Christian Scholars Group
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About the Group:
The Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations is composed of Christian scholars who are aware that they are studying sensitive issues of significant religious import. They acknowledge with sorrow and shame the church's tragic legacy of anti-Judaism, and seek to use their scholarship to reclaim or reconceive elements of Christian theology and practice that offer a more adequate representation of its relationship to Judaism and the Jewish people. The Christian Scholars Group began in 1969 and has continued under various names and sponsorships ever since. The purposes of the Christian Scholars Group are:
To foster scholarship concerning the relation of Christianity to Judaism.
To provide a forum for constructive criticism of work-in-progress on this relationship.
To engage in collaborative projects that might also serve as a resource for others concerned with Christian-Jewish relations.
To discuss recent literature and directions in Christian-Jewish studies.
To encourage colleagues in their own and allied fields to consider how the relationship of Christianity to Judaism may impinge upon their work:
To assist the churches in reconsidering and reformulating their teaching regarding Jews and Judaism, and the Christian-Jewish relationship.
To engage with Jewish scholars in mutual study and discussion.
Current CSG Membership:
Click HERE for information about the current roster of Christian Scholars Group members.
CSG Statements or Resources:
Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity's Sacred Obligation edited by Mary C. Boys
The essays in this 2005 volume offer a conceptual framework by which Christians can rethink their understanding of the church's relationship to Judaism and show how essential it is that Christians represent Judaism accurately, not only as a matter of justice for the Jewish people, but also for the integrity of Christian faith.
Facts, Faith, and Film-Making: Jesus' Passion and Its Portrayal
A Study Guide for Viewers and Reviewers of Portrayals of Jesus' Passion. Published in 2004.
Faith Transformed: Christian Encounters with Jews and Judaism, edited by John C. Merkle (2003)
Essays by members of the CSG in the 1990s that describe how their encounters with Jews and Judaism have transformed their understanding and practice of Christianity. In various ways they reveal how their Christian faith has been profound enriched by drawing inspiration from Jews and Judaism. The contributors are Norman A. Beck, Mary C. Boys, Alice L. Eckardt, Eva Fleischner, Eugene J. Fisher, Walter Harrelson, Michael B. McGarry, John C. Merkle, John T. Pawlikowski, Franklin Sherman, and Clark M. Williamson.
- A Sacred Obligation: Rethinking Christian Faith in Relationship to Judaism and the Jewish People The CSG's 2002 statement on ten topics in Christian-Jewish relations.
- A call to Christians to recognize several questions that impact their faith because of their understanding of Jews and Judaism.
[by Alice Eckardt and Franklin Sherman]
In Fall 1969 the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches called into being a "Study Group on Christian-Jewish Relations" to undertake an in-depth study and consideration of topics relevant to Christian-Jewish relations both historically and currently. This was the origin of the Christian Scholars Group. The NCC quickly accepted the proposal of the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops that it co-sponsor the undertaking. This new group of Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox scholars proposed to study the broad topic "Israel: People, Land, State."
Shortly afterwards, it became clear that the Faith and Order Commission was no longer able to continue financing the group. The National Conference of Christians and Jews offered to fund half the costs of the Fall `71 meeting of the group. After the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations also was compelled to withdraw its financial support due to a reduced budget, the NCCJ paid all the costs of the April `72 meeting. Two subsequent meetings (in `72 and `73) were funded by the combined contributions of the NCCJ and the Sisters of Sion
Following completion of its published "Statement to Our Fellow Christians" in 1973 the group determined to continue the study and discussion of the many relevant issues not then being undertaken by any ecumenical group of Christian scholars. It continues in this work to the present, though of course with many changes in membership as more than forty years have passed
After the first four years, sponsorship of the group was assumed for a longer period by the NCCJ, followed by partial support during one year by the American Jewish Committee. From the spring of 1988 until the spring of 2002, the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies in Baltimore hosted the group's scholarly activities. Beginning in 2002, the CSG has partnered with the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College. At present the universities at which some members teach also sponsor some meetings. These include the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph's University (Philadelphia) and Catholic Theological Union (Chicago).
Over the years, meeting places have varied greatly and the length of the sessions changed from the initial one day meetings (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.) at Cathedral House in New York City to two day meetings at various locations, and currently to two and one-half day gatherings. A unique session was held in May 1996 when CSG (though with reduced numbers in attendance) met in Jerusalem with the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity. Papers were presented by members of both groups. One of these sessions was open to the public.
Over time, the group's name has changed as well. It was for a while known informally as the "Israel Study Group," but at a later date it formally became the "Christian Study Group on Judaism and the Jewish People," with a subsequent slight revision to "Christian Scholars Group on Judaism and the Jewish People." It is currently titled the "Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations."
The original group consisted of 15-20 members with Franklin H. Littell, A. Roy Eckardt, and Sr. Ann Patrick Ware as the conveners. Other members at that time were Markus Barth, Roland de Corneille, Edward Flannery, Robert Handy, Walter Harrelson, William Harter, George Lindbeck, Vincent Martin, John Oesterreicher, Bernhard Olson, John Pawlikowski, Donna Purdy, J. Coert Rylaarsdam, John Sheerin, Theodore Stylianopoulos, Leonard Swidler, Rose Thering, John Townsend, and Eberhard von Waldow.
After the "Statement to Our Fellow Christians" was issued in 1973, some members retired from the group and others were added, including: Paul van Buren, Claire Huchet Bishop, Philip Culbertson, Alice Eckardt, Eugene Fisher, Eva Fleischner, Ursula Niebuhr, Cornelius Rijk, Abbot Leo Rudloff, and Franklin Sherman.
Over the years there were many changes as some members retired or died and new ones were added. Additional members who were added at some point in the intervening years but who are no longer with the CSG include: Beverly Asbury, Robert Bennett, Bruce Bramlett, Cynthia Bronson, Ellen Charry, Rufus Cornelson, Philip Culbertson, Ellen Davis, Robert Everett, Martin Geraghty, John Kelley, Deborah McCauley, Carol Rittner, John Roth, Isaac Rottenberg, David Simpson, Gerard Sloyan, William Weiler, Don Wilcox, Robert Wilken, Marvin Wilson.
Qualifications for membership emphasize scholarly involvement and contribution with publications in the field highly recommended, rather than simply an interest in the subject. A balance of areas of study is maintained among members, and a proximate balance of confessions.