Journal Issue Note: Crisis and Credibility in the Jewish-Christian World: Remembering Franklin Littel. The Fortieth Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches. Special issue of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies 46, no. 4 (Fall 2011)
ACCH Quarterly Vol. 18, No. 1, March 2012
Journal Issue Note: Crisis and Credibility in the Jewish-Christian World: Remembering Franklin Littel. The Fortieth Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches. Special issue of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies 46, no. 4 (Fall 2011).
By John S. Conway, University of British Columbia
The newest issue of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies is devoted to a single theme: “Crisis and Credibility in the Jewish-Christian World” and is a much deserved tribute to the late Professor Franklin H. Littell (1917-2009). Littel spent his whole career as an academic and a Methodist preacher in overcoming the obstacles and prejudices connected with Christian relations to Judaism. From the time he first went to Germany in 1939, Littell became concerned with the tragedy which befell the Jewish people and the failure of the churches to take a stand against it. This issue of the journal includes numerous articles presented at the 40th Annual Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches, held in 2010. This annual event was started by Littell and Hubert Locke in 1970 as a means of bringing together Jewish and Christian scholars from North America, with occasional guests from Europe. Over the years, these conferences have been enormously productive in overcoming the barriers to inter-religious dialogue, and have particularly contributed to the joint study of the significance of the Holocaust. It was Littell’s conviction that the Holocaust was a Christian tragedy too, and that the theological implications for Christian churches needed to be explored in depth. He would surely have been very pleased with the articles in this commemorative issue, since they amply fulfill his high hopes. Yet Littell was always aware that more remained to be done. The first group of essays in this journal issue is therefore rightly entitled “The Unfinished Agenda” and looks to the tasks ahead.
Particularly interesting are such contributions as those by our co-editors, Kyle Jantzen (co-written with Jonathan Durance) and Suzanne Brown-Fleming, analyzing Christian responses to the initial stages of the Holocaust after the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938. Equally interesting are the papers describing Littell’s valiant efforts in the aftermath to erect warning signals which would alert men and women of good will to the danger of potential genocidal situations. The final section includes personal reminiscences by Littell’s friends, joining in a heartfelt tribute to a Christian leader whose call for respect and understanding of Judaism will undoubtedly be remembered in both church and academy in the years ahead.