Notes on Israel and the Church

 

The Church is an alternative polis—the eschatological Kingdom of God in preview. It is the peopled presence of a peaceful future in which the consummation of God’s glorious cosmic salvation is pictured. The Church is also “an eschatological prefiguration of the people of God, which is itself a sign of the full divine embracing of eschatological Israel.”[1] In other words, the Church is “a prolepsis of Israel and the nations in the eschaton”[2]—the multinational expansion of Israel awaiting metamorphosis into eschatological stature, when all of ethnic Israel into whom the nations were originally grafted, and to whom the promise of New Covenant renewal was originally made, will be dramatically re-included through faith in Messiah.

It is important to clarify that the Church is not the goal of human history. Rather, the Church is provisional between the Israel of the flesh and the consummated new creation of the future. In Messiah, the revealed eschatological seed of Abraham, and the telos of Israel’s typological anticipation (Rom. 10:4), national Israel has been, in some sense, reconstituted into a faithful remnant (Rom. 9:6, οὐ γὰρ πάντες οἱ ἐξ Ἰσραὴλ οὗτοι Ἰσραήλ, 11:5, λεῖμμα κατ’ ἐκλογὴν χάριτος γέγονεν). This reconstitution is not itself the end of ethnic Israel, but rather, it is a nascent picture of the future Kingdom in which God has preserved a future for ethnic Israel (Rom. 11:26). It is Jesus himself, who is the ‘yes’ of the all promises of God, that taught a future for Israel in the land originally promised her (Luke 13:35, 21:24; Matt. 23:37-39; Acts 3:19–21; cf. 1:3, 6–8). In fact, Jesus “acted and journeyed in ways that explicitly and implicitly evoked restorative eschatological expectations—expectations that implied the restoration of the Davidic kingdom/Israel kingdom—the hope for the restoration of the Promised Land was not far off.” [3] With the inauguration of the Kingdom, Israel’s form may have changed, but her hope did not. New Testament kerygma was not the proclamation of a generic salvation plan for sinners. It was “the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20). The ecclesiology that denies its origin in Jewish hope is simply hallucinating. All true ecclesiology must proceed from the fact that it was originally the fulfillment of a promise designated for the Jewish people. Gentiles worship the God of Israel in fulfillment of the promise to Abraham by being included within the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2:12).

Mark Kinzer, Rabbi and theologian within the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, writes:

As for how membership in the messiah’s body leads to citizenship in Israel, we must reflect on the fact that Yeshua was born a Jew, was circumcised on the eighth day, and lived as a faithful Jew throughout the course of his earthly life. When he was raised from the dead, his Jewish identity carried over into his glorified existence, as did his masculine gender. To say that Yeshua was a Jew is a fact of history. To say that Yeshua is a Jew is a fact of explosive theological consequence. The Son of God does not assume a generic human nature but rather the humanity descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. When gentiles become part of that body, they become part of a Jewish body. They do not themselves become Jews, but they become part of the Jewish commonwealth. [4]

Just as Jesus did not assume “a generic human nature” upon his ascension, but ascended with the actual Galilean features inherited from his mother Mary, so too is Gentile membership in the Church heterogeneously related to the Jewish commonwealth through union with her Messiah. As Karl Barth insisted in his Church Dogmatics:

The Church does not dispute, but asserts and teaches in defiance of all Gentile arrogance, the eternal election of Israel. Confessing Jesus Christ, it confesses the fulfillment of everything that is pledged to Israel as promise, the substance of all the hope of the fathers, of all the exhortations and threats of Moses and the prophets, of all the sacrifice in the tabernacle and the temple, of every letter of the sacred books of Israel. [5]

Barth is resolute: the Church does not replace Israel. [6] For Barth, it is to her detriment that the Church repudiates ethnic Israel (or else, argues for her ‘divestment’, ‘abrogation’, ‘polemical redefinition’ etc. — the term ‘fulfillment’ is likewise employed to serve ends identical to those accomplished by the former terms). As long as the Church in her current form maintains this attitude of willful anti-Judaism, she evokes the very arrogance about which she was grimly warned by Paul (Rom. 11:20). The Church does not unrecognizably fulfill Israel’s hope such that Israel’s covenant promises are divested of the meanings with which their original audience would have received them. The prophets and the apostles are reciprocally-revelatory. They reveal, rather than revise one another (Col. 1:26; Eph. 2:20, 3:5). In Christ, God has inaugurated the prophetic hope by disclosing the “mystery” of the Church through the apostolic ministry of the Messianic age. The arrival of this age is a fissure in time—an alteration of the structures of time and existence so that the ekklesia now constitutes the presence of Israel’s Kingdom future. The Church does not emerge as the result of Israel’s punishment, but as an eschatological prefiguration of the one people of God, which must by necessity include the ancient people of his covenant love.

The Church is the faithful remnant whose existence is instrumental toward the restoration of national Israel—those “branches” who at present have been “broken off” from the nourishing root of God’s generative mercy in order that the nations would be graciously included (Rom. 11:19). The Church is not the completed presence of the Kingdom of God. The Church continues to await the consummation of the Kingdom—the time when her mission will climax with the full and dramatic inclusion of ethnic Israel, coterminous with the anticipated return of the Messiah, and the “concurrent hope that ethnic Israel will be roused to jealousy and will embrace their Messiah.” [7] The Church herself is a pledge that God will remain faithful to his promises and enact the total description of his covenant justice, including those descriptions whose original meaning belonged to a redeemed Jewish people. [8] Until then, the Church in the power of the Spirit remains the presence of this promised future—a preview of the Kingdom in which ethnic Israel will dwell, through faith in Christ, in the land promised to her, having inherited the whole of her covenant hope.

Unfortunately, the Church has failed to preserve the bilateral ecclesiology in which she was originally formed (Jew and Gentile). This has long determined the results of her exegesis. For example, in a wonderful and refreshing display of repentance, the Reformed theologian and now-famous commentator on Romans, C. E. B. Cranfield, writes:

It is only where the Church persists in refusing to learn this message, where it secretly–perhaps quite unconsciously!–believes that its own existence is based on human achievement, and so fails to understand God’s mercy to itself, that it is unable to believe in God’s mercy for still unbelieving Israel, and so entertains the ugly and unscriptural notion that God has cast off His people Israel and simply replaced it by the Christian Church. [Romans 9-11] emphatically forbid us to speak of the Church as having once and for all taken the place of the Jewish people. . .the assumption that the Church has simply replaced Israel as the people of God is extremely common. . .And I confess with shame to having also myself used in print on more than one occasion this language of the replacement of Israel by the Church. [9]

As Cranfield notes, chapters 9-11 of Romans “emphatically forbid us” to conclude with the divestment of ethnic Israel. Israel’s eschatological salvation is the promised consequence of God’s immutable character. Moreover, just as the Church is the proleptic community of the Kingdom of God, so too will Israel in the eschaton be the unique national dimension to that Kingdom. The fulfilled promise to Abraham is the inclusio of redemptive history. On either end of God’s plan lay an Israeli exodus, the educational event in which God seeks to emerge as the premier and solitary object of Israel’s covenant worship.

