Orthodox View of Jews

Patristic theology, and traditional teachings of Orthodoxy from the Church fathers of apostolic times to the present. All forum Rules apply. No polemics. No heated discussions. No name-calling.

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John the Russian
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Postby John the Russian » Mon 26 January 2004 12:40 pm

Brendan,
I think you are correct regarding the reverse anti-semetism. It should not be assumed that the christians were at fault, for they were not. The so called "pogroms" were simply retalitory actions taken by christian citizens when they were themselves persecuted by the jews and asked the Tsar for protection. No action was taken against them until they stepped over the line. As I said they were given more freedom in Russia than anywhere else in the world. That is why there were so many of them there.

Nobody denies the holocaust, I just think they are just tired of hearing about it, while nothing is ever said about the holocaust in Russia which took 20 times the number of lives and lasted for decades.

The reaction to Mel Gibson's movie is an excellenct example of the fact that no history can be presented that puts them in a bad light without an uproar being raised.

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Subdeacon Jerjis
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A Brief Overview of the Religion of Judaism

Postby Subdeacon Jerjis » Mon 26 January 2004 3:29 pm

Dear Brendan,

Greetings in Christ our Savior.

I have been asked to explain a little bit about the religion of Judaism, which I will be glad to do. I am making this one time post to elucidate a very important misconception of modern times. I may however not be able to respond to all questions, for lack of time, but I may be able to reply to selected and important questions, through our Moderator, Nicholas Stanosheck.

Judaism is a religion invented by the Pharisees after they crucified our Savior. The Pharisees false oral tradition was condemned by Jesus Christ in Matthew 15 and Mark 7. After the destruction of the temple in 70 AD and the crushing of their second rebellion of Bar Kochva in 135 AD by the Romans, most of the Pharisees and Palestinian Jews emigrated to Babylon, where there was already a large Jewish population. They were sheltered there from the Romans by the Persian Empire. It is there that they wrote down their depraved oral tradition of men into the Mishnah, and later reinterpreted it in the Gemarrah. This was done between the 2nd and 6th centuries of the Christian Era. These 2 books were combined together and were called the Babylonian Talmud, which is the MAIN "holy book" of the Jews. Contrary to popular belief, the Jews DO NOT use of revere our Old Testament. The Talmud is a compendium of depraved bigoted teachings that the Pharisees have used to delude the rest of the Jews into hating Jesus the Christ. They also adopted Babylonian and Egyptian paganism, witchcraft, and demonology and compiled them in the Kabbalah. Judaism teaches, through the Talmud and Kabbalah, in many weird and devil-inspired beliefs, among which are reincarnation, that gentiles are non-human, that God is unconscious, that the rabbis defeated God in arguments, and that God studies Talmud 3 hours a day. It has by far the most depraved teachings of any religion in the world. Judaism is the ONLY religion in the world that blasphemes our Savior and calls Him by un-utterable profanities and deprecatory curses. All other religions honor Christ in different ways: Islam reveres Him as a righteous prophet, Hinduism and Buddhism call Him a very sage and righteous teacher, etc...

We have to love the Jews and liberate them form their subservience to Satan, by bringing them to Christ's Orthodoxy, the True worship of the True God of both the Old and New testaments. They are deceiving others and themselves being deceived by the devil, as St. Paul says. Our Savior rightly called them of the father the devil: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44). By God's grace, we have Jews who were baptized into the ROAC and have found true Life. The religion of Judaism has been the prime source of the power of antichrist in the world, especially since the Western Renaissance (of paganism and idolatry), and the Protestant Reformation.


For more information please refer to the excellent article By Michael A. Hoffman II called "The Truth About the Talmud", at http://www.revisionisthistory.org/talmudtruth.html, and also refer to Hoffman's excellent and short book called "Judaism's Strange Gods", available at his website above.


I am also including below a very good excerpt from Vladimir Moss' book
"CHRISTIAN POWER IN THE AGE OF REASON: From the Fall of Constantinople to the French Revolution (1453-1789)".


