Part Two of an IgnatiusInsight.com interview with
Roy H. Schoeman, author of Salvation
is from the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham
to the Second Coming.
IgnatiusInsight.com: You have a lengthy chapter titled,
"The Messianic Idea in Judaism." Traditionally, what were the
messianic expectations of Jews? What are those expectations today?
Roy H. Schoeman: There is no question that historically, traditionally,
Judaism has expected has, in fact, entirely revolved around
the expectation of a "personal" Messiah, an actual man who would
come and would change the world, the relation between God and Man, and
the state of the soul after death. Beyond that, there was a lot of uncertainty,
a number of apparent contradictions among individual prophecies. These
ambiguities revolved around two issues would the Messiah come as
victorious king to establish a temporal Kingdom of the Jews, or would
he come to suffer and die as an apparent failure? And would he immediately
make this world into a perfect world, or would this world continue on
outwardly as before? As Christians, it is easy to understand that the
resolution to the apparent contradictions between the prophecies is found
in the fact that the Messiah will come twice, the first time to suffer
and to die, and the second time to bring an end to the imperfections of
this world. In fact, some of the Talmudic rabbis came very close to this
conclusion themselves, in their expectation of two distinct Messiahs.
All of this is elaborated on in the book.
However there is very little active expectation of the coming of the Messiah
among Jews today, with the exception of a small percentage at the most
traditional end of the spectrum. Most no longer hold any Messianic expectation.
Many contemporary Jewish authorities even deny that Judaism ever expected
the coming of a Messiah. I cant help suspecting that this retroactive
revision of Jewish theology is motivated by a desire to distance Judaism
even further from Christianity. In any case, it is commonly stated that
the Messianic prophecies in the Jewish scriptures refer to the Jewish
people as a whole transforming the world through their good will and good
actions. This nonsense falls apart as soon as one examines any Jewish
writings from before the 18th century. Nonetheless many Jews today believe
it, having been taught it by contemporary Jewish authorities and never
having gone back to earlier sources.
IgnatiusInsight.com: What effect has the Holocaust had
on Jewish theology?
Schoeman: Historically, Judaism always taught that (a) God is all-good
and all-powerful, (b) that He has a special love for the Jews as His Chosen
people, and (c) that if they are faithful to Him He will reward them in
the circumstances of this life. Unless one is willing to ascribe the Holocaust
to the failure of the Jews to hold to their end of the covenant
an explanation acceptable to only a few among the most orthodox Jews --
one of these three propositions must go. Thus the tendency among contemporary
Jewish theologians to deny Gods goodness, His involvement in human
affairs, or His fidelity to His covenant. In the book I document each
of these in the writings of some of todays most prominent Jewish
theologians. It is obscene to me that such blasphemies hold a place of
honor in contemporary Jewish theology.
IgnatiusInsight.com: What were the ideological roots
of Nazism? Was Nazism and its rabid anti-Semitism a result or form of
Christian theology as some critics claim?
Schoeman: There is a horrible calumny, which has become only too
prevalent in recent years, that somehow Nazism sprang from the bosom of
the Catholic Church. In the book I show, in sometimes gruesome detail,
how Nazism is, on the contrary, the offspring the "Rosemarys
Baby" if you will -- of the two diabolical parents occultism and
atheistic eugenics. In the book I trace these two streams over many decades
eugenics, typified by Margaret Sanger and her organization, and
virtually the same schools of occultism that are with us today as the
"New Age" fertilizing each other, and reaching fruition
in the birth, policies, and practices of the Nazi movement. Hitler drew
his own philosophy and ideas from these two sources, a fact that is evident
in his own statements, in the details of his personal history, and in
the people he relied on. All of this is documented from primary sources
in the book.
IgnatiusInsight.com: What is the relationship between
the Old Covenant and the New Covenant? What mistaken ideas about that
relationship can be found in the controversial document, "Reflections
on Covenant and Mission" (August 2002)?
Schoeman: The only way to understand the relationship between the
two covenants is to see that Judaism is nothing other than pre-Messianic
Catholicism, and that the Catholic Church is nothing other than post-Messianic
Judaism. They are one and the same religion, separated only by the change
in the nature of the relationship between God and Man that came about
as a result of the central event in the history of the world, the incarnation
of God as Man. All of the differences, and all of the similarities, between
the two flow from this fact.
The document that you mention was an unfortunate attempt at a false irenicism,
reflecting the "dual-covenant" theory mentioned earlier. It
was produced by members of the Bishops Committee on Interreligious
and Ecumenical Affairs and published without the permission of the director
of the committee, who upon finding out immediately had it retracted. It
disappeared from the USCCB website within days, to be replaced by a notice
by the Bishop in charge that it had only been an internal working document
and did not represent the position of the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops or the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious
IgnatiusInsight.com: As you show, there is quite a bit
of material in Scripture and in official Catholic teaching about the Jews
and the Second Coming of Christ. What are some of the main points made
about that event in relation to the Jewish people?