The Kingdom of God is the goal of human history, and unbelieving Israel, when she is renewed and included in the New Covenant community, will catalyze the eschatological consummation of that Kingdom. In the fullness of the Kingdom to come, neither nations nor languages nor ethnicities will be abolished, but each will be redeemed. With this fact of eschatological redemption is also the enduring significance of the eternal covenant made with the people of Israel as a people of a particular ethnicity in a particular location (Gen. 17:6-8). According to Baruch Maoz, a Jewish Christian himself:

“Israel” denotes both people and land. . . . The land is no passive observer, a mere sphere in which Israel as a people operate. It is spoken of as altogether at one with the people—so much so that it becomes liable for the people’s actions (Lev. 26:14; Deut. 6:12). It is also a privilege granted to the land (Lev. 25:4-5). Israel’s sin brings punishment to the land (Lev. 26:33; Deut. 24:4, 28-29), for God will be “angry with the land” because of the people’s sin. Conversely, when the people are true to God, he will bless them and the land (Deut. 30:9). Israel’s destiny is that of the land (Ps. 122:1-2, 6; 147:2). [10]

Those covenant promises whose original meaning were nationalistic, or ethnic, are not supplanted, ‘spiritualized’, or transcendentalized for a primarily Gentile Church. It is true that the promises made to Abraham have certainly been expanded in scope to include more than he originally knew (the incarnation, for example, and subsequently, the emergence of a transnational, transethnic Messianic community). However, it does not follow from this that Abraham’s descendants according to the flesh will receive less than he was originally promised (that is, a sacredly-Jewish space among the nations). In the Christ-event, the sovereign grace of God fulfilled for Israel, based on no prior condition in her, all of the covenant terms God commanded, that she in turn might receive all of the covenant blessings God promised (Rom. 11:11). Human history will not conclude without the salvation of ethnic Israel. In his newly-written Paul and the Gift, John Barclay describes the logic of this particularly-Pauline hope:

“Paul could make sense of his life only in the context of the promises to Israel. The temptation to regard Israel as a relic of the past, now supplanted by the Gentile church (Rom. 11:17-24), may have been acute among Gentile believers in Rome (cf. 14:1-15:3), but the phenomenon was probably common wherever the Gentile mission was accompanied by (and itself evoked) the self-distancing of Jews. That Paul combats this tendency, and against the evidence, insists that the future will include the salvation of Israel (11:25-32) reflects more than merely his disgust at Gentile “anti-Judaism.” It demonstrates his conviction that without the salvation of Israel the history of the world would make no sense at all.”  [11]

We must not forget that among Israel’s faithful remnant was a Shammaite Pharisee named Sha’ul, who had become a Yeshua-believer. He was the son of Pharisees (Acts 23:6), a descendant of Avraham, a member of the tribe of Benyamin (Phil. 3:4-5), and studied under the famous Sanhedrin Rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). He had been commissioned by Yeshua to bring the Kingdom message (B’rit Chadashah) to the Gentiles, and he agonized over his kinsmen (e.g. Rom. 9:1-6). This agony was not the result of Paul’s conversion from Judaism to another thing called ‘Christianity’ (with the additional dismissal of his Jewish identity and lifestyle). Second Temple Judaism contained a diverse apparatus of eschatological expectations with respect to the arrival of the Messiah. However, the Gentilizaton of Israel was simply not one of them. [12] The revelation of Jesus to Paul (ἀποκαλύψαι τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοί) was ‘apocalyptic’, certainly, and with the arrival of Jesus was also the pre-consummative transformation of the cosmos—but this ‘apocalypse’ also stood in clear continuity with the covenant promises about which his nation, Israel, had previously waited (Acts 26:7). Paul’s Damascus road encounter certainly transformed him. But notice that Paul describes it by echoing the language of Jeremiah 1:5 and Isa. 49:1. It was a prophetic call, rather than a conversion. [13]

For Paul, the Gentile mission, generated by the covenant faithfulness of the Christ-event, was “evidence of an eschatological flood, a spreading dynamic of mercy that will surely trace back to its origin and core.” This “invincible, non-reversible momentum” of mercy emerged from the Christ-event as a divine pledge of those promises that originally belonged to the ethnic and territorial restoration of Israel. Indeed, “everything Paul has said about Israel in [Rom.] 9:6-29 has secured the fact that Israel is the object of the promises of God.” Though God display “the wealth of his glory” (9:23, τὸν πλοῦτον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ) in the inclusion of the nations, Israel’s “gifts” and “call” remain “irrevocable” (11:29, ἀμεταμέλητα γὰρ τὰ χαρίσματα καὶ ἡ κλῆσις τοῦ θεοῦ). As Barclay notes: “The richness evidenced in the Gentile mission. . .confirms to Paul that nothing will separate Israel from the love of God in Christ.” [14] The original temporal and ethnic content of the covenant promises throughout the Hebrew Bible have not been revised, including those which envisaged a Messianic reign from an eschatologically-restored Jerusalem. [15]

The charge that Israel’s ethnic and territorial restoration is carnal is itself simply a sinister form of eschatological docetism. The system on which this charge is based survives solely on the disembodiment of Israel’s hope. The irony here is striking. The Church began in the Synagogue as a cryptically-inaugurated fulfillment of the hope that was and remains today “the hope of Israel.” The inclusion of the Gentiles, at least for Paul, was (alongside early Jewish belief in Yeshua) “anomalous, the miraculous extension of a promise whose origin and home is Israel itself.” [16] Early ‘Christianity’ was first a Messianic Judaism, and only later, with the erasure of its distinctively Jewish origin, did it evolve into a predominantly-Gentile movement characterized by a call to “reverse Galatianism”. [17] Israel exists as a distinctive entity within the redemptive economy for the purpose of revelation. If Israel existed to simply incorporate the nations into the redemptive economy, then her purpose would have been obsolete when the Church emerged. However, Israel exists to exposit the character and covenant fidelity of the only true God. Israel’s revelatory distinctiveness has and will always be her unique vocation as a nation. Until the redemptive self-disclosure of the only true God is complete, Israel retains her status, privilege, and responsibility in the twin taxonomy of creation (Rom. 1:16).

Ethnic Israel has an enduring significance as a particular people in a particular place by virtue of her election according to the sovereignty of God’s grace. This is scandalous, but it is no more offensive than the Son of God being revealed as a bloody Jew on whom the fate of every individual who has ever lived depends. This election according to grace has not been modified, revised, or abrogated by the detail added with the advent of Christ. However, it has been expanded to include more than was originally known. In the Christ-event, and through the Church, unexpected detail has been added. Yet, while the nation Israel will receive more than she ever expected, she will not consequently receive less than she was originally promised. Neither will she find in the New Covenant a disembodied form of her original hope as a people. There is no implicit command within the New Covenant for Jews in Messiah to relinquish their national identity and the promises associated with it. Messianic Jews are “Israel in the Church” and “the Church in Israel.”[18] It is God’s intention in the Church that Jews and Gentiles together form a bilateral ecclesiology in which each enter into a relationship of interdependence and mutual blessing resulting in the restoration of the cosmos. In fact, it is this distinction which belongs to the very core of biblical ontology:

“The distinction between Israel and the nations is an inescapable fact of the biblical narrative. Indeed, Friedrich-Wilhelm Marquardt has suggested that the distinction between Israel and the nations constitutes the basic structure of an ontology in Israelite idiom. In this he is undoubtedly correct. Marquardt’s appeal to the term ontology is appropriate because the Scriptures view the distinction between Israel and the nations as a part of the abiding constitution of reality in God, anticipated from the beginning and present at the end of all things. At the same time, his observation can be made more precise. Viewed in light of the distinction between Israel and the nations, biblical ontology takes the concrete form of economy, that is, of God’s providential care and management of the households of creation. More particularly still, biblical ontology takes the form of an economy of mutual blessing, in which God summons the households of creation to receive God’s blessing in the company of an other. Because it belongs to the glory of the biblical God to love the human family in a human way, in the fullness of its corporeality and concreteness, God’s economy of mutual blessing exhibits a certain order or taxis, a taxis summarized by a first-century Jew in the phrase, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).

