Review Articles -- By: Anonymous
ATJ 20 (1988) p. 63
Eugene B. Borowitz, Contemporary Christologies: A Jewish Response, New York: Paulist Press 203 pp., 1980, $8.95
Eugene Borowitz’ book Contemporary Christologies: A Jewish Response is an admirable though somewhat confused attempt to discuss some contemporary views of Christ from a Jewish perspective. His reason for engaging these christologies is the centrality of the doctrine of Christ for Jewish/Christian dialogue. Borowitz’ discussion is an attempt to understand these christologies in relation to his own faith.
The basic question that Borowitz ultimately wants to consider is the one dealt with in chapter eight of his book: Does christology lead to anti-Semitism? This is the key issue in any Jewish/Christian dialogue. Thus, what is needed in this review is not so much a critique of Borowitz’ critique of the theologians he discusses, but rather through his treatment an attempt must be made to flesh out what Borowitz believes about christology and its implications for Jewish/Christian dialogue. Therefore, it will not be necessary to discuss all of the Christian thinkers he deals with, but only with those who help to accomplish the task that has been undertaken in this review.
It seems clear that Borowitz is impressed most of all with the christologies of Rosemary Ruether and H. Richard Niebuhr. While he does question Ruether’s desire to make Jesus a paradigm of man (p. 51, 62–63), he applauds the fact that she makes anti-Semitism a methodological principle of her christology (p. 182). For Ruether anti-Semitism is “the left hand of christology” (p. 176). Ruether wants to rethink the traditional interpretation of christology which means for her the rejection of the deity of Jesus.
Borowitz’ discussion of H. Richard Niebuhr centers around his widely read book Christ and Culture. According to Borowitz, Niebuhr’s book presents no problems for Jewish/Christian discussion (p. 155). In fact Borowitz is so impressed with Christ and Culture that he attempts his own parallel Jewish typology which he calls “Torah and Culture.”
Borowitz is correct to notice that Niebuhr does not use much traditional language with regard to Christ when defining his own position, nor does his Christ play more than a symbolic role (pp. 168-169). This is perhaps crucial in understanding why Borowitz thinks that liberal Christian theology is the most harmonious to Jewish thinkers (p. 82), and why he believes traditional Christians should engage in dialogue
ATJ 20 (1988) p. 64
with traditional Jews, and liberal Christians with liberal Jews. For it is only then, says Borowitz that “genuine religious discussions emerge and confront each other” (...
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