TheRole of the Jews in the World Christian Movement
Thepurpose of this paper entails discussing the role of the Jews in theworld Christian movement. Christianity has existed for many years,but researchers have based its growth on Jewish Scriptures. Accordingto them, Christianity has contained robust Jewish elements since itsinception1.Like other religions in the world, Christianity embodies acombination of different spiritual, cultural, racial and naturalfactors. Christianity did not fully originate from one race orindividual, but from a fusion of several historic and individualforces. It is a mosaic with several patterns a fabric of differentstrands a stream that flowed and continues to flow multiple anddiverse currents. Different scholars have distinguished the separatecomponents of Christianity, with Jews playing a significant role inworld Christian movement.
TheJews influenced the world Christian movement in two major ways,through persons and literature. The ancient Greece culture greatlyaffects contemporary life, although the contemporary Hellenes havegenerated a society completely difference from that of theirancestors the past classics have effectively covered thetransmission of Hellenic impact throughout every subsequentgeneration. Moreover, the annihilation of the Jews during theMaccabees era would doubtlessly have allowed Hebrew writings toperpetuate their religious tradition. Their survival, despite theirpolitical downfall, presided at the inception of Christianity.
Therise of ancient Europe allowed Jews to settle in Christian nationsand become integral community members. The role of the Jews or theJewish influence was mediate or intermediate in that Jewish teachersmay communicate personal influence, or Christian pupils mayindirectly communicate of Jewish teachers. Jewish literature maydirectly communicate literary influence, or Christian literature mayindirectly communicate about Jewish writings.
Jewishinfluence originated from the Jewish literary tradition context. TheOld Testament, the Apocrypha, and the Apocalyptic books played asignificant role in the formation and rise of early Christianity, andfacilitated the shaping of the Christian canonical literaturecontent. The exegetical works, the apologetical and polemicalwritings, the Kabbalah, the philosophical works and the commentarieshad medieval Rabbinical literature content duly noted by Christianreformers in the Middle Ages and modern times2.Moreover, the broad literature of contemporary Jewry concluded theliterary tradition wherein Jewish influence was conveyed intoChristian thought and life.
TheOld Testament itself portrays the role of Jewish ideas upon Christiantheology. From the earliest to present times, the Jewish Scriptures,especially the Five Books of Moses, the Hagiographa, and the Prophetsplayed a major role in Christianity. The Christian religion developedin a setting permeated and controlled by the Old Testament spirit andits laws. The Jewish theocracy followed the Mosaic code the wholereligious and legal structure of the Second Hebrew Commonwealthpursued the representations of the Torah.
Jesus,the founder of the Bible, was personally raised and nurtured underthe Mosaic Law inspirations. His role as a religious reformer entailssoftening its apparent severity and eliciting its inner spiritinstead of abrogating it, to emphasize on the true inwardness ofmodern Judaism in the life of believers. Jesus acknowledged thenecessary quality of the Mosaic Code as a guide for conduct andbelief, and ensured that no part of the code was destroyed ornullified.
However,the demise of Jesus and the arrival of Paul created a new outlooktowards the Mosaic Law. The teachings of Jesus, mostly Jewish,cultivated on a Jewish national setting and articulated to a Jewishaudience, spread beyond the Jewish territory into a world saturatedby the Hellenic spirit. The Gentile believers included a small groupof Jewish instructors who differentiated themselves from the chiefbody of Jewry by acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah. To attract theGentile believers and retain them in the fold, the new cultcontrolled the Jewish ideas and gave prominence to Hellenic and Paganconcepts. The process resulted in an amalgamation of Jewish,Hellenic, and Pagan elements that operated as the basis of a newreligion3.The authority of the Rabbinical and Mosaic laws of the Jewish societyas a political-religious unit remained steadfast. Moreover, theMosaic-Rabbinic system reserved and improved its supremacy even afterthe demolition of the Jewish State and the resultant scattering ofits members over the Roman world. The system sustained the Jewishcommunal and religious identity under hostile alien environments.Despite these challenges, the Mosaic Law did not lose its place asthe foundation of the Jewish life in the Diaspora.
Amongthe supporters of the new Christian faith the status of the Lawexperienced rapid changes. The slow development of practices andideas in the amalgamation of Gentiles and Jewish cultures,particularly through the activities of the Apostles like Paul andtheir successors, broadened the gap between heterodox religious partyand orthodox Rabbinical Jewry.
