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Posted June 30, 2006

Book: Ancient Israel, Judaism, and Christianity in Contemporary Perspective: Essays in Memory of Karl-Johan Illman
Edited by Jacob Neusner, Alan J. Avery-Peck, Antti Laato, Risto Nurmela, Karl Gustave Sandelin
University Press of America, New York. 2006. Pp. 448

An Excerpt from the Preface:

Dr. Karl-Johan Illman, 1936-2001, Professor of Old Testament Exegesis and Jewish Studies at Abo Akademi University in Abo (Turku) Finland, was well-known in the Jewish communities of Finland and Sweden as a friend of the Jewish people and of the state of Israel. He served as a leader in movements for interfaith reconciliation, and an advocate of the state of Israel and of Judaism. He lectured widely in Finland and Sweden on Jewish subjects and participated in international conferences in Europe and the USA on problems of Jewish learning. Karl-Johan Illman was chairman of the Scandinavian Society of Jewish Studies, 1985-1995, and in 1995-1999 he was chairman of the Finnish Society for Yad Vashem.

His scholarly work moved from studies of biblical theology to work on Jewish history, Jewish-Christian relations, and Israeli matters. He wrote a work, Jewish History, in Swedish, which went through seven editions, and a counterpart in Finnish, which went through two. Other books included these: Judaism in the Light of its Holidays; In the Sign of Job;: Europe and the Jews; and Jewish Culture.

What lives on are not only his scholarly monuments but also his benevolent spirit. "Kalle" Illman was a strong, gentle, wise man, whose love for Judaism and Jewish learning illuminated his life and the world around him. Like Popes, John XXIII and John Paul II, in response to the Holocaust he worked to overcome the dismal Christian record of the past by deeds of rapproachement and conciliaton. That defined his life in teaching and scholarship. By the small but vital communities of Judaism in Finland and Sweden, he will long be remembered and much missed, and his many friends mourn his death. The essays collected in this volume respondto ideas of his or themes of interest to him.

An Excerpt from the Book:

In Psychotherapy and Existentialism Viktor Frankl relates a dialogue with a rabbi who had lost his wife and their six children in Auschwitz. The rabbi was anxious lest he would not meet his children in Heaven, since they had died as innocent martyrs and would be given the highest place there, which he as an old sinful man could not reach. Frankl said to him:

Is it not conceivable, Rabbi, that precisely this was the meaning of your surviving your children; that you may be purified through these years of suffering, so that finally you, too, though not innocent like your children, may become worthy of joining them in Heaven? Is it not written in the Psalms that God preserves all your tears? So perhaps your sufferings were not in vain.

In a footnote Frankl quotes the verse exactly and gives the source: Ps. 569: 'Thou hast kept count of my tossings; put thou my tears in thy bottle! Are they not in they book?

Table of Contents:

1. Karl-Johan Illman: A Memoir
2. Eulogy
3. Karl-Johan Illman: Publications
4. Masoretic or mixed: on choosing a textual basis for a translation of the Hebrew Bible
5. How did the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. influence the development of Christianity?
6. Some crime-and-punishment reports
7. Recovering Jesus' mamzerut
8. Interconnectedness and complementarity: preconditions for an intercultural and inter-religious dialogue
9. Seeing the other: understanding and dialogue in inter-cultural and inter-religious encounters
10. Philo and classical drama
11. Typology and Pesher in the letter of Aristeas
12. A shadow of things to come: Isidore of Seville on Jewish feast days
13. Paul's theology of "righteousness through faith" in the context of Tanak and Jewish interpretive traditions
14. Sin at Sinai: three first century versions
15. The three phases of Jewish-Christian relations
16. The parable (Mashal): a documentary approach
17. Who owns the stage? Control and affiliation in dialogues between women and men in the Hebrew bible
18. A holocaust survivor and the bible. Viktor E. Frankl reads the psalter and Job
19. True man or true God? Christological conceptions in early Christianity
20. Religious education and the presentation of Judaism in public schools in Norway
21. Jews and alien religious practices during the Hellenistic age
22. Jewish-Christian gospels: which and how many?
23. The metaphoric use of "light" and "darkness" in some biblical and post-biblical traditions
24. Bible interpretations: use or abuse? Debated bible passages and Jewish-Christian relations
25. Law and wisdom: the Deuteronomistic heritage in Ben Sira's teaching of the law