In sum, the goal of God’s work as Consummator is that future reign of shalom in which the economy of difference and mutual dependence initiated by God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah is fulfilled in a way that brings fullness of life to Israel, to the nations, and to all creation. [19]

With this in view, we can and should confess that the Church and ethnic Israel are simply different dimensions of the one new redeemed humanity in whom the gracious work of God in the gospel is and will be gloriously displayed (Eph. 3:1-7). As Darrell Bock writes, “However we include Gentiles into covenant promise and realization in Christ, we should not discard the original recipients of that promise.” [20] It is inviolable. And thus, with Paul we confess: “εἰρήνη ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς καὶ ἔλεος, καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ τοῦ θεοῦ.” [21]

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[1] Hays, Richard. “‘Why Do You Stand Looking Up Toward Heaven?’ New Testament Eschatology at the Turn of the Millennium,” in Theology at the Turn of the Millennium, eds. L.G. Jones and J.J. Buckley (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001). 113-33.

[2] Rudolph, David. “A Jew to Jews: Jewish Contours of Pauline Flexibility in 1 Corinthians 9“, 87. The full footnote reads: “A reasonable argument can be made based on Paul’s “rule in all the churches” and the principle of divine callings (1 Cor 7:17-24) that Paul wanted his communities in the interim to reflect Torah-defined ecclesiological variegation. A related question . . .is whether Paul viewed the church as a prolepsis of Israel and the nations in the eschaton. If this was the case, Paul’s interim ethic could have been informed by Second Temple Jewish eschatological expectations that envisioned Jewish and Gentile identity continuing in the age to come. George Howard, Paul: Crisis in Galatia. A Study in Early Christian Theology (SNTSMS 35; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 66, 79-81. Magnus Zetterholm, The Formation of Christianity in Antioch: A Social-Scientific Approach to the Separation between Judaism and Christianity (London: Routledge, 2003), 158. Bockmuehl, Jewish Law in Gentile Churches, 81; Nanos, The Mystery of Romans, 181-184; William Horbury, “Jerusalem in Pre-Pauline and Pauline Hope,” in Messianism Among Jews and Christians: Twelve Biblical and Historical Studies (London: T&TClark, 2003), 218, 223; William Horbury, “Land, Sanctuary and Worship,” in Early Christian Thought in its Jewish Context, eds. John Barclay and John Sweet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 221-222; Scott Hafemann, “Eschatology and Ethics: The Future of Israel and the Nations in Romans 15:1-13,” Tyndale Bulletin 51 (2000): 174, 186, 190-191; W. D. Davies,“Paul and the People of Israel,” in Jewish and Pauline Studies (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 139, 141; Douglas Harink, “Paul and Israel: An Apocalyptic Reading” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Philadelphia, November 2005), 1-26; Kinzer, Postmissionary Messianic Judaism, 151-179; John Howard Yoder, The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited, eds. Michael G. Cartwright and Peter Ochs (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 31-35, 69; Brad R. Braxton, No Longer Slaves: Galatians and African-American Experience (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2002), 69, 72; Seth Turner, “The Interim, Earthly Messianic Kingdom in Paul,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 25:3 (2003): 323-342; L. Joseph Kreitzer, Jesus and God in Paul’s Eschatology (JSNTSS 19; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987), 131-170; George Wesley Buchanan,
New Testament Eschatology: Historical and Cultural Background (Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1993), 90-120.”

[3] Wilitts, Joel. “Jesus, the Kingdom and the Promised Land: Engaging N.T. Wright on the Question of Kingdom and Land,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus (13, 2015), 26. Likewise, Pitre writes, “While any Jews living in the Holy Land in the first century would not have considered themselves to still be in exile, they would have known that the lost ten tribes of the northern kingdom remained scattered among the nations. Hence, when Jesus gathered around him twelve disciples, he would have been making a striking, even startling prophetic statement: the time of the regathering of all Israel, including the lost ten tribes, was at hand.” Pitre, Brant. Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 433–34.

Evans writes: “[Luke 13:35], therefore, likely alludes to the parousia, at the time the kingdom is finally restored to Israel (Acts 1:6, 11); then stubborn Jerusalem will finally bless the Messiah. But not until then will the inhabitants be gathered together under the wings of Messiah’s care and protection. The expectation is that someday, but not now, the Jewish nation will respond and be reconciled to the Messiah.” Craig Evans (Minneapolis: Fortress Press: 1993) Prophecy and Polemic: Jews in Luke’s Scriptural Apologetic, 179.

“Luke 21:24 and the speech of Acts 3 show that Jesus and the church continued to extend hope to Israel. They believed that God would restore the nation in the end. In fact, the NT suggests that such a response will precede Christ’s return, thus Luke’s later reference to the current period as “the time of the Gentiles.” Darrell L. Bock, Luke-Acts (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1994), 2:1251.

On Jesus’ vision to restore Israel, see: E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985); N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996); John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus (ABRL; 3 vols.; New York: Doubleday, 1991–); Ben F. Meyer, The Aims of Jesus (London: SCM, 1979); Scot McKnight, A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999); and Darrell L. Bock, Jesus according to Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990). Joel Willitts. Matthew’s Messianic Shepherd-King: In Search of the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel (BZNW 147; Berlin; New York: De Gruyter, 2007). Michael F. Bird: “Jesus’ intention was to renew and restore Israel, so that a restored Israel would extend God’s salvation to the world.” Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission (New York: T&T Clark, 2006). Richard B. Hays. Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2014). Mark Strauss. Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014). The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts the Promise and Its Fulfillment in Lukan Christology (Sheffield, Eng.: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995). In Luke-Acts specifically: Michael E. Fuller, The Restoration of Israel: Israel’s Re-gathering and the Fate of the Nations in Early Jewish Literature and Luke-Acts (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2006); Richard Bauckham, “The Restoration of Israel in Luke-Acts,” in Restoration: Old Testament, Jewish, and Christian Perspectives (ed. James M. Scott; Leiden: Brill, 2001), 435-487; Wilitts, Joel. “Jesus, the Kingdom and the Promised Land: Engaging N.T. Wright on the Question of Kingdom and Land,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus (13, 2015). 1-26; Craig C. Hill, “Restoring the Kingdom to Israel: Luke-Acts and Christian Supersessionism,” in Shadow of Glory: Reading the New Testament after the Holocaust (ed. Tod Linafelt; New York: Routledge, 2002), 185-200. Pitre, Brant. Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006).

