Addressing the Demonic in Sacred Texts

The Next Step in Catholic-Jewish Relations after the Holocaust
  • Ronald Modras


Gestures of friendship among Catholics and Jews have become commonplace enough in the last several years as to receive scant attention from the secular press. Such was the fate of two press releases sent out the same day, 15 July 1999, one from the American Jewish Committee in New York, the other from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. One related the contribution of a hundred thousand dollars by the American Jewish Committee to the Kosovo Relief Fund of Catholic Relief Services.


Burning Europe Boiling Sine Egypt 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (eds.), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, volume 10, Ambrose: Select Works and Letters (Peabody: MA: Henrickson, 1994), 440–450.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Edward H. Flannery, The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-three Centuries of Antisemitismy revised edition (New York: Paulist Press, 1985), 56–57.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Saint John Chrysostom, Discourses against Judaizing Christians, transi. Paul W. Harkins (Washingon, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1977).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Joshua Trachtenberg, The Devil and the Jews: The Medieval Conception of the Jew and its Relation to Modern Antisemitism (Cleveland/New York: Meridian; Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1961).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Among the more accessible English introductions to the Talmud are Hermann J. Strack, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1945);Google Scholar
  6. Moses Mielziner, Introduction to the Talmud (New York: Block, 1968);Google Scholar
  7. and the many works of Jacob Neusner, especially his Invitation to the Talmud (New York: Harper and Row, 1984).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    R. Travers Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (Clifton, NJ: Reference Book Publishers, 1966), 83.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Herford has no doubts about the matter, expressing his indebtedness to the work of Heinrich Laible, Jesus Christus im Talmud (Berlin, 1891).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Even if once accepts the argument of more than one Jesus in the Talmud, the Ben Stada and Ben Panděra references in the Talmud influenced the development of Jewish folktales in the post-Talmudic, medieval Toledot Yeshu, best described as a polemical counter-gospel. The main scholarly work on the topic is Samuel Krauss, Das Leben Jesu nach jüdischen Quellen (1902).Google Scholar
  11. See also Morris Goldstein, Jesus in the Jewish Tradition (New York: 1950).Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    Jacob Katz, Exclusiveness and Tolerance Studies in Jewish—Gentile Relations in Medieval and Modern Times (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961).Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    For an extensive treatment of the Noahide laws and their implications for Jewish—Christian dialogue, see David Novak, The Image of the non-Jew in Judaism: An Historical and Constructive Study of the Noahide Laws (New York/Toronto: Edwin Meilen Press, 1983) and Jewish—Christian Dialogue: A Jewish Justification (New York/ Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    For a full treatment of Maimonides’ view of Christianity, see David Novak, Jewish—Christian Dialogue: A Jewish Justification. (New York/Oxford, Oxford University, 1989), 57–72.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Walter M. Abbot, S.J. (General Editor). The Documents of Vatican II (New York: America Press, 1966), 660–668.Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    ‘Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate’, Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations, National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, 1967. Useful sources for this and other documentation on Jewish Christian relations can be found in Helga Croner (ed.), Stepping Stones to Further Jewish—Christian relations, (London/New York: Stimulus Books, 1977)Google Scholar
  17. and Helga Croner (ed.), More Stepping Stones to Jewish—Christian Relations: An Unabridged Collection of Christian Documents, 1975–1983 (New York: Paulist Press, 1985).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bishops’ Commitee on the Liturgy, National Conference of Catholic Bishops (Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1988).Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    Among the more valuable critiques attempting to balance and contextualize the Vatican document are John Pawlikowski, ‘The Vatican and the Holocaust: Putting We Remember in Context’, Dimensions, 12: 2 (11–16); Eugene Fisher, Catholics and Jews Confront the Holocaust and Each Other,’ America, 11 September 1999;Google Scholar
  20. Judith H. Banki, ‘Catholics and Jews: Vatican Holocaust Statement will help,’ Commonweal, 28 April 1998, 10–11.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    The classic expression of this theology is to be found in Charles Journet, L’Eglise du Verbe Incarné. 2 vols. (Bruges: Desclee, 1941). Vol.1 translated by A.H.C. Downes as The Church of the Word Incarnate (London/ New York: Sheed and Ward, 1955).Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    Eva Fleischner (ed.), Auschwitz: Beginning of a New Era? (New York: KTAV, 1977), 103–4.Google Scholar
  23. 26.
    Ronald Modras, ‘Christian Antisemitism and Auschwitz: some Reflections on Responsibility,’ New Theology Review 10:3 (Aug., 1997) 58–72.Google Scholar
  24. 27.
    Donald J. Dietrich, God and Humanity in Auschwitz: Jewish—Christian Relations and Sanctioned Murder. (New Brunswick, NJ/London: Transaction, 1995) 5.Google Scholar
  25. 28.
    James Parkes, Judaism and Christianity, (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1948), 167. The literature on the topic is too massive to list here. Some of the notable sources I have used here are:Google Scholar
  26. Gregory Baum, Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic? A Re-examination of the New Testament, rev. ed. (Glen Rock, NJ: Paulist Press, 1965);Google Scholar
  27. Rosemary Radford Ruether, Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism (New York: Seabury, 1979); in response to Ruether.Google Scholar
  28. Alan T. Davies (ed.), Antisemitism and the Foundations of Christianity (New York: Paulist Press, 1979);Google Scholar
  29. Samuel Sandmel, Anti-Semitism in the New Testament? (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978);Google Scholar
  30. Stephen Motyer, Your Father the Devil: A New Approach to John and ‘the Jews’ (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  31. 29.
    Richard L. Rubenstein and John K. Roth, Approaches to Auschwitz: The Holocaust and Its Legacy. (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1987), 43.Google Scholar
  32. 33.
    Raymond Brown, ‘The Narratives of Jesus’ Passion and Anti-Judaism,’ America (April 1, 1995), 12. See also Stephen J. Patterson, The God of Jesus: The Historical Jesus and the Search for Meaning, (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International), 207.Google Scholar
  33. 34.
    Luke Timothy Johnson, ‘The New Testament’s Anti-Jewish Slander and the Conventions of Ancient Polemic,’ Journal of Biblical Literature 108 (1989): 419–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 35.
    See Franklin Littell, The Crucifixion of the Jews (New York: Harper & Row, 1975).Google Scholar
  35. 39.
    ibid., 439, n.62. For a sense of how vigorous debates within the Pharisaic party could be, see Harvey Falk, Jesus the Pharisee: A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus, (New York: Paulist Press, 1985).Google Scholar
  36. 40.
    Luke Timothy Johnson, ‘Religious Rights and Christian Texts,’ in J. Witte, Jr., and J.D. van der Vyver, Religious Human Rights in Global Perspective, 2 vols. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1996), 1:76.Google Scholar
  37. 41.
    Phyllis Trible, Texts of Terror: Literary-feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives, (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984).Google Scholar
  38. 42.
    For a recent review of the rabbinic tradition on this matter, see Avi Sagi, ‘The Punishment of Amalek in Jewish Tradition: Coping with the Moral Problem,’ Harvard Theological Review, 87:3 (1994), 323–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 43.
    Jon D. Levenson, ‘Is There a Counterpart in the Hebrew Bible to New Testament Antisemitism,’ Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 22:2 (1985), 242–260, here 250.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald Modras

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations