Wednesday, February 07, 2007


translated into English is online here and here

There is an interesting introduction to one of the books of the Talmud, Abodah Zarah, here. I find it interesting because the matter of the Jewish ghetto under the reign of various popes has been an object of contention. Yet here in this introduction is a clear indication that the Jewish people were to separate themselves from the people of other religions as a necessity of preserving the Jewish faith.

I believe that the Early Christian communities, too, chose to separate themselves to avoid contamination. That seems entirely logical given that the founder of Christianity was a Jew, and He chose other Jews as the Apostles. Jewish thinking was at the heart of the foundation of Christianity, and thus a continuation of the separatist mentality would be logical. That policy trickled down through the centuries as the Christian Church grew in Europe, and was still being reflected in the refusal to allow intermingling of Jews and Christians that, when looked at today, is branded anti-Semitic.

Recent popes have completely reversed this thinking, asking Catholics instead to practice interreligious dialogue in an effort to promote greater understanding of the beliefs of other people.

Yet it is still necessary to keep the various faiths free of syncretism given that a mix-and-match approach to faith ends up with a jumble that is every faith and no faith at all. We must find ways to circumvent the long history of religious conflict without diluting Catholicism into something unrecognizable, as evidence of the result of interreligious dialogue is providing at present. Importing Buddhism into Christianity, for example, confuses the cosmology of both religions. And while it might be possible for a Catholic to embrace the Judaism of the Old Testament, it is apparently not possible for the reverse to take place given the rejections of Christian beliefs that I have seen in the Jewish material I've read over the last 24 hours. Jewish cosmology and Christian cosmology are a thing apart.

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