. As David Rudolph writes: “The Jerusalem congregation viewed itself as the nucleus of a restored Israel, led by twelve apostles representing the twelve tribes of Israel (Acts 1:6-7, 26; 3:19-21). Their mission. . .was to spark a Jewish renewal movement for Yeshua the Son of David within the house of Israel (Gal 2:7-10; Acts 21:17-26).” Introduction to Messianic Judaism, 22. The origins of this renewal movement lay within the ministry of Yeshua himself.

[4] Kinzer, Mark. Messianic Gentiles and Messianic Jews. Kinzer also adds an important note regarding the newness of the New Covenant: “The biblical concept of newness usually connotes eschatological renewal of an already existing reality.” To this, we may also add Wolfhart Pannenberg, who writes that Jeremiah 31 “promise[s] the new covenant not to another people but to Israel as the eschatological renewal & fulfillment of its covenant relationship with its God. When at the Last Supper Jesus related the promise of the new covenant to the table fellowship with his disciples that he sealed with his self-offering, he was not snapping the link of this promise to the people of Israel.” Systematic Theology, 3:473. Lastly, Markus Bockmuehl introduces a critical note on the discontinuity of the New Covenant: “The superiority of the New Covenant introduces not a new people of God so much as a newly energized worship of God – constituted around the definitive and permanently efficacious sacrifice. It is that difference in which the discontinuity of the covenants subsists, not in the identity of the people of God or even in their faith.” “Abraham’s Faith in Hebrews 11,” In The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology, ed. Bauckham, 368.

[5] Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics, II. 204. Later, Barth’s son Markus also writes: “According to Ephesians 2:15 and 3:6, the Gentiles became members of the one body of Christ only by their insertion into Israel.” Israel and the Church, 90.

[6] Kendall Soulen provides this very helpful taxonomy of supersessionism: “In sum, I distinguish three kinds of supersessionism in the standard canonical narrative: economic, punitive, and structural. The first two designate explicit doctrinal perspectives, i.e., that carnal Israel’s history is providentially ordered from the outset to be taken up into the spiritual church (economic supersessionism), and that God has rejected carnal Israel on account of its failure to join the church (punitive supersessionism). Structural supersessionism, in contrast, refers not to an explicit doctrinal perspective but rather to a formal feature of the standard canonical narrative as a whole. Structural supersessionism refers to the narrative logic of the standard model whereby it renders the Hebrew Scriptures largely indecisive for shaping Christian convictions about how God’s works as Consummator and Redeemer engage humankind in universal and enduring ways” R. Kendall Soulen, The God of Israel and Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 181. Additionally, Richard Hays writes in Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, 96: “It is no accident that Paul never uses expressions such as ‘new Israel’ or ‘spiritual Israel. There always has been and always will be only one Israel.” And also 102: “Paul’s ecclesiocentric hermeneutic and the particular eschatological logic of the Pauline ‘dramatic sequence’ do not entail the annulment or supersession of Israel’s Scripture or of Israel’s election. . .The experience of the Christian community stands in continuity with the story of Israel, not in contradiction to it.” The omission of this specific terminology in Paul is especially informative.

In Introduction to Messianic Judaism, David Rudolph and Joel Willitts define “evangelical post-supersessionism” as four distinctive beliefs: “1. God’s covenant relationship with the Jewish people (Israel) is present and future. 2. Israel has a distinctive role and priority in God’s redemptive activity through Messiah Jesus. 3. By God’s design and calling, there is a continuing distinction between Jew and Gentile in the church today. 4. For Jews, distinction takes shape fundamentally through Torah observance as an expression of covenant faithfulness to the God of Israel and the Messiah Jesus.” Elsewhere, Rudolph writes regarding the increasing number of post-supersessionist readings of the New Testament: “We are now seeing a steady flow of post-supersessionist interpretations of [the New Testament] in books, articles, dissertations, and conference papers each year. As one who specializes in Pauline studies, I do my best to keep track of these critical reassessments, but it is becoming difficult because there are so many. These scholars argue Paul continued to view himself as part of kol Yisrael (all Israel), and that he remained a Torah-observant Jew after becoming abeliever in Yeshua (not merely for missiological reasons, but on the basis of covenant and calling) as he writes in 1 Cor 7 and Rom 9–11. Luke provides a similar portrait of Paul in Acts 26 when he says to King Agrippa, “…according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day” (Acts 26:5–7; cf. 21:17–26).”

For more, see: Karl Barth, CD 2/2.195–305; C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1979) 2:445–592; Markus Barth, The People of God (Sheffield: JSOT, 1983); Peter Stuhlmacher, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Commentary (trans. Scott J. Hafemann; Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1994) 142–84; Larry Hurtado, Theology 117 (2014): 361-65; David E. Holwerda, Jesus & Israel: One Covenant or Two? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995) 147–76; J. Lanier Burns, “The Future of Ethnic Israel in Romans 11,” in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church (ed. C. Blaising and D. Bock; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992) 188– 229; S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., “Evidence for Romans 9–11,” in A Case for Premillennialism: A New Consensus (ed. D. K. Campbell and J. L. Townsend; Chicago: Moody, 1992) 199–223; Harold W. Hoehner, “Israel in Romans 9–11,” in Israel, The Land and The People (ed. H. Wayne House; Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1998) 145–67. “The Church and Israel (Romans 9–11)” in Ex Auditu 4 (1988). And also the forthcoming 18 volume series: “New Testament After Supersessionism“, edited by David Rudolph, Joel Willits, Brian Tucker, and Justin Hardin. 

[7] Bird, Michael. “Messianic Judaism, Gentile Church, and Supercessionism

[8] E.g. Gen. 13:15; Ps. 102:16; Jeremiah 24:7, 30:3, 10-11, 18, 31:10, 31-34, 35:35-37; Isa. 2:2-4, 11:6-9, 14:1-2, 24:23, 30:18-22, 44:1-5, 45:17, 49:22-23, 54, 60, 61:6-7, 62, 65:17-25; Ez. 11:19-20, 34:23-24, 36:25-27, 37:24-25; Dan. 7:13-14, 12:1; Micah 4:1-5; Hos. 1:10-2:1; Zeph. 3:9-13; Joel 2:28-32; Zech. 12:10, 13:8-9, 14:5.

[9] C.E.B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, T & T Clark, 1979, vol. 2, p. 448. Other Reformed Christians (including nearly the whole of Puritan Postmillennialism – see the Westminster Confession of Faith’s Directory for Public Worship, which commends prayer “for the salvation of the Jews” within its template for corporate worship), especially those within 19th century British evangelicalism, such as J.C. Ryle, Horatius and Andrew Bonar, George Muller, Charles Spurgeon, and Adolph Saphir (a Jewish Christian) believed passionately in Israel’s restoration. Some even concluded (approximately 100 years before 1948) that the Jews would return to Palestine in fulfillment of biblical prophecy. In fact, the Presbyterian minister (and missionary) Robert Murray M’Cheyne could even speak of “A Duty to the Jews.” As one who belongs within the broader Reformed tradition, I long to see, based on the hermeneutics insisted upon by the Reformers, a passionate return to this Judeo-centric Premillennialism. On this, see: Barry Horner’s Future Israel.

[10] Maoz, Baruch. “People, land and Torah: a Jewish Christian perspective,” The Land of Promise, eds. Philip Johnston and Peter Walker (Downers Grove, 2000). 191-192.

[11] Barclay, John. Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 2015), 524. Later in this chaper (551), Barclay writes that “Connection to the root represents participation in the generative mercy of God.” Israel was originally “constituted by the calling of God, without regard to worth.” Now, with the Christ-event, her calling is “supplemented” by the calling of the Gentiles, who have now been formed by the same “generative mercy” of God in which Israel was originally called. Barclay concludes: “The root is natural to Israel since it is the means by which Israel was constituted since the beginning, but it is accessible by unnatural additions, because the nutrition that supports this tree is a grace unlimited by ethnic differences or by any criterion of worth.” That out of which Israel was originally formed has now generated the inclusion of the Gentiles, and therefore, disarmed every form of boasting (Rom. 3:27; 1 Cor. 1:29; Eph. 2:9).

[12] On this, Larry Hurtado is especially clear: “I can’t read Romans 9–11 and derive the sense that “ethnic Israel is irrelevant.” In another article, he writes that Gentile inclusion “did not involve the dissolution of Israel. Instead, believing Jews (for Paul the obedient Israel) and believing gentiles were to comprise one multi-national family of Abraham, united in Christ (not in conformity to Torah or in abandoning it). . .Paul was and remained in his ministry as apostle to gentiles a Jew. He did not renounce his identity as a member of the Jewish people. He did not demonize his ancestral religion. He did not reject the Torah (“Law”) as false. He did not regard his Jewish past as one of frustration, failure, inability to observe Torah, or as something to escape. He did not play off the particularity of his Jewishness in favour of some kind of universalism. . .Instead, Paul claims to have practiced Torah successfully and happily. He does not refer to himself as “converted” from Jewishness to being a “Christian.” Instead, he claims to have had a powerful experience that he describes as a “revelation” of Jesus as God’s “Son,” and a special calling to proclaim God’s welcome to non-Jewish peoples (“Gentiles”) without their having to convert to Judaism (see especially Philippians 3:4-16; Galatians 1:13-17).” An interesting suggestion has also come from Francis Watson, who argues in Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith that Paul read the Torah as a coherent narrative, playing off of its “duality” as it testifies to “God’s unconditional saving action, now realized in Christ.” (514) However, contra Watson, Hurtado argues that the tensions of such a narrative duality did not lead Paul to abandon his Jewish lifestyle. Rather, it is Pauline halakha (with special reference to Gentiles) that undergoes development. In fact, Michael Bird writes in Introducing Paul (28): “The chief legacy of Paul is his claim that Gentiles can be part of the Israel of God without becoming proselytes to Judaism.” See also Joel Willitts, “Context Matters: Paul’s Use of Leviticus 18:5 in Galatians 3:12” who argues contra a conventional law/gospel antithesis that Paul’s use of Leviticus 18:5 indicates that he is thinking within a redemptive-historical framework of Israel’s unrealized covenant potential.

On Pauline halakha, Tomson writes: “A halakhically specific reading enables us to imagine Paul as violently protesting against forcing the law on non-Jewish believers, while still supposing Jewish believers to remain law-observant. In parallel to this specific reading, we are able to see that Paul’s ‘law theology’ does not intend to do away with the law but to argue its distinctive value for Jews and for non-Jews. Yes, there is ‘law theology’ in Romans and Galatians, but its application is halakhically specific: it has distinct practical implications for Jews and for non-Jews. Both are justified by faith only—therefore non-Jews must not start observing the law and Jews must not stop doing so. Such is the message of Paul’s ‘ecclesiastical rule’ in 1 Corinthians (7:17-20)” Peter J. Tomson, “Halakhah in the New Testament: A Research Overview,” in The New Testament and Rabbinic Literature, eds. Reimund Bieringer, Florentino García Martínez, Didier Pollefeyt and Peter J. Tomson (SJSJ 136; Leiden: Brill, 2010), 204-205. “Indeed, the fundamental conviction of Paul, and in my view the key to understanding his theological position on law and faith, is that all people must remain in the condition in which they were when they were called (1 Cor 7:17-20).” Anders Runesson, “Inventing Christian Identity: Paul, Ignatius, and Theodosius I,” in Exploring Early Christian Identity, ed. Bengt Holmberg (Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2008), 80-81. On a Torah-Observant Paul, see Mark D. Nanos, “Paul and Judaism,” in Codex Pauli (Rome: Società San Paolo, 2009), 54;“The Myth of the ‘Law-Free’ Paul Standing Between Christians and Jews,” Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 4 (2009): 3; Magnus Zetterholm, “Paul and the Missing Messiah,” in The Messiah in Early Judaism and Christianity, ed. Magnus Zetterholm (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007), 49-50. Joel Willitts, “Weighing the Words of Paul: How do we understand Paul’s instructions today?” The Covenant Companion 3 (2009): 28-30. Michael Wyschogrod, “Letter to a Friend,” Modern Theology 2 (1995): 170-171; Cf. Daniel Marguerat, “Paul and the Torah inthe Acts of the Apostles,” in The Torah in the New Testament: Papers Delivered at the Manchester-Lausanne Seminar of June 2008, eds. Michael Tait and Peter Oakes (London: T&T Clark, 2009), 111-117; Scot McKnight, “Jesus and James on Israel and Purity,” in James the Just and Christian Origins, eds. Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 110; Bruce D. Chilton and Jacob Neusner, Judaism in the New Testament: Practice and Beliefs (London: Routledge, 1995), 108.”

From a Reformed perspective, Preston Sprinkle reminds us of the positive aspects of Paul’s relationship to Judaism: “Paul teaches that salvation comes from Judaism in a positive sense in terms of its point of origin because Christ himself came from Israel and to Israel (esp. Rom 9:4-5). In Pauline language, Gentiles have been grafted into a Jewish olive tree and they receive the patriarchal promises only because the Messiah served the circumcision (Rom 11:17-24; 15:8-9). Salvation will always be “for” Israel as well since the messianic age gains currency from the efficacy of Israel’s covenant promises.” Paul & Judaism Revisited, 243-47, 249. Sprinkle later concludes with the standard Reformed interpretation of Paul’s relationship to Judaism. Yet Tom Wright reminds us that even the New Perspective on Paul is squared with Calvin in this regard: “The [Torah] was given as a way of life for a people already redeemed.” Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 72. It seems that for the Reformed, one may expand the third use of the Law to include the ecclesial function of marking out the identity of messianic Israel among the nations.

As regards the Jerusalem community, Bauckham represents the scholarly consensus when he writes: “Those Jews who acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah are the twelve tribes of Israel, not in an exclusive sense so as to deny other Israelites this title, but with a kind of representative inclusiveness.” Richard Bauckham, “James, 1 Peter, Jude and 2 Peter,” in A Vision for the Church: Studies in Early Christian Ecclesiology in Honour of J. P. M. Sweet (eds. Markus Bockmuehl and Michael B. Thompson; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1997), 154. He adds to this: “The description of the addressees as ‘the twelve tribes in the diaspora,’ as well as referring to their actual tribal membership and geographical situation, would probably also evoke the lively first century Jewish hope of the return of the exiles of all twelve tribes to the land of Israel.” The Jerusalem community seems to have represented a prolepsis of “Kol Yisrael”—a nucleus of eschatologically-renewed Jews who preached the arrival of the Messianic era while remaining Torah-observant. F. Scott Spencer: “The representatives at the Jerusalem conference – including Paul – agreed only to release Gentile believers from the obligation of circumcision; the possibility of nullifying this covenantal duty for Jewish disciples was never considered.” F. Scott Spencer, Acts (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), 159.

