Skip to comments.Augustine's Contribution to Supersessionism
Posted on 05/03/2012 5:00:42 PM PDT by wmfights
Augustines contribution to the doctrine of supersessionism is significant. James Carroll points out that Augustines attitude toward the Jews was rooted in assumptions of supersessionism.[i] According to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Augustine (354430) introduced a negative element into judgment on the Jews.[ii] He did so by advancing the theory of substitution whereby the New Israel of the church became a substitute of ancientIsrael.[iii]
In line with supersessionist theology, Augustine explicitly stated that the title Israel belonged to the Christian church: For if we hold with a firm heart the grace of God which hath been given us, we are Israel, the seed of Abraham. . . . Let therefore no Christian consider himself alien to the name of Israel.[iv] He also said, The Christian people then is rather Israel.[v] According to Augustine, when Gentiles believe and become part of the new covenant, their hearts are circumcised and they become part of Israel:
Now what the apostle attributed to Gentiles of this character, how that they have the work of the law written in their hearts; must be some such thing as what he says to the Corinthians: Not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. For thus do they become of the house of Israel, when their uncircumcision is accounted circumcision. . . . And therefore in the house of the true Israel, in which is no guile, they are partakers of the new testament.[vi]
Concerning Israels role in the plan of God, Augustine argued that national Israel prefiguredspiritual Israelthe Christian people:
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob three fathers, and one people. The fathers three, as it were in the beginning of the people; three fathers in whom the people was figured: and the former people itself the present people. For in the Jewish people was figured the Christian people. There a figure, here the truth; there a shadow, here the body: as the apostle says, Now these things happened to them in a figure.[vii]
For the most part, Augustines supersessionist views were not original. In fact, they were mostly consistent with the patristic tradition that preceded him. Augustines most original contribution regarding Israel and the church, however, can be found in his reasons for Israels continued existence. During Augustines time, the existence of the Jews and Judaism posed an apologetic problem for the church. If the church was the new Israel, for what purpose did national Israel exist?
Augustine offered an answer for this perceived dilemma. For him, the Jews functioned primarily as witnesses. They were witnesses to the faith preached by the prophets, witnesses of divine judgment, and witnesses of the validity of Christianity. He wrote, But the Jews who slew Him . . . are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ.[viii] The Jews, according to Augustine, shielded Christians from accusations that Christians invented Old Testament prophecies that pointed to Jesus. Thus, the existence of non-Christian Jews was not a problem but an essential testimony to the truth of Christianity.
Hood views Augustines contribution in this area as ingenious because it provided a foundation for tolerating Jews within a Christian society.[ix] Augustines contention that the Jews were witnesses to Christianity became especially important when the crusades began and the church began to persecute heretics. Hood asserts that Augustines views shielded the Jews of western Europe from the full force of Christendoms coercive powers.[x]
Although devoting much of his attention to matters such as free will, original sin, and predestination, Augustines views on the Jews and Judaism carried great weight for many years. In fact, Hood asserts that Augustines ideas on these matters dominated the medieval debate.[xi] This was so despite the fact that Judaism and the Jews are not major themes in Augustines voluminous writings.[xii] Yet, because Augustines writings in the Medieval Era were so revered, his thoughts on any topic, no matter how sparse, were considered important.
[i] James Carroll, Constantines Sword: The Church and the Jews (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001), 219.
[ii] Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Christianity and Judaism, a Historical and Theological Overview, in Jews and Christians: Exploring the Past, Present, and Future, ed. James H. Charlesworth (New York: Crossroad, 1990), 20.
[iv] Augustine, On the Psalms 114.3, NPNF¹ 8:550.
[v] Augustine, On the Psalms 114.3, NPNF¹ 8:550.
[vi] Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter 46, NPNF¹ 5:10203.
[vii] Augustine, On the Gospel of St. John 11.8, NPNF¹ 7:77. Augustine also stated, In that people [the Jews], plainly, the future Church was much more evidently prefigured. Augustine, On the Catechising of the Uninstructed 19.33, NPNF¹ 3:304. Augustine expressed a supersessionist perspective when he wrote, But when they [the Jews] killed Him, then though they knew it not, they prepared a Supper for us. Augustine,Sermons on New Testament Lessons, Sermon 62, NPNF¹ 6:447.
[viii] Augustine, The City of God Book 18.46, NPNF¹ 2:389.
