Israel's non-entry into Messianic salvation : reflections on the meaning of Romans 9-11 in the light of anti-Judaism

Gillingham, Michele Lynn (2001) Israel's non-entry into Messianic salvation : reflections on the meaning of Romans 9-11 in the light of anti-Judaism. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

In Romans 9-11 Paul was attempting to reconcile two apparently contradictory affirmations: (a) that God is faithful to his divine promises to Israel (the "election of Israel), and (b) that the salvation of God is universally offered and does not imply the election of Israel. Paul struggled to uphold both the particularism of Israel as God's chosen people and the universalism of the gospel as revealed in Christ. -- Traditional interpreters of Romans 9-11 have concluded that for Paul Christianity superseded Judaism and that the present position of the Jews is now one of "wrath". Pre- Holocaust interpretations tended to place Judaism in a position of being the precursor to Christianity without validity as an independent path to God. Paul, in Romans 9-11, was trying to understand the purpose of Israel's unbelief in light of the gospel, yet classical exegetes understood his purpose to be "why some are saved and others damned". Ben Meyer offers an interesting explanation: "Having lost interest in Israel as the prime heir of messianic salvation, Gentile Christianity failed to catch onto the fact that this was a central interest of Paul's... Salvation of the Gentiles seemed self-evidently right.” -- With the advent of the Holocaust, Christians have become more sensitive to taking or upholding a position of Christian superiority as this may be construed as anti- Jewish. This point becomes especially valid because of the special relationship between Judaism and Christianity. Unlike other religions, such as Hinduism or Buddhism, which may also contradict the Christian viewpoint, Judaism and Christianity share a vital connection. They share a body of sacred literature in the Hebrew scriptures and they share a religious history. When one considers supersessionism in such a context, it takes on a new emphasis. Other religions may offer points of contention but when the Christian religion is said to have replaced Judaism, "replaced" in the sense of something better, an anti-Jewish sentiment begins to emerge. Such a position denigrates the validity of Judaism as well as its importance as a precursor to Christianity for Christians. -- Chrysostom railed against Judaizing by promoting Christianity as the superior ideal. Augustine was convinced that since all are born into a state of Original Sin, belief and conversion in Christ was the only saving grace. Calvin argued that the way to salvation was predestination, which claimed that non-believers were vessels of wrath, and Luther's "Death to the Law" stance was meant to promote the omnipotence of God. But with the terrible anguish of the Holocaust comes the necessary motivation to reexamine Paul's words and to question any anti-Judaism that may have been added by past exegesis. To argue that Paul believed that Christianity alone would bring salvation is to argue against Paul's own words: "All Israel will be saved"(Rom 11:26). Paul never claims that the Jews will convert at the end of the present age or that Judaism is no longer a valid path to God. Modern interpreters such as Dunn, Sanders and Williamson, as well as Ruethers and Gaston, have tried a new approach to reading Paul because the result of an anti-Jewish interpretation of Romans 9-11 is the contradiction of Paul's own words and purposes. The Jewish context in which he lived and wrote is an inherent part of his development and not only is it necessary to understand him in this context, but it is possible to interpret him in a manner free of anti-Judaism.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1224
Item ID: 1224
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 252-261.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Religious Studies
Date: 2001
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Paul, the Apostle, Saint--Attitude towards Judaism; Bible--Romans--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Salvation--Biblical teaching; Antisemitism

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