When, in ancient times, people read the account of the life of Abraham, it was common for them to ask, “When did Abraham finally make the grade? At which point in his life was Abraham approved and accepted by God?”
Among the more creative scriptural interpretations related to the fulfillment of prophecy in our day is one centering on Jeremiah 16:16. According to it, the “hunters” in this verse are the brutal pursuers of the Jewish people, such as the Nazis who systematically murdered millions of Jews. The “fishers,” on the other hand, are the quiet and gentle persons who assist the Jewish people, for instance, the Christians who presently are engaged in rescuing Jews from the republics of the former Soviet Union.
One of the most poignant pictures which exemplify the chasm of historical misunderstanding between Jews and Christians is that found in Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. It is a photograph of a life-size crucifix that stood outside an unknown German village prior to World War II. In a twist of tragic irony a sign was hung on the cross to warn Jews not to enter the village. It read: “Jews are not welcome here.”
The apostle Paul asserted in Romans 11:1 that God had not rejected his people. Speaking metaphorically, he went on to compare the people of Israel to a cultivated olive tree. Because of unbelief, some, but not all, of the tree’s branches had been broken off, and a wild olive branch had been grafted to the stock. Paul emphasized, however, that grafting the original branches back to the stock of the cultivated tree would be a much simpler task than grafting a wild olive to it.
According to the New Testament, a pagan who becomes a follower of Jesus and enters the Kingdom of Heaven (in conservative Christian parlance, “gets saved”) becomes part of the Commonwealth of Israel.
As practitioners of Jesus’ teachings, our conduct certainly should be characterized by charity, but a helping hand with strings attached or expectations appended is not pleasant. This constitutes one of the mysterious aspects of the kingdom of heaven. It is The Transparent Agenda, a mandate to do good to all without prejudice and without expectations.
Most English translations consistently translate the Greek word Ioudaioi as “Jews.” But this inflexible translation has often contributed to an anti-Semitic interpretation of the New Testament.
Based on studies held for lay audiences over the years by a Dominican priest and a Jewish rabbi, this book focuses on seven themes particularly relevant to Jewish-Christian dialogue today: The Great Commandment, the synagogue, the parable, halachah, the Sabbath, divorce and forgiveness.
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