Now Online: Video "The Jewish Conscience behind the Ten Theses of Seelisberg"
Dr Norman C. Tobias, a Canadian jurist and historian and author of the book Jewish Conscience of the Church: Jules Isaac and the Second Vatican Council
How ironically providential that it was a Catholic philosopher, Henri Petiot, publishing under the pseudonym "Daniel-Rops", whom we can thank for the very presence of Jules Isaac at Seelisberg, let alone the pivotal role he played. How ironically providential that the Ten Theses of Seelisberg were to be informed by the 21 Propositions of Isaac's then yet-to-be published Jesus et Israel (Albin Michel, 1948), as distilled by Isaac in advance of the Seelisberg conference into "18 Points of Rectification Necessary in Christian Teaching".
As Princeton historian Philip G. Nord observes in his After the Deportation: Memory Battles in Postwar France (Cambridge University Press, 2020), "Isaac was not the likeliest choice for the role of Jewish paladin". How ironic that providence would choose a secular French historian, more humanist than Jewish, to be the one to indict a nearly two millennia old tradition, more secular than inspired, contemptuous of Jews and Judaism. How providentially ironic that it would be this man whose papal audience would provoke a last-minute addition to the Vatican II agenda to include relations with the Jews, thereby allowing the council fathers to replace a teaching of contempt with one of esteem. How ironically providential that it was the 10 Theses of Seelisberg, more than any theological reflection, that would serve as bridge over which those who drafted the conciliar statement on the Jews and Judaism would cross.