by Scott Holland

For over fifty–five years, we at CrossCurrents have moved beyond the sometimes narrow agendas of academic guilds to explore the most interesting intersections of religion and intellectual life. We have discovered when we trespass the established borders and boundaries of academic and faith communities we can enter the liminal spaces where some of the most engaging ecumenical and interfaith conversations begin.

Those of us who studied with the late John Howard Yoder remember how he taught us to transgress the status quo, or in his words, “Constantinian assumptions of contemporary theology and culture,” with alternative, prophetic possibilities for re–imagining the relationships of God, world, self and other. One of his consistent themes was the Jewishness of Jesus and the early church, followed by his startling claim that the division of Christianity from Judaism “did not have to be.”

Peter Ochs and Michael Cartwright have collected and published Yoder’s most important explorations of the “unnecessary” Jewish–Christian splits and schisms (The Jewish–Christian Schism Revisited, Eerdmans, 2003). This collection of essays also presents Yoder’s reflections on the Free Churches or Peace Churches spiritual solidarity with prophetic Judaism. Indeed, Professor Yoder contends that members of Peace Churches are in significant ways more like Jews than mainline Christians.

The incomparable Jewish scholar Daniel Boyarin also investigates the early Jewish–Christian conflicts and schisms on his recent book, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo–Christianity (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). This excellent study won the 2006 American Academy of Religion award for historical writing. At the 2006 AAR convention, Boyarin read a paper treating John Howard Yoder’s work on early Jewish and Christian relationships. Five panelists responded to Daniel Boyarin, including CrossCurrents contributing editor Randi Rashkover. We are delighted to publish the proceedings of this important panel on the Jewish–Christian schism revisited and re–imagined.

Continuing the Jewish–Christian dialogue, Father John Pawlikowski, a distinguished ecumenical theologian, presents an analysis and critique of the current discussions of the theology Jewish–Christian relationships and their implications for the churches’ evolving understanding of mission in the world.

Rounding out this issue of the journal, Eileen Kinch offers a lovely personal essay on the transformative power of a Christian–Muslim friendship. Two of the most interesting constructive theologians writing today, Catherine Keller and Jack Caputo, together present a “Theopoetic/Theopolitic.” Finally, Craig Baron invites us into a theological vision of a re–enchanted world.

As we enter a new publishing year we hope to continue to give our readers writing about religion that engages the life of the mind, the passions of the heart, and the loves, longings and losses of the body.

—New Year’s Day, 2007

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Source: Cross Currents, Winter 2006-7, Vol. 56,  No 4.