The Word of God: Source of Dialogue between Christians and Jews

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Synod of bishops. XII ordinary general assembly

Città del Vaticano       11/05/2008

55. Special attention is given to the Jewish people. Christians and Jews are both children of Abraham, grounded in the same Covenant, because God, who is always faithful to his promises, has not revoked the first Covenant (cf. Rm 9-11) (99). According to Pope John Paul II, "this people was gathered together and led by God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Thus its existence is not a mere fact of nature or culture, in the sense that through culture man displays the resources of his own nature. It is a supernatural fact. This people perseveres in spite of everything because they are the people of the Covenant, and despite human infidelities, the Lord is faithful to his Covenant" (100). Christians and Jews share a major part of the canonical books of the Bible. Christians refer to their "Holy Scriptures" (cf. Rm 1:2) as the Old Testament.

This close relationship based on the Bible gives a unique character to the dialogue between Christians and Jews. In this regard, the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s document, entitled The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible (101) reflects on the close association of the two in faith, which is equally mentioned in Dei Verbum (cf. DV 14-16). Recognizing Jesus of Nazareth to be a "son of the Jewish people " (102) can lead to a better understanding of his Person. Jesus is and always will be a Jew.

Particular consideration should be given to the following two points. Firstly, the Jewish understanding of the Bible can be of assistance in the Christian understanding and study of the Bible (103). In some cases, ways to study Sacred Scripture together are being developed—and can be further developed—providing occasion to learn from each other, while closely respecting each’s differences. Secondly, efforts need to be made to eliminate every form of anti-Semitism. The Second Vatican Council emphasized that the Jews "should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures" (NA 4). On the contrary, Pope John Paul II often made reference to the fact that, because of Abraham, we can and should become a source of blessing for each other and the world (104).

(99) Cf. IOANNES PAULUS II, Allocutio Mogontiaci ad Iudaeos habita Veteris Testamenti Hæreditas ad pacem et iustitiam fovendas trahit (Mains, 17.11.1980): AAS 73 (1981) 78-82.
(100) IOANNES PAULUS II, Ai partecipanti all’incontro di studio su Radici dell’antigiudaismo in ambiente cristiano (31.10.1997), 3: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, 20/2, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 2000, p. 725.
(101) Cf. PONTIFICIA COMMISSIO BIBLICA, Le peuple juif et ses Saintes Écritures dans la Bible chrétienne (24.05.2001): Enchiridion Vaticanum 20, EDB, Bologna 2004, pp. 506-834.
(102) Ibidem, 2, p. 524; cf. RATZINGER J., Jesus of Nazareth, Doubleday, New York 2007, pp. 101ff.
(103) Cf. Cf. PONTIFICIA COMMISSIO BIBLICA, Le peuple juif et ses Saintes Écritures dans la Bible chrétienne (24.05.2001) 22: Enchiridion Vaticanum 20, EDB, Bologna 2004,, pp. 584-586.
(104) Cf. IOANNES PAULUS II, Messaggio agli Ebrei polacchi in occasione del 50º Anniversario dell’insurrezione (06.04.1993): Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, 16/1, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1993, p. 830: "As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing for the world (Cf. Gen 12: 2ff). This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to be first a blessing to one another."

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