Archive for the ‘Tradition of the elders’ Category

Rabbis and Kosher-Catholic Priests in Pilpul

June 20, 2008

Pilpul, simply put, is a rabbinic dialectical process of “debate” or discussion by which a predetermined outcome is arrived at. It’s the Pharisaic tradition which Jesus Christ condemned calling it a “tradition of men” which “makes void the word of God.” Both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds are filled with pilpul which in most cases is for the purpose of circumventing Biblical law. The article below tells of rabbis and kosher-Catholic priests engaged in pilul for the purpose of circumventing the Gospel which condemns the very act they are engaged in. See Mark 7;13 for Christ’s condemnation and Mishnah tractate Nedarim for the pilpul through which the “corban” that Christ condemned in Mark 7;13 was synthesized. And note that Jesus did not only condemn the Pharisaic “corban” invention and ritual hand washing, but He said, “many other such like things you [Pharisees] do.”

Believe me when I tell you, in this “Judeo-Christian dialogue”–what is in reality pilpul–the rabbis aren’t interested in hearing the Gospel. They’re interested in finding ways around the Gospel, like their Pharisaic ideological forefathers found ways around Old Testament law. They intend to make the Gospel of none effect.

… if there were a transcript of the proceedings it would read very much like a discussion in the Talmud.

Rabbis and Catholic priests in dialogue

By Mark L. Shook – St. Louis Post Dispatch

June 19, 2008

The Vatican has taken great pains to define and structure religious dialogues between faith communities. As recently as June 7, Pope Benedict II spoke to the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue of “the importance of truth being the goal of all dialogue and charity being the motivation behind all dialogue.” The content of the council’s meeting and the Pope’s statement seem to imply that religious dialogue is in need of guidelines to keep Catholic participants true to Church doctrine. But very few inter-faith dialogues deal with matters of deep theological import. Most are simply efforts to establish rapport and understanding.

Religious dialogues succeed or fail because of trust and respect. Achieving trust and respect takes time and dedication. Here is yet another example of a process which does not respond well to our need for instant gratification. Rabbis and priests in St. Louis have been in dialogue with each other for more than ten years. That dialogue would never have gotten off the ground had it not been for the personal bonds of friendship which existed between Father Vincent Heier, former Ecumenical officer of the St. Louis Archdiocese, and the late Rabbi Robert P. Jacobs, in his capacity as Executive Vice-president of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association. The two of them set out to create an atmosphere of dialogue which was faithful to the aspirations of the Vatican II process of reconciliation between Jews and Catholics.

We are still going strong. Every other month, a group of about twelve dialogue participants sit down to a kosher lunch provided by an anonymous donor, and over corned beef and turkey, hold a free-wheeling discussion. Sometimes the topics touch on clergy politics, i.e., “How do rabbis/priests get assigned to congregations? At other sessions, the news of the day may form the subject matter. For the most part the dialogue centers around an agreed upon topic with readings sent out in advance. Several sessions were devoted to a careful reading of Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth. Most recently the group studied fundamental documents of belief of the various expressions of Judaism, from Maimonides Thirteen Principles of Judaism to the latest platform of Reform Judaism. No question or comment is ever treated as off the subject. In fact, if there were a transcript of the proceedings it would read very much like a discussion in the Talmud.

Dialogue participants do not sugar-coat their questions or their responses. With the presence of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis, there is sometimes more intra-Jewish heat generated than heat between Jews and Catholics. Along the way there is significant learning and teaching which takes place. Our priests come to appreciate the wide range of Jewish responses to religious and moral questions of the day and our rabbis develop a more nuanced understanding of how the Church works in developing its teachings and public positions.