Schoeman: First of all, the most central point that I try to make
is that, just as the Jews had a special and key role to play in the First
Coming of Christ, they have a central role to play in His Second Coming,
too. The role that they have yet to play provides the explanation for
the continued existence of the Jewish people over the past two thousand
years, the persistence and virulence of anti-Semitism century after century,
the rise of Islam, the role of the Holocaust in Gods plan, and the
emergence of the State of Israel. Scriptural keys to unlocking this mystery
include Jesus prophecies in Luke 21:20-24 and Matthew 23:39, and
St. Pauls extended discussion in Romans 9-11. I cant do justice
to the arguments themselves within the limits of this interview
I will have to refer the interested reader to the book!
IgnatiusInsight.com: Romans 9-11 is a difficult and much-debated
passage of Scripture. What do you think is the main intention of St. Paul
in that passage and what does it teach us about the relationship between
the Church and the Jewish people?
Schoeman: In some sense, my entire book is a "Midrash"
(a Talmudic term roughly meaning "commentary") on Romans 9-11,
and the chapter that serves as the summary of the entire book is a verse-by-verse
explication of it. The passage is undoubtedly the single most powerful
key to unlocking the mystery of the relationship between Jew and Gentile;
for now, all I can say is that there is a mystery there, a huge one, which
is at the very center of the unfolding of salvation history, not only
leading up to the First Coming but also leading up to the Second.
IgnatiusInsight.com: Your conversion to the Catholic
Faith was a dramatic one. What has been the reaction to your conversion
among Jewish friends and acquaintances? What reaction has Salvation
Is From the Jews received among Jews?
Schoeman: The reactions to my conversion have ranged from the purple-faced
rage of one of the mentor-Rabbis of my childhood, to patronizing condescension,
to bemused interest, to active inquiry. The last is, of course, the most
gratifying; especially one Jewish friend who then read my book and followed
me to the Baptismal font. Perhaps typical is the comment of my best friend
from graduate school, an orthodox Jew, who simply shrugged and said somewhat
sympathetically, "Well, youre not the first
Overall the response by Jewish readers has been warmer than I hoped. I
must admit that I chose the title, a direct quote of the words of Jesus
in John 4:22, largely to appeal to them and pique their interest. Those
Jews would have a hostile reaction probably simply dont read the
(Read Part One
of this exclusive interview with Roy H. Schoeman.)
author, Roy H. Schoeman, was born in a suburb of New York
City of Conservative" Jewish parents who had fled Nazi
Germany. His Jewish education and formation was received under some
of the most prominent Rabbis in contemporary American Jewry, including
Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, probably the foremost Conservative Rabbi in the
U.S. and his hometown Rabbi growing up; Rabbi Arthur Green, later
the head of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College who was his religion
teacher and mentor during high school and early college; and Rabbi
Shlomo Carlebach, a prominent Hasidic Rabbi with whom he lived in
Israel for several months.
His secular education included a B.Sc. from M.I.T. and an M.B.A. magna
cum laude from Harvard Business School. Midway through a career of teaching
and consulting (he had been appointed to the faculty of the Harvard Business
School) he experienced an unexpected and instantaneous conversion to Christianity
which led to a dramatic refocus of his activities. Since then he
has pursued theological studies at several seminaries, helped produce
and host a Catholic Television talk show, and edited and written
for several Catholic books and reviews. This is his first full-length
Visit Roy's website, which contains much more information about Salvation
is from the Jews, at www.salvationisfromthejews.com.
is from the Jews:
The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming
Author: Roy H. Schoeman
Length: 395 pages
Your Price: $16.95
Salvation is From the Jews traces the role of Judaism and the Jewish
people in Gods plan for the salvation of mankind, from Abraham through
the Second Coming, as revealed by the Catholic faith and by a thoughtful
examination of history. It will give Christians a deeper understanding of
Judaism, both as a religion in itself and as a central component of Christian
To Jews it reveals the incomprehensible importance, nobility and glory that
Judaism most truly has. It examines the unique and central role Judaism
plays in the destiny of the world. It documents that throughout history
attacks on Jews and Judaism have been rooted not in Christianity, but in
the most anti-Christian of forces.
Areas addressed include: the Messianic prophecies in Jewish scripture; the
anti-Christian roots of Nazi anti-Semitism; the links between Nazism and
Arab anti-Semitism; the theological insights of major Jewish converts; and
the role of the Jews in the Second Coming.
Perplexed by controversies new and old about the destiny
of the Jewish people? Read this book by a Jew who became a Catholic for
a well-written, provocative, ground-breaking account. Some of the answers
most have never heard before.
Ronda Chervin, Ph.D., Hebrew-Catholic