17 February 2010

Jews and Christians

S Luke's Gospel sometimes puzzles people. On the one hand, not least in the Infancy Narratives, it repeatedly emphasises the the Torah-rootedness of everything our Lady and S Joseph do; on the other, it seems to have the Mission to the Gentiles as one of its main themes. I will not attempt a long lesson on this point, upon which commentators advance different opinions, but simply share what seems to me S Luke's thrust: the Jewish people were and continue to be God's People; but some of them do reject the Messiah. To the Faithful Remnant - those Jews who do receive their Messiah - God adds Gentile converts. And that is what the Christian Church is; God's ancient Hebrew people (minus the unbelieving) with associate Gentiles.

This means, incidentally, that Jewish Christians, far from being an oddity or an anomaly, are witnesses to the age-old identity of the Church. It means that the Church did not begin in the first century AD, but when God first Called a People in the dimmest antiquity of Semitic history: a point emphasised by the Roman Canon when it calls Abraham our Patriarch. S Gregory the Great calls it, "The Universal Church, which from righteous Abel right down to the the last to be chosen who shall be born in the end of the world". This means that Christianity is not a religion which grew out of Judaism, but - in historical terms - one of the two successor bodies resulting from a split in first century Judaism; at a time when, in any case, the literal fulfilment of the religion of the the Hebrew Scripures became technically obsolete with the destruction of the Temple and the end of the Temple cult. We, and Rabbinic Judaism, both claim to be the Real McKoy. And we both, to an outsider looking in, inevitably appear different not only from each other but also from the Temple-centred religion which ended in AD 70.

My understanding is that when Rabbinic Judaism remoulded itself as a religion without the Temple sacrificial system, it became radically different (there are scholars who have queried whether synagogues actually existed before AD 70; I think this is an overstatement, but there can be no doubt that the significance of the synagogue was transformed after AD 70). Christianity retained the inherent sacrificial structure and grammar of Hebrew religion, fulfilled in the Eucharistic Sacrifice instituted on the first Maundy Thursday.

As the distinguished American rabbinic scholar Jacob Neusner has pointed out, what Jesus ejected from the Temple were those selling animals to enable the Temple's sacrificial worship to be carried out, and the moneychangers who enabled pilgrims to bring the shekel-tax which paid for the great daily morning and evening Tamid sacrifice of a lamb, offered for the whole People. Our Lord thereby enacted the replacement of the Temple cult by the Sacrifice which He Himself was to institute the following Thursday; Lamb superseding lamb, Altar superseding altar, Table superseding table; when Antitype (as we Christians put it) superseded type.

Sunday by Sunday, perhaps day by day, we go up to Jerusalem and enter into the courts and tabernacles of YHWH in great joy to offer there the Thanksgiving oblation of the Lamb, and to share YHWH's Communion Sacrifice, our feet upon the hill-top where Abraham stood with Isaac and where the Seed of Abraham was immolated.

8 comments:

ADALBERT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ADALBERT said...

I don't like the way you jump to the spiritual meaning of Neusner's statement.

I prefer to consider that Jesus emptied the Gentiles' square of the Temple (I don't know how you translate "parvis des Gentils") where the sellers were installed, thus blocking the place where the Gentiles where supposed to fill the Temple, to join the cult, to enter the faith of Israel and to take their share of Abraham's inheritance.

I observe that joining the faith of Israel is always the condition asked by Jesus to the pagans he cures/forgives/fulfills.

BillyD said...

"I observe that joining the faith of Israel is always the condition asked by Jesus to the pagans he cures/forgives/fulfills."

The Syro-Phoenician woman? The Gadarene demoniac? The grateful Samaritan healed of leprosy?

Walter said...

Dear Father, Thank you for these words on Ash Wednesday ! You clearly see and explain well the organinc growth of our Faith from its root.

Your conciliatory tone shows the kind Confessor you must be !

You've meditated well on Genesis 22 in order to link it with the cleansing of the Temple (and Mass) so crisply.

For those of us who want to be spiritually on that Temple Mount, we know that it is Christian AND Jewish ash that Our Father will raise on the last day. But for those who are only 'dwellers of the Earth' the story until the end of time will be war and hatred: Jew AGAINST Christian, Christian AGAINST Jew, Moslem AGAINST Jew and Moslem AGAINST Christian.

Thanks for making me see in a new way why I am dust and to dust I'll return...

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned" I'm no little Isaac OR Ishamael, for that matter !

ADALBERT said...

The Syro-phaenician : precisely ! "The dogs eat the crumbs...". She has understood that she needs the "crumbs" form the table of Israel.

The Gadarene demoniac : more difficult. A posteriori the man wants to stay with Jesus, i.e. belonging to Israel ? But it is an exorcism : the first dialogue occurs with the demon, not with the man.

The grateful Samaritan : not a pagan !

BillyD said...

"The Syro-phaenician : precisely ! "The dogs eat the crumbs...". She has understood that she needs the "crumbs" form the table of Israel."

I don't agree that this represents a coming to the faith of Israel, but I see that the verse could be taken as you say.


"The grateful Samaritan : not a pagan !"

Actually, the Jews did consider them as pagans.

ADALBERT said...

I am curious to know how you read Mc 7, 26-28. The "dogs" are the pagans ; the "children" are the Jews. The woman seems to perfectly understand Jesus' hint on that point.
By the way He says here that the Jews must "first" be fed - what He does by preaching to his people (and the Samaritans, because He must gather the lost sheeps of Israel...).
But the "dogs" get their food from the "children", which is a mere comment of "salus ex Judaeis".
Therefore is she exauced.

Anders Branderud said...

This post uses the term “Jewish Christians”.

(le-havdil), A analysis (found here: www.netzarim.co.il (that is the only legitimate Netzarim)) of all extant source documents and archaeology using a rational and logical methodology proves that the historical Ribi Yehosuha ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth and his talmidim (apprentice-students), called the Netzarim, taught and lived Torah all of their lives; and that Netzarim and Christianity were always antithetical.

Judaism and Christianity have always been two antithetical religions, and thus the term “Jewish Christianity” is an oxymoron
.
The mitzwot (directives or military-style orders) in Torah (claimed in Tan’’kh (the Jewish Bible) to be the instructions of the Creator), the core of the Judaism, are an indivisible whole. Rejecting any one constitutes rejecting of the whole… and the Church rejected many mitzwot, for example rejecting to observe the Shabat on the seventh day in the Jewish week. Examples are endless. Devarim (“Deuteronomy”) 13.1-6 explicitly precludes the Christian “NT”. Devarim 13:1-6 forbids the addition of mitzwot and subtraction of mitzwot from Torah.

Ribi Yehoshuas talmidim Netzarim still observes Torah non-selectively to their utmost today and the research in the above website implies that becoming one of Ribi Yehoshuas Netzarim-followers is the only way to follow him.