Just for the record, no one in these dialogues has converted anyone. Both sides remain true to their faith. What really takes place is a sorting out of real and imaginary differences. Not all or even most of the real differences can be bridged. The sages of Judaism believed that theological conflicts among rabbis were like sparks striking steel and resulted in illumination. I would include this image as a worthy description of true dialogues between persons of all faiths. For each participant there is a strengthening of faith.

http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/civil-religion/catholic/2008/06/rabbis-and-catholic-priests-in-dialogue/

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Rabbis and Kosher-Catholic Priests in Pilpul

June 20, 2008

Pilpul, simply put, is a rabbinic dialectical process of “debate” or discussion by which a predetermined outcome is arrived at. It’s the Pharisaic tradition which Jesus Christ condemned calling it a “tradition of men” which “makes void the word of God.” Both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds are filled with pilpul which in most cases is for the purpose of circumventing Biblical law. The article below tells of rabbis and kosher-Catholic priests engaged in pilul for the purpose of circumventing the Gospel which condemns the very act they are engaged in. See Mark 7;13 for Christ’s condemnation and Mishnah tractate Nedarim for the pilpul through which the “corban” that Christ condemned in Mark 7;13 was synthesized. And note that Jesus did not only condemn the Pharisaic “corban” invention and ritual hand washing, but He said, “many other such like things you [Pharisees] do.”

Believe me when I tell you, in this “Judeo-Christian dialogue”–what is in reality pilpul–the rabbis aren’t interested in hearing the Gospel. They’re interested in finding ways around the Gospel, like their Pharisaic ideological forefathers found ways around Old Testament law. They intend to make the Gospel of none effect.

… if there were a transcript of the proceedings it would read very much like a discussion in the Talmud.

Rabbis and Catholic priests in dialogue

By Mark L. Shook – St. Louis Post Dispatch

June 19, 2008

The Vatican has taken great pains to define and structure religious dialogues between faith communities. As recently as June 7, Pope Benedict II spoke to the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue of “the importance of truth being the goal of all dialogue and charity being the motivation behind all dialogue.” The content of the council’s meeting and the Pope’s statement seem to imply that religious dialogue is in need of guidelines to keep Catholic participants true to Church doctrine. But very few inter-faith dialogues deal with matters of deep theological import. Most are simply efforts to establish rapport and understanding.

Religious dialogues succeed or fail because of trust and respect. Achieving trust and respect takes time and dedication. Here is yet another example of a process which does not respond well to our need for instant gratification. Rabbis and priests in St. Louis have been in dialogue with each other for more than ten years. That dialogue would never have gotten off the ground had it not been for the personal bonds of friendship which existed between Father Vincent Heier, former Ecumenical officer of the St. Louis Archdiocese, and the late Rabbi Robert P. Jacobs, in his capacity as Executive Vice-president of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association. The two of them set out to create an atmosphere of dialogue which was faithful to the aspirations of the Vatican II process of reconciliation between Jews and Catholics.

We are still going strong. Every other month, a group of about twelve dialogue participants sit down to a kosher lunch provided by an anonymous donor, and over corned beef and turkey, hold a free-wheeling discussion. Sometimes the topics touch on clergy politics, i.e., “How do rabbis/priests get assigned to congregations? At other sessions, the news of the day may form the subject matter. For the most part the dialogue centers around an agreed upon topic with readings sent out in advance. Several sessions were devoted to a careful reading of Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth. Most recently the group studied fundamental documents of belief of the various expressions of Judaism, from Maimonides Thirteen Principles of Judaism to the latest platform of Reform Judaism. No question or comment is ever treated as off the subject. In fact, if there were a transcript of the proceedings it would read very much like a discussion in the Talmud.

Dialogue participants do not sugar-coat their questions or their responses. With the presence of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis, there is sometimes more intra-Jewish heat generated than heat between Jews and Catholics. Along the way there is significant learning and teaching which takes place. Our priests come to appreciate the wide range of Jewish responses to religious and moral questions of the day and our rabbis develop a more nuanced understanding of how the Church works in developing its teachings and public positions.

