Page 65 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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ECKARDT / CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS
5 5
(Siebenstern Taschenbuch Verlag, 1975); and Rolf Rendtorff,
Israel und sein Land
(Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1975). O f collateral
interest, consult W.D. Davies’ adm irable work,
The Gospel and the
Land: Early Christianity and Jewish Territorial Doctrine
(Univ. o f
California Press, 1974).
The following are among salient developments and issues
within the recent and ongoing dialogue.
1.
Political theology and/or the end of theology.
O u r phrasing places
the subject o f the State of Israel and Zionism within the larger
frame o f reference o f national and laic existence as such, toge ther
with the question o f theology’s life-death. It was Richard L.
Ruben ste in ’s p ro fo u n d con tribu tion in
After Auschwitz
and
elsewhere to com prehend the
shoah
as the nemesis o f the whole
theological enterprise. But this judgm en t applies much more to
the Christian than to the Jewish dispensation. T rue , the
shoah
remains as a most severe crisis for Jewish covenantal theology.
But the Jew is still able to say, in Martin A. Cohen’s words, tha t
“the full humanization” o f the species persists as “the sacred task
o f the post-Auschwitz Jew” (“The Mission o f Israel A fter Au­
schwitz,” in C roner and Klenicki, eds
. , Issues . .
.). By contrast, the
shoah
calls to the bar o f judgm en t all Christian theologizing vis-a-
vis the Jewish people (cf. A. Roy Eckardt,
Your People, My People:
The Meeting ofJews and Christians,
Quadrangle/New York Times,
1974). Irving G reenberg’s admonition, “no statement, theological
or other, should be made tha t would not be credible in the
presence of the bu rn ing children” (in Fleischner, ed.,
Auschwitz
. . .), while not without applicability to Jewish theology, is p r im a r­
ily an indictment o f the entire Christian tradition.
In
the shoah,
theology is transmuted , or ough t to be, into politi­
cal theology. A theology devoid o f politics (viz., of the de term in ­
ing factor o f power) becomes emptied of all sense and all rele­
vancy. I do not imply obliviousness to the temptations o f power or
to the incapacity o f power to resolve problems o f ultimate mean­
ing and purpose. Power may be lived with through implicitly
Niebuhrian understand ing . Reinhold N iebuhr is, or can be, a
formidable reconciler o f Christians and Jews. The all-decisive
challenge to any political theology is how to underg ird the rights
of independen t political collectivities without falling into the ab-
solutization o f political identity. But the worst fate for any people
is to be bereft o f sovereignty. Indeed , as Irving G reenberg de­