The Church Fathers and The Jews

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Photios
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The Church Fathers and The Jews

Post by Photios » Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:33 pm

Shalom to you all,
I Wrote here a few months ago in order to get a better understanding of some issues that were troubling me at that time (and I did get a lot of material to think about thanks to you all)
I Feel that i am drawing near to the faith (once in a while I even pray to the Holy Virgin asking that she will save me from my sins)
The thing that keeps bothering me is an issue that i wrote about in my last post and it leads me to a question that I wish to ask your opinion about.
I Have a great admiration for the Church Fathers and thier teachings. the basis of orthodox Christian theology was laid by them. but in reading them I just cannot ignore thier attitude for Jews. I Know that most of them didn't resort to actual violence, but thier words are also very violent in a way. Augustine wished for the Jews to be slaugtherd by God, Jerome called them "serpents" and called the synagoges the devil's refuge, and Peter the Venerable called them beasts. and these are just some the mellowest examples. (The Eastern church fathers are even more venomous and some of them took measures in order to hurt Jews)
I Know that one can claim that i should see this in a historical perspective, but this just leads to relativism - because no one see's the Church Fathers theology in this perspective (no one is going to claim that Trinitarian or Christological teachings that became orthodox are not valid today because the Church Fathers were bound to understand things only through the Greek philosophy of that time and so on...) so it is the same for thier Anti-Jewish teachings, just because it is not pollitically correct to say such things today people often dismiss the Church fathers sayings as "a product of thier time and place".
I Don't think that in this day and age we can allow ourselves a "post modern Church" but the authority of the fathers is something that still bothers me, I Want to accept them as my authority on morality, chastity and theology, but when it comes to Jews it just seems impossible to me to beleive in them. (and as a result, The Church as a whole, since much of what the Church teaches comes from them)
Sorry for the long post, i would like to read your thoughts on the subject.
Thank you!

Ariel
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Re: The Church Fathers and The Jews

Post by Ariel » Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:24 pm

hi Photios,

Your questions are good and legitimate. A few comments on my part:
I even pray to the Holy Virgin asking that she will save me from my sins
I would exercise caution with making such statements, because it is inaccurate and one of the chief points with which non-Catholics or anti-Catholics frequently attack the Church. Only Yeshua the Messiah saves us from our sins. True, the Blessed Virgin is "mediatrix of graces" and in a certain sense can be called "co-Redemptrix." But this means that she perfectly participates in Christ's salvation in her humanity, not in the sense that she is equal to Christ. Co-redemptrix means that she saves "with Christ" (in the fullest sense that we all participate in bringing His salvation to the world, cf. Col 1:24) but not that she has any saving power on her own. The fount and source of salvation remains Jesus. Only He is the Savior, while Mary herself confessed her need for a savior: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." (Lk 1:46-47)
I Have a great admiration for the Church Fathers and their teachings...but in reading them I just cannot ignore their attitude for Jews.
Yes their attitude towards the Jews was often negative, but it is important to note that any specific teaching of any of the fathers does not constitute the Catholic faith. They were still humans, the product of their times (sometimes engaged in violent polemical debate against Jews who also were always not very charitable). The fathers teach some very valuable things, but the Church has certainly never accepted everything they said as divine revelation. This has nothing to do with relativism. The Catholic faith is found in the Catechism, not in every word of the Fathers.
I Want to accept them as my authority on morality, chastity and theology, but when it comes to Jews it just seems impossible to me to believe in them.
You don't have to, and you don't even have to "believe in them" regarding morality, chastity and theology. The teachings of Vatican II and Catechism of the Catholic Church is what you should believe. The Fathers can be helpful in deepening the Church's teachings, but should be rejected when they do not conform with them.
Augustine wished for the Jews to be slaughtered by God
I don't think that is correct. I would like to see a quote and/or reference for that one if you have it. It seems to me that Augustine said just the opposite, that Jews should not be physically harmed.

I hope that helps. God bless,
Ariel

Photios
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Re: The Church Fathers and The Jews

Post by Photios » Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:30 pm

Thank you for your reply Ariel.

