The horror in the wake of the extermination of the Jews (the Shoah) during the Second World War has led all the Churches to rethink their relationship with Judaism and, as a result, to reconsider their interpretation of the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament
22. Should not Christians henceforth read the Bible as Jews do, in order to show proper respect for its Jewish origins?
In the Old Testament, God manifests himself to Israel as the One who speaks
In answer to the last question, a negative response must be given for hermeneutical reasons. For to read the Bible as Judaism does necessarily involves an implicit acceptance of all its presuppositions, that is, the full acceptance of what Judaism is, in particular, the authority of its writings and rabbinic traditions, which exclude faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God.
As regards the first question, the situation is different, for Christians can and ought to admit that the Jewish reading of the Bible is a possible one, in continuity with the Jewish Sacred Scriptures from the Second Temple period, a reading analogous to the Christian reading which developed in parallel fashion. Both readings are bound up with the vision of their respective faiths, of which the readings are the result and expression. Consequently, both are irreducible.
On the practical level of exegesis, Christians can, nonetheless, learn much from Jewish exegesis practised for more than two thousand years, and, in fact, they have learned much in the course of history. 45 For their part, it is to be hoped that Jews themselves can derive profit from Christian exegetical research.
23. A God who speaks to humans. The God of the Bible is one who enters into communication with human beings and speaks to them. In different ways, the Bible describes the initiative taken by God to communicate with humanity in choosing the people of Israel. God makes his word heard either directly or though a spokesperson.
The divine word takes the form of a promise made to Moses to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt (Ex 3:7-17), following the promises made to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for their descendants. 46 There is also the promise David receives in 2 S 7:1-17 concerning an offspring who will succeed him on the throne.
After the departure from Egypt, God commits himself to his people by a covenant in which he twice takes the initiative (Ex 19-24; 32-34). In this setting, Moses receives the Law from God, often called “words of God” 47 which he must transmit to the people.
As bearer of the word of God, Moses is considered a prophet, 48 and even more than a prophet (Nb 12:6-8). Throughout the course of the people’s history, prophets were conscious of transmitting the word of God. The narratives of the prophetic call show how the word of God comes, forcefully imposes itself, and invites a response. Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezechiel perceive God’s word as an event which changed their lives. 49 Their message is God’s; to accept it is to accept the word of God. Even though it meets with resistance because of human freedom, the word of God is efficacious: 50 it is a force working at the heart of history. In the narrative of the creation of the world by God (Gn 1), we discover that, for God, to say is to do.
The New Testament prolongs this perspective and deepens it. For Jesus becomes the preacher of the word of God (Lk 5:1) and appeals to Scripture: he is recognised as a prophet, 51 but he is more than a prophet. In the Fourth Gospel, the role of Jesus is distinguished from that of John the Baptist by opposing the earthly origin of the latter to the heavenly origin of the former: “The one who comes from above. testifies to what he has seen and heard. he whom God has sent speaks the words of God” (Jn 3:31,32,34). Jesus is not simply a messenger; he makes plain his intimacy with God. To understand Jesus’ mission, is to know his divine status: “I have not spoken on my own”, Jesus says; “what I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me” (Jn ,50). Beginning from this bond which unites Jesus to the Father, the Fourth Gospel confesses Jesus as the Logos “the Word” which “became flesh” (Jn 1:14).