A. Roy Eckardt, "Ha'Shoah as Christian Revolution: Toward the Liberation of the Divine Righteousness," Quarterly Review 2:4 (Winter 1982) 52-67

Abstract by Jerry Darring


Eckardt describes his article as a midrash on a statement made by Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits: "God is responsible for having created a world in which man is free to make history." He submits five comments, each of which "assumes the standpoint of human righteousness in the presence of kiveyakhol, the divine sin" (p. 53).

1. The Holocaust must must be faced directly, not just as part of the problem of evil.

2. There is no consolation for the Holocaust, including the state of Israel.

3. "God is identifiable as the culprit behind all Jewish suffering, but the Shoah remains unique as a most monstrous, eschatological incarnation of that suffering" (p. 57).

4. Appeal to the Crucifixion is blocked, for "Do we not have here a stern lesson of the Shoah, that if there is to be any redemption, it must lie wholly within some tomorrow?" (p. 59). Nor can we appeal to the Resurrection: "How can the Resurrection of Jesus be proclaimed as a special act of God without the Christian triumphalism that paved the road to Belzec and Sobibor?" (p. 59). For Eckardt the problem is serious: "Christian supersessionist thinking is a carrier. It carries the germs of genocide, the genocide only of Jews" (p. 60).

5. "Forgiveness for God may be possible if he can still somehow manage to leave his gifts at the altar and go and be reconciled to his human children. He has sinned against life, and life can only be vindicated through life. God has one chance left... to be saved. He must do two things: seek human forgiveness, and act to redeem himself" (p. 61).

Eckardt uses Jewish sources like Elie Wiesel and Emil Fackenheim, and he uses Christian sources like Clark Williamson and Rosemary Ruether. He concludes on a note of humor and forgiveness: "God is a klutz--the ultimate klutz... He would have to go make himself a world! Now he is stuck with it, and with us, and he is left with no choice but to keep on undergoing the agony of it" (p. 64).