17 December 2019


Reprinted from 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 über-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.

Anonymous 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".

Michael Leahy said...

I'm fascinated with those comments, both by Mike Hurcum and Figulus. I have read (E Michael Jones) that the Talmud states categorically that the Temple sacrifices had failed for forty years leading up to the fall of Jerusalem (indicated by a sacred taper no longer changing colour from red to white). Perhaps this great shock, concurrent with the knowledge of their responsibility for another Sacrifice, impelled them into Christ's Church?

Banshee said...

There is a fair amount of demographic evidence for huge percentages of Jews having become Christians in the first and second centuries, particularly when Christ's prophecy about the Temple proved true, and when Christians escaped Jerusalem by heeding Christ's warning. Some think it was as high as 75% or more.

The other factor is that people researching Second Temple Judaism keep finding more and more Jewish continuity of belief and practice "hidden in plain sight" within Christianity, and more deliberate rupture in the cobbled-together post-Temple Judaism. Nobody could stay the way they were, which was resisted by Jews living outside Israel who wanted to keep a partial sacrificial system.

God unilaterally changed and improved the Covenant, as was His right as the infinitely stronger King and Father Who had established all previous iterations of the Covenant, by right of Creation and conquest.

Those at the time who did not go along with the new version were in rebellion against their covenantal Lord and Father (assuming they knew about it and understood that it was from God). After that point, post-Temple Jews are in pretty much the same case as the Samaritans; they are Chosen and servants of God who are in a covenantal relationship with Him, but they are not fulfilling their side of the current version of the Covenant and are inadvertently subject to covenantal penalties or curses. The Church is the Israel that knows what it's doing, and does follow the current Covenant. Jews who realize this are the ones who join up.

Todd said...

Just noting that after the destruction of the first temple and exile, the Jewish people by necessity had to begin the practices of prayer substituting for sacrifices, development of what came to be called synagogues etc. In fact, Jesus attended "synagogues" or their close precursor and it would appear the practices in such a synagogue was similar to what we find today (just as the early church is in its core prayers and liturgy is essentially the same as today despite further developments). So it is not quite correct to say that the synagogues and "rabbinism" only began after the 2nd Temple was destroyed. There were already parallel practices with the Temple system in the era of the 2nd Temple. Of course, the destruction of the 2nd Temple and its after-effects led to further development of "rabbinism".

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. Here is a ink to an excellent defense of supersessionism


And, of course, we have the very words of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, a supersessionist:

"The Sinai covenant," writes Cardinal Ratzinger, "is indeed superseded. But once what was provisional in it has been swept away we see what is truly definitive in it. The New Covenant, which becomes clearer and clearer as the history of Israel unfolds.., fulfills the dynamic expectation found in [the Sinai covenant]." (pp. 70-71) And in another formulation, "All cultic ordinances of the Old Testament are seen to be taken up into [Jesus'] death and brought to their deepest meaning .... The universalizing of the Torah by Jesus...preserves the unity of cult and ethos The entire cult is bound together in the Cross, indeed, for the first time has become fully real." Cardinal Ratzinger, then, who has also declared that despite Israel's special mission at this stage of history, "we wait for the instant in which Israel will say yes to Christ," (National Catholic Reporter, Oct. 6, 2000), is a supersessionist.

Popes, Prelates, and Priests are pastors of souls and they ought to strive to support the Faith of those who have the Faith once delivered and to convert to the faith those men- Jews in this instance - who reject the New Covenant.

Now. of course, the dialogue with these who reject Jesus as Messias will suffer because truth but us Catholic normies ought also be concerned with Popes, Prelates,and Priests who will not speak truth to Jewish power for doing so will mean they are culpable for not following the commands of Christ. (One way we show we love Him).

1 Corinth 9:16 Woe to me if I do not preach the truth

In the last sad wasted time of fifty plus years, how many times have Popes, Prelates, and Priests entered a synagogue and not peached the Gospel?

Who knows the exact number we now the number of times they have never preached the Gospel - zero.

Catholic Popes and Prelates never preach the Gospel to the Jews in a Synagogue because everyone knows - everyone - that if they preach the Gospel to the Jews that would put an immediate end to the dialogue, the many meetings, the photo ops etc and the anthropocentric oriented shadow church is more interested in the policticised process of dialogue than truth.

But why is that as problem?

Because The Great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide says that Woe to me..." means it is a mortal sin not to preach the Gospel.

It is sad that so many Jews have been led down the path to perdition by our refusal to speak truth to their power and that is especially true when one reads The Acts of The Apostles and understands what the Apostles did when they went to Synagogues and individual homes of the Jews who rejected The Messias and preached the Gospel to them.

Substituting dialogue for truth and severing the continuity between what the Apostles did in telling the truth to the Jews and what our Bishops (yes, including the Bishop or Rome) do in not telling the truth to the Jews is gonna be lawfully difficult to shoehorn into any idea of a hermeneutic of continuity.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

While Christians fret over supersessionism, Israel bars Gaza Christians from visiting the Holy Sites this Christmas and the Israel Govt is now refusing to recognise the Armenian genocide.

Will Israel officials recognise The Holodomor resulted in the death of more humans than the WW2 war crimes committed against the Jews or will European govts pass laws criminalizing Holodomor and Aremian genocide denial?

No, on both counts.

The Europeans govts do not consider the lives of Christians as equal to the lives of Jews.

Where are the museums dedicated to the lives of 40 million (more?) christians killed by Communism?

Christians, by the actions and non-actions of their govts, should know what their govts think of them.

Maybe the Christian Church could teach their members of the massive numbers of christians souls killed by Communism?

Nah, that'd take away all of the time devoted to Non-Christian lives deemed more valuable and sacred.

Banshee said...

Early Christians stopped preaching the Gospel in synagogues pretty darned early. And it wasn't that they were afraid of getting beat up, because they didn't let that stop them preaching to pagans. Similarly, though, you don't see the same era's Jews preaching in early churches.

It's a family fight. Everybody knows where they can find out more, if they are interested.

EWTN, Catholic radio, and the Catholic Internet are preaching in everybody's houses. What more do you want?

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Banshee. ABS is atavistic enough to want the Pope and Prelates to keep the Commandments of Christ which includes preaching the Gospel.

As to EWTN, Catholic Radio, and The Catholic Internet "preaching," who sent them to preach and teach?