How the Specter of an Ancient Heresy Has Shaped Christian Attitudes toward Jews

When Marcion of Sinope (85-160 CE) argued that the Christian Bible should include his own modified version of the New Testament but nothing of the Old, and, furthermore, that the God of the Hebrew Bible was not the God worshipped by Christianity’s founders, he was excommunicated by the early church. Yet, argues Brad East, his ideas have continually resurfaced in Christian thought, especially among those who embrace an extreme version of supersessionism—the idea that God has rejected the Jews as his chosen people, and replaced them entirely with the Christian church:

Marcion [has given] his name to that most reliable of Gentile sins: distaste for the ways and works of the God of the Jews—a distaste more of the gut than of the mind, a reflexive revulsion that invariably encompasses both the God of the Jews and the people whose God He is. . . . In its rejection of Marcionism, the church staked a claim to this principle: the only God with whom it would have to do was the Jewish God. . . . But the church’s consistency in maintaining this principle was uneven at best. The specter of Marcion continued to haunt Europe. . . . .

Protestants and Catholics have tended to harbor different kinds of antagonism toward Jews. Protestantism thrives on its own supersessionist narrative, according to which the faithful reformers of the 16th century are analogous to the apostles in the first, overcoming the legalistic conventions and authoritarianism embodied, respectively, in the Roman papacy and the Jewish Pharisees. In this narrative, Catholics are neo-Judaizers; stiff-necked Israelites are proto-Catholics. . . .

Over the years, Protestantism’s leading lights increasingly defined Christianity against the Jews. . . . What [Enlightenment-influenced Protestant thinkers like] Kant and his heirs wanted, ultimately, was God without the Jews. They wanted a God unbound to one people among all others. A God who had not picked Abraham out of the crowd and promised divine presence and blessing to his lineage for all time. A universal God, a God of all lands and not the land, a God revealed in all traditions and not just this one. A God revealed in humans, yes, but not incarnate in this one alone, the Galilean [Jesus]. . . .

[By contrast], while Catholicism may lack the revolutionary-supersessionist gene of Protestantism, its deepest historical challenge to the Jews is political. Usury laws entrapped Jewish merchants in a vicious Catch-22; havens of refuge become ostracizing ghettoes. . . . Marcionism [remains] a demon that has yet to be exorcised. Indeed, rising levels of anti-Semitism in the West suggest a tragically short historical memory.

Read more at Commonweal

More about: Christianity, Immanuel Kant, Jewish-Christian relations, Particularism, Religion & Holidays, Supersessionism

 

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7