Thearrival of nationally and ethnically non-Jewish converts intoChristianity permanently deteriorated the influence of the Mosaic Lawand its actual character. The young church pursued the creation ofits literature and legislations it stopping using the Old Testament,and evolved special regulations and rules by force of its needs as atheological system and institution. The tenet of sacred Christianliterature was started when the new faith accomplished adequateindividuality and self-consciousness afterwards the New TestamentGospels took the basic position in Christian religious life.Moreover, the literary works of the Church Fathers, an assortment ofinterpretations on and commentaries on the New Testament systematizedthe practices and canon of the budding faith. In the end, the ChurchCouncils authorized and organized the new laws. Therefore, the NewTestament in Christianity achieved sovereignty over the OldTestament, and although for many centuries groups of “Judaizers”adhered tenaciously with the conviction that the Mosaic commands mustbe accurately met, their effort to commingle Jewish legalism and thecanon of Gentile Christianity failed4.Both Jewish and Christian communities detested the “Judaizing”elements they crumbled into weak “heresies” and finally died.
Nevertheless,the power of the New Testament in Christianity did not entirelyeliminate the Old Testament influence. The attempts of the“Judaizing” unit to attain equal status for the Mosaic Law wasineffective although for many years, even amongst Gentile-bornChristians, the Pentateuchal system had many attractions. The buddingfaith obtained authority and confidence and defined its legalapproach toward the Old Testament without the dread of mislaying itsidentity. The Church acknowledged that the Jewish scriptures asdivine documents, discovered to organize for the arrival of Jesus andthe growth of Christianity. The Church could not refute the divinesource of the Old Testament, especially after the affirmation byJesus. Besides, the Church pursued Biblical texts where officialdogmas might be established and justified thus, the miraculousbirth, the Messiahship, Jesus’ teachings and career including themiracles foretold in the Old Testament. Moreover, the Resurrection,the Atonement, the Trinity, including other uniquely Christianprinciples were found in Hebraic backgrounds. The Prophets and Psalmsreceived prominent places in Christianity most components inChristianity, the ceremonial and calendar cult were founded partlyupon the Old Testament and Jewish models. Moreover, racial andreligious instructions were realized and pursued in the works of theJewish Bible.
TheChurch implemented a strategy of exegesis and understanding thatswiftly discerned Christianity from the Jewish outlook towards theScriptures. For Jews, the instructions and injunctions of the MosaicCodes carried a literal and explicit meaning. On the other hand, theinstructions and injunctions possessed an alleged “spiritual”sense among Christians5.The Christian history maintain the both the Protestants and Catholicsthe miniscule Pentateuchal regulations about foods, observance ofSabbath, and circumcision among other rituals approved by Judaism asmerely metaphorical. For this reason, Christian do not view Jewishlegalism as obligatory. Instead, Christians have established a systemthat discovered its most distinctive expression in prehistoricCatholic ecclesiasticism, in Calvinist Biblicism and Puritanism. MostJewish rituals acted as patterns for Christian practices, althoughresearchers have allied them with Pagan and Gentile rudiments. Thebelief of deliberate distinction in external forms, information aboutreligious practices, and dates of festivals has awarded thosefeatures of Christianity shaped after Jewish models, with a spiritall their own.
Despitethe crucial role of the Jews in influencing Christianity, the OldTestament was fundamental in Christian religious works. Sometimes,several puristgroups with an ultra-Christian personality have tried to erase theJewish Scriptures from the Christian tenet6.The groups portray their dissatisfaction with the compromise made bythe official recognition of the Bible by the Church. They havedemanded Christianity to remove itself completely from Old Testament“souvenirs” and traces.
Prominentamongst these radicals included the Marcionites of the ancientChristianity, the Catharists of the 12thand 13thcenturies, including other contemporary groups in America andGermany. The groups mostly considered the Old Testament and NewTestament as the work of an Evil Power and Good Power respectively.The Marcionite Movement focused on the origin and objective ofChristianity. On the other hand, the Manichean and Neo-Manicheangroups pursued the elimination of the Old Testament rudiments tointroduce Zoroastrian Dualist doctrines in Christianity. Thecontemporary adversaries of the Old Testament protest the “Judaizing”power of the Jewish Scriptures amongst Christian nations, making theobjection a fundamental argument in their anti-Jewish platform7.The Christian Church has strongly opposed these beliefs. Theanti-Biblical stand of the Catharists let down the prominence thatthe Church put upon the preservation of the Old Testament. Theyzealously pointed out any sign of Mosaic stimulus in the Catholicpractices and doctrines. The willingness of the Christians to rallytheir defense on Jewish literature portrayed their significance inthe Christian religious system.