In Christ our Lord, God, and Savior,

Reader Jerjis




The Year 1492 and the Jews


If the fall of Constantinople in 1453 marked the end of the ancient and medieval worlds, then the events that took place simultaneously in Spain in 1492 may be said to mark the beginning of the modern world. As Karen Armstrong writes: “In 1492, three very important things happened in Spain. The events were experienced as extraordinary at the time, but with hindsight we can see that they were characteristic of the new society that was, slowly and painfully, coming to birth in Western Europe during the late-fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. These years saw the development of our modern Western culture, so 1492 also throws light on some of our own preoccupations and dilemmas. The first of these events occurred on January 2, when the armies of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the Catholic monarchs whose marriage had recently united the old Iberian kingdoms of Aragon and Castile, conquered the city-state of Granada. With deep emotion, the crowd watched the Christian banner raised ceremonially upon the city walls and, as the news broke, bells pealed triumphantly all over Europe, for Granada was the last Muslim stronghold in Christendom [more accurately: Western Christendom]. The Crusades against Islam in the Middle East had failed, but at least the Muslims had been flushed out of Europe. In 1499, the Muslim inhabitants of Spain were given the option of conversion to Christianity or deportation, after which, for a few centuries, Europe would become Muslim-free. The second event of this momentous year happened on March 31, when Ferdinand and Isabella signed the Edict of Expulsion, designed to rid Spain of its Jews, who were given the chance of baptism or deportation. Many Jews were so attached to ‘al-Andalus’ (as the old Muslim kingdom had been called) that they converted to Christianity and remained in Spain, but about 80,000 Jews crossed the border into Portugal, while 50,000 fled to the new Muslim Ottoman empire, where they were given a warm welcome. The third event concerned one of the people who had been present at the Christian occupation of Granada. In August, Christopher Columbus, a protégé of Ferdinand and Isabella, sailed from Spain to find a new trade route to India but discovered the Americas instead.”[1]



If the conquest of Granada and the voyage of Christopher Columbus signified the new power, self-confidence and global reach of Western civilization, the expulsion of the Jews rather signified its ultimate future failure. For the Jews who were expelled – called the Sephardic Jews after their word for Spain, “Sefarad” – spread throughout the West, bringing with them ideas and influences that were to be of enormous importance in the development of the West and in the eventual destruction of its Christian character. These influences can be divided into three kinds: those deriving from the Talmud, those deriving from the Cabbala, and those deriving from the adoption by Jewish conversos (those forcibly converted to Christianity, but never really believing in it) of Western rationalism and scepticism about religion in general.



(i) The Talmud. Now the Jews were an “alien, apparently indigestible element in society”; they were “always and everywhere in society and in the state, but never properly of either one or the other”.[2] The reasons given for this alienation of the Jews in the course of history have basically been of two diametrically opposing kinds. According to the Christians and those who are called by the Jews “anti-semites”, the Jews were alien because they wanted to be alien, because their law, the Talmud, which has only the most strained and tangential relationship to God’s revelation in the Old Testament, ordered them to be alien and hostile to all non-Jews, whom they exploited through their money-lending activities and against whose political authorities they very often rebelled. In other words, Christian anti-semitism was the regrettable but fully understandable consequence of Jewish anti-Gentilism. The Jewish and pro-semitic view, on the other hand, it was the Christians who imposed this alienation upon the Jews, forcing them to live in ghettoes, to take up money-lending as a profession, to rebel out of self-defence.



Be that as it may, it is indisputable that almost every society that received the Jews felt compelled to expel them after a time. Thus as a result of their political intrigues, they were expelled from “the market of Chalcis”, the Jewish quarter of Constantinople, by the Emperors Theodosius II and Justin II. Then, in 1040, the Muslims expelled them from Mesopotamia, which had been their homeland for many generations, the seat of their government-in-exile and the place where the Babylonian Talmud, the real “Bible” of Judaism, received its finished form. Then Great Prince Vladimir Monomakh expelled them from Russia in the twelfth century.



The pattern established in the East was repeated in the West. In 1290 they were expelled from England, in 1306 from France, in 1349 from Saxony, in 1360 from Hungary, in 1370 from Belgium, in 1380 from Bohemia, in 1480 from Austria, in 1444 from the Netherlands; in 1492 from Spain, in 1495 from Lithuania, in 1497 from Portugal, in 1498 from Salzburg, Wurtemburg and Nuremburg, in 1540 from Sardinia and Naples, and in 1551 from Bavaria.



Even earlier than the expulsion of the Jews themselves came the banning and destruction of their evil anti-Christian and anti-Gentile books, especially the Talmud. Thus “the struggle with the Talmud,” writes Platonov, “began as early as the reign of the emperor Justinian in 556. He permitted the Jews to read only the Bible in the synagogue, but strictly forbade the Mishna. The Byzantine emperors were unconditional opponents of the Talmud, forbidding the Talmud on their territory. In this policy the Russian sovereigns followed the Byzantine emperors. Right until the end of the 17th century the import of the Talmud into Russia was forbidden under pain of death.



“The tradition of the non-allowance of the Talmud onto the territory of Christian states was broken after the falling away of the Western church from Orthodoxy and the strengthening of papism. The mercenary Roman popes and cardinals for the sake of gain often entered into agreements with the Jews and looked through their fingers at the widespread distribution of the Talmud in Europe. Nevertheless, amidst the Roman popes there were found those who tried to fight with this ‘book worthy of being cursed’, from the reading of which ‘every kind of evil flows’.



“Popes Gregory IX in 1230 and Innocent IV in 1244 ordered all Talmudic books to be burned. In England in 1272 during the expulsion of the Jews searches for copies of the Talmud were carried out in their homes and they were handed over to be burned…”[3]



(ii) The Cabbala. Nesta Webster writes: “The modern Jewish Cabala presents a dual aspect – theoretical and practical; the former concerned with theosophical speculations, the latter with magical practices. It would be impossible here to give an idea of Cabalistic theosophy with its extraordinary imaginings on the Sephiroths, the attributes and functions of good and bad angels, dissertations on the nature of demons, and minute details on the appearance of God under the name of the Ancient of Ancients, from whose head 400,000 worlds receive the light. ‘The length of this face from the top of the head is three hundred and seventy times ten thousand worlds. It is called the “Long Face”, for such is the name of the Ancient of Ancients.’ The description of the hair and beard alone belonging to this gigantic countenance occupies a large place in the Zoharic treatise, Idra Raba.



“According to the Cabala, every letter in the Scriptures contains a mystery only to be solved by the initiated. By means of this system of interpretation passages of the Old Testament are shown to bear meanings totally unapparent to the ordinary reader. Thus the Zohar explains that Noah was lamed for life by the bite of a lion whilst he was in the ark, the adventures of Jonah inside the whale are related with an extraordinary wealth of imagination, whilst the beautiful story of Elisha and the Shunamite woman is travestied in the most grotesque manner.



“In the practical Cabala this method of ‘decoding’ is reduced to a theurgic or magical system in which the healing of diseases plays an important part and is effected by means of the mystical arrangement of numbers and letters, by the pronunciation of the Ineffable Name, by the use of amulets and talismans, or by compounds supposed to contain certain occult properties.



“All these ideas derived from very ancient cults; even the art of working miracles by the use of the Divine Name, which after the appropriation of the Cabbala by the Jews became the particular practice of Jewish miracle-workers, appears to have originated in Chaldea…”[4]



How could this paganism ever have entered Judaism? One may well ask. The prosemite author Paul Johnson writes: “The sages were both fascinated and repelled by this egregious superstition. The anthropomorphism of God’s bodily measurements went against basic Judaic teaching that God is non-created and unknowable. The sages advised Jews to keep their eyes firmly fixed on the law and not to probe dangerous mysteries… But they then proceeded to do just that themselves; and, being elitists, they tended to fall in with the idea of special knowledge conveyed to the elect: ‘The story of creation should not be expounded before two persons, and the chapter on the chariot [Ezekiel 1] before even one person, unless he is a sage, and already has an independent understanding of the matter.’ That was the Talmud; indeed the Talmud and other holy writings contained a good deal of this suspect material…”[5]



In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries a conflict arose between the rationalists, led by Maimonides, who rejected this paganism, and the “mystics”, led by Nahmanides, who accepted it. “Nahmanides,” writes Johnson, “made it possible for kabbalists to pose as the conservatives, tracing the origin of their ideas back to the Bible and Talmud, and upholding the best and most ancient Jewish traditions. It was the rationalists who were the innovators, bringing to the study of the Torah the pagan ideas of the ancient Greeks. In this respect, the campaign against the works of Maimonides could be described as the last squeak of the anti-Hellenists.



“Nahmanides himself never joined the witch-hunt against rationalism – on the contrary, he opposed it – but he made it possible for the kabbalists to escape similar charges of heresy, which in fact would have been much better grounded. For kabbalah not only introduced gnostic concepts which were totally alien to the ethical monotheism of the Bible, it was in a sense a completely different religion: pantheism. Both its cosmogony – its account of how creation was conceived in God’s words – and its theory of divine emanations led to the logical deduction that all things contain a divine element. In the 1280s, a leading Spanish kabbalist, Moses ben Shem Tov of Guadalajar, produced a summa of kabbalistic lore, the Sefer-ha-Zohar, generally known as the Zohar, which became the best-known treatise on the subject. Much of this work is explicitly pantheist: it insists repeatedly that God ‘is everything’ and everything is united in Him, ‘as is known to the mystics’. But if God is everything, and everything is in God, how can God be a single, specific being, non-created and absolutely separate from creation, as orthodox Judaism has always emphatically insisted? There is no answer to this question, except the plain one that Zohar-kabbalah is heresy of the most pernicious kind…”[6]



During the Renaissance, however, the floodgates of Jewish influence were opened and both Jewish and pagan literature became far more available. The influence of Greco-Latin paganism on the West has been well documented and recognized, largely because it came from above, with the official sanction of leaders in both Church and State. The influence of Jewish paganism has been less recognized, largely because it came from below, from the underground, and entered in spite of the resistance (at first) of the powers that be.



