restricted access In Our Time: Nostra Aetate—How Catholics and Jews Built a New Relationship by James M. Barrens, and: Post-Holocaust Jewish-Christian Dialogue: After the Flood, before the Rainbow ed. by Alan L. Berger, and: Seeking Shalom: The Journey to Right Relationship between Catholics and Jews by Philip A. Cunningham, and: The Holocaust and Nostra Aetate: Toward a Greater Understanding ed. by Carol Rittner (review)
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James M. Barrens, In Our Time: Nostra Aetate—How Catholics and Jews Built a New Relationship. St. Petersburg, FL: Mr. Media Books, 2015. Pp. 114. $5.99, paper.
Post-Holocaust Jewish-Christian Dialogue: After the Flood, before the Rainbow. Edited by Alan L. Berger. Lanham, MD, and London: Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield), 2015. Pp. 162. $39.99, paper.
Philip A. Cunningham, Seeking Shalom: The Journey to Right Relationship between Catholics and Jews. Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2015. Pp. 268. $30.00, paper.
The Holocaust and Nostra Aetate: Toward a Greater Understanding. Edited by Carol Rittner. Greensburg, PA: National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education, Seton Hill University, 2017. Pp. 239. $15.00, paper.

These four books celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of what was has been called the most revolutionary document of our times, Nostra aetate( NA), promulgated by the Second Vatican Council on October 28, 1965. Barrens's In Our Timesuccinctly summarizes for the general reader the significance of the document, especially its fourth section on Jews and Judaism, and subsequent Catholic Church documents expanding its implications. NArejected two millennia of Christian teaching of contempt against Jews and Judaism in favor of acknowledging the ongoing validity of God's covenant with the Jews as the People of God. Barrens summarizes the tragic history of accusing the Jews collectively of killing Jesus and of claiming that Judaism (the revelation by God to the Jewish People in the Hebrew Scriptures [HS]) had been superseded or replaced by Christianity. The teaching of contempt led to persecution and massacres of Jews, to their marginalization and being forced into ghettos, and to blood-libel charges and expulsion from numerous European countries beginning with England in the twelfth century. The teaching of contempt laid the groundwork for the development of modern racial Antisemitism and the Holocaust/ Shoah, the founding of the State of Israel as a refuge for Jewish survivors, and the Catholic examination of conscience led by such figures as Saints John XXIII and John Paul II, French Jewish historian Jules Isaac, Cardinal Augustin Bea S.J., and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Barrens presents the teachings of NAand the fruits of Catholic-Jewish dialogue since the Council, concluding with Pope Francis and the future of the relationship. Appended are key texts and a short bibliography. It is an excellent book for beginners in the field and for local parish/synagogue dialogue groups. [End Page 352]

Cunningham's lengthier study will be richly rewarding for those who wish to delve more deeply into the re-thinking of Catholic understandings of the HS and the New Testament (NT), as well as the new theological understandings and insights precipitated by NAand subsequent Catholic-Jewish dialogue, with regard to both Judaism and our understanding of the nature of the church and of many of the central elements of our faith. He makes full use of the relevant Catholic documents, both of the Holy See and the U.S. Catholic Bishops, especially God's Mercy Endures Forever: Guidelines on the Presentation of Jews and Judaism in Catholic Preaching(Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, 1988). Cunningham surveys biblical scholarship, in which Catholic scholars were allowed to engage by Pope Pius XII's classic encyclical, Divino afflante Spiritu(1943), how historical-critical biblical scholarship laid the groundwork for NA, and how NAaltered our understanding of the Bible in general and of the NT—especially the epistles of St. Paul, the Gospels' presentation of Judaism, the passion narratives, and Christology. Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism are seen as intertwining branches from the root of Second Temple Judaism (see Romans 9–11).

NAand subsequent official documents, which in turn have been based upon the best of Catholic biblical and theological scholarship developed in dialogue with contemporary Jews, represent for Cunningham, citing the words of Cardinal Walter Kasper, the "beginning of a new beginning," in which we are retelling the Christian story not in isolation from but in relationship with the People of God, the Jews and, indeed, the two millennia of rabbinic tradition that has developed alongside of but mainly in isolation from Catholic tradition. Cunningham asks...


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