Just for the record, no one in these dialogues has converted anyone. Both sides remain true to their faith. What really takes place is a sorting out of real and imaginary differences. Not all or even most of the real differences can be bridged. The sages of Judaism believed that theological conflicts among rabbis were like sparks striking steel and resulted in illumination. I would include this image as a worthy description of true dialogues between persons of all faiths. For each participant there is a strengthening of faith.

http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/civil-religion/catholic/2008/06/rabbis-and-catholic-priests-in-dialogue/

Rabbi, pope exchange blessings

May 11, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI was blessed by a rabbi — and blessed him back — Thursday in Brazil.

The pope met Reform Rabbi Henry Sobel and other religious leaders during a five-day visit to Sao Paulo.

“With deep humility, I asked for a blessing and was blessed. I also asked for the pope’s permission to bless him and was authorized to do so,” Sobel said. “I’m feeling very light. It’s not everyday that a rabbi gets a blessing from the pope.”

Sobel called Benedict “a friend of the Jewish people” who “understands the importance of the interdependence of Christian and Jewish traditions.”

With more than 30 years at the helm of Latin America’s largest shul — the 2,000-family CIP — Sobel gained a strong reputation as a defender of human rights during Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship and is well known in Brazil for attempting to strengthen relations among Jews, Christians and Muslims. Lately he has been in the news after he was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting on a visit to Florida.

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/breaking/101765.html

Rabbi, pope exchange blessings

May 11, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI was blessed by a rabbi — and blessed him back — Thursday in Brazil.

The pope met Reform Rabbi Henry Sobel and other religious leaders during a five-day visit to Sao Paulo.

“With deep humility, I asked for a blessing and was blessed. I also asked for the pope’s permission to bless him and was authorized to do so,” Sobel said. “I’m feeling very light. It’s not everyday that a rabbi gets a blessing from the pope.”

Sobel called Benedict “a friend of the Jewish people” who “understands the importance of the interdependence of Christian and Jewish traditions.”

With more than 30 years at the helm of Latin America’s largest shul — the 2,000-family CIP — Sobel gained a strong reputation as a defender of human rights during Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship and is well known in Brazil for attempting to strengthen relations among Jews, Christians and Muslims. Lately he has been in the news after he was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting on a visit to Florida.

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/breaking/101765.html

Pope Engages The Rabbis in Dialectics Around Christ and the Gospel

April 19, 2007

EDITOR’S NOTE: Astute Popes of the past critically analyzed rabbinic texts and subjected them to public debate in which the perverse idiocy of the rabbinic tradition was laid bare for all to see as is to be expected in any fair debate on the matter. Modern Popes brush the ugliness of Judaism under the rug and engage the rabbis in dialectical pilpul around Christ and the Gospel. This is the era of Judaic domination in which we live: when the backwards tradition of rabbinic Judaism which maintains that a man must put his mouth on a baby’s penis during the circumcision ritual in order for the circumcision to be valid is exalted while the liberating Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is subject to unrelenting Pharisaic scrutiny which the Pope responds to, not in the spirit with which Christ confronted the Pharisees but in the spirit of the Pharisees themselves–by engaging them in pilpul.

There will be no Christlike defense of the Gospel or rebuke of the rabbinic tradition from Pope Benedict XVI, a man whom papal Rabbi-Knight, David Rosen–whom Benedict himself appointed–described as being “aware of his special responsibility to reaffirm the Church’s commitment to a more pro-Jewish attitude.” No, Benedict VXI has nothing but respect for the depraved, so-called “religion,” but in fact, corrupt racket of Judaism, which will certainly be evident in his “dialogical thinking” around Christ with Rabbi Neusner whom he can’t seem to praise enough.