Thus to cite just one example: through contact with Jewish bankers interested in art and literature, writes Dan Cohn-Sherbok, “the Florentine Christian philosopher Pico della Mirandola was able to engage in kabbalistic study, making use of the concept of the sefirot in his compositions. He and other Christian humanists believed that the Zohar contained doctrines which support the Christian faith. In this milieu Judah Abravanel composed a Neoplatonic work which had an important impact on Italian humanism.”[7]



However, the Jews themselves were looking for stronger medicine: “after the Spanish disaster,” writes Armstrong, “Kabbalists found that the rational disciplines of philosophy, which had been popular among the Jews of al-Andalus, could not address their pain. Life seemed drained of meaning, and without meaning in their lives, human beings can fall into despair. To make life bearable, the exiles turned to mythos and mysticism…”[8]



The result was a new form of Cabbala invented by an Ashkenazi Jew, Isaac ben Solomon Luria, which incorporated the motif of exile in an exotic new synthesis. “Like most kabbalists,” writes Johnson, “he believed that the actual letters of the Torah, and the numbers which they symbolized, offered means of direct access to God. It is a very potent brew once swallowed. However, Luria also had a cosmic theory which had an immediate direct bearing on belief in the Messiah, and which remains the most influential of all Jewish mystical ideas. The kabbalah listed the various layers of the cosmos. Luria postulated the thought that Jewish miseries were a symptom of the breakdown of the cosmos. Its shattered husks, or klippot, which are vile, none the less contain tiny sparks, tikkim, of the divine light. This imprisoned light is the Exile of the Jews. Even the divine Shekinah itself is part of the trapped light, subject to evil influences. The Jewish people have a dual significance in this broken cosmos, both as symbols and as active agents. As symbols, the injuries inflicted on them by the gentiles show how evil hurts the light. But as agents they have the task of restoring the cosmos. By the strictest observance of the Law, they can release the sparks of light trapped in the cosmic husks. When this restitution has been made, the Exile of the Light will end, the Messiah will come and Redemption will take place.”[9]



The spread of these messianic ideas – according to Armstrong, “by 1650, Lurianic Kabbalah had become a mass movement, the only theological system to win such general acceptance among Jews at this time”[10] - led to the appearance of at least one false messiah. According to Cohn-Sherbok, Shabbatai Zevi was first proclaimed Messiah by his false prophet, Nathan Benjamin Levi, who “then sent letters to Jews throughout the diaspora requesting that they repent and recognize Shabbatai Zevi as their deliverer. According to Nathan, Shabbatai would bring back the lost tribes and inaugurate the period of messianic redemption. After a short period in Jerusalem, Shabbatai travelled to Smyrna, where he encountered fierce opposition from various local rabbis. In response he declared that he was the Anointed of the God of Jacob and criticized those who refused to accept him. This act provoked hysterical response from his followers: a number fell into trances and had visions of him crowned on a royal throne as the King of Israel.



“In 1666 he went to Istanbul, where he was arrested and put into prison. Soon the prison quarters were transformed into a messianic court, and pilgrims from throughout the Jewish world travelled to Constantinople to join in messianic rituals and ascetic activities. Hymns were composed in Shabbatai’s honour and new festivals introduced. The same year Shabbatai met the Polish kabbalist Nehemiah ha-Kohen, who denounced him to the Turkish authorities. When Shabbatai was brought to the Turkish court, he was given the choice between conversion and death. Given this alternative, Shabbatai converted to Islam…”[11]



(iii) The Conversos. The Spanish monarchy of Ferdinand and Isabella had defined itself through its struggles with the Jews. Unable to absorb the new and substantial Jewish population that it inherited after the conquest of Granada, it first forced the Jews into accepting Christianity. Then, finding that this did not prevent riots against the conversos (or marranos, “pigs”, as the “Old Christians” called them), and disturbed by reports that the conversos continued to practice their old faith in secret, the monarchy called in the Inquisition to determine the truth by means of torture. However, this solution was also abandoned in favour of the Edict of Expulsion. “Spanish Jewry was destroyed,” writes Armstrong. About 70,000 Jews converted to Christianity, and stayed on to be plagued by the Inquisition; the remaining 130,000, as we have seen went into exile.”[12]



Some of the conversos who remained in Spain were able to identify wholly with Catholicism – Teresa of Avila is the best-known example. But those who could not, and wanted to practise Judaism in secret, “had no means of learning about Jewish law or ritual practice. In consequence, they had no real allegiance to any faith. Long before secularism, atheism, and religious indifference became common in the rest of Europe, we find instances of these essentially modern attitudes among the Marrano Jews of the Iberian peninsula”.[13]



From Spain many of these conversos migrated to Portugal, and when Portugal also turned against them, to Amsterdam. The most famous Jew to be born in Amsterdam, and one of the first true modernists of history, was Baruch Spinoza. “His parents had lived as Judaizing Marranos in Portugal, and had managed to make the transition to Orthodox Judaism when they arrived in Amsterdam. Spinoza, therefore, had never been hunted or persecuted. He had always lived in liberal Amsterdam, and had access to the intellectual life of the gentile world and the opportunity to practise his faith unmolested. He had received a traditional education at the splendid Keter Torah school, but had also studied modern mathematics, astronomy, and physics. Destined for a life in commerce, Spinoza had seemed devout, but in 1655,… he suddenly stopped attending services in the synagogue and began to voice doubts. He noted that there were contradictions in the biblical text that proved it to be of human not divine origin. He denied the possibility of revelation, and argued that ‘God’ was simply the totality of nature itself. The rabbis eventually, on July 27, 1656, pronounced the sentence of excommunication upon Spinoza, and… Spinoza did not ask to remain in the community. He was glad to go, and became the first person in Europe to live successfully beyond the reach of established religion…



“In his concentration on this world and in his denial of the supernatural, Spinoza became one of the first secularists of Europe. Like many modern people, Spinoza regarded all formal religion with distaste… He dismissed the revealed faiths as a ‘compound of credulity and prejudices’, and ‘a tissue of meaningless mysteries’. He had found ecstasy in the untrammeled use of reason, not by immersing himself in the biblical text… Instead of experiencing it as a revelation of the divine, Spinoza insisted that the Bible be read like any other text. He was one of the first to study the Bible scientifically, examining the historical background, the literary genres, and the question of authorship. He also used the Bible to explore his political ideas. Spinoza was one of the first people in Europe to promote the ideal of a secular, democratic state which would become one of the hallmarks of Western modernity. He argued that once the priests had acquired more power than the kings of Israel, the laws of the state became punitive and restrictive. Originally, the kingdom of Israel had been theocratic but because, in Spinoza’s view, God and the people were one and the same, the voice of the people had been supreme. Once the priests seized control, the voice of God could no longer be heard. But Spinoza was no populist. Like most premodern philosophers, he was an elitist who believed the masses to be incapable of rational thought. They would need some form of religion to give them a modicum of enlightenment, but this religion must be reformed, based not on so-called revealed law but on the natural principles of justice, fraternity, and liberty.”[14]



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Armstrong, The Battle for God: a History of Fundamentalism, New York: Ballantine Books, 2001, pp. 3-4.

[2] David Vital, A People Apart: The Jews in Europe, 1789-1939, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 32.

[3] Platonov, Ternovij Venets Rossii, Moscow, 1998, p. 137 (in Russian).

[4] Webster, Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, The Christian Book Club of America, 1924, pp. 12-13. Further evidence for paganism in modern Judaism is the adoption of the Babylonian Fast of Tammuz as one of the two main fasts of the synagogue year, though condemned by the Prophet Ezekiel (Elizabeth Dilling, The Jewish Religion: Its Influence Today, The Noontide Press, 1963).

[5] Johnson, A History of the Jews, London: Phoenix, 1987, 1995, p. 196.

[6] Johnson, op. cit., pp. 198-199.

[7] Cohn-Sherbok, Atlas of Jewish History, London & New York: Routledge, 1996, p. 112.

[8] Armstrong, op. cit., pp. 13-14.

[9] Johnson, op. cit., pp. 260-261. Luria also believed in reincarnation, writing: “If the soul was not purified entirely the first time, and it left this world, that soul must come back in a reincarnation, even a few times, until it is entirely purified.” Recently Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the ultra-orthodox leader known as the “Moses of the Sephardic world” has applied this theory to the Holocaust, declaring that the Jewish victims of Nazism were “the reincarnation of earlier souls who sinned [and who] returned… to atone for their sins” (Lisa Beyer, Eric Silver, “Heresy and Holocaust”, Time, August 21, 2000, p. 74).

