Reflections for 12/11: Final Reflections

Israel-ecclesiology relates the nature of the Church to the People of God.  For Kinzer, following an interpretations of Nostra Aetate 4, this relationship is one where the Church and the People are intrinsically linked.  Torah-christology examines Jesus’ identity through the idea that Jesus is an incarnation of the Torah and is obedient to and a fulfillment of the Torah.  For Kinzer the link described by Israel-ecclesiology is Torah-christology insofar as Jesus provides a unity between the People and the Church through His manifestation as Torah.

Kinzer’s main concern is explaining the link between the Jewish people and the Church.  He uses the ideas of the ecclesia ex circumcisione and the ecclesia ex gentibus to argue that the fundamental aspect of this link is the Jewish part of the Church.  That is, the ecclesia ex circumcisione provides a means of seeing the spiritual bond between the Jews and the Church.  In the modern world this ecclesia ex circumcisione would be Messianic Judaism which acknowledges Jesus as a part of Judaism and thus fulfills Kinzer’s idea of Jesus being the link between the Church and the Jews.  This partially satisfies Pawlikowski’s desire to reclaim some of the Jewishness of Christianity but it also seems to fall short in explaining the role of the revelation to the Jews in Christianity.  That is, it does not completely explain what this revelation contributes as it still focuses almost entirely on Jesus’ revelation almost.

Kinzer seems more compatible with Romans 9-11 because he sees a world in which Jews can recognize Jesus and not necessarily lose their identity as Jews and therefore the role of the Jewish people can be maintained while salvation also extends to the Gentiles.  Compatibility with Romans 9-11 is of particular importance because it provides some of the earliest ways of thinking about the relationship of Christianity to Judaism.

Christian witness to Jesus and reading of scripture does not have to be supersessionist.  One can defend a relationship between Christianity and Judaism and not contend that Christianity replaces Judaism or that Judaism has been rejected so long as one maintains that the covenant with the People of God remains intact.  If the covenant is intact then Christianity is something which benefits from its relationship to Judaism but Judaism and the Jewish people continue to be united with God in a meaningful way.  Kinzer provides the best way to defend this thesis by showing that there is not a contradiction between an affirmation of Jesus and the maintenance of this covenant.  At the same time Nostra Aetate 4 shows the potential benefit of preventing anti-Semitism which cannot be consistent with Christian moral teachings and Pawlikowski shows that with greater appreciation of Judaism Christians can understand their own theological concepts better.

When a reading community defines itself there will inevitably be a negative dimension to the definition that says what the community is not.  This is not intrinsically wrong but there are some associated dangers that come with it.  Part of the problem is that the revelation of Scripture may be limited if the community seeks too strongly to focus on its own identity and not to simply encounter Scripture in a more direct fashion.  So a Christian of a particular denomination may read the Bible to find evidence against others.  At the same time at the beginning of the course we recognized that outside of a tradition Scripture does not make a lot of sense.  A community therefore must bring something to its reading of Scripture in order to make sense of it. The presence of the identity of a community has dangers and benefits but at the end of the day it is inevitable.  Reading Scripture cannot be a neutral exercise.

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