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5 - Biblical interpretation: Another side to the story

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Edward Kessler
Affiliation:
Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge
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Summary

In the previous two chapters we saw that whilst Jews and Christians shared many of the same Scriptures they read them in dramatically different ways. Christian writers were astonished at what they considered to be Jewish ‘blindness’: their failure to see and comprehend the truth that was proclaimed in their own sacred texts. Jewish writers were perturbed by Christian interpretations not rooted in the original Hebrew, or removed from their historical and textual context, or that abandoned completely the simple meaning of the words in favour of other significance. Although there existed an abundance of examples of texts, which were primarily polemical and many of which were vituperative, there is also another more positive story to tell. This story demonstrates a more constructive and mutually beneficial encounter between Christians and Jews during these formative centuries. In this chapter we will identify a two-way encounter between Jewish and Christian biblical commentators who were often aware of each other's interpretations, for good, not just for ill.

The Bible and its interpretations are key to understanding the relationship between Judaism and Christianity because Jews and Christians shared (and continue to share) a biblically orientated culture. A number of similarities between Jewish and Christian interpretations can immediately be noted, such as an insistence on the harmony of Scripture and an emphasis on the sanctity of the text.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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