In the Court of the Gentiles

Jewish-Christian "dialogue" is too often just that—an intellectual, theological discussion with no grounding in shared experience. Common Prayers is Jewish-Christian dialogue grounded in a journey through the Jewish year.

Harvey Cox is a well-known Christian theologian. Less well known is that his wife, Nina, is Jewish, and that they are raising their 15-year-old son in the Jewish faith. For 15 years, Cox has participated as a Christian in the journey through the Jewish year—"a recurring series of holy days and sacred seasons."

On that journey, as he encounters the Sabbath, the festivals, and life-events of marriage and death, they provide a framework for a sometimes challenging, always informative reflection on their meaning. Cox shows how a Christian living the Jewish year can come to a deeper understanding of both Judaism and Christianity. He notes that while there are important distinctions between Judaism and Christianity, there is no point in perpetuating the exaggeration of those differences. And he is surprised to discover more common ground than is often supposed.

He begins with Sabbath, that sacred time when work ceases for the joy and rest of the presence of God, the foretaste of the kingdom. The Sabbath meal becomes "a symbol and a preliminary glimpse of human life as it should be.... It becomes an aperitif for the ultimate great banquet, the most pervasive symbol of the Messianic era in both Judaism and Christianity." And he suggests that while there are enormous differences between the Sabbath meal and the Christian communion service, both have at their core a ritual of blessing and breaking bread and pouring out of wine—a "primal" connection grounded in liberation.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 2002
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