[ix] John Y. B. Hood, Aquinas and the Jews (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), 12. Carroll states, It is not too much to say that, at this juncture, Christianity permitted Judaism to endure because of Augustine. Carroll, Constantines Sword, 218. See also Jeremy Cohen, Introduction, inEssential Papers on Judaism and Christianity in Conflict: From Late Antiquity to the Reformation, ed. Jeremy Cohen (New York: New York University Press, 1991), 1314.
[x] Hood, 13.
[xi] Hood, Aquinas and the Jews, 10.
2nd in a series on Supersessionism.
2nd in a series on Supersessionism.
An equally good question would be why what was left of that nation of Israel should not be left? The temple had been destroyed and was not going to be rebuilt so a national place of worship no longer existed, hence no priestly services as the Law demanded. No one to sit on the throne as head of a civil government.
Jesus had said, “Your house is abandoned to you”, and that had occurred so what more was needed to demonstrate the rejection of that nation for their rejection of Jehovah or Yahweh?
Augustines supersessionist views would be shaken had he been around 1948.
Have you read any Augustine? Just wondering.
The entire verse provides an option. shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
"Behold, your house is left to you desolate;
and I say to you, you will not see Me until
the time comes when you say,
'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'"
Not knocking Augustine, but I’d rather read Apostle Paul on the Jews myself. He explains the situation quite well in Romans.
If an option then one not taken.
Thanks for the ping!
This is why Satan has been in a frenzy for the last 4000 years to exterminate every Jewish person from the face of the earth. If there are no Jews to call for Jesus to return, the "logic" says, then Jesus won't return and throw Satan into hell. However, this will happen, the Jews will fulfill that prophecy, Jesus will return, and all the rest of prophetic Scripture will come to pass.
It will be a unspeakable joy to see God grant all His promises to the Jewish people during His Millennial Reign. We can all praise God that this present age will end and God will be proven holy and righteous and true.
"Let God be true and every man a liar."
YET ! shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
I think your right. They probably would have been shaken even earlier if he had been alive during the inquisition.
No argument from me. Scripture is always the best source. This thread is part of a series on supersessionism. The author is giving some historical background how this erroneous belief grew in popularity.
Knowing this truth makes me jump for joy.
And no indication in the verse you quoted that such would ever occur. So yes, not yet, and no, not necessarily ever.
Yah'shua's Rabbi : Paul goes into great detail in Romans 11.
You seem painfully ignorant of the WORD of G-d. shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
he begins in verse one discussing the question.
NAsbU Romans 11:1 I say then, You might want to ask yourself the question:
God has not rejected His people,
has He? May it never be!
For I too am an Israelite,
a descendant of Abraham,
of the tribe of Benjamin.
NAsbU Romans 11:34 Or this famous verse:
For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD,
OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?
NAU Romans 11:25 For I do not want you, brethren, Be Blessed than they have stumbled,
to be uninformed of this mystery--
so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--
that a partial hardening has happened to Israel
until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
as it is what has allowed the Gentiles
to be grafted into the vine.
Yah'shua's Rabbi : Paul goes into great detail in Romans 11.
However...that part of Israel saved was but a remnant (11:5) as Isaiah had foretold.(9:27).
Whether Jew or Gentile faith in Christ was required before being considered a branch on that tree, Israel. (11:23)
Those of the nations grafted in and that faithful remnant together would form “Israel” that was to be saved. (11:25,26)
But just who is “Israel”? (9:6,7) being born into the fleshly nation of Israel did not make one an “Israelite” in God's sight but being a children of the promise, whether Jew or Greek, made one an “Israelite” by faith and God's choosing. (9:14,15) (10:4)(10:4)
“Israel” would be made up of a remnant of Jews who put faith in Christ and Gentiles sufficient to fill up the number of His nation of kings and priests. (10:11,12)
Yah'shua NAME in Hebrew is "YHvH be/is my Salvation" There is only ONE YHvH. Yah'shua is quoted stating such in Mark
It is painful to watch you twist and torture the WORD of G-d. shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
NAsbU Romans 11:23 And they also, I do not find the word Christ in that verse.
if they do not continue in their
unbelief, will be grafted in,
for God is able to graft them in again.
( Peter's amanuensis).
NAsbU Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, Seek YHvH in His WORD !
"The foremost is,
'HEAR, O ISRAEL! YHvH OUR GOD IS ONE YHvH;
Yah'shua NAME in Hebrew is "YHvH be/is my Salvation"
There is only ONE YHvH.
Yah'shua is quoted stating such in Mark