"Like" One Under the Law

Should Catholic Jews (and Messianic Jews) keep the Torah? How should Catholic Jews relate to rabbinical authority?

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Athol
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Post by Athol » Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:39 am

Louis Bouyer the great modern Catholic theologian states: “…the Church of the Gentiles subsists only as a graft on the trunk of Israel…Christianity will always be the legacy of Israel, which the Jews alone could give to the whole of mankind…”. Louis Bouyer calls the Church of the Circumcision, Judeo-Christianity, and states that it “cannot be considered a transitory phase of abolished Christianity” replaced and superseded by Gentile Catholicism. He emphasizes that Judeo-Christianity is the mother form of the Faith and the one which all other forms of Catholicism must have recourse to for authentic renewal and development. He perceives that it is a great weakness for the Church that the Jewish form of Catholicism does not at present subsist fully in the Church but only in tracings. Louis Bouyer believes that the Church will not reach its ultimate stage of development until the Jewish form of Catholicism has been rediscovered and allowed to fully live and breathe in the Church. This Jewish Church must express the definitive expression of the Gospel in the forms and categories of Judaism contained in both the Written and oral Torah of Judaism for the sake of the whole Church. Louis Bouyer states: “The Word of the Gospel, as Christ uttered it, as the apostles elucidated it, is woven entirely of the written Word of the Old Testament and its living commentary in Jewish tradition. To uproot them from the New Testament would make it not only incomprehensible but dumb and empty, for all its notions, images and vocabulary, like all the realities to which this totality applies, proceeds from the Old Testament, and from the unwritten as well as the written Torah.” He sees the survival of Judaism outside the church as providential for Christians during this period until the time they enter the Church bringing the full Israelite heritage with them. He sees this as the final blossoming of ‘the great tree of all the sons of Abraham”.

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Post by Athol » Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:45 am

Pope Benedict XVI states that the Catechism of the Catholic Church “holds principally to the portrayal of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, seeing in Jesus the Messiah, the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven: as such he knew he was “to fulfill the Law by keeping it in its all embracing detail…down to ‘the least of these commandments’ (CCC 578)” The Catechism thus connects the special mission of Jesus to his fidelity to the Law…” Cardinal Schonborn also speaks of this fidelity of Jesus to the Torah as his food as mention above. Jesus lived the Torah perfectly as did his Mother. In their persons they represent all Israel’s fidelity to the Torah. This perfect fidelity allows the Messiah through his life, death and resurrection to open the Torah to be universalized. Pope Benedict states: ‘The faith of Israel is directed to universality…But, the Law, in which it was expressed, was particular, quite concretely directed to Israel and its history; it could not be universalized in this form. In the intersection of these paradoxes stands Jesus of Nazareth, who himself as a Jew lived under the Law of Israel but knew himself to be at the same time the mediator of the universality of God…Jesus opened up the Law…claiming to be, acting as Son, with the authority of God himself…Jesus broadened the Law, wanted to open it up…but in strictest obedience to its fulfillment…”. The Pope sees that in God the Law and the Promise are One in person of the Messiah. He also sees that one cannot just separate out the moral laws of the Torah and leave the rest. The Torah is a whole and the Revelation of God. He says “…one cannot simply separate out universally valid moral principles and transitory ritual and legal norms without destroying the Torah itself, which is something integral, which owes its existence to God’s address to Israel. The idea that, on the one hand, there are pure morals which are reasonable and universal, and on the other that there are rites that are conditioned by time and ultimately dispensable mistakes entirely the inner structure of the five books of Moses. The ‘Decalogue’ as the core of the work of the Law shows clearly enough that the worship of God is completely indivisible from morals, cult, and ethos.”
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Great Quotes...

Post by Hadassah » Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:08 am

Wonderful quotes from Cardinal Ratzinger, and a great place to go with this discussion.

It would seem useful to put these quotes together with what precedes and what follows them. If anyone is reading along, Athol is quoting from _Many Religious, One Covenant_ by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Cardinal Ratzinger begins by noting that the Catechism states that: (1) "the Law is led to its fullness through the renewal of the heart” (CCC 1968) and (2) “externally this results in a suspension of ritual and juridical observances” (CCC 1972).

He continues: “How could this happen? How is this compatible with fulfillment of the Law to the last iota?” He goes on to explain how this can be.

Next follow the statements that you accurately just quoted. But you say that he implies that “perfect fidelity" allows the Messiah through his life, death and resurrection to open the Torah to be universalized.”

I don’t think that Cardinal Ratzinger says that perfect fidelity allows the Messiah to open the Torah to be universalized. He does say:

“Jesus opened up the Law quite theologically conscious of, and claiming to be, acting as Son, with the authority of God himself, and innermost unity with God the Father. Only God himself could fundamentally reinterpret the Law and manifest that it’s broadening transformation and conservation is its actually intended meaning. Jesus’ interpretation of the Law makes sense only if it is interpretation with divine authority.”

