Goldstein misses, at this point, the true significance of the writings of St. Augustine on the Jews. While presuming the deicide charge, Augustine also noted that Jews give witness to the validity of their Scriptures (which Christians called the “Old Testament” although its message about the One God of Israel is ever new and challenging), without which the message of the “good news” of the New Testament makes little sense. Goldstein also misses the significance of the fact that the popes adopted Augustine’s protective view of Judaism so that it alone among all the religions of the ancient world survived.
Goldstein provides the invaluable larger context, historically, in which these can be understood. That larger context was increasingly grim for Jews as the centuries progressed, especially after the First Crusade in which thousands of Jews were murdered, and the institution of ghettos, forced conversion, the blood libel and violation of the Eucharist charges, pogroms, and expulsion from all of the nations of Western Europe save for the Italian peninsula, where papal protection prevailed.
Goldstein rightly spends a good percentage of her time on the events leading up to the Holocaust in Europe and on increasing anti-Semitism in the Arab/Muslim world today. The latter began before the existence of the state of Israel and independently of Zionism.
She concludes with a call to Jews, Muslims and Christians alike to view each other with mutual respect, citing Elie Wiesel that “although we today are not responsible for the injustices of the past, we are responsible for the way we remember the past and what we do with that past.” The volume includes helpful illustrations and bibliography.
Fisher is distinguished professor of Catholic-Jewish studies at St. Leo University in Florida.