From the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini

The following is an excerpt from Benedict XVI's postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Verbum Domini," dated Sept. 30, 2010, and drawing from the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held Oct. 5-26, 2008. The assembly reflected on the theme "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."

The full text of Verbum Domini can be found here.

Christians, Jews and the sacred Scriptures [43]

Having considered the close relationship between the New Testament and the Old, we now naturally turn to the special bond which that relationship has engendered between Christians and Jews, a bond that must never be overlooked. Pope John Paul II, speaking to Jews, called them "our ‘beloved brothers' in the faith of Abraham, our Patriarch".[141] To acknowledge this fact is in no way to disregard the instances of discontinuity which the New Testament asserts with regard to the institutions of the Old Testament, much less the fulfilment of the Scriptures in the mystery of Jesus Christ, acknowledged as Messiah and Son of God. All the same, this profound and radical difference by no means implies mutual hostility. The example of Saint Paul (cf. Rom 9-11) shows on the contrary that "an attitude of respect, esteem and love for the Jewish people is the only truly Christian attitude in the present situation, which is a mysterious part of God's wholly positive plan".[142] Indeed, Saint Paul says of the Jews that: "as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers, for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable!" (Rom 11:28-29).

Saint Paul also uses the lovely image of the olive tree to describe the very close relationship between Christians and Jews: the Church of the Gentiles is like a wild olive shoot, grafted onto the good olive tree that is the people of the Covenant (cf. Rom 11:17-24). In other words, we draw our nourishment from the same spiritual roots. We encounter one another as brothers and sisters who at certain moments in their history have had a tense relationship, but are now firmly committed to building bridges of lasting friendship.[143] As Pope John Paul II said on another occasion: "We have much in common. Together we can do much for peace, justice and for a more fraternal and more humane world".[144]

I wish to state once more how much the Church values her dialogue with the Jews. Wherever it seems appropriate, it would be good to create opportunities for encounter and exchange in public as well as in private, and thus to promote growth in reciprocal knowledge, in mutual esteem and cooperation, also in the study of the sacred Scriptures.


[141] John Paul II, Message to the Chief Rabbi of Rome (22 May 2004): Insegnamenti XXVII, 1 (2004), p. 655.

[142] Cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible (24 May 2001), 87: Enchiridion Vaticanum 20, No. 1150.

[143] Cf. Benedict XVI, Farewell Discourse at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv (15 May 2009): Insegnamenti, V, 1 (2009), 847-849.

[144] John Paul II, Address to the Chief Rabbis of Israel (23 March 2000): Insegnamenti XXIII, 1 (2000), 434.