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The Jewish Christ

But when the time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, (Ga 4:4)

Jesus of Nazareth was born into a Jewish family, was circumcised, went to the Temple on pilgrimage with his parents, taught in synagogues and had disciples like many of the masters of his time. If Jesus proposed his own interpretations of Jewish law, he was always faithful and observant. This evidence of Jesus' Jewish life has often been cast aside or, at best, has been treated as a contextual element sometimes secondary to Christians. On the Jewish side, Jesus has always been recognized as part of the people of Israel even though his name and memory were generally considered a curse and were doomed to oblivion.

The salvation brought by Jesus, Christ and Messiah of Israel for the Christians, takes all its depth and its truth in the mystery of the Incarnation, of his coming among men. If Jesus has taken our humanity, it means that, like every man, he is born into a people, with a language, a religion and a culture of its own, which in his case is Judaism.

Jesus was sent above all to the sons of the house of Israel. (Matt 15:24)

To rediscover the face of Jesus as a Jewish man at the beginning of our era is to believe deeply in the mystery of his humanity, to discover the face of Judaism as the root of the Christian faith, to be amazed, to be moved. And finally was Jesus not that different from the Pharisees?

To rediscover Jesus as a Jew is also to give back to our Jewish brethren one of theirs, a wise man of Israel, a teacher of wisdom. The patient study of the Jewishness of Jesus makes it more authentic. Christians can thus deepen their faith and Jews can discover that the one in whose name they have often been persecuted is a familiar figure.

The dialogue between Jews and Christians can only be true and authentic if we address the bone of contention and also the possible unity that is the figure of Jesus.

Since Vatican II, Catholic theology is at a new turning point: saying loud and clear that Judaism is part of the mystery of the Church. The Catholic Church goes so far as to recognize in the most recent documents that the covenant with Israel, with the Jewish people, continues to be true, to grow and to be part of God's plan. Judaism is not a reality of the past but a living covenant today.

What place is there for this covenant between God and Israel after the revelation of Jesus?

A new theological construction is thus opening up between Jews and Christians, a long and mysterious road where Jesus, this “Marginal Jew”, must play a central role.