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Sacred Dissonance is a thought-provoking study exploring the distinctions between religious identities and cultural boundaries of Jews and Christians. Opposing the notion that all faiths are the same, Anthony Le Donne (a New Testament scholar) and Larry Behrendt (a Jewish lawyer) offer introspective essays on topics such as neighborhood relations, hospitality, and the Holocaust—and provide a model for addressing a difficult past and challenging present.
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Hendrickson Publishers
Publication Date: 2017
|Dimensions: 9 X 6 (inches)|
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Moving beyond the all-too-common shallow recognition of differences, Sacred Dissonance: The Blessing of Difference in Jewish-Christian Dialogue explores the essential distinctions between religious identities and the cultural boundaries between Jews and Christians. Co-authored by colleagues deeply committed to their respective faiths--one a Jewish lawyer, one a Christian New Testament scholar--this book stands in opposition to the notion that all religions are basically the same, an idea commonly put forward in many secular circles or among those who follow personally appointed folkways rather than traditional religions.
Through deeply introspective essays on topics as personal as neighborhood relations and hospitality, and as difficult and sweeping as the Holocaust, Sacred Dissonance challenges the notion that a passive and self-contained approach to religious distinction will bring about peaceful coexistence. In candid conversations between the authors, every section of Sacred Dissonance models the ways in which conversation can be the means of both addressing a difficult past and a challenging present. In the course of exploring the ways in which Jews and Christians can speak to one another, Le Donne and Behrendt show that Christianity can become a "pro-Jewish" religion, Judaism can become a "pro-Christian" religion, and communities of faith can open space for others, rather than turning them away, even without breaking down the differences between them.
Anthony Le Donne is the executive editor of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus and the author of several books and articles. He is associate professor of New Testament at United Theological Seminary.
Larry Behrendt is a specialist in interreligious dialogue with specific emphasis on Jewish-Christian relations. His blog, jewishchristianintersections.com, is uniquely devoted to this topic. Larry has degrees from the University of California and Georgetown University.
“Honest conversations between Jews and Christians are as important now as any time in the past 2,000 years. Sacred Dissonance marks an important point in that sometimes difficult, sometimes joyous journey of mutual understanding, enhancement, and coexistence. In this book, we are privileged to read the conversations between two brave friends, one Jew and one Christian, who made themselves vulnerable to each other in the hard process of exploring the dissonances between their theological outlooks. The authors are masterful in their honest engagement, handling tough issues with critical poise and careful presentation. Here theological integrity is matched by an ethos of rhetorical integrity—a rare and exquisite accomplishment.”
—Bruce W. Longenecker Professor of Religion and W. W. Melton Chair, Baylor University and author of Hitler, Jesus, and Our Common Humanity.
“Sacred Dissonance marks an important step forward in Jewish-Christian discourse. The essays are candid and probing, the dialogues rigorous, insightful, and devoid of the platitudes so typical in interfaith encounters. Jews and Christians wishing to learn more about each other—and themselves—will enjoy the opportunity to eavesdrop on these rich conversations. I know I did.”
—Rabbi Joshua D. Garroway Associate Professor of Early Christianity & Second Commonwealth Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
“I love this book. Behrendt and Le Donne model for us Jewish-Christian dialogue at its best—witty, respectful, and full of substance. A wonderful contribution to the ongoing conversation between the two faiths, a conversation that I can hope will become increasingly commonplace.”
—Pete Enns Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies, Eastern University and author of The Bible Tells Me So and The Sin of Certainty
Chaplain Bob4 Stars Out Of 5Two friends trying to disagree (and not succeeding)March 8, 2018Chaplain BobQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0A Review: Sacred Dissonance, the Blessing of Difference in Jewish-Christian Dialogue, by Anthony Le Donne and Larry Behrendt. Hendricksen Publishers, 2017.
Jewish-Christian dialogue is something very important to me, and I was eager to read this engaging book by two friends and scholars.
One might expect in this book to observe a lively debate, and near the end of Sacred Dissonance, Larry describes his interaction with Anthony as "arguments", yet I found them to rarely disagree or engage in debate. They are professing theological and political liberals (Anthony-PCUSA teaching at a Methodist Seminary and Larry-Reform Judaism, lawyer) with much in common who are mostly in agreement, with only minor differences (for example on pacifism). I found myself celebrating their friendship but disagreeing with much of what they said, particularly with Anthony (I read his book Near Christianity).
