Another Reformation, by Peter Ochs

The interface of Jewish and Chris­tian theology has al­ways been vexing. Partly this is because of the intrinsically incommensurate realities of the two faiths. And partly it has been because of Christian interpreters' uncritical practice of supersessionism, which has been combined with political power that is used in controlling and abusive ways. Happily, we are at the threshold of a new way of communicating at that interface.

Many interpreters have contributed to this emerging possibility. In Old Testament studies, the most important summoning work has been Jon Levenson's 1987 article "Why Jews Are Not Interested in Biblical Theology," which made unmistakably clear the supersessionist assumptions of even the most sophisticated interpreters.

More broadly, no one has contributed more to this fresh possibility than Peter Ochs. With his largeness of spirit, his deep theological sensibility and his practical passion for fresh work with Christians, he has taken on important initiatives that have made room for new communication and understanding. His initiatives honor the distinctions and differences between the two traditions, and through face-to-face engagement with texts, which he calls Scriptural Reasoning, he has encouraged participants to move beyond stereotypes to deal with what matters most about differences and about commonalities. He has judged, surely correctly, that Judaism and Christianity are proper conversation partners, and that neither tradition can faithfully take Enlightenment rationality as its mode of witness or as its proper conversation partner.