For your thoughtful comparison, here is how Pope Innocent IV described the rabbinic tradition of Judaism which Benedict XVI respects so highly:

The … Jews … omitting or scorning the Mosaic law and the prophets, follow certain traditions of their seniors concerning which the Lord rebukes them in the Gospel, saying: Why do you transgress the mandate of God and irritate Him by your traditions, teaching human doctrines and mandates? [Matthew 15;9]

Upon this sort of traditions, which in Hebrew are called the Talmud–and there is a great book among them exceeding the text of the Bible in length, in which are manifest blasphemies against God and Christ and the blessed Virgin, intricate fables, erroneous abuses, and unheard-of stupidities–they nourish and teach their sons and render them utterly alien from the doctrine of the law and the prophets, fearing lest, if they knew the truth, which is in the law and the prophets, and which testifies openly that the only begotten son of God will come in the flesh, they would be converted to the faith and humbly return to their Redeemer. And not content with these things, they make Christian women nurses of their sons in contumely of the Christian faith, with whom they commit many shameful things. On which account the faithful should be afraid lest they incur divine wrath while they unworthily allow them to perpetrate acts which bring confusion upon our faith. (Pope Innocent IV, May 9, 1244 Letter to King Louis IX of France)

Both popes speak of the same rabbinic, Talmudic tradition which contains the same manifest blasphemies against God and Christ and the blessed Virgin, intricate fables, erroneous abuses, and unheard-of stupidities as it did when Innocent IV wrote, and then some (and which Talmud, incidentally, Rabbi Jacob Neusner refers to as “the founding document of Judaism” (Jacob Neusner, How the Talmud Works (Boston: Brill, 2002) ix). But one Pope confronts the rabbinic tradition with the single mind of Christ, the other with the dialectical mind of the rabbis.

Note that Pope Innocent IV makes a direct connection between the Talmudic, rabbinic tradition and the Pharisaic “tradition of the elders” which Christ execrated throughout the Gospels. Innocent IV also plainly states the fact that the rabbis render their followers utterly alien from the doctrine of the law and the prophets. Benedict XVI tells us that the rabbinic tradition of the elders is a valid interpretation of biblical scripture; is what Christianity has “sprung from;” and encourages Christians to establish stronger religious relations with it. Could there possibly be greater disparity between the thinking and actions of these two Popes? Which position more closely reflects that of Christ towards the tradition of the elders? I seem to recall that Christ told His disciples to beware the Pharisaic tradition of the elders–“the leaven of the Pharisees”–and that the Apostles understood “leaven” to mean the doctrine of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:12). But here is Pope Benedict telling us precisely the opposite.

Benedict’s preaching of rabbis and popes who “love” and “respect” one another and each other’s traditions is nothing short of occult alchemy. What fellowship hath light with darkness? What did Christ speak more harshly against than the Pharisees and their tradition–the tradition which Rabbi Jacob Neusner carries on today? Benedict and his “elder brothers in the faith” apparently figure these difficulties in the Gospel are nothing that can’t be circumvented with a little pilpul. And they will likely bring confusion upon our faith to use Innocent IV’s words, but not without incurring divine wrath. God is not mocked.

If the Pope had true Christian love for Rabbi Neusner he would correct his errors, not praise them, if not only for the sake of Rabbi Neusner’s soul, but for the sake of the millions of Christian souls who’s faith he brings confusion upon by failing to do so.

After saints, most-quoted author in pope’s new book is a U.S. rabbi

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After the Gospel writers and the apostle Paul, the author most quoted in Pope Benedict XVI’s new book is Rabbi Jacob Neusner, a U.S. professor of religion and theology.

In his book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” released April 16 in Italian, German and Polish, Pope Benedict joined the literary dialogue that Rabbi Neusner invented for himself in his 1993 book, “A Rabbi Talks With Jesus.”

The pope said that Rabbi Neusner’s “profound respect for the Christian faith and his faithfulness to Judaism led him to seek a dialogue with Jesus.”

Imagining himself amid the crowd gathered on a Galilean hillside when Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, Rabbi Neusner “listens, confronts and speaks with Jesus himself,” the pope wrote.

“In the end, he decides not to follow Jesus,” the pope wrote. “He remains faithful to that which he calls the ‘eternal Israel.'”

Pope Benedict said Rabbi Neusner makes painfully clear the differences between Christianity and Judaism, but “in a climate of great love: The rabbi accepts the otherness of the message of Jesus and takes his leave with a detachment that knows no hatred.”

The pope praised Rabbi Neusner for taking the Gospel of Jesus seriously and, in fact, more seriously than many modern Christian scholars do.

