The Development of Jewish Theologies of Christianity in American Judaism after the Shoah until the Present

This dissertation explores theological conceptions of Christianity, which were established by intellectuals, rabbis and philosophers in American Judaism from 1945 until the present day. One will focus on the question how Jewish self-definitions are reflected in the presence of the “other” and how various Jewish perspectives on the Christian religion are integrated into own faith traditions. Discussing Jewish perspectives on Christianity, the analysis does not only consider the active dialogue with Christianity. It also includes Jewish positions that are characterized by the deliberate separation from Christianity or the avoidance of any interreligious discourse.

One shall explore (among others) theological conceptions of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Michael Wyschogrod, Abraham Heschel, Will Herberg, Eugene Korn, Richard Rubenstein, and David Novak.

The dissertation will examine these perspectives on Christianity in the context of the development of American Judaism after 1945. Therefore it will concentrate on events and developments that shaped Jewish identity in America and ask how they influenced the Jewish perspectives on Christianity.

Apart from the historical perspective, the study intends to classify the statements about Christianity that are made by Jewish thinkers. What topics dominate the Jewish perspectives on Christianity? Which tendencies can be identified in these perspectives and which priorities are set by the authors concerning the prospective nature of the Jewish-Christian dialogue? In addition to these questions it is crucial to analyze their motivations to be concerned with Christianity and Christian-theological issues.

Focusing on Jewish theologies of Christianity within the context of the development of American Judaism since 1945 this dissertation will also consider different positions that pay attention to the definition of “Jewish theology”. One shall discuss how the term “theology” according to Jewish understandings differs from “religion” and “philosophy”.