Jacob L. Goodson
We are happy to share this issue of the Journal of Scriptural Reasoning with the Society of Scriptural Reasoning, as well as our broader readership. We present to you three sections, which cohere together quite well. The first section gathers contributions, from diverse perspectives, responding to John Howard Yoder’s The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003). Some of these essays (Paul Martens’s, Daniel Weiss’s, and Myles Werntz’s) consider in detail the theological dialogue between Yoder and the Jewish philosopher Peter Ochs; other essays (Andy Black’s & Karen Guth’s) focus exclusively on Yoder’s own moral and theological reasoning. Together, these five essays further the conversations started by Yoder concerning (a) why the Jewish-Christian schism “did not have to be,” (b) how there should be egalitarian unity between Jews and Christians, and (c) what this means for Jews and Christians in the 21st century.
In the second section, we offer two critical responses to Peter Ochs’s Another Reformation: Postliberal Christianity and the Jews (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Press, 2011). The Lutheran theologian Paul Hinlicky provides an attentive and patient analysis of Ochs’s evaluations of “postliberal” Christian theology. Hinlicky claims to count himself among those contemporary theologians who find that Christian theology must be accomplished in intentionally non-supersessionist ways. Willie Young supplies a philosophical analysis of Ochs’s Another Reformation, mapping out the ways in which the chapters speak to one another. Young makes clear that Christian postliberal theology has come to a crossroads, and the thinkers within this movement need either to continue to divide themselves along the lines that Ochs identifies or find unity in the commonality of their non-supersessionist tendencies. Although this section does not limit itself to the dialogue between Ochs and Yoder, it certainly connects with several of the insights given in the first section of this issue.
The third section of this issue continues the investigations of the first section with two lengthy book reviews. I review John Howard Yoder’s most recent posthumously published book: Revolutionary Christianity (Eugene, OR: Cascade Press, 2013). In Revolutionary Christianity, Yoder characterizes Judaism – along with Roman Catholicism and the Magisterial Reformation – as non-revolutionary religions, whereas Yoder’s own Anabaptist theology (the Radical Reformation) comes out as the only version of what he considers “revolutionary.” Hence, we are able to date Yoder’s reflections on Judaism through his writing career: 1966 (the year of that he gave his lectures, which now are gathered under the title of Revolutionary Christianity) and between the years 1971 – 1996 (the stretch in which he wrote the chapters gathered under the title, The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited). Yoder spent a total of twenty-five years reflecting on the relation between Judaism and Christianity.
Lastly, Tommy Givens concludes this issue with an engaging and exhilarating review of Paul Martens’s The Heterodox Yoder (Eugene, OR: Cascade Press, 2012). Martens serves as one of the contributors for the first section of the present issue, and Givens makes available to us a broader knowledge of Martens’s judgments on Yoder’s theological reasoning. Givens’s review is very helpful and thorough as a guide for navigating and understanding Martens’s complex and difficult book on Yoder. Martens’s book, and Givens’s engagement with Martens’s most pertinent arguments, will push scholarship on Yoder’s work in fruitful directions.
One final note for introducing this issue: I am pleased to report that most of the material from this issue will find its way to print. Pickwick Publications has agreed to publish these essays as chapters in a book tentatively entitled A Jewish Church? On the Current State of Jewish-Christian Dialogue. Pickwick rightly recognizes that these essays – which will be developed more fully into book chapters – represent the next piece in the conversations surrounding John Howard Yoder’s thesis that the Christian-Jewish schism “did not have to be,” Peter Ochs’s evaluations of the work of Christian Protestant theologians, and the Jewish-Christian friendship formed by Ochs and the Anglican theologian David Ford. The editors of the Journal of Scriptural Reasoning are happy that we are able to keep this conversation alive and going! Also, we are grateful to Charlie Collier at Pickwick Publications for his eagerness and willingness to get these essays to an even broader audience than what we are able to reach as an academic journal.