An antiquated religion.

Author:Cohen, Jeremy

Jeremy Cohen

In the earliest Christian writings, such as the letters of the Apostle Paul, there is a pattern by which Christians define who they are in terms of who they are not, in terms of an opposition to the Other--and that Other is the Jew. If the New Testament is I heavenly covenant, then the Torah of Jews is an earthly law. If Christians are identified with a heavenly Jerusalem, then Jews are identified with an earthly Jerusalem. In order for Christianity to lie right, Judaism must IK wrong.

At the same time, Jews and Judaism have a place in the Christian world, because they and their Bible testify to Christianity's bhlical origins, and the contrast between the defeated, enslaved Jew and the victorious Christian validates Christianity. When Saint Augustine (.154-4.U) CF.) taught that Jews needed to be preserved--and disperseil Utd subjugated--so that Christians could define themselves in opposition to them, we might say that he perceived them as standing on a platform in a railroad station waiting for the "Salvation K.y press" to come and pick them up. But they would be standing there forever, because they had missed the only such train--the one that would have led them to Jesus Christ. In Augustine's terms, the Jews were "stationary-," stuck, as it were, in "useless antiquity." The Jew reading his Bible resembled a blind man looking into a minor, and Christians could best appreciate their own vision in contrast to him.

Notwithstanding this perception of the Jews, there was, in fact, a vibrant and creative post-biblical rabbinic tradition evolving at the same time that Christianity...

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