There is also a growing consensus among Matthean scholars that the Matthean community, rather than evoking the antisemitism for which the gospel became famous, envisioned itself to be a reformist Messianic movement within Kol Yisrael—a “deviant movement operating within the orbit of Judaism.” Paul Foster, Community, Law and Mission in Matthew’s Gospel (WUNT 2/177; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004), 77. As Saldarini has shown: “Members of the Jewish community who reject Jesus, especially the leaders, are excoriated in the prophetic mode as unfaithful members of Israel, but members nonetheless. Israel is the concrete community of Jews from which Matthew has been banned, but to which he still thinks he belongs.” Anthony J. Saldarini, “The Gospel of Matthew and Jewish-Christian Conflict,” in Social History of the Matthean Community: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991), 37-61. Deines writes: “[Matthean] Jews see no reason to break with their mother religion just because they believe that Jesus is the Messiah, although they are experiencing some pressure in this direction from mainstream Judaism.” Roland Deines, “Not the Law but the Messiah: Law and Righteousness in the Gospel of Matthew – an Ongoing Debate,” in Built Upon the Rock: Studies in the Gospel of Matthew (eds. Daniel M. Gurtner and John Nolland; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 54-55.

Representatives of this growing consensus include: Anthony J. Saldarini, Matthew’s Christian-Jewish Community (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994); Daniel Harrington, The Gospel of Matthew (Sacra Pagina 1; Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1991); J. Andrew Overman, Matthew’s Gospel and Formative Judaism: The Social World of the Matthean Community (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990); J. Andrew Overman, Church and Community in Crisis: The Gospel According to Matthew (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1996); Joel Willitts, Matthew’s Messianic Shepherd-King: In Search of ‘The Lost Sheep of the House of Israel’ (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2007); Anders Runesson, “Rethinking Early Jewish-Christian Relations: Matthean Community History as Pharisaic Intragroup Conflict,” Journal of Biblical Literature 127:1 (2008): 95- 132; “From Where? To What? Common Judaism, Pharisees, and the Changing Socioreligious Location of the Matthean Community,” in Common Judaism: Explorations in Second-Temple Judaism (eds. Wayne O. McCready and Adele Reinhartz; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008), 97-113; Phillip Sigal, The Halakhah of Jesus of Nazareth According to the Gospel of Matthew (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007). See also Amy-Jill Levine, The Social and Ethnic Dimensions of Matthean Salvation History (Lewiston-Queenstown: Mellen, 1988); David C. Sim, The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism: The History and Social Setting of the Matthean Community (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1999); Boris Repschinski, The Controversy Stories in the Gospel of Matthew: Their Redaction, Form and Relevance for the Relationship Between the Matthean Community and Formative Judaism (FRLANT 189; Göttingen; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2000); Warren Carter, “Matthew’s Gospel: Jewish Christianity, Christian Judaism, or Neither?” in Jewish Christianity Reconsidered: Rethinking Ancient Groups and Texts, 155-179; Frederick J. Murphy, “The Jewishness of Matthew: Another Look,” in When Judaism and Christianity Began: Essays in Memory of Anthony J. Saldarini (vol. 2; Leiden: Brill, 2004), 377-403; W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Matthew (vol. 3; Edinburgh, 1988-1997), 692-704.

[13] Regarding the issue of ‘conversion’ in Paul, Tom Wright asserts that, “The subtle way [Paul] explains what had happened to him stresses the continuity, not the discontinuity, between the person he had now become and the rich and deep ancestral traditions for which he had formerly been ‘zealous.’ . . . If Paul had wanted to say that what had happened on the road to Damascus had turned him away from his Jewish heritage and traditions, he went about in a very strange way. . .Paul had in mind the ‘call’ of the ancient prophets. But for him ‘call’ became almost a technical term, not just for vocation in the sense of a divine summons to a particular task, but for the effect of the gospel itself on a person. . .’call’ is the best shorthand Paul can find. . .to denote the complex event which he elsewhere describes in terms of the transformational work of the gospel and Spirit.” N.T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013), 1421-1423. Unlike Wright, it seems best to maintain that Paul remained a Torah-Observant Jew whose halakhic norms were dramatically altered with the reception of the Spirit (Rom. 8:3-4). It is Paul’s specific species of Pharisaic Judaism that he relinquishes. It would be quite bizarre to imagine that the Jewish Paul, in fulfillment of his ancestral hope, was now being directed by the Spirit to behave like a Gentile on account of the finished work of Messiah. Even stranger would be to refer to this as ‘the righteousness of the Torah’ which ‘may be fulfilled in us’ (τὸ δικαίωμα τοῦ νόμου πληρωθῇ ἐν ἡμῖν). The ‘righteousness’ to which Paul is referring is, for Yeshua-believing Jews, a different kind of Torah-observance (that is, a Messianic halakha), but one nonetheless. Joel Willitts is clearer when he writes: “What Paul turned from and rejected was his specific Pharisaic stream of Judaism. This Judaism was Torah centered, but configured around the traditions of the fathers, which made all the difference. In its place, Paul became a Messianic Jew, a Jew whose belief and practices are centered on a three-fold Torah (Moses, Prophets and Psalms – see Luke 24:44), but configured around the resurrected and reigning Messiah who has given his Spirit. And this made all the difference.”

Likewise, W.D. Davies, whose monograph Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology is perhaps the first precursor to the present “Radical” perspective on Paul, writes (324): “Both in his life and thought, therefore, Paul’s close relations to Rabbinic Judaism has become clear, and we cannot too strongly insist again that for him the acceptance of the Gospel was not so much the rejection of the old Judaism and the discovery of a new religion wholly antithetical to it, as his polemics might sometimes pardonably lead us to assume, but the recognition of the advent of the true and final form of Judaism, in other words, the advent of the Messianic Age of Jewish expectation.

It is in this light that we are to understand the conversion of Paul. We have above referred cursorily to that interpretation of his conversion which depicts Paul in his pre-Christian days as suffering from agonies of discontent with the Torah, a discontent which was more particularly characteristic of Diaspora Judaism, as Montefiore has argued, and which Paul sought to suppress and hid by zeal in persecution. But, as we have previously written, there is little evidence that this was the case. Doubtless Paul, looking back on his pre-Christian days not only from the height of his Christian experience but also past many a bitter memory, could depict them as a period of dissatisfaction and frustration.

Nevertheless, things are seldom in fact what they appear to be in retrospect. It is far more probable . . . that Paul’s persecution of the Church was due not to his dissatisfaction with Judaism but to his zeal on its behalf. It was not the inadequacy of Judaism, not the fact that Judaism which Paul knew was an inferior product of the Diaspora that accounts for Paul’s conversion, but the impact of the new factor that entered into his ken when he encountered Christ. It was at this point that Paul parted company with Judaism, at the valuation of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah with all that this implied.

While, therefore, our study has led us to the recognition of Paul’s debt to Rabbinic Judaism, it has also led us to that challenge which Pauline Christianity, and indeed all forms of essential Christianity, must issue to Judaism no less than other religions: What think ye of Christ?”

[14] Barclay, 551.

[15] Willitts, Joel and Bird, Michael F., eds. Paul and the Gospels: Christologies, Conflicts, and Convergences (London: T&T Clark, 2011), 75.

