Cardinal Ratzinger, the new pope Benedict XVI, spent much of his career prior to being in the Vatican teaching theology and philosophy; after his move to the Vatican, he spent much of his time in the work of clarifying the theology of the church. One of the hallmarks of his predecessor's papacy (John Paul II) was a concerted effort at Jewish-Christian dialogue, and Benedict XVI as Joseph Ratzinger was an integral part of these conversations.
Ratzinger is a theologian of wide reading and study, and not just within the confines of official Catholic doctrine. One of his frequent references, in this work and in others, is to the twentieth-century Jewish theologian, Martin Buber. His work on Jewish-Christian dialogue in this text is very biblically grounded, looking at ideas of 'covenant' and 'testament', seeing the covenant of God as crucial for understanding our relationship to God either as Christians or as Jews. Israel is the root from which Christianity's branches grow, so a clear understanding of that basis as well as the understanding of the continuing covenant God has with the Jews is an important consideration.
This work falls under the category of post-Holocaust or post-Shoah theology. Ratzinger wrote, 'After Auschwitz the mission of reconciliation [of Jews and Christians] permits no deferral.' Very importantly, Ratzinger dispels the age-old idea of the collective guilt of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus, arguing that 'all sinners' participate in the problem of Jesus' death.
Jewish-Christian dialogue and post-Shoah theology is one of the issues that concerns me greatly in my theological studies, so this text has been an important one. There are a few pieces where Ratzinger and I might have more extended discussions - he tries hard to avoid the simple supersessionism that has long plagued Christian thinking with regard to the status of Judaism, but there is still some fuzziness in this regard when one speaks of 'fulfillment'. It just goes to show that there are conversations still worth continuing.
The work of Jewish-Christian dialogue, begun in earnest by the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican II, and intensified during the papacy of John Paul II, should be in capable hands with the new pope. This book is a good guide to see the points from with Benedict XVI will start in this ongoing, developing relationship.