Wednesday, 15 June 2011

An Excellent Resource

I wrote the following review for the Methodist Theological Journal The Epworth Review it is appearing in this quarter's edition which has just come out

Edward Kessler

An Introduction to Jewish Christian Relations
(Cambridge University Press 2010 Paperback)
ISBN 978-0-521-70562-2

Despite predictions of an end to Methodist – Jewish relations, following the passage of the Report on Justice for Palestine & Israel at last year’s conference, much to everyone’s surprise there has been a mini renaissance of Methodist-Jewish encounter over the last year.

Those involved from the Methodist side would gain greatly from investing time and money in Ed Kessler’s excellent book. Kessler, who is the Jewish founder of a centre for Abrahamic dialogue in Cambridge, is a generous dialogue partner with a deep understanding and clear affection for Christianity. Easy to read, comprehensive in it’s sweep of the history of Jewish - Christian relations and nuanced in it’s presentation of contentious issues such as how to tackle the anti-Judaism of the New Testament and approaches to Zionism and the State of Israel, this book encourages a serious in depth exploration of the issues involved, through an accessible and engaging style.

Split into ten chapters that range from the New Testament context to the role of Jewish - Christian engagement in the wider interfaith movement today, Kessler has provided a valuable study resource that could easily be adapted for group use, perhaps combining the reading of a chapter each session with some primary documentation from the period or issue in question. An excellent bibliography and Kessler’s ability to summarise complex arguments simply and succinctly facilitate such an approach and enable further exploration.

For Christians who have not seriously engaged in Jewish – Christian dialogue this is an excellent place to start. For those already involved, Kessler’s presentation will refresh thoughts and reengage enthusiasm for a dialogue that is crucial for the creative development of Christian self understanding in a post Holocaust world and for constructive engagement with the cause of peace, justice and healing in the Middle East.

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