[10] Armstrong, op. cit., p. 11.

[11] Cohn-Sherbok, op. cit., pp. 117-119. However, as Johnson writes, “the Shabbatean movement, sometimes openly, sometimes in secret, not only survived the débâcle of the apostasy but continued in existence for over a century… The movement survived splits, nonconformist deviations of its own and eventually produced a breakaway religion founded by a reincarnation of Zevi called Jacob Frank (1726-91)… While embracing Judaism, Islam, Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, Frank continued to follow Nathan’s expanded religious theories. He created a new Trinity, of the ‘Good God’, ‘Big Brother’ and ‘She’, the last an amalgam of the Shekinah and the Virgin Mary, and eventually propounded the notion that the messianic idea could be pursued equally well in all the main religions or, for that matter, in the secular enlightenment or freemasonry. Thus the kabbalah, which began in unspecific, formless gnosticism in late antiquity, returned to unspecific, formless gnosticism in the late eighteenth century.” (op. cit., pp. 273, 274)

[12] Armstrong, op. cit., p. 7.

[13] Armstrong, op. cit., p. 15.

[14] Armstrong, op. cit., pp. 22, 23-24.

Justin Kissel

Postby Justin Kissel » Mon 26 January 2004 3:32 pm

Brendan

I'm writing this post at home, with the intentions of posting it when I can get to a computer, so if I say anything that repeats what others have already said, I apologize. :)

What is the traditional Orthodox position on Jews and Judaism? From what I can see, it seems to vary depending on period in history and location. It seems today like many people prefer to waterdown and reinterpret St. Chrystostom's comments, but what has the historical view been?


Regarding Saint John Chrysostom, I've read 6 of his 8 homilies Against the Jews which were delivered in Antioch. I've not yet read the somewhat well-known book which attempts to argue that Saint John was writing against judaizers (which would make his polemics similar to those of Saint Paul), though I've heard summations of the points it tries to make. I also have read things here and there about Jews and Judaism, and the Church's position, at that time. (I'm just telling you this so that you know what information I'm basing the post on).

It seems to me that the polemics of the Church against the Jews were always religious in nature. For this to be true, though, one has to assume (as I do, but others may not) that the canons and polemicists considered every facet of life from a decidedly religious perspective. For example, either the canons which forbade Christians from going to Jewish doctors was wrong-headed and reactionary--or there was a real reason for it that was based on concerns for Christian souls. I don't think there is much middle ground: either the Church was amazingly loving or amazingly bigoted.

I've read texts such as Elaine Pagel's The Origin of Satan, and some Protestant articles, in which it's obvious that they think it was the latter: that the Church simply viewed Jews (whether as an ethnic group or a religion) as their enemy--their satan (ie. adversary). But how far does it go? Elaine Pagels tries to show how even the New Testament writers were bigoted, and hated the jews. I do not deny what can be read in black and white: Saint John Chrysostom says that he hates the Jews. But how are we to understand this? Should we take it in a woodenly literal way? And if so, should we also taken the Gospel writers in a woodenly literal way? Elaine Pagels would argue that the Gospel writers put words of hate into the mouth of Jesus against the Jews. Where do things begin and end?

Assuming that one is a Christian, I think one needs to look at things from a larger perspective to get the Christian world-view. If one reads the Old Testament through, Saint John's words don't seem as harsh or extraordinary. We find the words of the Church Fathers arresting many times simply because we don't know our tradition. Can someone read the stories about Samson in the Old Testament, and say with a straight face that they would invite such a person to dinner after Liturgy on Sunday?

I believe we often, unjustifiably, use two standards: one for Scriptures and one for tradition. This can be seen in everything from the way we talk about ritual religious observances and relisious commandments, to how quickly and easily we accept miracles as being genuine. I believe that, if anyone wants to understand the language of the early Saints, or the actions of Christian Emperors, then they must study the Old Testament in depth. Perhaps this is an unfair judgement, but it's my opinion that Christians today have become largely illiterate when it comes to the Old Testament.

It's also important to remember that we live in a very different world than Saint John Chrysostom and the early Christian writers. It's like black and white between our worlds--we with our comforts, our security, our easy access to anything and everything, and so forth, while in the early days there were persecutions everywhere there were Christians, even "Christians" (ie. heretics claiming to be Christians) would tie you in sacks and throw you into the sea or bury you alive, barbarians were constantly attacking, pillaging, and raping throughout the empire (e.g., if the Emperor were fighting the Persians with the bulk of his army on the Eastern side of the empire, northern barbarians could, and in fact did, freely wreak havoc on the Western side), and so forth.

