Fortress Press

Israel: A Christian Grammar


A Christian Grammar

Paul J. Griffiths (Author)


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Israel: A Christian Grammar proposes an understanding of Israel for Christians. The book's central claim is that Israel properly includes both the synagogue and the church, which is the same as to say that Israel properly includes both Christians and Jews. This, the book proposes, makes better sense of twentieth- and twenty-first-century developments in Christian doctrine about the Jewish people than other, rival construals of the same matter: if Christians and Jews share a lineage, worship the same God, have the same purpose, and are each given an irrevocable promise by that God of the continuation of their condition as God's beloved community--then they share a form of life, and that form of life is Israel. Such an understanding requires addressing what separates church and synagogue (theologically, liturgically, halakhically), how the differences between them came about, and the condition and meaning of those differences now. That address is provided. Central to it is a depiction of the correct way for Christians to understand the nature of the separation between themselves and Jews, and of the part the church has played in bringing it about. Central to that, in turn, is a detailed depiction of the ways in which the church and the synagogue respectively are and are not intimate with God. On that last point, the book argues that the best working assumption for Christians is that Jews are, in general, more intimate with God than Christians themselves are. From this in turn follow recommendations as to how Christians should now behave with respect to proselytizing Jews, depicting Jews, baptizing Jews, and marrying Jews.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506491059
  • eBook ISBN 9781506491066
  • Dimensions 5.75 x 8.75
  • Pages 242
  • Publication Date November 7, 2023


This is a visionary proposal from Paul Griffiths, with all the wisdom, precision, and erudition we have come to expect from him. It sets out a map for how Christians might see themselves as part of Israel along with the Jewish people--and the many implications this has. It is exacting, profound, and very provocative.

Gavin D'Costa, emeritus professor of Catholic Theology, University of Bristol; visiting professor of interreligious dialogue, Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome

In this theological tour de force, Paul Griffiths argues that the synagogue (the Jewish people) and the church (Christians) are both essential parts of God's divinely favored people, Israel. While writing from a Christian vantage point to a Christian audience, Griffiths highlights that the church after its lengthy history of mistreating Jews and maligning Judaism should be listening to, not instructing, the synagogue. I highly recommend it!

Joel Kaminsky, Morningstar Family Professor of Jewish Studies, Smith College

There are at the end of the day perhaps only a handful of ways Christians can understand the place of Israel in God's economy. Of these, some have proven to be deeply flawed, while others have yet to be fully explored and tested. In this book, Paul Griffiths puts us in his debt by displaying the logic of an account in which "Israel" names God's elect beloved, jointly constituted by the synagogue and the church. Everyone who cares about a rightly ordered Christian doctrine of Israel will want to read and weigh this original and provocative book.

Kendall Soulen, professor of systematic theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

This is quintessential Griffiths--polished and lively prose, abundant gems of insight, deeply original and thought-provoking. Griffiths writes to awaken mind and heart; he stirs up on every page a strong response from his readers--sometimes "Yes!" and sometimes "No!" but always grateful, always enriched. No future Christian theology of Israel will be able to proceed without this touchstone book.

Matthew Levering, James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary