July 15, 2015


Why We Shouldn't Forget That Jesus Was a Jew : Claiming the golden key of understanding our faith (RUSSELL E. SALTZMAN, 7/15/15, Aleteia)

Christians owe much to the Jews. Worship, for instance. Synagogue worship at its root is the Christian service of the Word: scripture readings from a lectionary, hymns, prayers, and sermon. The sermon itself was a Jewish invention; there was nothing like in pagan practice. Early Christians took the synagogue service and to that added "the breaking of the bread." 

We owe the Jews the conception of canon, a standard set of scriptural texts for use in worship. From them we also acquired the anamnesis of the Eucharist from Passover. Just as the Mah Nishtanah (the four questions) of the Passover Haggadah makes every Jew a fellow traveler in exodus from Egypt, so the verba (Words of Institution in the Lord's Supper) places every Christian in the upper room with Jesus "on the night of his betrayal." 

We owe far less to the pagans than many, especially the critics of Christianity, popularly believe and far more to the Jews than many admit. Yet Christ makes no sense anywhere except within the context of Judaism. Church and synagogue belong close together. [...]

[R]ichard Hays' latest book makes a vibrant case that "Christian" makes no sense unless it is read backward, backward through the Jewish expectations of who and what and how the Messiah appears.

Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness is a series of six lectures delivered at Cambridge in the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014. His premise: To interpret the event of Jesus the gospel writers, all of them Jewish, were compelled to plumb their own Jewish scriptures to understand what had happened in that event. 

The New Testament is laced with somewhat cryptic references to this thing or another being done or said "in accordance with the scriptures." But to leave it at that is to miss the deep wealth of Jewish scriptural references found in the Gospels. By "reading backward" Hays finds in the four Gospels not only quotations from Jewish scripture sprinkled in the text―sometimes explicit, sometime not―that explain the Christ, but equally Jewish allusion, allegory, and metaphor, all rising from an awareness of Israel's call to be the light of the nations fulfilled in Christ.

Richard John Neuhaus, typically, explained the matter rather well in his essay, Salvation is from the Jews.

Posted by at July 15, 2015 7:42 PM

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