In January, Palgrave Macmillan will release Jewish Conscience of the Church: Jules Isaac and the Second Vatican Council by Norman C. Tobias (Queen’s College, Ontario). The publisher’s description follows:
This book presents the backstory of how the Catholic Church came to clarify and embrace the role of Israel in salvation history, at the behest of an unlikely personality: Jules Isaac. This embrace put to an end the tradition, more than fifteen centuries old, of anti-Jewish rhetoric that had served as taproot to racial varieties of anti-Semitism. Prior to Isaac’s thought and activism, this contemptuous tradition had never been denounced in so compelling a manner that the Church was forced to address it. It is a story of loss and triumph, and ultimately, unlikely partnership.
Isaac was a French Jewish historian, author of secondary-level history manuals (le Malet-Isaac) in the interwar years, and Inspector General of Public Education for France. Emerging from World War II bereft of wife, daughter, and son-in-law, Isaac devoted the remainder of his years to a crusade for scriptural truth and rectification of Christian teaching regarding Jews and Judaism. The centerpiece of his thought is Jésus et Israël, published in France in 1948. Isaac’s crusade culminated in an unpublicized audience with Pope John XXIII, an audience that moved the pope to make a last-minute addition to the Second Vatican Council agenda that set in motion a train of events leading to a revolution in Catholic teaching about Jews.