Three Jewish Theologians of Christianity

Michael S. Kogan

in Opening the Covenant

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780195112597
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199872275 | DOI:
  Three Jewish Theologians of Christianity

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This chapter discusses three Jewish theologians of Christianity: Menachem Ha Me'iri (1249-1315), Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), and Elijah Benamozegh (1823-1900). Rabbi Menachem Ben Shlomo Ha Me'iri of Provence was a remarkable figure in the history of Jewish-Christian relations. He lived in an age characterized by narrowness and bigotry, witnessing the expulsion of the Jews from France in 1306. Yet he defended Christians and Christianity, going so far as to include them under the category “Israel”, rejecting all past Jewish claims that Christianity constituted a form of paganism. Moses Mendelssohn was a true son of the Enlightenment and the inspiration for all modern Jews seeking acculturation to Western ways of living in the world without the assimilation that would lead to the disappearance of the faith and people of Israel. He taught us how to share in the wonders of the general civilization, indeed, how to help shape and direct it, while maintaining essential elements of the ancient faith bequeathed to us by our forebears. Elijah Benamozegh, rabbi of the Italian city of Leghorn, was fluent in many languages and was learned in philosophy and in Christian theology as well as Jewish theology. In the last years of his life, he set about writing an 800-page tome defending his faith against charges of narrow tribalism and declaring it to be universal in scope and that he was prepared to lead the world into a new age of human fellowship. In the process of developing his arguments, he produced what might be seen as an outline of a Jewish theology of Christianity.

Keywords: Judaism; theology; Christianity; Menachem Ha Me'iri; Moses Mendelssohn; Elijah Benamozegh

Chapter.  7871 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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