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Eckardt, Roy A.°


ECKARDT, ROY A. ° (1918–1997), theologian and Methodist minister. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Eckardt, a prolific writer and a leading figure in the field of Jewish-Christian relations in the U.S., was from 1955 president of the American Academy of Religion and, from 1956, chairman of the department of religion at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania). His books on the Jewish-Christian dialogue (Christianity and the Children of Israel, 1948, and Elder and Younger Brothers: The Encounter of Jews and Christians, 1967), and his many articles on the subject, center upon three themes: the meaning of antisemitism; the theological and moral relations between Christians and Jews; and the understanding of the State of Israel. He interprets Christian antisemitism as the pagans' war against the people of God, and the Gentiles' war against Jesus the Jew. The Jewish people, whether conceived in religious or in secular terms, belongs to the unbreakable covenant between God and Israel. In Jesus the Jew, the covenant is opened to the world, but not in any way that annuls the election of the original Israel. Because the Christian has been brought into the family of Jews, the fate of Israel, including the State of Israel, is also his fate. Together with his wife, Alice, he wrote Encounter with Israel: A Challenge to Conscience (1970), which analyzed the distortion of facts related to Israel frequently favored by antisemites, and Long Night's Journey into Day: A Revised Retrospective on the Holocaust (1982). Regarded as one of the most powerful and prolific teams working in the area of Christian-Jewish relations, they traveled the globe to challenge Christians in the way they related to Jews, Judaism, and Israel. The couple made a point of encouraging young people who worked in the field of Christian-Jewish relations.

Eckardt was an active member of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (nclci) since its establishment in 1979. That same year, President Carter appointed him special consultant to the President's Commission on the Holocaust. From 1981 to 1986 he served on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council as a special advisor to its chairman, Elie *Wiesel. Eckardt was also a senior associate fellow of the Center for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies and a Maxwell Fellow at Oxford University.

Other publications by Eckardt include The Surge of Piety in America, an Appraisal (1958), Your People, My People:The Meeting of Jews and Christians (1974), Jews and Christians, the Contemporary Meeting (1986), For Righteousness' Sake: Contemporary Moral Philosophies (1987), Long Night's Journey into Day: Life and Faith after the Holocaust (1988), Black-Woman-Jew: Three Wars for Human Liberation (1989), Reclaiming Jesus of History: Christology Today (1992), No Longer Aliens, No Longer Strangers: Christian Faith and Ethics for Today (1994).

[Yona Malachy /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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