First, they both agree that Christians are largely to blame for the Holocaust. The authors call it "Christian-perpetuated mass murder." I would like to know the authors' definition of "Christian." They fail to mention that Hitler manipulated the state church, put dissenting Christians in camps, and his goal was to return Germany to its pre-Christian pagan roots. Their argument seems to paint the Nazis as Christians, which they may have technically been on baptismal records but hardly in spirit. My ancestors did not kill Jews in Germany; they killed Nazis, so why are American Christians being blamed? The authors also claim that Christians cannot understand the Holocaust because they have not been persecuted for their faith; yet they have, and even now this is occurring in many countries (Persecution, The Global Assault on Christians, by Marshall, Gilbert and Shea). Shoah is an obviously painful topic for Larry as the son of a Holocaust survivor: "My father escaped the hell of Nazi Germany before it went into full operation. But he'd lived in hell while it was under construction."
They also bring up the infamous Matthew 27:25, "Let his blood be on us and our people," which I agree has been used to shed Jewish blood. However, there is another way to take this controversial verse: When a small, emotionally manipulated group of people tells God to put Jesus' blood-guilt on their descendants, God is in no way obligated to take orders from them, and they do not speak for all Israel (Jesus was for the most part very popular), nor do they have the authority to do so (something Larry and Anthony only hint at). The Apostles' Creed rightly puts the blame on Rome. Since we are all sinners, and Jesus died for all, His blood is on all our hands. Professing Christians who call Jews "Christ-killers" are ignorant at best and un-Christian at worst.
Then there's the matter of Luther. With the exception of Erasmus, the Reformation was a period of religious intolerance. Both Catholics and Protestants showed signs of anti-Semitism. Luther despised Jewsand Catholics, and Anabaptists, and anyone who disagreed with him. According to Martin Luther's Anti-Semitism by Eric Gritsch, Luther's dislike of Jews was largely theological; he resented them for rejecting his message. This does not excuse his rhetoric, however. He cared more about being right than being loving. I think Larry wisely urges that "Christians need to better understand their own anti-Jewish history. But there may be a limit on how hard Jews should pound the connection between Christianity and anti-Semitism." Rightly so, as many of us Christians are very pro-Jewish.
The authors also have theodicy issues. They appear to embrace what they call antitheodicy: "A system of thought where we in some sense refuse to justify, explain, or accept the relationship between God and evil." They do not appreciate it when people thank God for blessings, because they do not see God so deeply involved in our lives, and they cannot reconcile how some appear blessed while others are not (should we then not thank God when good things happen?). It is the mystery of providence, yet Larry and Anthony's view of God is that of a distant, detached deity who does not open or close doors for us, nor does He appear to have a purpose for our hardships. All things work together for good, but not all things are good. We trust God regardless.
I would have liked to have seen more discussion of replacement theology and two-covenant theory, and some of the themes found in the books of Dr. Marvin Wilson and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, authors everyone should read.
I too am in dialogue with a Jewish religious leader, the President of my town's synagogue. We are both conservative in our religious and political views. We meet to talk and play guitar together, and we do not agree on many things, yet we are the closest of friends. Like Anthony and Larry, we are not trying to convert each other but better understand and learn from each other. And mainly, we enjoy each other's company.
Larry offers a significant reason case for Jewish-Christian dialogue: "To glimpse the sacred on the other side." If the authors of Sacred Dissonance encourage Jews and Christians to respect each other, then that's a very good thing.
TA King5 Stars Out Of 5A Beautiful Way Forward--How We All wish Dialogue Would Be!January 16, 2018TA KingQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0There are so many qualities of this book that I want to celebrate: honest, authentic, push-pull, good wit, real differences, changing of perspectives, understanding through another's lens. As I was pondering this book it not only did justice to Jewish-Christian dialogue, but it provided an excellent framework for other interfaith dialogue as well.
Thank you, Anthony and Larry, for allowing us to see your hearts and your perspectives.
I highly recommend this book!