He notes that this must end in a conflict for Jews:

“Only when one penetrates to this point can he also see the tragic depth of the conflict.”

On the one hand, Jesus broadened the Law, wanted to open it up, not as a liberal reformer, not out of lesser loyalty to the Law, but in strictest obedience to its fulfillment, out of his being one with the Father in whom alone Law and promise are one and in whom Israel could become blessing and salvation for the nations.”

On the other hand, Israel ‘had to’ see here something much more serious than a violation of this or that commandment (my insertion: implying that at a basic level Israel would have seen Jesus’ reinterpretation as a violation), namely the injuring of that basic disobedience, of the actual core of its revelation and faith: Hear, O Israel, your God is one God. Here obedience (my insertion: to Jesus’ divine reinterpretation of the Law) clashes with obedience (my insertion: to the one true God).

This conflict, says Cardinal Ratzinger, can only be resolved on the cross!

A few paragraphs later, he later notes the following: “The New Testament sees the death of Christ in this perspective, as a fulfillment of this course of events. This meant that all cultic ordinances of the Old Testament are seen to be taken up into his death and brought to their deepest meaning. All sacrifices are acts of representation, which, from symbols, in the great act of real representation become reality, so that the symbols can be dropped without one iota being lost.

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Galatians...

Post by Hadassah » Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:11 am

My Dear Athol,

Interestingly, while reading Sacred Scripture earlier this afternoon, Galatians 2:11ff came to my attention. I was drawn back to your point that all the early Jews observed the law zealously. This, of course, is that passage that harkens back to Paul’s advisory role in the Council of Jerusalem.

“And when Kephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews (also) acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Kephas in front of all, "If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"

Blessings,
Hadassah

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Post by Hadassah » Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:30 am

Please understand that I uphold the privileged place of Israel in the plan of God and treasure the foundation on which Christianity is built and the origins from which the Church continues to draw. I am, however, interested in honestly understanding and reflecting on Scripture and the teaching of the Church as it relates to this topic. I find it necessary in these situations to proceed with great care in interpretation.

Blessings,
Hadassah

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Post by Ariel » Sun Aug 24, 2008 7:02 pm

Athol and Hadassah,

I am glad to see you're having quite a lively debate on this issue.

For future reference, please try to avoid very long citations on the forum if possible - it would be better to add a link if the text is already online elsewhere.

Regarding your quote from Gal 2, Hadassah, I would be careful to not read into the text what is not there. Paul is not upset at Peter because Peter is keeping Torah. The passage says that the problem was that Peter was causing a situation of division between Jewish and Gentile believers, and also apparently because he may have been "compelling the Gentiles to live like Jews."

Ariel
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” C.S. Lewis

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Post by Hadassah » Sun Aug 24, 2008 8:44 pm

Regarding your quote from Gal 2, Hadassah, I would be careful to not read into the text what is not there. Paul is not upset at Peter because Peter is keeping Torah.
How is it, then, that Peter is (in Paul's words) "not living like a Jew"?

I apologize for the quotes, but I did not see another way to do that that was clear. And I do not know a site where that book is published.

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Post by Athol » Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:38 pm

Dear Hadassah,

When the Pope is talking about cultic observances he is referring to the priesthood and sacrifices of the Temple. In Messiah these have been fulfilled and transformed into the new priesthood and the New Sacrifice. The inner principles of the system are still valid but the outward forms are transformed to reflect the reality that the Messiah has come as High Priest and victim. This of course is done through the power of the Cross.

Also Galatians is written by St Paul to Gentiles not Jews and much be read in that light. the same goes for Corinthians and other letters.

As for the situation between Peter and Paul it was nothing to do with eating kosher but a question of following the extreme rules instituted by the Shammai school of Pharisees which made it almost impossible for Gentiles to eat with Jews. At this time the school of Hillel with its more loving approach was not dominant but the school of shammai was and they instituted a number of new rulings to which the Hillelites were opposed that enforce greater separation between jews and Gentiles. It wasn't until the destruction of the Temple etc that it was decided by a voice from heaven that the rulings of the school of Hillel would be followed when they clashed with those of the school of Shammai.
To think that Peter was sitting down and eating a pork chop with oysters with the Gentiles is ridiculous. Both Peter and Paul and all the early Jewish Church were observant of the teaching of the Torah. I also think that it may have taken time for the early Jewish Church to understand that the new Gentile Christians were not in the same category as Gentile idolaters. It is obvious Peter was having struggles in this area and when a group of believers who came from Shammaite background were present he separated himself from eating at the same table with them.

Cheers athol
Last edited by Athol on Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Athol » Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:47 pm

Reconciling Torah and Gospel- Pope Benedict XVI

http://www.ewtn.com/library/CATECHSM/GOSTORAH.HTM
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Post by Hadassah » Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:53 pm

Heavy sigh :-)...