Jesus is the Son of God, the unique savior, and not simply a social reformer, a liberal rabbi or the teacher of a new morality, the pope said.

Pope Benedict wrote that in trying to understand who Jesus was and his relationship with his Jewish faith and with the Torah, the law given to Moses, Rabbi Neusner’s book “was of great help.”

Rabbi Neusner, a prolific author and professor at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., told Catholic News Service in Rome that he did not want to talk about the pope’s book until he had seen it. The English edition is scheduled for a May release.

In the introduction to the revised and expanded 2000 edition of his book, Rabbi Neusner wrote, “If I had been in the land of Israel in the first century, I would not have joined the circle of Jesus’ disciples. … If I heard what he said in the Sermon on the Mount, for good and substantive reasons I would not have followed him.

“Where Jesus diverges from the revelation by God to Moses at Mount Sinai, he is wrong and Moses is right,” Rabbi Neusner wrote.

In Pope Benedict’s treatment of the Sermon on the Mount, 18 of the 25 pages refer to Rabbi Neusner’s book.

“More than any of the other interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount with which I am familiar, this debate between a believing Jew and Jesus, son of Abraham, conducted with respect and frankness, opened my eyes to the greatness of the word of Jesus and to the choice the Gospel places before us,” the pope wrote.

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, presenting the pope’s book at an April 13 Vatican conference, said reading Rabbi Neusner’s book was “one of the reasons” Pope Benedict decided to write his.

“What Pope Benedict says about the book (by Rabbi Neusner) is so essential for understanding his own book about Jesus,” the cardinal said.

“More than discussions about exegetical methods” used to understand what the Scriptures say about Jesus, Cardinal Schonborn said, the pope has “at heart the discussion with the rabbi.”

“Rabbi Neusner is so important for the book of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI” precisely because he accepts what Jesus says about himself in the Gospels, the cardinal said.

German Father Joseph Sievers, director of the Cardinal Bea Center for Judaic Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where Rabbi Neusner has been a guest speaker, said the rabbi “takes very seriously the extraordinary claims of Jesus: He is not just a rabbi teaching the golden rule.”

Both Rabbi Neusner and Pope Benedict, Father Sievers said, “have a high Christology,” emphasizing the divinity of Christ even if Rabbi Neusner cannot accept Christ’s claim.

“(Rabbi) Neusner, even when he spoke here, did not try to find easy solutions or to bridge gaps” between Christians and Jews, Father Sievers said.

In his book, Rabbi Neusner said he hoped to contribute to Christian-Jewish dialogue by taking Christian teaching and Jewish teaching seriously.

“It is one model for a starting point for dialogue — to recognize differences and not try to make them disappear or to hide them,” Father Sievers said.

Father Sievers said Pope Benedict‘s new book is a further sign that he “is strong on Judaism, he respects it and he knows the contemporary scholarship.”

“Basically, he loves a good discussion and so does (Rabbi) Neusner,” he said.

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0702134.htm

Pope Engages The Rabbis in Dialectics Around Christ and the Gospel

April 19, 2007

EDITOR’S NOTE: Astute Popes of the past critically analyzed rabbinic texts and subjected them to public debate in which the perverse idiocy of the rabbinic tradition was laid bare for all to see as is to be expected in any fair debate on the matter. Modern Popes brush the ugliness of Judaism under the rug and engage the rabbis in dialectical pilpul around Christ and the Gospel. This is the era of Judaic domination in which we live: when the backwards tradition of rabbinic Judaism which maintains that a man must put his mouth on a baby’s penis during the circumcision ritual in order for the circumcision to be valid is exalted while the liberating Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is subject to unrelenting Pharisaic scrutiny which the Pope responds to, not in the spirit with which Christ confronted the Pharisees but in the spirit of the Pharisees themselves–by engaging them in pilpul.