Also of note is Horbury’s excellent study: “It may be suggested that in Gal. 4:26-30 (quoting Isa. 54:1 ‘Rejoice O Barren One!’) and Rom. 11:26-27 (quoting Isa. 59:20-21 in the form ‘A Redeemer shall come from Zion’) Paul envisaged a coming messianic reign in the divinely-prepared Jerusalem. This view would be consonant with the eschatological importance of Zion or the land in Rom. 9:25-26 (W.D. Davies, 1974, pp., 195-196) and more broadly, with Paul’s attitude to the Temple and his echoes of Jesus’ temple saying. To present this suggestion briefly, in the larger Pauline context, the most important passage for the question is 1 Cor. 15:20-28. The present writer follows those who hold that in 1 Cor. 15 Paul envisages a Zion-centered Messianic reign, beginning with a second-coming of Christ.” Horbury, William. “Land, Sanctuary and Worship,” in Early Christian Thought in its Jewish Context, eds. John Barclay and John Sweet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 220. Bird here is excellent as well: “Paul envisages [in 1 Cor. 15] some kind of messianic interregnum as the penultimate stage of the Kingdom’s advent before it is handed over to the Father for consummation.” Bird, Michael. Jesus is the Christ: The Messianic Testimony of the Gospels, 20.

[16] Barclay, Paul and the Gift, 548.

[17] I owe this term to Derek Leman. Rudolph explains, “Messianic Jews, by historical definition, are Jesus-believing Jews who embrace Jewish identity and Jewish communal life as a matter of covenant responsibility (see n. 113). The twentieth century Messianic movement arose out of a milieu in which “Hebrew Christians” viewed their Jewishness primarily as a matter of ethnicity. Pioneer “Messianic Jews” (such as Joseph Rabinowitz, Mark Levy, and Paul Levertoff) rejected this orientation and maintained that their Jewishness was primarily a matter of covenant faithfulness. They argued that Messianic synagogues needed to be established so that Jesus-believing Jews could live out their covenant obligations in a Jewish community context. Recent socio-historical studies of Messianic Jews include: Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Messianic Judaism (New York: Cassell, 2000); Carol Harris-Shapiro, Messianic Judaism: A Rabbis Journey Through Religious Change in America (Boston: Beacon, 1999); Shoshanah Feher, Passing Over Easter: Constructing the Boundaries of Messianic Judaism (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 1998); Shoshanah Feher, “Managing Strain, Contradictions, and Fluidity: Messianic Judaism and the Negotiation of a Religio-Ethnic Identity,” in Contemporary American Religion: An Ethnographic Reader (eds. Penny E. Becker and Nancy L. Eiesland; Walnut Creek: AltaMira, 1997), pp. 25-50; Gershon Nerel, “Messianic Jews in Eretz Israel, 1917-1967: Trends and Changes in Shaping Self Identity” (Hebrew; Ph.D. diss., Hebrew University, 1995); Ruth I. Fleischer, “The Emergence of Distinctively Jewish Faith in Jesus, 1925-1993” (Ph.D. diss., King’s College, University of London, 1995); Bruce Stokes, “Messianic Judaism: Ethnicity in Revitalization” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Riverside, 1994); Carol Harris-Shapiro, “Syncretism or Struggle: The Case of Messianic Judaism” (Ph.D. diss., Temple University, 1992); John R. Stone, “Messianic Judaism: a redefinition of the boundary between Christian and Jew,” Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion 3 (1991), pp. 237-5.” See: William S. Campbell, “‘All God’s Beloved in Rome!’ Jewish Roots and Christian Identity,” in Celebrating Romans: Template for Pauline Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), pp. 76-77; Peter J. Tomson, Paul and the Jewish Law: Halakha in the letters of the Apostle to the Gentiles (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), pp. 236-44; Nanos, The Mystery of Romans, pp. 85-165.”

Yoder writes: “We have learned that instead of thinking of “Christianity” and “Judaism” as systems, existing primordially in a “normative” form, and instead of thinking of “Christians” and “Jews” in the early centuries as separate bodies existing over against each other, we must think of two initially largely overlapping circles. The circle “Church” and the circle “Jewry” overlapped for generations, in the persons whom we may call either messianic Jews or Jewish Christians, who for over a century at least stood in fellowship with both wider circles” John Howard Yoder, The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited, 69. For extended readings on the supposed ‘split’ between Judaism and Christianity, see: Becker and Reed, The Ways that Never Parted, 23. Daniel Boyarin, “Semantic Differences; or, ‘Judaism’/‘Christianity,’” in The Ways that Never Parted, 65-85; Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004); Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God: Maryrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999); Philip S. Alexander, “‘The Parting of the Ways’ from the Perspective of Rabbinic Judaism,” in Jews and Christians: the parting of the ways A.D. 70 to 135 (ed. James D. G. Dunn; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999); See John G. Gager, “Did Jewish Christians See the Rise of Islam?” in The Ways that Never Parted, 361-72; Anders Runesson, Inventing Christian Identity: Paul, Ignatius, and Theodosius I,” in Exploring Early Christian Identity (ed. Bengt Holmberg; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 59-91; John Howard Yoder, The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited (eds. Michael G. Cartwright and Peter Ochs; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003.

Rabbi Mark Kinzer’s work in Messianic Jewish-Roman Catholic dialogue is important as well: “If the Body of Christ is an eschatologically renewed and expanded form of genealogical-Israel, rather than a separate entity created by God ex nihilo and only prefigured by the Israel of the old covenant, then one would expect that the presence of Jews in her midst would be an essential component of her identity. Along with Mary the daughter of Zion, and the apostles, these Jews would serve as an extension of the Jewish identity of the risen Jesus in the heart of the Church, assuring her legitimacy as a partaker of the divine promises (such as that of the new covenant itself) given to genealogical-Israel. The Jewish members of the Church are a prophetic sign of the Church’s historical continuity with “the people of God of the Old Covenant, never revoked by God.” Elsewhere, he writes that “the Church should be viewed as a renewed Israel, a renewed people of God. It is an eschatological form of Israel, anticipating the life of the world to come through the gift of the Spirit. As an eschatological reality, it is also an expanded and reconfigured Israel, including within its ranks people from all the nations of the world. However, in the apostolic period it still maintained continuity with genealogical-Israel—founded and led by Torah-observant Jews (i.e., the apostles and elders), centered in the holy city of Jerusalem, and containing at its heart a visible corporate expression of Jewish life (i.e., the Jerusalem congregation of disciples of Jesus). This continuity also found expression in the early Church’s relationship to the wider Jewish world, which had not accepted her claim to be an expanded eschatological Israel. For Peter, Paul, and James, the leaders of the Jewish people were still their leaders, and the Jewish people were still their people—the people of God (e.g., Acts 23: 1–5).” Kinzer, Mark, and Christoph Von Schönborn. Searching Her Own Mystery: Nostra Aetate, the Jewish People, and the Identity of the Church. 48.

An issue not addressed in this summary is the translation of ἐκκλησία. I take ἐκκλησία to mean ‘assembly’ (or congregation). It may have carried the idea in Paul of a Synagogue community (that is, Jewish social space). At the very least, ‘church’ may be an unhelpful gloss, as it carries with it the anachronistic implications of anti-Judaic Christian empire.

