March 2, 2011

THE PEOPLE OFF THE BOOK AND THE PEOPLE OF THE FOOTNOTES:

The Baffling Book: The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book by Timothy Beal (Adam Kirsch, February 24, 2011, New Republic)

AN OLD JOKE declares that America and England are divided by a common language. In the same way, you could say that Judaism and Christianity are divided by a common Bible—except that, historically speaking, the consequences of that division have not been a laughing matter. It is exactly because Jews and Christians agree on the divine status of the Hebrew Bible that their disagreement about the New Testament has been so fraught. To a believing Christian, a Hindu who venerates the Vedas would simply be an unbeliever, a heathen, and so he would present no particular theological challenge. But a Jew, who accepts part of the Christian Bible but not the whole, is something more troubling—a critic, a breeder of doubts. From the Jewish perspective, meanwhile, the Christian demotion of the Hebrew Bible to the Old Testament is especially bitter: the suggestion that Judaism has been superseded is even more objectionable than the idea that it was never true in the first place.

No one is better on the reason Jews and Christians ought to be reconciled than the late Richard John Neuhaus.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 2, 2011 6:41 AM
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