There will be no Christlike defense of the Gospel or rebuke of the rabbinic tradition from Pope Benedict XVI, a man whom papal Rabbi-Knight, David Rosen–whom Benedict himself appointed–described as being “aware of his special responsibility to reaffirm the Church’s commitment to a more pro-Jewish attitude.” No, Benedict VXI has nothing but respect for the depraved, so-called “religion,” but in fact, corrupt racket of Judaism, which will certainly be evident in his “dialogical thinking” around Christ with Rabbi Neusner whom he can’t seem to praise enough.

For your thoughtful comparison, here is how Pope Innocent IV described the rabbinic tradition of Judaism which Benedict XVI respects so highly:

The … Jews … omitting or scorning the Mosaic law and the prophets, follow certain traditions of their seniors concerning which the Lord rebukes them in the Gospel, saying: Why do you transgress the mandate of God and irritate Him by your traditions, teaching human doctrines and mandates? [Matthew 15;9]

Upon this sort of traditions, which in Hebrew are called the Talmud–and there is a great book among them exceeding the text of the Bible in length, in which are manifest blasphemies against God and Christ and the blessed Virgin, intricate fables, erroneous abuses, and unheard-of stupidities–they nourish and teach their sons and render them utterly alien from the doctrine of the law and the prophets, fearing lest, if they knew the truth, which is in the law and the prophets, and which testifies openly that the only begotten son of God will come in the flesh, they would be converted to the faith and humbly return to their Redeemer. And not content with these things, they make Christian women nurses of their sons in contumely of the Christian faith, with whom they commit many shameful things. On which account the faithful should be afraid lest they incur divine wrath while they unworthily allow them to perpetrate acts which bring confusion upon our faith. (Pope Innocent IV, May 9, 1244 Letter to King Louis IX of France)

Both popes speak of the same rabbinic, Talmudic tradition which contains the same manifest blasphemies against God and Christ and the blessed Virgin, intricate fables, erroneous abuses, and unheard-of stupidities as it did at the time of Innocent IV’s writing (and which Talmud, incidentally, Rabbi Jacob Neusner refers to as “the founding document of Judaism” (Jacob Neusner, How the Talmud Works (Boston: Brill, 2002) ix). But one Pope confronts the rabbinic tradition with the single mind of Christ, the other with the dialectical mind of the rabbis.

Note that Pope Innocent IV makes a direct connection between the Talmudic, rabbinic tradition and the Pharisaic “tradition of the elders” which Christ execrated throughout the Gospels. Innocent IV also plainly states the fact that the rabbis render their followers utterly alien from the doctrine of the law and the prophets. Benedict XVI tells us that the rabbinic tradition of the elders is a valid interpretation of biblical scripture; is what Christianity has “sprung from;” and encourages Christians to establish stronger religious relations with it. Could there possibly be greater disparity between the thinking and actions of these two Popes? Which position more closely reflects that of Christ towards the tradition of the elders? I seem to recall that Christ told His disciples to beware the Pharisaic tradition of the elders–“the leaven of the Pharisees”–and that the Apostles understood “leaven” to mean the doctrine of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:12). But here is Pope Benedict telling us precisely the opposite.

Benedict’s preaching of rabbis and popes who “love” and “respect” one another and each other’s traditions is nothing short of occult alchemy. What fellowship hath light with darkness? What did Christ speak more harshly against than the Pharisees and their tradition–the tradition which Rabbi Jacob Neusner carries on today? Benedict and his “elder brothers in the faith” apparently figure these difficulties in the Gospel are nothing that can’t be circumvented with a little pilpul. And they will likely bring confusion upon our faith to use Innocent IV’s words, but not without incurring divine wrath. God is not mocked.

If the Pope had true Christian love for Rabbi Neusner he would correct his errors, not praise them, if not only for the sake of Rabbi Neusner’s soul, for the sake of the millions of Christian souls who’s faith he brings confusion upon by failing to do so.

After saints, most-quoted author in pope’s new book is a U.S. rabbi

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After the Gospel writers and the apostle Paul, the author most quoted in Pope Benedict XVI’s new book is Rabbi Jacob Neusner, a U.S. professor of religion and theology.

