© 2017

Jewish Conscience of the Church

Jules Isaac and the Second Vatican Council

  • Tells how the Catholic Church came to clarify the role of Israel in salvation history.

  • Demonstrates the importance of Jules Isaac in French Jewish history.

  • Explains how Isaac set in motion the train of events that lead directly to the conciliar statement on Jews.


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxxv
  2. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 1-6
  3. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 7-28
  4. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 29-50
  5. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 51-76
  6. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 77-89
  7. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 91-122
  8. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 123-141
  9. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 143-162
  10. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 163-182
  11. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 183-193
  12. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 195-215
  13. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 217-238
  14. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages 239-251
  15. Norman C. Tobias
    Pages C1-C4
  16. Back Matter
    Pages 253-307

About this book


This book presents the backstory of how the Catholic Church came to clarify and embrace the role of Israel in salvation history, at the behest of an unlikely personality: Jules Isaac. This embrace put to an end the tradition, more than fifteen centuries old, of anti-Jewish rhetoric that had served as taproot to racial varieties of anti-Semitism.  Prior to Isaac’s thought and activism, this contemptuous tradition had never been denounced in so compelling a manner that the Church was forced to address it. It is a story of loss and triumph, and ultimately, unlikely partnership.

 Isaac devoted his years after World War II to a crusade for scriptural truth and rectification of Christian teaching regarding Jews and Judaism. Isaac’s crusade culminated in an unpublicized audience with Pope John XXIII—a meeting that moved the pope to make a last-minute addition to the Second Vatican Council agenda and set in motion the events leading to a revolution in Catholic teaching about Jews.


Pope Vatican Holocaust Catholic Scripture Theology

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

About the authors

Norman C. Tobias, who holds a PhD in religious studies from the University of Toronto, Canada, is a practicing tax lawyer and former adjunct professor of law, Queen’s University, Canada. 

Bibliographic information


“The book represents an important contribution to the recent scholarship on Nostra Aetate and the development of Catholic teaching on Judaism. … Tobias’ book also gives an inside account of the pre-history and history of Nostra Aetate thanks to his interviews with Gregory Baum and Thomas Stransky.” (Massimo Faggioli, Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations, Vol. 13 (1), 2018)