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Vatican shares artifacts with Israel

The Vatican will present the works of Moses Maimonides, one of the most influential figures in modern Jewish thought to Israel for scholarly study. With this gesture, the Vatican hopes to continue to bridge the divide between Jews and Christians worldwide.

Catholic News Agency reports that later this month, Pope John Paul II will receive a delegation of about 160 rabbis, cantors and American lay Jews who wish to thank the Pope for his years of good will and hard work toward bridging cultural and religious divides between the two faiths. There, they will discuss the display of the priceless artifacts for the first time in Israel.

The Vatican's gesture is being viewed as a major step toward improved relations. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "The loaning of the manuscripts is also viewed as an offering to resolve other political and social disagreements in Israel, including Hebrew University's partial use of a convent since 1948 that the Vatican wants back, and property tax exemptions for religious institutions."

Gary Krupp, who helped to make the loan happen, reported to the Sun-Sentinel that the benefit of this loan and future gestures like it "would be astronomical."

Maimonides was a 12th century sage from Egypt known for, among other things, the first codification of Jewish law. His writings have greatly influenced both Jewish and Christian thought for centuries.

The one of a kind document, recorded by a scribe in the 1400's is one of the few remaining records of Maimonides after Jewish opponents who considered him a heretic burned much of his original work.

During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church safeguarded many of the major works of western thought, and retains many original documents within its archives.

The Maimonides manuscript is among at least three other medieval manuscripts, which could be on display at the Israel Museum as early as this May.

Krupp was happy to report that the Vatican had maintained the documents perfectly.

Vatican Shares Artifacts With Israel in Hopes of Furthering Unity (Catholic News Agency 10/1/05)

Teaching of Moses Maimonides (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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11 Jan 2005