A Graduate School of Theology and Ministry

Spring Shapiro Lecture with David Novak

Is Supercessionism a Barrier to Jewish-Christian Dialogue?

The notion that Christian people have superseded the Jewish people as recipients of God’s covenant is often referred to as “hard” supersessionism. This kind of supersessionism posits that God elected the Christian Church to displace the Jewish religion. There is another kind of supersessionism, however, which might be called “soft” supersessionism. In this view, Jews retain their place as a covenantal people, but Christians ought not abandon their belief that Christianity has indeed brought something new and good to their own covenantal relationship with God. A second kind of “soft” supercessionism, moreover, builds on the the fact that both Christianity and Judaism come out of and supersede a religion based on the Hebrew Bible, which could be called “Biblical Monotheism.” This lecture will explore the ramifications of these kinds of supercessionism, and what they mean for building Jewish-Christian relations today.


David Novak is a world-renowned theologian and an expert in Jewish-Christian relations. He is the author of eighteen books on Jewish ethics and interreligious dialogue, including Talking With Christians: Musings of a Jewish Theologian (Eerdmans, 2005), and Jewish-Christian Dialogue: A Jewish Justification (Oxford University Press, 1989). His book Covenantal Rights (Princeton University Press, 2000) won the American Academy of Religion Award for Best Book in Constructive Religious Thought in 2000.

Since 1997, he holds the J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair in Jewish Studies as Professor of Religion and Philosophy in the University of Toronto, where he is a Fellow of St. Michael’s College and a member of the Anne Tannenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies.

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