December 16, 2011

On Jewishness

Yesterday I followed a link to this fascinating article: Rosalind Moss' Unexpected Journey, and it's been on my mind. Hers is an amazing story indeed; from a good Jewish home in Brooklyn to a meeting with messianic Jews, to Protestantism and then Catholicism, and now foundress of a "contemplative-active teaching and evangelistic community."

Her points of view are very interesting, from what it would mean to take the messianic promises of the scripture seriously to the no-brainer of ad orientem worship and the connection of Gregorian chant to the worship of the Old Covenants. Perhaps the most startling thing she says is this:

"I’ve said many times that the most Jewish thing a Jew can do is to become Catholic"

Read the article to get a sense of just what she means by that. Her sense reminded me of something that's been on my mind from reading the medievals. I can't help but notice that when the medieval theologians talk about Abraham or Moses or the prophets of Old Testament, they do not speak of them (as I think we would) as if they were members of a 'different religion' than themselves.

In fact, I am increasingly convinced that the common idea that there is some genus called 'religion' of which human phenomena like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc., are the various species is scripturally and theologically untenable, all your 'coexist' bumper stickers be damned. Nevertheless, I think this conceptual framework about 'religion' and 'religions' is generally presumed, even by religious people.

Rather, it seems to me that the basic issue in this regard is whether one is a Jew or a pagan. Either you are one of those to whom God has given the Promised Land, or not. The good news is that because of Jesus Christ, everyone is free to become the funny kind of eschatological Jew that has come to be called a 'Christian.'


Marc said...

Great post; there's a reason we're celebrating the feast of the Prophet St. Aggaeus today....

Sara said...

I agree with her. Joining the Church was the most Jewish thing I've ever done. The longer I am in the Church the more I'm grateful for the Jewish family and friends who were really my first and best Christian role models.

Greg said...

Interesting thoughts...

Thanks to seeing occasional quotes from you, I am racing through The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure by Ratzinger.

As usual, with both Benedict XVI and Bonaventure, I am a couple feet off the ground with inspiration.

What a read.

Metaphysical Catholic said...

Interesting about "the mist Jewish thing..." I've always thought the Church had far more in common with Judaism than with most forms of Protestantism. Thanks for the link.

Anthony Zuba said...

Your binary of Jew and pagan is alluring, but I am resisting it because of Romans 2-3, today's reading from Isaiah 56, and Rahner's notion of the anonymous Christian. While it has its own problematics, I'm slightly more comfortable with Augustine's typology of the City of God and the City of Man, though you may be meaning the same thing.

Lee Gilbert said...

For a course on the Pentateuch I recently did a paper on Gen 1:26-27, "Let us make man in our image and in our likeness." In doing so I was utterly stupified by two things: a) the extent to which Catholic exegetes defer to Jewish exegetes in interpreting this passage. This is astounding, because the passage has such strong Trinitarian possibilities on the face of it; b) the extent to which modern Catholic exegetes ignore the patristic tradition at least on this passage. The fathers definitely saw the Trinity in Gen 1:26, but modern Catholic exegetes seem to find this embarrassing.

In our thinking and teaching about our relationship with the Jews, we will often mention that the Church is the fulfillment of Israel, its continuation. While it may seem logical enough to consult the Jews about their book, as we sometimes think of it, in fact the Catholic Church is the Klal Yisroel. It is our book, first to last. We, and not the Jews, have the authentic tradition within which and from which to interpret it.

We understand ourselves amiss if we do not understand ourselves as the authentic heirs of Abraham, holding treasures in trust for his descendants according the flesh.

St. Paul, I imagine, would be totally uncomprehending and impatient with our nonchalance about bringing Jews in the fold, their own fold at that.

And yet one day they will come, and what a glorious day that will be- "as life from the dead" as St. Paul says.