Throughout this guide to The Twelve Points or Challenges of Berlin, we have been affirming that much is shared in common between our two civilizations and life orientations, but we have also significantly departed from the overreach that the hyphenated construct 'the Judeo-Christian tradition' can entail. For a summarized history and varied senses of this suggestive and at times provocative term see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judeo-Christian.
A case-in-point ~ of a divergence in perspectives: The role of history in Christianity & Judaism respectively ~ with particular attention to the Jewish experience vis-à-vis the Sacred Character of the Land of Israel. An in-depth comparative study of this topic takes us far beyond the scope of the present Guide, but we recommend visiting the website of Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations, the online journal of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations (ICCJ’s member organization in the USA) at
The New York Times' excellent obituary pf Levinas:
Rather than being neatly divided, sometimes 'things that are God's' make their demands upon 'the things that are Caesar's' – that belong to the state. The vitally critical character of the Land of Israel and of the earthly Jerusalem for Judaism is integrally related to its love affair with the law, the deed, ethics and responsibility, social justice and the profound nobility of 'works.' But it is all about works engaged in the midst of the marketplace and in the contentious and complicated center of every other life context; in the thicket and thorns of this earthly hour just as we find it, this way and that, in its variegated variety.
Thus, without history – without the framework of the nation-state; not as end in and of itself, but as the necessary framework to live a life together that includes and affirms every dimension of the human experience ~ without history there is no possibility of genuine spirituality's striving to be realized. The sacred and the profane are mixed in interaction, seeking their true destiny in the transforming encounter with one another. Not as the sacred in and of itself, but as the only means by which our ideals can be applied and tested, tried out through being 'translated' into all the aspects, all the problems and possibilities that present themselves to human beings in their all too human mortal encounters with every life situation that comprise a human life.
Such a thoroughgoing participation in history, nation, country/land will adherently & inevitably result in many mistakes & failings ~ small, medium & large.
But the people continue to try and 'get it right' – try to make things more right, more just – via regular ongoing soul-searching, self-criticism and the criticism of friends. There is no perfect, completely righteous person on earth that does not miss-the-bull’s-eye – does not err. (First Kings 8:46 & Ecclesiastes 7:20) There is no perfect, completely righteous society/nation that does not miss-the-target, does not err.
You might want to check this out:
Emmanuel Levinas, 'The State of Caesar and the State of David' in Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures ~ translated by Gary Mole (Indiana University Press, 1994 ~ first published in France 1982 by Les Editions de Minuit)
Most of this essay is accessible via Google Books – all but two of its pages: