A while back my friend Larry Behrendt, who writes about Jews and Christians and Jewishness and Christian-ish-ness, and I decided to have a bit of virtual Jewish-Christian dialogue on the topic of "problem texts" in sacred scripture. As I understand this conversation, we'll be writing about our own (Larry's and mine) problems with a few passages in "S/scripture" (variously defined) and possible postures toward such texts. My hope is that I will understand Larry's posture a bit better in the process and (hopefully) improve my own posture as well.
See the first part in this series here. I will offer a response post in a few days here on The Jesus Blog.
First a few words about Jewish-Christian dialogue. I've learned a little bit about this dialectic over the past ten years. I don't expect that these are points that are common to all Jewish-Christian dialogue nor do I offer these points as "rules for the road" for anyone else. But here they are:
1) Self-disclosure is necessary. I am a Christian. This self-designation has various components, but one of the components is this: I don't self-identity as Jewish. In short, I acknowledge that my religious commitments and traditional postures are different in many ways from those who self-identify as Jewish.*
2) I tend to understand myself and my people better when I understand an outsider's view better.
3) With points both 1 and 2 in mind, it is often necessary to emphasize the crucial differences between Christianity and Judaism in dialogue (what Larry would call "asymmetries"). This does not mean that we won't find some analogues too. Jews and Christians have a great deal in common. But to play up our commonalities at the expense of our asymmetries is not helpful inter-religious dialogue.
I've learned many other things as well, but these will suffice for now. I hope that our dialogue promotes the well-being of both Jews and Christians.
*If you'd like to chime in on our comments, it might be helpful if you self-identify too. Up to you.