Jewish Scripture Is a Key to Understanding Jesus, Document Says

Pontifical Biblical Commission Publishes a New Text

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 17, 2002 ( A new Vatican document says it is not possible to understand Christianity fully, without reflecting on divine revelation as contained in the Jewish Bible.

Moreover, the text, published by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, affirms that it is mistaken «to use as a pretext for anti-Judaism» the «warnings» that the Christian Bible addresses to Jews.

Likewise, the document recognizes that «in the past, errors were committed by unilaterally insisting on the discontinuity» that exists between the Jewish Bible (Old Testament) and the Christian Bible (Old and New Testament).

The 200-page study, entitled «The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible,» was published by the Vatican Press. At present, it is not on the Vatican´s Web page.

«This is a total novelty,» Chief Rabbi Joseph Levi of Florence told the Italian press. Rabbi Levi is especially pleased with the objective of the document: to manifest officially «the amazing force of the spiritual ties that unite the Church of Christ with the Jewish people.»

The Biblical Commission, presided over by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is composed of 20 leading biblicists. The members were appointed by John Paul II at the cardinal´s suggestion.

In introducing the study, which began in 1997, Cardinal Ratzinger invites Christians to recognize «the Jewish reading of the Bible as a possible reading.» In other words, such a reading might be of great help in important questions, such as the Messiah.

«The Jewish Messianic Expectation is not vain,» the document states. «It can become a strong stimulus for us to maintain the eschatological dimension alive,» that is, the Christian expectation of Jesus´ return at the end of time, it says.

«Like them, we also live in expectation,» the document continues. «The difference is in the fact that for us the One who will come will have traces of that Jesus who has already come and who is present and active among us.»

The new publication «hopes to foster love toward the Jews in the Church of Christ,» following the «abominable crimes» of which they were object during World War II.

In «light of the Scripture, the rupture between the Church of Christ and the Jewish people should not have happened,» the document affirms.

The newly published document is divided into chapters. The first one, which is fundamental, states that the New Testament recognizes the authority of the Old Testament as divine revelation, and cannot be understood without being intimately related to it and with the Jewish tradition that transmitted it.

The second chapter examines more analytically how the writings of the New Testament accept the rich content of the Old Testament, referring to its fundamental topics in light of Jesus Christ.

The third chapter records the extremely varied attitudes on the Jews reflected in the New Testament, something which also occurs in the Old Testament.

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