Cardinal George Asks Jews to Edit Talmud

Cardinal Francis George says maybe the traditional Good Friday prayers of the Tridentine mass need to be edited–and also says that sensitivity is a two way street, and that the Jews should edit the Talmud to remove statements against Jesus.

“It does work both ways. Maybe this is an opening to say, ‘Would you care to look at some of the Talmudic literature’s description of Jesus as a bastard, and so on, and maybe make a few changes in some of that?'”

6 thoughts on “Cardinal George Asks Jews to Edit Talmud

  1. “Tit for tat, quid pro quo Clarisse…”? To invite others into a relationship with the risen Christ and to promote “the way,” (as Christians, not-so-incidently, were first called) is the primary purpose for the creation and continued existence of the church; aka, evangelism. To pray for the success of that mission is a no-brainer. On the other hand, to univocally single out a specific race or religion within the context of the public liturgy, intuitively, violates prudence and charity. Too many however, have used the prayer as a pretext for their broader objections to a more liberal use of the Latin mass.

    While I highly respect Cardinal George, his suggestion, it seems to me, is counter-intuitive to the Gospel and would require a rather convoluted reading of the Sermon on the Mount.


  2. Coming to know our history (I speak as a Catholic) of taking it upon ourselves to “edit” the Talmud for Jews by fire (by which these bonfires were often followed by expulsion of Jews from their homes) and our long history of censoring these works, I’m left with the understanding that we’re not engaged in a simple quid pro quo equation here. We Catholics have a dark record in this regard. The change in prayer for the Jews that came with the Novus Ordo was in part a recognition of this history of hate–OUR history of hate. We minimize the important statement we made with Nostra Aetate when we then turn to our Jewish brethren and insist, “Okay, we changed ours. Now you change yours.”

    I somehow doubt that Cardinal Francis George would have had the moxie to say what he did if Cardinal Lustiger were still alive.

  3. Can you provide some background about the Talmud, Bill. What is it’s status, can it be edited in the same way that the liturgy can be edited. Or is it more akin to scripture and cannot be edited.

  4. It’s a collection of oral law and commentary, discussion and debate, compiled over centuries. It isn’t scripture (that status is reserved for the Tanakh), and it is filled with contrary opinions, in the form of rabbis and commentators arguing with one another. How do you take something out? That would be akin to saying “the rabbis never said that.”

  5. I’m still getting over the shock of reading Cardinal George’s recommendation…. In one fell swoop he’s given the green light to one of the favorite pastimes of raving antisemites, i.e., bashing Jews and Judaism via the Talmud. The speed with which racist/skinhead/neo-Nazi websites have sucked up the news underscores the necessity for Cardinal George to have thought twice before blithely making this comment. These are sites that twist and distort passages from the Talmud, and sometimes, even fabricate false libelous claims!

    But for the sake of argument, let’s say that the references in the Talmud bear scrutiny. Right off the bat a sticking point exists in determining which passages truly speak about Jesus, the Christian Messiah. The references in the Gemara are not clear-cut, with some being fairly murky. The Jewish community is not in accord that the Talmud has references to the Jesus whom we worship. Gil Student (who has received rabbinic ordination but eschews the title since he does other work) holds that it does not. I don’t know that I agree with him in all respects, but I believe he believes what he says. Student, who runs what is probably the most popular Modern Orthodox blog of Jewish halacha (law), has put together some discussion on Jesus in the Talmud:

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