During its third session in 1964, the Second Vatican Council, after many delays, formally debated a draft text of what would become Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Relations. Cardinal Augustin Bea, president on the Secretariat for Christian Unity presented the Council on September 25, 1964 with the latest draft, entitled "On the Jews and Non-Christians." The Council's Coordinating Commission had the previous spring significantly rewritten the Secretariat's earlier version, and this was the iteration presented by the cardinal to the Council. On September 28-29, most of the Council fathers who spoke criticized this rewriting and urged that a more compelling document be prepared. Some commentators would later call these exchanges the "Great Debate" on Nostra Aetate.
In 1966, Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum of the American Jewish Committee wrote about this "Great Debate":
Implementing this suggestion more than four decades later, Dialogika is happy to make available here an English translation of the relevant Latin Synodal Acts of the Council for those three days prepared by Patrick T. Brannan, S.J. and edited by Philip A. Cunningham, both of Saint Joseph's University.
Some of the published endnotes for the various speeches seem to have been incomplete, partial, or missing. This is reflected by terms such as "lacking" in certain of the endnotes. Others seem to have been inserted on the basis of marginal handwritten notations made in the texts submitted to the Council secretary.
It is hoped that these materials will contribute to the celebration of Nostra Aetate's 50th anniversary in 2015.