Mature Christianity in the 21st Century
Mature Christianity in the 21st Century

Mature Christianity in the 21st Century

The Recognition and Repudiation of the Anti-Jewish Polemic of the New Testament


362 Pages, 6.4 x 9.32

Formats: Hardcover

Hardcover, $34.95 (US $34.95) (CA $38.95)

Publication Date: April 1994

ISBN 9780824513580

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It is a common phenomenon in the history of religions for a new religious community to break away from its parent community, often with scorn and rejection. But in the case of Christianity and Jewish religion, anti-Jewish polemic in the sacred scriptures of the newer religious community has provided for later generations the theological basis for oppressive and dehumanizing treatment of those who have continued to adhere to the old religion. Now that the new religion has itself attained maturity, the time is ripe for sincere and responsible self-criticism, and Mature Christianity is a contribution to this important theological agenda.The first classification of anti-Jewish polemic identified within Mature Christianity is Christological. It is present in every segment of the New Testament and can be expressed in such simple terms as: Then Adonai was Lord, but now Jesus is Lord. Somewhat as Jews understood God (Elohim) through Adonai their Lord, the followers of Jesus began to understand God (Theos) through Jesus their Lord, an identity normative for Christians since that time. Mature Christianity asserts that the polemical aspect of the belief in Jesus as Lord can be eliminated without repudiating the Christological essence of Christianity.Supersessionistic, the second classification of anti-Jewish polemic within the New Testament, has caused Christians largely to isolate themselves from Jewish expressions of faith in God during the past nineteen centuries. Beck shows that this theological isolation can be broken as Christianity matures and as theological conversation between Jews and Christians increases. Mature sensitivity is needed in the Christian translation and usage of New Testament material that includes anti-Jewish supersessionistic polemic.The third type of anti-Jewish polemic within the New Testament - an outgrowth of the supersessionistic polemic - is defamatory polemic. Defamatory polemic is not essential to the Christian message nor to Christianity; it is negative and damaging to Jews and dehumanizing to Christians. Mature Christianity repudiates the defamatory anti-Jewish polemic of the New Testament.Norman A. Beck carefully identifies the anti-Jewish polemic within each New Testament document, discusses reasons for the development of that polemic, places the anti-Jewish polemic of the New Testament into specific classification, and suggests ways in which mature Christians can repudiate the defamatory anti-Jewish polemic of the New Testament without damage to their theology.