23 December 2015


There are two things I thought too obvious to say; but perhaps they do need to be said.

(1) Although the Fathers, and the Byzantine Liturgy, do sometimes talk about Church superseding Synagogue, I think this may, in the very strictest pedantry, be anachronistic. Historically, Synagogue Judaism and Eucharistically Sacrificial Christianity both emerged from the period 33-70 A.D., after which, of course, Temple Judaism was an impossibility. In terms of simply historical narrative, neither religion is, strictly speaking, the "Father" or the "Elder brother" of the other, however attractive such language may be diplomatically.

(2) Supersession most certainly does not mean that Gentile supersedes Jew. The man who has Faith (whether Jew or Gentile) supersedes the one who does not have Faith (whether Jew or Gentile). As S Paul says on page after page of Romans, God has bracketed both Jew and Gentile together under Sin, so that both equally need and can receive Mercy. Nor does Supersession mean that Gentile is better than Jew, or that Jews have some inherent inherited defect from which Gentiles are free. They don't.

And a personal note.

I have never, in the course of my life, done the Holy Week liturgies in any form other than the Novus Ordo forms. Further: I have never even attended the older rites. My only motives for getting involved in this question are: a feeling of outrage about a matter of principle; a more general sense of unease about those who, in various areas, seem keen to demolish  what was Magisterially established or confirmed less than a decade ago; and a personal disgust at those now jumping onto a let's-trash-Ratzinger bandwagon. 

And a philological speculation.

If the term Supersessio upsets some people so much, why don't we offer to use instead some other word from the rich vein of terms used by S Paul in Romans Chapter 11: apobole, perhaps, or apotomia, or  exeklasthesan [thrusting away; cutting off; they were broken off].


Pastor Montanus said...

Father, I could not agree more re: the current penchant for Ratzinger bashing. I find myself continually in situations in which this occurs, and it saddens me to see the legacy of such a holy man be tarnished by the ferocious supersessionists of the day. I find them to be not unlike those who claim that the Second Vatican Council was some sort of ├╝ber-Council that has supplanted all previous Oecumenical Councils and is the only one to which we must adhere. Thank you for saying what so many of us ponder in our hearts! And a very Blessed Christmas to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

For sure, Father, the RELIGION of the Jews changed after the destruction of the Second Temple giving rise to a sacrifice-less, priest-less, synagogue-based, Torah-centred Judaism. (Circumcision remained, however, and this is surely significant).
The question, however, is did the FAITH of the Jews change (in an essential way, or simply in the accidentals of the religious practices that accompanied it?) when the religious practices changed? If so, was that change in Faith accompanied by/brought about BY the rejection of Christ and the Church that He established? And in that sense, turn Judaism into a kind of Anti-Christianity?

For what it's worth: if you say the FAITH of post-Christian Jews is not in continuity but in rupture with the Faith of Israel prior to Our Lord's coming (and that therefore the continuity is to be found ONLY in the fulfilment of that Old Testament Faith in the establishment of the New and Everlasting Covenant) then, indeed, we are in a pickle, magisterially speaking, and not only because of the recent diplomatic overtures (St John Paul II's contribution being central to that.)
If the FAITH of the Jews (post-Christ and thus today) is essentially of a different kind to that of the Jews of the Old Testament - then it is no longer the Faith of their Father but a merely human construct and a projection from within a community that no longer has any meaningful link with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Accordingly, their (man-made) RELIGION would be a simulacre, an aping, and the circumcision and their veneration of the Torah and its teaching whilst superficially in common with the veneration of the Torah prior to the coming of Christ is no longer in any meaningful way a means by which God blesses His Chosen People. They have become unchosen. The Church has, indeed, replaced them.
I find this counter-intuitive for the simple reason that those who come to Christ from the Jewish Faith today invariably do so in the way the Apostles and St Paul himself did: Christ is seen as the fulfillment, accomplishment and missing piece of all that they believed before: "Did not our hearts burn within us...while He opened to us the scriptures?"

Again: much like heretics and schismatics who have elements of the Truth, so too do the Jews today - precisely because they have God's Word and certain practices that dispose to Faith in Christ. I would have thought such a perspective would resonate particularly with you, Father because, mutatis mutandis, what you say about First Century Judaism can most certainly be said about 16th century Anglicanism...

Other practices within Judaism today create obstacles to Faith in Christ - and we're back with the veil image that St Paul provides. But I think the distinction (not separation!) of Faith and Religion is important in avoiding some more confusions on this matter.

For the rest - the trashing of Pope Benedict's magisterium - well, alas, what do you expect? "Brother shall be against brother... and the love of many will grow cold." What times we live in!

Happy and holy Christmas.

Mike Hurcum said...

Was it not Josephus or the Roman Philosopher of that time who wrote that almost to a man The jewish priesthood left the Hebrew Church and became Catholic ??? Perhaps Father with your encyclopedic mind you can confirm this.

Jacobi said...

Have just read Saltz der Erde. Interesting and not really surprising. Cardinal Ratzinger certainly lived up to his name - which in German means councillor or adviser.

ps Is the Sarum Rite still used anywhere?

Figulus said...

Mike Hurcum,

I'm not familiar with any such statement in Josephus. Perhaps your are thinking of Acts 6:7, "a great throng of priests was serving the faith".

As impressive as a great throng is, I'm not sure that it means "to a man".