Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity

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Issued by a group of prominent Jewish scholars, Dabru Emet is a reassessment of Christianity in response to the Christian acknowledgement of past failings towards the Jewish community. The document was first published in the New York Times on September 10, 2000

Dabru Emet (Speak the Truth) was conceived in light of the positive changes in the relationship between Jews and Christians after the Second Vatican Council. The document was authored by four eminent Jewish theologians, Dr. Tikva Frymer-Kensky, Dr. David Novak, Dr. Peter Ochs, and Dr. Michael Signer. The authors do not claim to speak in an official capacity for the entire Jewish community. However, as “an interdenominational group of Jewish scholars” they “believe it is time for Jews to learn about the efforts of Christians to honor Judaism.” With this goal in mind, Dabru Emet elaborates on the following eight declarations as a foundation for further constructive dialogue between Jews and Christians:

  1. Jews and Christians worship the same God.
  2. Jews and Christians seek authority from the same book—the Bible—(what Jews call “Tanakh” and Christians call the “Old Testament”).
  3. Christians can respect the claim of the Jewish people upon the land of Israel.
  4. Jews and Christians accept the moral principles of Torah.
  5. Nazism was not a Christian phenomenon.
  6. The humanly irreconcilable difference between Jews and Christians will not be settled until God redeems the entire world as promised in Scripture.
  7. A new relationship between Jews and Christians will not weaken Jewish practice.
  8. Jews and Christians must work together for justice and peace.

Dabru Emet generated a vigorous conversation. Within less than a year of its publication over 220 leading Jewish scholars and theologians from across the globe added their names as co-signers to the declaration.

To accompany its original public release, the authors of Dabru Emet edited and published Christianity in Jewish Terms (Westview Press, 2000), a volume of topical essays.

Although Dabru Emet has received a mostly positive reception, some voices within the Jewish community such as Jon Levenson in his article How Not to Conduct Jewish-Christian Dialogue, have expressed reservations about the declaration.

Cardinal Augustine Bea consults with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in 1963Dr. Anas Sheikh-Ali delivering A Common Word to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, October 11, 2007