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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.

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 can’t 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 God’s 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 today’s 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 "Rosemary’s 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 Affairs.

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 God’s 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. Paul’s extended discussion in Romans 9-11. I can’t 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, you’re 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 don’t read the book.

(Read Part One of this exclusive interview with Roy H. Schoeman.)

The 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 book.

Visit Roy's website, which contains much more information about Salvation is from the Jews, at www.salvationisfromthejews.com.

Salvation is from the Jews:
The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming

Author: Roy H. Schoeman
Length: 395 pages
Edition: Paperback
Your Price: $16.95

Salvation is From the Jews traces the role of Judaism and the Jewish people in God’s 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 salvation.

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


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