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For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter Between Judaism and Christianity

For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter Between Judaism and Christianity
Greenberg, Irving
Jewish Publication Society, 2004
ISBN: 978-0-8276-0807-8

Rabbi Greenberg’s book makes an invaluable contribution to interfaith conversation. He calls for Christians and Jews to come together in their continuously evolving partnership with God—dual covenants that demand “openness to each other, learning from each other, and a respect for the distinctiveness of the ongoing validity of each other.” Now, when the resurgence of anti-Semitism poses a threat to Jews here and around the world, this powerful book presents a new opportunity to heed the call first put forward by Rabbi Greenberg nearly four decades ago: a call for people of all faiths and cultures to work together to create a world in which everyone can live with dignity and equality—the deserved inheritance of a humanity created in the image of God. In the first half of his book, Rabbi Greenberg takes us on his personal journey to a rethinking of Christianity, which ultimately gave rise to his belief that Christianity, Judaism (and every religion that works to repair the world and advance the triumph of life) are valid expressions of the pact between God and humankind. In Part 2 he brings together for the first time his seven most important essays on the new encounters between Judaism and Christianity. Ideal for study groups and course adoption, the book contains a study guide as well as endnotes, an index, and thought-provoking responsive essays by leading Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish commentators, including James Carroll, Krister Stendahl, and Michael Novak. Readers, students, and scholars of Judaism, Christianity, and comparative religions will find this to be one of the most important books of our time on the Christian-Jewish relationship.


A rabbi, theologian, scholar and teacher, Greenberg established CLAL, the national Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, in 1974. This think tank's staff is a mix of rabbis and scholars from all Jewish denominations, reflecting Greenberg's determination to cut across the lines that separate Jews. His new book goes beyond internal differences within the Jewish community to explore Jewish-Christian relationships, a subject that has long commanded Greenberg's attention. In nine essays, Greenberg recounts his thoughts and experiences on the association between Jews and Christians, especially in connection with the Holocaust. His mentor Joseph Soloveitchik, Orthodox Judaism's leading 20th-century sage, opposed theological discussions between Jews and Christians. When Greenberg asserted that this ban contradicted Soloveitchik's own view that "life is spiritually seamless," Soloveitchik surprisingly agreed, opening the door for the ideas presented here and for the interactions with Christian theologians that informed them. The book includes five short comments by theologians on Greenberg's thinking. Some religious knowledge is useful for grasping the complex ideas, but the effort required to understand Greenberg's theological conceptions will be richly rewarded, since he provides vital insights into the possibility of "two parallel covenantal communities working side by side to bring God's Kingdom." [Publisher's Weekly