Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

THEO 393: Seminar in Ecclesia & Synagoga

Spring 2013

THEO 393 Ecclesia and Synagoga:

The foundational meaning of the Christian-Jewish Encounter for Christian self-understanding



Instructor:       Prof. Philipp G. Renczes, S.J.

                         Piazza della Pilotta, 4

                         I-00187  Roma

                         tel.: 06/67015378

                         cell phone: 347/5220075

                         e-mail: renczes@unigre.it                              


Office:             JFRC, 103


Office Hours:  Monday 5:45 - 6:45 p.m.  Students who wish to see me during this hour may schedule an appointment with me beforehand (renczes@unigre.it).  In addition, arrangement for informal conversations outside class concerning matters from the course can be made.


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) Students will demonstrate knowledge of the historical contexts of biblical and patristic texts, in order to distinguish specific polemics that have grown out of particular events ranging from universal accusations 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 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.





Jan. 14         (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


Jan.  21          (II)      Ecclesia changing since Vatican II


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

                                 Nostra Aetate (1965)

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

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

Recommended Readings:                “Signposts” since Vatican II in Catholic-Jewish Relations


Jan 28             (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


"The Parting of the Ways": The New Testament Writings


Feb 04                        (IV)     The Gospel of John: conflicts and controversies


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

                                               Extracts of the Gospel of John

                                               Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John : a commentary  (volume 1), 214-228




Feb 11                        (V)       Paul the Pharisee


Required Readings:            St. Paul, Letter to the Philippians (Ch. 3)

                               St. Paul, Letter to the Galatians

                               SIDIC, Law - A way of life. Vol. XIX, no° 3, 8-17


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

                                               Daniel Boyarin, A Radical Jew, Paul and the Politics of Identity, 39-56


"The Recognition of the parted Ways : The Patristic Period


Feb 18                        (VI)     The historical evaluation of the anti-Judaism of the Church                                                     Fathers


Required 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

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

Recommended Reading: Paula Fredriksen, What “Parting of the Ways”? Jews, Gentiles, and the Ancient Mediterranean                                                City, 35- 63         


Feb 25                        (VII)   MID-TERM EXAMINATION



Mar 11           (VIII)  Christian dialogue as apologetic: Justin the Martyr



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


                                               Justin the Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 1, 8-30, 45-47, 130-136, 142


Mar 15           (IX)     Judaism in the Golden Age of Patristic theology: Augustine of Hippo


Required Readings:            Augustine, City of God, 18.46-48. Contra Faustus, Book 12


                                               Paula Fredriksen, “Excaecati Occulta Justitia Dei: Augustine on Jews and Judaism.”,                                                   Journal of Early Christian Studies 3 (1995), 299-324

Recommended Reading: Jason Byasse, “Allegory and the Jews”, Praise seeking Understanding, 149-193







"The Regognition of the inseparable parted Ways": "Jewish" Themes of Christian Theology



Mar 18           (X)      The Covenant that has never been revoked


Required Readings:            Ruth Langer, “Jewish-Christian Dialogue about Covenant”, Studies in Christian-Jewish                                                             Relations 2 (2007), Artikel 26

                                                                                              William Bellinger, “Response to: Jewish-Christian Dialogue about Covenant”, Studies in                                                             Christian-Jewish Relations 2 (2007), Article 27

                                                                                              Irving Greenberg, “Judaism and Christianity: Covenants of Redemption”, Christianity in                                                           Jewish Terms, 141-158.

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




Apr 25            (XI)    One God, One Lord: Christological perspectives arising from the        Christian-Jewish dialogue


Requrired Readings:          Philip A. Cunningham, “A Covenantal Christology”, in Studies in Christian-Jewish                                                       Relations, 41-52

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

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

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







Apr 08            (XII)   Post-Holocaust Dialogues

Required 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

                                               Michael Morgan, “The Reception of Jewish Thought”, in Beyond Auschwitz: post-Holocaust                                      Jewish thought in America, Oxtord 2001, 196-218

                                               Benedict XVI, Address on his visit to the Auschwitz Camp 28/05/2006


Recommended Reading: Isaac C. Rottenberg, “The Holocaust and Belief in a God of Holy Love” (ch. 8) and “The                                            Holocaust and the Development of Church Doctrine” (ch. 9), Christian-Jewish Dialogue:                                           Exploring our commonalities and our differences, 89-103



Apr 15            (XIII)  "Understanding the Brother: regaining of “Self-Identity” in the “You-                                  Identity"


Required Readings:            “Zionism and the state of Israel”, in E. Kessler, Jewish-Christian Relations, pp.                                                              147169.


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


                                               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

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

Recommended Reading: Joseph Ratzinger, (Pope Benedict XVI) “Interreligious Dialogue and Jewish-Christian                                                               Relations” in Communio 25 (1998): 29-41 http://www.communio-icr.com/



  To be determined by the JFRC                                

                                   FINAL EXAMINATION (as scheduled by the JFRC)



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