1. About The Holy Virgin - I Apologize for writing it in an over-exaggerated manner. I was meaning to say that I pray to the Holy Virgin for helping me to overcome my sins. (I Know that God is the only one who can give salvation)
2.About the Church Fathers - I Know that at their time Judaism was still a strong religion and posed a formidable challenge to ancient Christianity (and this is partially the reason for the harsh rhetoric by the Fathers) Do you perhaps know of any historical sources (non-Christian ones) that shows that there in fact were Anti-Christian persecutions by Jews?
3. The Quotation from Augustine - This Quotation might be false. I Found it on the web but later I checked my Hebrew version of the Confessions (where it should be written) and didn't see it.
Thank you again for answering my questions.

Ariel
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Re: The Church Fathers and The Jews

Post by Ariel » Sat Oct 17, 2009 4:37 pm

no problem photios,
I can't recall offhand a specific non-Christian source for the early Jewish persecution of Christians, but that must not be very hard to find. Anyone else?
“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

Photios
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Re: The Church Fathers and The Jews

Post by Photios » Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:21 pm

Dear Ariel,
Thank you so much for your kindness. I Actually located some books which I think will give a good picture about the first centuries AD and a contextualization of the the Anti-Judaic writings of some of the Church Fathers.
(if you are intersted the books are :
1.History, Religion, and Antisemitism - by Gavin I. Langmuir.
2.John Chrysostom and the Jews: rhetoric and reality in the late 4th century - by Robert L. Wilken. )

I Have a small question about a passage in the New Testament. In John 8:44 When Christ is talking with the Jews he calls them children of the devil :
"You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and doesn't stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks on his own; for he is a liar, and its father."
Did Christ really meant to say this? (I suppuse there is a mistranslation or something but please clarify this for me)

Ariel
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Re: The Church Fathers and The Jews

Post by Ariel » Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:48 pm

No it's not a mistranslation. The text is correct, but Jesus here is not speaking to ALL the Jews in general but specifically to the group of leaders who were opposing his ministry. This is a known issue about the Gospel of John - "the Jews" do not mean all Jews but probably the Judeans who rejected him.
“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

Photios
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Re: The Church Fathers and The Jews

Post by Photios » Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:59 pm

Thank you for your answer!

savvy
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Re: The Church Fathers and The Jews

Post by savvy » Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:23 am

Hi Photios,

There are three groups of Church Fathers, the Early Church Fathers, some of whom are also called the Apostolic fathers since they were taught by the apostles themselves, The Nicean Fathers and the post-Nicean Fathers. Not everything the Fathers wrote is considered to be authoritative or binding. Augustine's Neo-Platonism was rejected by Aquinas and others after him. Catholic theologians through the centuries have had to sift threw theories proposed and prayfully discern whether or not to make them a part of official church teachings.

I agree with Ariel that the Magisterium and the Catechism of the Catholic Church should have the final say in matters of faith and morals.

As for Bible translations it's true that there are many out there, that can come across as confusing. The ones officially accepted by the Catholic Church is the Latin Vulgate and the Douay Rheims Bible, which is held to be the first English language Bible translation.


Ariel: I am sorry about the delay on the Archives. I am busy with school, so will have to work on them later.

Photios
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Re: The Church Fathers and The Jews

Post by Photios » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:24 pm

Thank you for your comment savvy!
I am trying to study more and i've come to understand a bit better the period in which the Church Fathers lived in. Actually in Jewish Texts there are similar nasty comments on non-Jews (and to some extent a bit more vulgar ones) and I know that there is a distinction to be made between Anti-Judaism - the idea that the Church Fathers advocated, and Anti-Semitsm - an idea that begins to formulate during the Middle Ages and that is irrational (like the blood-libels which were primarily the fancies of the masses and were not accepted, as far as i know, by the church authorities)

savvy
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Re: The Church Fathers and The Jews

Post by savvy » Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:32 pm

Photios,

There's a book you might be interested in. It's called the Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity by Taylor Marshall.

http://crucifiedrabbi.com/

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