In all this, there were no joint prayer sessions. There were no ecumenical meetings. There were no touchy-feely stories about how ministers of various faiths came together to battle drugs and such in the community. There were entire nations converting to Judaism, Paganism, and Christianity. There were entire nations tottering between paganism and sin, Judaism and law, and Christianity and grace. There were missionaries working fiercely for various sects, religions, and "Christianities". Then, in the middle of this, we have Christians going to Jewish synagogues, attending Jewish religious festivals, and so forth. The Church Fathers--and indeed, many canons--sought to cut off such sin for the sake of the people's souls. And, if you believe that the canons and teachings of the Apostles are divinely-inspired, you must admit that such activities are indeed sin:

"Any cleric or lay person who attends a synagogue or a heretical place of worship in order to pray, should be deposed and barred." - Canons of the Apostles, Canon 45


Few would argue today that the Apostolic Canons were written by the Apostles, but it is the "traditional Orthodox position" that these canons embody wholly and authoritatively the teachings of the Holy Apostles. So, unlike the Apostolic Constitutions, the Apostolic Canons are wholly and totally authoritative, and we can more or less accurately say that the Canons are of Apostolic origin. This isn't inconsistent with the Scriptural witness either: for one of Paul's main opponents in the early Church were Judaizers of various shades (including some even claiming to be sent from St. James and Jerusalem).

I believe, at least on one point, that the Elaine Pagels of the world are correct: the are right in saying that the Church taught the same thing about the Jews from the beginning. I'm convinced that the Church spoke what they spoke--that even Paul and Christ our God spoke what they did--out of compassion, and that the only thing extraordinary about the words of the Church concerning the Jews is not a supposed hatred, but the very real love and hope. It is an extraordinary--an infinitely extending and forgiving--love. But love sometimes means stinging words, and sometimes requires repentance.

Perhaps this is hard to understand in our age of ecumenical dialogue, politically correct language, and over-sensitiveness regarding anything Jewish (out of a feeling of guilt for what happened during the 20th century). It's not suprising that we, at first glance, find the words of the Church hard to swallow or understand aright. Indeed, we would most likely have the same problem with the Scripture except that most of us approach the Scriptures perfectly willing to take everything it says as loving Gospel. Again, though, I think if we read the Old Testament through and then come back and look at what the Church Fathers said, we'll have to admit that they were really not bigoted, but were actually loving. Read about the ruthlessness of the methods which King Saint David sometimes used, for example: for Saint David is a man that the Church consistently holds up as the pinnacle of meekness.

In the end, I think the Church's position can be summed up in Saint John's words to the Jews of his time who opposed the Church: "How can you show that this prophecy [Matt. 16:18] is false? The testimony of the facts will not allow it." (Homily 5 Against the Jews, 2, 8 ) The main point was that the theanthropic body of Christ was not, and never could be, conquered or destroyed. Heresies, persecutions, sins, death--none of it could destroy the work of Christ. On the other hand, the work of God done through Judaism--the temple, the sacrifices, etc.--for all it's holiness that it might have had in the past, had been superceded and was obsolete. So then, how hateful would it have been to have let people follow along the way of an obsolete and inferior covenant, when they could be in the ark of salvation, the Church?

Justin Kissel

Postby Justin Kissel » Mon 26 January 2004 6:04 pm

For those interested, here is a link to Saint John Chrysostom's Eight Homilies Against the Jews [or Judaizers].

Also for those interested, this page gives some links and books that articulate the Orthodox position.

brendan

Postby brendan » Mon 26 January 2004 7:17 pm

John the Russian wrote:Brendan,
I think you are correct regarding the reverse anti-semetism. It should not be assumed that the christians were at fault, for they were not. The so called "pogroms" were simply retalitory actions taken by christian citizens when they were themselves persecuted by the jews and asked the Tsar for protection. No action was taken against them until they stepped over the line. As I said they were given more freedom in Russia than anywhere else in the world. That is why there were so many of them there.


I have read some Russian history and recall that some of the Czars attempted at different times to relax whatever restrictions there were on Jews. For example, one would relax restrictions on trade and business, then it was found that Jews became involved in black market activities and smuggling. Then the Russian people would complain so much that restrictions would be resumed. Another example was that for years Jews were kept out of Russian universities. So the Jews complained that without access to education, they were "forced" into illicit business. So in hopes of remedying that problem, the Czar would revoke education restrictions, but then Jews begin fomenting revolutionary activities in the universities. It seemed like the Czars couldn't win no matter what they did in regard to Jews.

