Feb 3, 2010

The End of Days & Big Differences

Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and JudaismThis is where it begins, that flurry of blog posts inspired by blurbs in books stacked high on my "to read" list for class. There's no such thing as "pleasure" reading during the semester, not exactly. "Pleasure" reading would be defined as books I chose to read, books that I picked off the bookshelf myself with delight. Don't get me wrong, all of the books I read during the semester are in my area of interest, and they all are (usually) fascinating. It's just a different kind of reading. There's no fiction, only books that are nonfiction in so much as they resemble fact, although my professor likes to say that "history is not facts." At any rate, I offer some thoughts on something I'm reading: "Augustine and the Jews" by Paula Fredriksen.

I hadn't thought of it before, but in the apocalyptic literature of Judaism, the texts usually say that in the end of days, the nations (ha'goyim), referring to gentiles and whomever else, will turn to the one G-d. Nowhere, I repeat NOWHERE, does it suggest that the nations will convert to Judaism. In the Christian literature, on the other hand, there is a strong principle of understanding that in the end of days those non-Christians (specifically Jews) will turn -- as in convert -- to Christianity. For Judaism, in the end of days Jews will be Jews and the nations, the Gentiles, will revere and exist before the One G-d of Israel, but they need not convert to worship the Israelite G-d. That, folks, is a big, stark difference in the theology of each. I'd never thought about this difference in relation to the apocalyptic literature, but wow. Fascinating to consider, yes?

Back to reading ...


shavuatov said...

That is an interesting thing to consider, you're right. I wonder why that is?

Pearls of wisdom from Chavi :)


Daniel Saunders said...

I've often thought that, but it wasn't until I met a real, modern polytheist that I realized that for some people even a vague monotheism is going to be a tough thing to adjust to (see also militant atheists).

KosherAcademic said...

I'm up to here in Paul's theology (theologies?) and have been working through similar ideas--according to Paul, who as we know was a founder of Christianity, but really should be defined as PRE-CHRISTIAN, ie he belonged to a Jewish sect that believe that the messiah was to be found in Jesus, honed in on this same concept, that is that ha'goyim will turn to G-d. This is the basis for his missionary activity to the gentiles, and his strong anti-circumcision polemics. They had to remain "goyim" otherwise it didn't "count" towards the end-of-days. It is actually very clever, IMO.

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