In his book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” released April 16 in Italian, German and Polish, Pope Benedict joined the literary dialogue that Rabbi Neusner invented for himself in his 1993 book, “A Rabbi Talks With Jesus.”

The pope said that Rabbi Neusner’s “profound respect for the Christian faith and his faithfulness to Judaism led him to seek a dialogue with Jesus.”

Imagining himself amid the crowd gathered on a Galilean hillside when Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, Rabbi Neusner “listens, confronts and speaks with Jesus himself,” the pope wrote.

“In the end, he decides not to follow Jesus,” the pope wrote. “He remains faithful to that which he calls the ‘eternal Israel.'”

Pope Benedict said Rabbi Neusner makes painfully clear the differences between Christianity and Judaism, but “in a climate of great love: The rabbi accepts the otherness of the message of Jesus and takes his leave with a detachment that knows no hatred.”

The pope praised Rabbi Neusner for taking the Gospel of Jesus seriously and, in fact, more seriously than many modern Christian scholars do.

Jesus is the Son of God, the unique savior, and not simply a social reformer, a liberal rabbi or the teacher of a new morality, the pope said.

Pope Benedict wrote that in trying to understand who Jesus was and his relationship with his Jewish faith and with the Torah, the law given to Moses, Rabbi Neusner’s book “was of great help.”

Rabbi Neusner, a prolific author and professor at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., told Catholic News Service in Rome that he did not want to talk about the pope’s book until he had seen it. The English edition is scheduled for a May release.

In the introduction to the revised and expanded 2000 edition of his book, Rabbi Neusner wrote, “If I had been in the land of Israel in the first century, I would not have joined the circle of Jesus’ disciples. … If I heard what he said in the Sermon on the Mount, for good and substantive reasons I would not have followed him.

“Where Jesus diverges from the revelation by God to Moses at Mount Sinai, he is wrong and Moses is right,” Rabbi Neusner wrote.

In Pope Benedict’s treatment of the Sermon on the Mount, 18 of the 25 pages refer to Rabbi Neusner’s book.

“More than any of the other interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount with which I am familiar, this debate between a believing Jew and Jesus, son of Abraham, conducted with respect and frankness, opened my eyes to the greatness of the word of Jesus and to the choice the Gospel places before us,” the pope wrote.

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, presenting the pope’s book at an April 13 Vatican conference, said reading Rabbi Neusner’s book was “one of the reasons” Pope Benedict decided to write his.

“What Pope Benedict says about the book (by Rabbi Neusner) is so essential for understanding his own book about Jesus,” the cardinal said.

“More than discussions about exegetical methods” used to understand what the Scriptures say about Jesus, Cardinal Schonborn said, the pope has “at heart the discussion with the rabbi.”

“Rabbi Neusner is so important for the book of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI” precisely because he accepts what Jesus says about himself in the Gospels, the cardinal said.

German Father Joseph Sievers, director of the Cardinal Bea Center for Judaic Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where Rabbi Neusner has been a guest speaker, said the rabbi “takes very seriously the extraordinary claims of Jesus: He is not just a rabbi teaching the golden rule.”

Both Rabbi Neusner and Pope Benedict, Father Sievers said, “have a high Christology,” emphasizing the divinity of Christ even if Rabbi Neusner cannot accept Christ’s claim.

“(Rabbi) Neusner, even when he spoke here, did not try to find easy solutions or to bridge gaps” between Christians and Jews, Father Sievers said.

In his book, Rabbi Neusner said he hoped to contribute to Christian-Jewish dialogue by taking Christian teaching and Jewish teaching seriously.

“It is one model for a starting point for dialogue — to recognize differences and not try to make them disappear or to hide them,” Father Sievers said.

Father Sievers said Pope Benedict‘s new book is a further sign that he “is strong on Judaism, he respects it and he knows the contemporary scholarship.”

“Basically, he loves a good discussion and so does (Rabbi) Neusner,” he said.

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0702134.htm