Sunday, January 10, 2016

A rabbi asks a priest a question... part 1

Dear Rev. Know-it-all,
I am fascinated yet perplexed by the recent pronouncements of the church. Hope this clarifies my position.
As of the pronouncement
1.    The Jewish people are not responsible for the act of deicide, although some Jews participated in it in some fashion. (NostraAetatae). Yet - Matthew 27:24-25 states- When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “’I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said, ‘It is your responsibility!’ All the people answered, 'His blood is on us and on our children!'”
2.    The Jews have an eternal relationship with G-d through His covenant with them. How then does the Catholic Church maintain that it is Catholic Israel-replacement theology? That the Jewish covenant now belongs to the Catholic Church in any fashion.
3.    The Jewish people can find grace and salvation without belief in Jesus. What happened to Jesus' answer, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”? John 14:6. In fact, as a child I remember all too clearly the missionaries on the boardwalk in Coney Island, displaying this passage as they attempted to proselytize among the Jews.
4.    It seems the Catholic Church no longer believes that the Jews were sent out of their country because of their denial of Christ as Messiah. In Jewish tradition, the Jews were expelled from their land, primarily because of their sin of pursuing pagan religion. I do not believe there are any Jews in the world today who are pagans. In light of the above Jews of today are "saved" and enjoy a special role as G-d's chosen. Then say to Pharaoh, “This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son”, Exodus 4:22
5.    What of Romans 1:16   For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Is not the primary message of the gospel salvation through belief in Jesus? This passage indicates that this message must be first brought to the Jews. The Catholic Church is now taken a position that the Jews do not need Jesus to find salvation.
The conclusion of all this that should be covered and I think this is what Rabbi Rosen was alluding to when he expressed his displeasure with the recent statement in that it did not include a strong statement regarding the State of Israel as a Jewish State. The church should now be in the forefront of advocating the Jews be given back their country - the land of Israel - as defined in Scripture which would obviously include the West Bank and eternal dominion over the city of Jerusalem. However, the church did the opposite. It recognized the Palestinian State, and is still advocating for the internationalization of Jerusalem.
I don't understand, 
Rabbi L
Dear Rabbi,
It will take me a while to discuss these points one by one, and as always I caution you to take everything I say with a grain of salt.
I should begin with the word “Jewish.”  What does the word mean? I maintain that the word has changed meaning repeatedly over the centuries. For instance, in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Damascus scroll, we read in Chapter 6 v.7, “And on the consummation of the period of these years they shall no more join themselves to the house of Judah.” The rest of the scroll is similarly anti-Judean. I certainly don’t mean to refer to the Scrolls as authoritative or biblical, but they do provide an historical context, the authors of these documents were most certainly Jews by our standard, but not by theirs. They seem to consider themselves true Levites (refer to the beginning of the chapter). If you asked them are they Judah? They would say, “No, we are Cohen and Levi.” (Priest and Levite) This distinction persists in the modern synagogue to this day, does it not? 
The leader of prayer first calls “Cohen” then “Levi”, then “Israel.”  Judah, per se, is never called. My suspicion is that at the time of Jesus of Nazareth, Yehud (Hebrew/Aramaic) and Judaios (Greek) designated an ethnicity in certain contexts, and a political/theological party in other contexts. One was clearly a Yehud/Judaios if one’s ancestry was from the tribe of Judah, as in the case of Jesus of Nazareth, but perhaps if one’s politics supported the status quo of Temple/Sanhedrin, and one was zealous for the law as Paul claims of himself. He might too be called a Judaios. Paul of Tarsus, called himself a Judaios though he was from the tribe of Benjamin. Paul, a Benjaminite calls himself a Jew “…circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.”
He calls himself a Jew (Judaios in the Greek new testament text).  “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.” (Acts 22:3) For Paul, Judaios can be very positive term, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh, but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit.” (Romans 2:28, 29)
John the Evangelist seems to use the word Jew disparagingly as does the Damascus Document. Both the Gospel of John and the Damascus Document were written by people we would identify as Jews who would never call themselves Jews. John was possibly from a Levite family as was most probably the author of the Damascus Document.
Pilate seems to use the word in a disparaging way when he says to Jesus, “I am no Jew” (John 18:35). Luke, also a gentile, seems to use the word Judaios negatively in the Acts of the Apostles. My point is this, the word Judaios, the Greek equivalent of Yehud, always translated Jew, has quite a few meanings in the historical context of the time of Roman domination of the Holy Land. It is similar to the word Yankee. If you live in New York, a Yankee is a member of a ball club. It may also mean a person form New England. If you live in Alabama, a Yankee is anyone north of the Ohio River. If you are in Cuba, the fellow in Alabama would also be a Yankee, much to his chagrin. To assume that the words Jew and Israel are interchangeable is a modern anachronism, and muddies the discussion.
If I ever get around to writing about supercessionism, the idea that the covenant with the Jews is or is not ended, this becomes important.  If Judah and Israel are not the same exact thing, then it must be understood that there is no covenant with the Jews. There is a covenant with Israel. That means the question must be asked, “Who is Israel”?
(As you can tell this is going to go on forever. I am only on the second word of your letter.)


  1. Hope you do publish my links linking on to next, in this series it is less necessary, since you are taking them next to each other and one can use "Newer Post" link, but if you were spacing the posts, my system is unvaluable to a reader wanting to read a series through.

  2. "I do not believe there are any Jews in the world today who are pagans."

    When rejecting Christ, Jews paganised as bad as Samarians.

    "We have no King but Caesar" is a breaking of your covenant.

    The covenant keepers are those who joined St Peter on Pentecost day.

    It is therefore we Catholics who have an eternal covenant.

  3. "John the Evangelist seems to use the word Jew disparagingly as does the Damascus Document."

    St John is writing after Destruction of Jerusalem, so in his narrative Jew refers to enemies of Jesus. But he recalled how Jesus used the word, no negative connotation up to before Pilate.