According to a new Vatican document, recently released in English, Jews should continue to anticipate the coming of Messiah.

The Pontifical Biblical Commission released the English version of "The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible" in May. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger signed the work.

"The Jewish Messianic wait is not in vain," the statement says. "It can become for us Christians a strong stimulus to maintain alive the eschatological dimension of our faith. We, like them, live in expectation. The difference is in the fact that for us, he who will come will have the traits of that Jesus who has already come and is already active and present among us."

The document is the latest of several that some believe suggest the church is softening its stance toward Jews and their salvation. For example, several scholars said Dominus Iesus, a 2000 document that reaffirms that salvation comes through Christ and the church, does not apply to Jews the way it does to members of other non-Christian religions.

Two Covenants?

Darrell Bock, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, noted that the new statement seems to imply belief in a two-covenant view of salvation. "This would undercut evangelism to Jews and does not make sense of the efforts of the earliest church to reach out to Jews as seen in the New Testament," Bock told Christianity Today. "On the key question of whether Judaism can save, the document is very unclear."

John Pawlikowski, director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies program at the University of Chicago, said the statement raises questions about the way the church understands Jews and salvation. "It demands some kind of further reflection on the significance of the universality ...

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