We also have the fact that a very disproportionate number of Jews were involved in the Bolshevik Revolution, especially the secret police, and were ruthless in the persecution of Russian Christians. Even today, Russian organized crime is very heavy with Jews. So much so that its not really accurate to refer to it as "Russian." So when I hear anyone complain about antisemitism in Russia today, I'm actually surprised there's not more of it than there is.

Unfortunately, I suspect all this affects how the Orthodox leadership and theologians deal with the issue of Jews and Judaism. I get the impression that many hope that by ignoring it, the issue will go away.

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brendan

Re: A Brief Overview of the Religion of Judaism

Postby brendan » Mon 26 January 2004 7:37 pm

Reader Jerjis wrote:Dear Brendan,

Greetings in Christ our Savior.

For more information please refer to the excellent article By Michael A. Hoffman II called "The Truth About the Talmud", at http://www.revisionisthistory.org/talmudtruth.html, and also refer to Hoffman's excellent and short book called "Judaism's Strange Gods", available at his website above.


I am also including below a very good excerpt from Vladimir Moss' book
"CHRISTIAN POWER IN THE AGE OF REASON: From the Fall of Constantinople to the French Revolution (1453-1789)".


Thanks for the extensive response. I also recommend Hoffman's book on Judaism. Its a real eyeopener. Every Christian should read that book. Especially, illuminating is his discussion of Moses Maimonides, whom I think is considered the father of rabbinic Judaism. In the fourth century, he systemized and edited what we know today as the Jewish Talmud.

Maimonides is inarguably one of the most revered figures in Judaism. And this is the man who stated in no uncertain terms that every Jew had a "mitzva" or religious duty to destroy Christians. This isn't to imply that all or even most Jews have read Maimonides and probably fewer are aware of his anti-Christian directive, but I have no doubt that all Jewish scholars and most rabbis know it. How many take it seriously enough to act is another question, but suffice it to say that if Maimonides said it, this hostility must carry at least some weight for devout Jews. In any case, Maimonides reflects the extreme anti-Christian attitude that exists in core of rabbinic Judaism. And this is not an isolated statement. There is a very malicious philosophical anti-Christian thread that continues throughout Jewish teachings. I think to ignore this is naive, so I'm glad to find some people who have thought about it.

I'll try to find Moss' book. Thanks for the tip.

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brendan

Postby brendan » Tue 27 January 2004 1:07 am

Paradosis wrote:Brendan

I've read texts such as Elaine Pagel's The Origin of Satan, and some Protestant articles, in which it's obvious that they think it was the latter: that the Church simply viewed Jews (whether as an ethnic group or a religion) as their enemy--their satan (ie. adversary). But how far does it go? Elaine Pagels tries to show how even the New Testament writers were bigoted, and hated the jews. I do not deny what can be read in black and white: Saint John Chrysostom says that he hates the Jews. But how are we to understand this? Should we take it in a woodenly literal way? And if so, should we also taken the Gospel writers in a woodenly literal way? Elaine Pagels would argue that the Gospel writers put words of hate into the mouth of Jesus against the Jews. Where do things begin and end?


Thanks for an good post. The Jewish issue is a complicated one, but not so much that Christians should view Judaism as friendly towards us. There are many Protestants nowadays who take that position. I recall that when Israel was shelling Orthodox churches in Palestine, Evangelical leaders like Pat Robertson and Falwell never criticized Israel or even urged caution. I suspect they may have even been secretly cheering for them. This is a deplorable situation when any Christian, Orthodox or not, would remain silent when non-Christians damage or desecrate ancient Christian churches or shrines. It really depressed me to see this when it was taking place.

The danger that Jewish influence on Christianity has had was made clear to me when I read that Christian Zionist writer Hal Lindsay was reported to have labeled as "satanic" all traditional, non-dispensational Christian theology, which obviously includes Orthodoxy. Lindsay is obviously a full-blown heretic. This is the danger in not keeping the issue of Judaism front and center. Jews aren't flying jets into buildings, but they certainly do encourage anti-Christian attitudes and theology.

I'm certainly not saying that all Jews are bad or that any action needs to be taken against them, but only that we need to be aware of any opposition to the Orthodox Church in order to defend it and to keep Orthodox Christians from falling under these heretical doctrines and influences.

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