Transforming Relations

Essays on Jews and Christians throughout History in Honor of Michael A. Signer

Edited by Franklin T. Harkins
Foreword by John Van Engen

Transforming Relations is a collection of original essays on the history of Jews and Christians in antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the modern era that honors the influential work of Michael A. Signer (1945-2009). Reflecting the breadth of Signer’s research and pedagogical interests, the essays treat various aspects of the Jewish-Christian relationship through the centuries, from the divine law in antiquity to philosemitism in contemporary Christianity, from scriptural interpretation in the twelfth century to Christian Hebraism in the fifteenth, and from the presentation of Christianity in the Talmud and Midrashim to modern Christian understandings of Judaism. The essays are unified in their emphases on two principles that pervade Signer’s own scholarly work: that the sacred texts shared by Jews and Christians serve simultaneously as a point of convergence and divergence for the two religious communities, and that modern practitioners of Judaism and Christianity must recognize and appreciate the other as part of a living tradition.

A fitting tribute to Signer’s wide-ranging work, the volume aims to complement and continue his passionate and learned work of transforming relations between Jews and Christians. It will appeal to a broad readership, including historians of Judaism and Christianity, scholars of the Middle Ages, students of the history of biblical exegesis, and systematic theologians.

MICHAEL A. SIGNER was the Adams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture at the University of Notre Dame from 1992 until his death in 2009. Among his many publications are the edited volumes Memory and History in Christianity and Judaism and Jews and Christians in Twelfth-Century Europe, both also published by the University of Notre Dame Press.

FRANKLIN T. HARKINS is assistant professor of theology at Fordham University.

CONTRIBUTORS: Arnold J. Band, Jeremy Cohen, Boyd Taylor Coolman, Dale M. Coulter, David Ellenson, Deborah L. Goodwin, Angela Kim Harkins, Franklin T. Harkins, Hanspeter Heinz, Sara Japhet, E. Ann Matter, David Novak, Peter Ochs, Cyril O’Regan, Peter von der Osten-Sacken, John T. Pawlikowski, O.S.M., David Fox Sandmel, Lesley Smith, Arjo Vanderjagt, Israel Jacob Yuval, and Grover A. Zinn.

“Michael Signer, beloved scholar and rabbi, was a medievalist who spoke to contemporary concerns and a Jew who had close friendships with Christians. The scholarly depth of the essays in this volume and the range of issues the authors address are testimony to his significant legacy. This excellent book honors the memory of Rabbi Signer. It also will be a blessing to all who read it.” — Mary C. Boys, S.N.J.M., Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology, Union Theological Seminary

“This superb collection of original essays is a most fitting tribute to the work of the late Rabbi Michael A. Signer (1945–2009). Michael’s colleagues and students not only reflect on his legacy but also embody his very practice of a rigorous and collaborative scholarship that builds bridges of mutual understanding across the fractures of history and the realities of religious difference. With this volume, Michael’s transformative work in Jewish-Christian relations continues.” — Elizabeth Groppe, Xavier University


“Transforming Relations is a collection of twenty essays celebrating the work of Michael A. Signer, a Reform rabbi and the Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture at the University of Notre Dame from 1992 until his death in 2009. . . . The diverse essays collected in this volume reflect Signer’s wide-ranging interests and his impact on other thinkers. Scholars will cherish the rich articles to be found in Part One, but those who are engaged in Jewish-Christian relations on the community level will feel particularly drawn to Part Two.” — Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations

“Transforming Relations is a collection of insightful essays that speak on the interaction between Jews and Christians in antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern era. . . . a fine tribute to the memory and work of Michael Signer . . . [and] . . . a labor of respect and scholarship.” — Shofar

“Transforming Relations: Essays on Jews and Christians Throughout History in Honor of Michael A. Signer is a scholarly look at Christianity and its relationship with its parent faith Judaism . . . A key addition to any community library religious studies collection.” — The Midwest Book Review