[18] Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics II. 235, 273. Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson adds to this, asking: “Can there be a present body of the risen Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, in which the lineage of Abraham and Sarah so vanishes into a congregation of gentiles as it does in the church? My final – and perhaps most radical – suggestion to Christian theology (not, let me say again, to Jewish self understanding) is that, so long as the time of detour lasts, the embodiment of the risen Christ is whole only in the form of the church and an identifiable community of Abraham and Sarah’s descendants. The church and the synagogue are together and only together the present availability to the world of the risen Jesus Christ.” Toward a Christian Theology of Judaism, 13. Additionally, Michael Wyschogrod warns: “If it is God’s will that the Jewish people continue to exist as long as the world exists, then the church must preserve the identity of the Jewish people within the church and cannot depend on Jews who refuse to enter the church.” “Response to the Respondents,” Modern Theology 11:2 (April 1995), p. 233. Perhaps most surprising is Wolfhart Pannenberg’s prediction: “The ‘messianic Jews’ intend to remain Jews while professing Jesus to be the Messiah. Sooner or later Christian-Jewish dialogue will have to take notice of this fact…The communities of ‘messianic Jews’ in their own way give testimony to the next thesis that the new ‘relationship between Jews and Christians will not weaken Jewish practice'” (Wolfhart Pannenberg, “A Symposium on Dabru Emet,” Pro Ecclesia 9:1 [Winter 2002], p. 9).

[19] Soulen, Kendall. The God of Israel and Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 121, 131. Soulen concludes by issuing an important reminder: “Traditionally, the church has understood itself as a spiritual fellowship in which the carnal distinction between Jew and Gentile no longer applies. The church has declared itself a third and final “race” that transcends and replaces the difference between Israel and the nations. . .The proper therapy for this misunderstanding is a recovery of the church’s basic character as a table fellowship of those who are—and remain—different. The distinction between Jew and Gentile, being intrinsic to God’s work as the Consummator of creation, is not erased but realized in a new way in the sphere of the church. The church concerns the Jew as a Jew and the Gentile as a Gentile, not only initially or for the period of a few generations but essentially and at all times.

Similiarly, Craig Blaising raises an interesting question in this regard in his article, “The Future of Israel as a Theological Question” JETS 44/3 (September 2001) 435–50. He writes: “In the area of anthropology, having Israel truly in the divine plan confronts us, I think, with the myth of an undifferentiated humanity. Truly, we are all descended from Adam, but God thinks of us in the differentiated manner of the Abrahamic covenant. What happened to us in Christianity was not the universalizing of the particular. Rather, we are experiencing the fulfillment of the plan to bless the various kinds of peoples through the particular mediation of Abraham’s seed. Perhaps this means that we need to give more attention to ethnic and racial distinction as a variety intended by God for the enriching of the whole human race. Paul says that when the redeemer comes, he will remove ungodliness from Jacob and all Israel will be saved and this will mean riches for the world. Note: the riches for the world are not simply a direct gift from God to individuals, but a mediated result from the fullness of Israel. We may need to give more serious attention to the role of Israel as a people now in the way God sovereignly blesses human life—not only the extension of salvation to Gentiles during Israel’s hardening, but the regulation of the whole of Gentile life on the earth. Somehow, Israel and the Jewish people are taken up into God’s ways of blessing human life on this side of the parousia.”

[20] Bock, Darrell. “Kingdom Through Covenant: A Review By Darrell Bock.” On the way in which Jesus fulfills Israel’s hope without redefining it, see this excellent example in a recent paper by Mark Kinzer: “Jesus is the living expression of the eternal and holy Torah, the one to whom the written and temporal Torah bears witness. As the messianic-king who represents and embodies his people in himself, and carries them into the next stage of their eschatological destiny by means of resurrection from the dead, Jesus is holy Israel. As the one whose perfect obedience to the commandments of the Torah culminates in his atoning martyrdom on the cross, and whose gift of the Spirit enables his disciples to follow the same path, Jesus brings the messianic realization of the holy Mitzvot. As the one whose Spirit is the pledge, seal, and first-fruits of the world to come, and who will in the fullness of time return to reign over a transformed creation, Jesus is the Lord of Shabbat, the new Joshua who brings Israel into the promised Land, and the new David who establishes the holy City. Thus, his role as the incarnation of the eternal Torah points to his divinity, whereas his role as Israel expresses the particularity of his humanity. His realization of the mitzvot reflects his redemptive life and death, and also the way of discipleship that participates in his work of tikkun olam. The proleptic holiness of Shabbat and the Land point to the new life given by the Spirit, and the inheritance of a renewed cosmos of which the Spirit is a deposit.” “The Enduring Sacramental Character of Jewish Life in the Messiah: A Messianic Jewish Perspective” (Presented at the Roman Catholic–Messianic Jewish Dialogue Group on August 27, 2013). As Craig Blaising writes in an unpublished ETS paper, regarding the view that “the land somehow disappears and is replaced by the larger reality of the new earth”: “In spite of its popularity, the statement is nonsense. A whole does not replace a part. A whole includes a part, along with other parts. A whole adds to and complements a part. But it is nonsense to say that a whole replaces a part in the sense that the part disappears when the whole arrives.” We should consider Blaising’s warning as well: “To postulate a ‘fulfillment’ of covenant promises by means of a reality shift in the thing promised overlooks the performative nature of the word of promise, violates the legitimate expectations of the recipients, and brings the character of God into question.” Blaising, Craig. “Israel and Hermeneutics” in The People, the Land, and the Future of Israel (Kregel), eds., Darrell L. Bock & Mitch Glaser. 161.

[21] Galatians 6:16. Though the minority, Eastman concludes in her impressive study of Gal. 6:16: “Israel refers neither to Jewish Christians nor to the church as a whole, but rather to the Jewish people, whom Paul calls ‘my people’ (ἐν τῷ γένει μου) in Gal 1.14, and ‘my kinsfolk according to flesh’ (συγγενῶν μου κατὰ σάϱκα) in Rom 9.3. . .Paul’s ultimate vision of divine mercy for Israel reflects his own experience of the God who graced him with a ministry (διακονία) flowing from that same mercy (2 Cor 4.1), and called him in the midst of his ‘life in Judaism’ (Gal 1.13). The link between divine mercy and the identity of Israel is as crucial to the interpretation of Paul’s blessing and prayer near the end of Galatians as it is to the interpretation of Romans 9–11.” Susan Eastman, Israel and the Mercy of God: A Re-reading of Galatians 6.16 and Romans 9–11 (New Testament Studies, 56.), 367-395. It should be mentioned as well that Eastman includes an important translation of Mussner’s conclusion regarding Gal. 6:16 in his Der Galaterbrief: “It is true that Paul does not speak about the future salvation of Israel in Galatians, but rather in the Letter to the Romans. Yet already in Gal 6.16, the apostle calls down the mercy of God on his beloved “Israel of God”. In the eyes of the apostle this is more than a pious gesture, as Rom 9–11 confirms. . .Because in Galatians Paul describes the way of the law—which the Jews still follow—as obsolete, he commits Israel to the “mercy” of God, which has the power to save Israel as well “by grace alone”. Thus the apostle already suggests in Gal 6.16 what he will explicate in Rom 9–11. Paul has not forgotten his people.” Franz Mussner, Der Galaterbrief: Auslegung, 417.

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