... two aspects deserve special consideration: the original character of the Jewish understanding of the Bible and an effort to overcome every form of anti-Semitism.
... A proper exegesis of the text, therefore, must be based on the historical-critical method enriched by other approaches. This is the basis for interpreting Scripture.
Consider the above statements in light of past Vatican documents and perhaps we can make some determination as to where Vatican scriptural exegesis is headed:
22. The horror in the wake of the extermination of the Jews (the Shoah) during the Second World War has led all the Churches to rethink their relationship with Judaism and, as a result, to reconsider their interpretation of the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament. It may be asked whether Christians should be blamed for having monopolised the Jewish Bible and reading there what no Jew has found. Should not Christians henceforth read the Bible as Jews do, in order to show proper respect for its Jewish origins?
... Christians can and ought to admit that the Jewish reading of the Bible is a possible one, in continuity with the Jewish Sacred Scriptures from the Second Temple period, a reading analogous to the Christian reading which developed in parallel fashion.
... Christians can, nonetheless, learn much from Jewish exegesis practised for more than two thousand years, and, in fact, they have learned much in the course of history.
The Gospels frequently present the Pharisees as hypocritical and heartless legalists ... it must be admitted, that in all probability, the presentation of the Pharisees in the Gospels was influenced in part by subsequent polemics between Christians and Jews.
... the anti-Pharisee virulence of Mt 23 must be seen in the context of the apocalyptic discourse of Mt 24-25. Apocalyptic language is employed in times of persecution to strengthen the capacity for resistance on the part of the persecuted minority, and to reinforce their hopes of a liberating divine intervention. Seen in this perspective, the vigour of the polemic is less astonishing.
... the Gospel of Matthew reflects a situation of tension and even opposition between the two communities. In it Jesus foresees that his disciples will be flogged in the synagogues and pursued from town to town (23:34). Matthew therefore is concerned to provide for the Christians' defence. Since that situation has radically changed, Matthew's polemic need no longer interfere with relations between Christians and Jews, and the aspect of continuity can and ought to prevail.
... Jewish methods of exegesis are frequently employed in the New Testament. The Christian canon of the Old Testament owes its formation to the first century Jewish Scriptures. To properly interpret the New Testament, knowledge of the Judaism of this period is often necessary.
... In the past, the break between the Jewish people and the Church of Christ Jesus could sometimes, in certain times and places, give the impression of being complete. In the light of the Scriptures, this should never have occurred. For a complete break between Church and Synagogue contradicts Sacred Scripture.
... The Second Vatican Council, in its recommendation that there be “understanding and mutual esteem” between Christians and Jews, declared that these will be “born especially from biblical and theological study, as well as from fraternal dialogue”. 347 The present Document has been composed in this spirit; it hopes to make a positive contribution to it, and encourages in the Church of Christ the love towards Jews that Pope Paul VI emphasised on the day of the promulgation of the conciliar document Nostra Aetate.
With this text, Vatican Two laid the foundations for a new understanding of our relations with Jews when it said that “according to the apostle (Paul), the Jews, because of their ancestors, still remain very dear to God, whose gifts and calling are irrevocable (Rm 11:29)”
... Dialogue is possible, since Jews and Christians share a rich common patrimony that unites them. It is greatly to be desired that prejudice and misunderstanding be gradually eliminated on both sides, in favour of a better understanding of the patrimony they share and to strengthen the links that bind them.
(The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible,Pontifical Biblical Commission, Vatican, May 24th, 2001)
Many Christian exegetes of the Old Testament look besides to the Jewish commentators, grammarians and lexicographers of the medieval and more recent period as a resource for understanding difficult passages or expressions that are either rare or unique. References to such Jewish works appear in current exegetical discussion much more frequently than was formerly the case.
Jewish biblical scholarship in all its richness, from its origins in antiquity down to the present day, is an asset of the highest value for the exegesis of both Testaments ... (The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission, Vatican, March 18, 1994)
... The Gospels are the outcome of long and complicated editorial work. The dogmatic constitution Dei Verbum, following the Pontifical Biblical Commission's Instruction Sancta Mater Ecclesia, distinguishes three stages: "The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels, selecting some things from the many which had been handed on by word of mouth or in writing, reducing some of them to a synthesis, explicating some things in view of the situation of the Churches, and preserving the form of proclamation, but always in such fashion that they told us the honest truth about Jesus" (n. 19).
Hence it cannot be ruled out that some references hostile or less than favourable to the Jews have their historical context in conflicts between the nascent Church and the Jewish community.
Certain controversies reflect Christian-Jewish-relations long after the time of Jesus.
To establish this is of capital importance if we wish to bring out the meaning of certain Gospel texts for the Christians of today.
All this should be taken into account when preparing catechesis and homilies for the last weeks of Lent and Holy Week (cf. already Guidelines II, and now also Sussidi per l'ecumenismo nella diocesi di Roma, 1982, 144 b). (Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church, Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, June 24, 1985)
Jewish tradition emphasizes the Noachide Covenant (cf. Gen 9:9-12) as containing the universal moral code which is incumbent on all humanity. This idea is reflected in Christian scripture in the book of Acts 15:28-29. (The Delegation of the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's Delegation for Relations with the Catholic Church, Bilateral Commission Meeting, Jerusalem, March 11-13, 2007)