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Post by Athol » Mon Aug 25, 2008 7:05 am

Dear Hadassah,

I have been thinking what it would mean if your interpretation or those similiar to it is correct and the final word on this topic.

From what I understand of your position (which is similiar to the position of many others) - a Jew who becomes a Catholic can if he wants keep some of the customs of his heritage as his/her personal spiritual discipline but this is just one's own quaint or eccentric choice and doesn't really have any meaning for the Church or God's plan of salvation. There is no collective mission or vocation just a need by those who are still clinging to the burdensome old rules of Judaism and the torah while those Jews who become Catholics who jettison their entire vocation as an Israelite and their heritage as Jews embrace and enter the wonderful world of Gentile 'law-free' Christianity. Judasim is an old dead relic which is only useful as a museum to show how Catholicism developed. There is now no special calling and mission for the Jewish people other than to embrace Gentile assimilation in the Church and bring about the end of the Jewish people.

If this is true then the fears of the Rabbis about 'conversion' to Christianity and Catholicism are totally valid and a form of genocide by assimilation. Nothing has changed still the old model of total assimilation but letting those Jews who feel a nostalgia for the past to cling to a few old Jewish trappings rather than putting them before the Spanish Inquisition. Also letting them have a bit of a jewish dress up will be good for proselytising other Jews and 'converting' them as long as they don't really see any significance in their old Jewish observances. Let them eat bagels and lox and dance some lovely old Jewish dances- we don't mind a few nice ethnic touches but as for a unique vocation and a continuing mission for Jews and Judaism in God's plan of salvation that is all heresy and Jewish bunk.

Cheers Athol
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O God, Let All The Nations, Praise You!

Post by Hadassah » Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:05 am

Wow! That's a lot of interpretation to impose on an argument that I've for the most part only kept in Scripture and Catechism...
...but this is just one's own quaint or eccentric choice...Also letting them have a bit of aJjewish dress up will be good for proselytising other Jews and 'converting' them as long as they don't really see any significance in their old Jewish observances. Let them eat bagels and lox and dance some lovely old Jewish dances- we don't mind a few nice ethnic touches
I have to say that the above are examples (among other statements in your scenario) of what would constitute a truly condescending attitude ~ one that I hope I have not manifested in this conversation, despite the fact that I disagree with you that Jews are still bound to Torah observance. This would be like "patting you on the head" and I would not treat you this way.
as for a unique vocation and a continuing mission for Jews and Judaism in God's plan of salvation that is all heresy and Jewish bunk.
And this cannot stand for several reasons, not least of which is that it is not the understanding or teaching of the Church!
...rather than putting them before the Spanish Inquisition...
And I’m not even going to talk about what I think about even mentioning this kind of thing!

I don’t agree that all of that is the natural conclusion of my argument here. I don’t pretend to have an authoritative interpretation of what it means in today’s world for the Jews to be set apart, and to fulfill their mission and vocation before the Lord. This is something that I am in the process of pondering, and it would be my hope that someone like you would help me to do that.

I do think that it’s possible (and I don’t think I’m alone in this among those who think seriously and with a spirit of charity on this) that some of those things that served as signs of the covenant have been transformed. If I understand your view, only their meaning has been changed. I think that Scripture might indicate that so have the signs themselves. One thing I do know is this: Even if the Lord has transformed the signs, He is still capable of ensuring that there is no “end to the Jewish people.”

I do become frustrated (thus my heavy sigh) with responses such as the one to Galatians 2 regarding the Hillelites and the Shammaites. Paul says very directly, "If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?" You seem to suggest that what he really means is something like, “If you, though a more loving Jew, are living like a more harsh and intolerant Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” That doesn’t seem to fit and it takes the long way around to explain what seems to me a very clear text. And it certainly doesn’t fit ~ in my opinion; I am sure that have a different take on it :-) ~ with Acts 10:13ff.

Please remember, Athol, that we are one in Christ...

With love, in Christ...
Hadassah

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Clarification...

Post by Hadassah » Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:34 pm

despite the fact that I disagree with you that Jews are still bound to Torah observance
I should say that I disagree that Jews who have accepted Christ are still bound to some points of Torah observance.

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Post by Athol » Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:54 pm

Dear Hadassah,

i am sure you are a great person and really are trying to understand these issues in sincerity. Maybe I have put what I see as the logical outcome of such thinking a bit bluntly- but think about it -it is what you are saying if one holds to your understanding. Yes it is important to discuss these things from the scriptural and church teaching aspects. I also do not think it is simple to understand anything written by Paul or Peter if one doesn't see them in their Jewish context. I would like to ask you a question; What are the Jews without Torah and mitzvot?

Cheers Athol
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Post by Athol » Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:11 pm

Just to clarify. I do not think that Jews who have accepted Christ are bound to some Torah observances i believe they are bound to the Torah (as are the Gentile Believers) and observance of the mitzvot will differ depending on ones calling and vocation in the Body and ones level of understanding. Torah and Grace are not opposed to one another they work together and serve together.
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