« Prev The Argument against Judaism Next »

§ 38. The Argument against Judaism.

In regard to the controversy with Judaism, we have two principal sources: the Dialogue of Justin Martyr with the Jew Trypho,9393    Διάλογος πρὸς Τρύφωνα Ἰουδαῖον. .2 based, it appears, on real interviews of Justin with Trypho; and Tertullian’s work against the Jews.9494    Adverus Judaeos. Also Cyprian’s Testimoni adv. Judaeos.3 Another work from the first half of the second century by Aristo of Pella, entitled "A Disputation of Jason and Papiscus concerning Christ," is lost.9595    Ἰάσονος καὶ Παπίσκου ἀντιλογία περὶ Χ ριστοῦ. Comp. the discussion of Harnack, l.c. pp. 115-130. He assigns the book to a.d. 135 or soon after. It disappeared in the seventh century.4 It was known to Celsus who speaks contemptuously of it on account of its allegorical interpretation. Origen deems it useful for ordinary readers, though not calculated to make much impression on scholars. It was intended to show the fulfillment of the old prophecies in Christ, and ends with the conviction of the Jew Papiscus and his baptism by Jason. The author was a Jewish Christian of Pella, the city of refuge for the Christians of Jerusalem before the destruction.

I. The defensive apology answered the Jewish objections thus:

(1) Against the charge, that Christianity is an apostasy from the Jewish religion, it was held, that the Mosaic law, as far as it relates to outward rites and ceremonies was only a temporary institution for the Jewish nation foreshadowing the substance of Christianity, while its moral precepts as contained in the Decalogue were kept in their deepest spiritual sense only by Christians; that the Old Testament itself points to its own dissolution and the establishment of a new covenant;9696    Is. 51:4 sqq.; 55r> sqq.; Jer. 31:31 sqq.5 that Abraham was justified before he was circumcised, and women, who could not be circumcised, were yet saved.

(2) Against the assertion, that the servant-form of Jesus of Nazareth, and his death by the cross, contradicted the Old Testament idea of the Messiah, it was urged, that the appearance of the Messiah is to be regarded as twofold, first, in the form of a servant, afterwards in glory; and that the brazen serpent in the wilderness, and the prophecies of David in Psalm 22, of Isaiah 53, and Zech. 13, themselves point to the sufferings of Christ as his way to glory.

(3) To the objection, that the divinity of Jesus contradicts the unity of God and is blasphemy, it was replied, that the Christians believe likewise in only one God; that the Old Testament itself makes a distinction in the divine nature; that the plural expression: "Let us make man,"9797    Gen. 1:26; Comp. 3:216 the appearance of the three men at Mamre9898    Gen. 18:1 sqq.7 of whom one was confessedly God,9999    Gen. 21:12.8 yet distinct from the Creator,100100    Gen. 19:24.9 indicate this; and that all theophanies (which in Justin’s view are as many christophanies), and the Messianic Psalms,101101    Ps. 110:1 sqq.; 45:7 sqq.; 72:2-19, and others00 which ascribe divine dignity to the Messiah, show the same.

II. The aggressive apology or polemic theology urges as evidence against Judaism:

(1) First and mainly that the prophecies and types of the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ and his church. Justin finds all the outlines of the gospel history predicted in the Old Testament: the Davidic descent of Jesus, for example, in Isa. 11:1; the birth from a virgin in 7:14]; the birth at Bethlehem in Micah 5:1; the flight into Egypt in Hosea 11:1 (rather than Ps. 22:10?); the appearance of the Baptist in Is. 40:1–17; Mal. 4:5; the heavenly voice at the baptism of Jesus in Ps. 2:7; the temptation in the wilderness under the type of Jacob’s wrestling in Gen. 32:24 sqq.; the miracles of our Lord in Is. 35:5; his sufferings and the several circumstances of his crucifixion in Is. 53 and Ps. 22. In this effort, however, Justin wanders also, according to the taste of his uncritical age, into arbitrary fancies and allegorical conceits; as when he makes the two goats, of which one carried away the sins into the wilderness, and the other was sacrificed, types of the first and second advents of Christ; and sees in the twelve bells on the robe of the high priest a type of the twelve apostles, whose sound goes forth into all the world.102102    Ps. 19:4; Comp. Rom. 10:18..01

(2) The destruction of Jerusalem, in which Judaism, according to the express prediction of Jesus, was condemned by God himself, and Christianity was gloriously vindicated. Here the Jewish priest and historian Josephus, who wrote from personal observation a graphic description of this tragedy, had to furnish a powerful historical argument against his own religion and for the truth of Christianity. Tertullian sums up the prophetic predictions of the calamities which have befallen the Jews for rejecting Christ, "the sense of the Scriptures harmonizing with the events."103103    Adv.Jud. c. 1302

« Prev The Argument against Judaism Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection