attendance (unless you have prior permission from the instructor, the Rome Center direction, or a documented medical condition) and active participation in class discussions are expected. Active participation in discussions depends on the completion of the weekly reading assignments. Questions will usually be included in the assignments to guide your reading of the texts, help you ask your own question, and facilitate discussion in class. Class will consist of an introductory lecture and the discussion of the primary texts and secondary literature. All class lectures will be found on Blackboard of the Loyola website. Students are expected to bring the photocopies of the required sources to classes in order to participate in class discussions.

The mid-term and final examinations, covering material in the assigned reading and the lectures, will each count for 1/3 of the final grade, leaving the last 1/3 for a term paper of 8-10 pages including bibliography.  Paper topics must be approved in advance by the instructor.  Active participation in all stages will be taken into account for the final grade. 



Grading Scale:

A 93-100; A- 90-92, B+ 87-89; B 83-86; B- 80-82; C+ 77-79; C 73-76; C- 70-72; D+ 67-69; D 60-66; F = below 60.  Determination of grades ultimately resides in the judgment of the instructor; however, if you ever feel that you have been graded inaccurately, please come to see me.




(I)                    Introduction to the course

                        Distinguishing qualities of this class; introduction to the notions of "ecclesia" and  "synagoga" in the New Testament. 

A "Sign of our time" : The Christian-Jewish Dialogue

(II)                               Ecclesia changing since Vatican II

Required Readings:              “Introduction”, in E. Kessler, Jewish-Christian Relations, pp. 1-24

                                                  Nostra Aetate (1965)  (CN 1)

                                                  Pope John Paul II: Allocution in the Great Roman Synagogue (April 13, 1986) (CN 2)

                                                  Pope Benedict XVI: Allocution in the Synagogue of Cologne (August 19, 2005) (CN 3)

Recommended Readings: “Signposts” since Vatican II  in Catholic-Jewish Relations (CN 4)


Ecclesia changing with Regard to the Relationship

between the First (Old) Testament and the Second (New) Testament

(III)                             Ecclesia changing with regards to the First Testament

Required Readings:             “Biblical interpretation”: Another side to the story, in E. Kessler, Jewish-Christian Relations, pp. 81-101

                                          The Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible (Part A and B I), 2002 (CN 5)

(IV)                             The case of the Gospel of John

Required Readings:              “The New Testament”, in E. Kessler, Jewish-Christian Relations, pp. 25-44.

The Gospel of John. Conflicts and Controversies (Various authors), SIDIC, Vol. XXXIV, no° 3, , 2-7; 19- 43 (CN 6)

(V)               Paul the Pharisee and the Law

Readings:                              Law - A way of life. SIDIC, Vol. XIX, no° 3, , 8-17 (CN 7)

                                                The letter of St. Paul to the Galatians

                                                Graham Stanton, "The Law of Moses and  the Law of Christ" (CN 8)

Recommended Reading:    Daniel R. Langton, “The Myth of the 'Traditional View of Paul' and the Role of the Apostle in Modern Jewish-Christian Polemics” (CN 9)



"The Recognition of Two parted Ways : The Patristic Period


(VII)                The historical evaluation of the anti-Judaism of the Church Fathers

Readings:              “The writings of the Church Fathers”, in E. Kessler, Jewish-Christian Relations,  pp. 45-64

                            “The writings of the Rabbis”, in in E. Kessler, Jewish-Christian Relations, pp. 65-80

                            James D. G. Dunn,  The Parting of the ways, 230-259 (CN 10)

                           Annette Yoshiko Reed & Adam H. Becker; The Ways that never parted. Traditional Models and  New Directions, 1-33 (CN 11)


(VIII)              Christian dialogue as apologetic: Justin the Martyr

Readings:              Quasten, Patrology 197-203 / Justin the Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 1, 8-30, 45-47, 130-136, 142 (CN 12)

                            Judith Lieu, “Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho” (ch.4), Image and Reality, 103-153 (CN 13)


(IX)                 Judaism in the Golden Age of Patristic theology: Augustine of Hippo

Readings:              Augustine, City of God, 18.46-48. Contra Faustus, Book 12 (CN 14)

                            Paula Fredriksen, “Excaecati Occulta Justitia Dei: Augustine on Jews and Judaism.”  (CN 15)



"The Regognition of the inseparable parted Ways":

"Jewish" Themes of Christian Theology

(X)                   The Covenant that has never been revoked

Readings:              Ruth Langer, “Jewish-Christian Dialogue about Covenant”, Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 2 (2007)  (CN 16)

                            William Bellinger, “Response to: Jewish-Christian Dialogue about Covenant”, Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 2 (2007) (CN 17)

                            Irving Greenberg, “Judaism and Christianity: Covenants of Redemption”, Christianity in Jewish Terms, 141-158 (CN 18)

                            R. Kendall Soulen ,“Israel and the Church: A Christian Response to Irving Greenberg’s Covenantal Pluralism”, Christianity in Jewish Terms, 167-174 (CN 19)

(XI)                 One God, One Lord: Christological perspectives arising from the Christian-Jewish dialogue

Readings:         Steven Kepnes, “‘Turn us to You and We shall Return’: Original Sin, Atonement, and   Redemption in Jewish Terms, Christianity in Jewish Terms, 293- 304 (CN 20)

                        Laurie Zoloth, “Exile and Return in a World of Injustice, A Response to Steven Kepnes”, Christianity in Jewish Terms, 305-312 (CN 21)

                        Miroslav Volf, “The Lamb of God and the Sin of the World”, Christianity in Jewish Terms, 313-319 (CN 22)



(XII)                Post-Holocaust Dialogues 

Readings:              “Antisemitism and the Holocaust”, in E. Kessler, Jewish-Christian Relations, pp. 124-146.

                            Steven T. Katz, “Emil Fackenheim on Jewish life after Auschwitz”, in Post- Holocaust Dialogues. Critical Studies in Modern Jewish Thought, New York 1983,  205-247 (CN 23)

                            Eliezer Berkovits, Faith after the Holocaust New York 1973 (CN 24)

                            Benedict XVI, Address on his visit to the Auschwitz Camp 28/05/2006 (CN 25)


(XIII)              "Understanding the Brother: regaining of “Self-Identity” in the “You- Identity"

Readings:              “Zionism and the state of Israel”, in E. Kessler, Jewish-Christian Relations, pp. 147-169.

                             “Jewish-Christian relations and the wider interfaith encounter”, in E. Kessler,  Jewish-Christian Relations, pp. 191-211 (CN 26)

                             Leon Klenicki, “On Christianity: towards a process of historical and spiritual healing. Understanding the other as a person of God”, in SIDIC, Vol. XXIV, no°2,  25-41 (CN 27)

                              Christian M. Rutishauser, “Jewish-Christian Dialogue and the Theology of Religions”, in Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations, 53-66 (CN 28)

                         FINAL EXAMINATION

Some suggested Research Paper Topics:

·         Locating Jesus among the three major Second Temple groups

·         Gospel of John: intra-Jewish conflict or anti-Jewish polemic?

·         Paul and the Mosaic Law

·         Paul and Universalism of salvation vs. Jeswish particularism

·         The perception  of Jews in Christian texts in late antiquity

·         Post-Holocaust Reconsturctions of the Jesish-Christian Relationship in Jewish and Christian theological works

·         Christian theological topics (justice, law, election, faithfulness...) in the light of Jewish spirituality

·         moving from Dialectic to Dialogue in post-Holocaust Jewish-Christian relations