However,ecclesiastical apologists faced a dilemma. On the one hand, theysupported the Old Testament against the Catharists adversaries, whoasserted that the Church gave the Jewish Scriptures excess influence.On the other hand, they faced a group that claimed that the Churchdisregarded Jewish Scriptures. The Catharists rejected the spiritualand symbolic recognition of the Old Testament as a generousrecognition. The other group overruled this exegesis as a very meagertribute. The latter group also laid pressure upon “literalism” inits outlook towards the Pentateuch.
Hereticshave repeatedly expressed their impatience with the weakened“spiritual” exegesis widespread in the Church. They have demandedthe realization of the Mosaic Code, sometimes in a few or all,obligations. They have also proceeded with their purist outlook, buttheir outcomes have differed from those belonging to CatharistDualism. They have pursued to eradicate Christianity of foreignnon-Jewish elements and to reinstate it to the primeval origins. Ifthe Catharists efforts had succeeded, they would have runChristianity into a detailed Gnostic-Gentilism the labors of theliteralists would have resulted, and in fact did result, numerousgroups into Judaism.
Innearly all periods of Christian Reform, a return to the simpleinference of the Biblical word has influenced the denunciation ofreputable orthodox canons. A reversion to the origins of Christianfaith has accompanied the Puritan, Waldensian, Lutheran, Hussite,Wycliffite and contemporary Protestant movements. Both the New andOld Testament have been “revived” every movement has observedthe translation of the Bible into the vernacular to help the massesread and study the Scriptural literatures. However, the principle ofthe alleged “spiritual exegesis” remains even Christian Reformfactions have created their exegetical method and have studied theOld Testament to substantiate Christian theology. Additionally,Christian reformers placed the New Testament at a higher positionthan the Old Testament.
Nevertheless,most Christian movements placed stress upon the correct translationof the Jewish scriptures, while the center of gravity amongst mostbelievers and scholars changed from the Gospels to the Jewish Biblethroughout the PuritanRenaissance8.Additionally, the Jewish exegesis, through individual instruction byJewish instructors, found several supporters in non-Jewish groups.Therefore, the Christian world received Rashi’scommentaries through the writings of Nicholas of Lyra, the14th-centuryexegete. Exegesis surpassed the scope of Jewish influence with theReformation and growth of contemporary Biblical criticism. Thesymbolic method was prominent in orthodox Christian groups includingJewish under the influence of the Philonic-Alexandrian school.
Inconclusion, the paper has portrayed the Jews influence in the worldChristian movement. The most notable connection between the Jews andworld Christian movement was the Old Testament. Some Christiansadopted the Mosaic Laws provided in the Old Testament, while othersfocused on the New Testament. World Christian groups, such as thePurist, the Marcionites, the Catharists, the Manichean andNeo-Manichean groups, the ecclesiastical apologists and the hereticshad different views regarding Christianity. For example, the Purists,Catharists and Marcionites acknowledged the Jewish and Old Testamentinfluence on Christianity, unlike the Manichean and Neo-Manicheangroups that renounced the influence of the Old Testament inChristianity. Regardless of the beliefs of the named groups, it isevident that the Jews and the Old Testament has played a significantrole in the world Christian movements. The movements have builtstrong doctrines from the Bible, which as portrayed, is founded onJewish Scriptures. The Founder himself, Jesus Christ, was a Jew.Therefore, we cannot ignore the importance of Jews in shapingChristianity and the Christian movements.
Newman,Louis. JewishInfluence in Christian Reform Movements(LULU Press: Raleigh, 2016), 1-723.
1 Newman, Louis. Jewish Influence in Christian Reform Movements (LULU Press: Raleigh, 2016), 10.
2 Newman, Louis. Jewish Influence in Christian Reform Movements (LULU Press: Raleigh, 2016), 11.
3 Newman, Louis. Jewish Influence in Christian Reform Movements (LULU Press: Raleigh, 2016), 12.
4 Newman, Louis. Jewish Influence in Christian Reform Movements (LULU Press: Raleigh, 2016), 13.
5 Newman, Louis. Jewish Influence in Christian Reform Movements (LULU Press: Raleigh, 2016), 14.
6 Ibid, 14
7 Newman, Louis. Jewish Influence in Christian Reform Movements (LULU Press: Raleigh, 2016), 1-723.
8 Newman, Louis. Jewish Influence in Christian Reform Movements (LULU Press: Raleigh, 2016), 1-723.