Aquinas and the Jews

Aquinas and the Jews

JohnY. B. Hood
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Aquinas and the Jews
    Book Description:

    Hood's study contends that Aquinas's writings remain resistant to or skeptical of anti-Jewish trends in thirteenth-century theology. Aquinas sets out simply to clarify and systematize received theological and canonistic teachings on the Jews.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0044-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    In 1965, the Catholic Church revised its traditional teaching on the Jews and their place in history. In their “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” (Nostm Aetate) the bishops of the Second Vatican Council rejected the idea that all Jews were guilty of the Crucifixion of Jesus, declared persecution of Jews to be immoral, and informed catechists and other religious educators that “the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed.”¹ These statements were brief and undramatic; the section on Jews in Nostm Aetate is only two pages long. The bishops did not overtly...

  4. 1. The Theological Tradition
    (pp. 1-18)

    The break with Judaism was the definitive, oedipal event in the history of Christianity. With their decision to turn their backs on the faith of their fathers and abandon the effort to convert their fellow Israelites, the leaders the nascent Church redirected their energies toward the infinitely more ambitious—yet, paradoxically, more practical—goal of spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth. It was a brilliant move, one which inaugurated a breathtaking scries of events that saw Christianity grow from a minor Jewish sect into the most influential ideology and set of institutions in world history. Yet the...

  5. 2. The Thirteenth-Century Context
    (pp. 19-37)

    By 1250, when Thomas Aquinas began his career as a mendicant in the Dominican Order, Jews had lived in western Europe time out of mind. Saint Paul wrote to Jewish Christians at Rome in the middle of the first century, and when Constantine died in 337 there was a Jewish settlement at Cologne. Jews immigrated to Moslem Spain in the eighth and ninth centuries and came to England in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest. By the thirteenth century, they were a small but seemingly permanent demographic presence in western Europe. They were also highly visible, a fact reflected in...

  6. 3. People of the Promises, People of the Law
    (pp. 38-61)

    For Thomas Aquinas, Christ is the axis of history. Prior to his Incarnation, only those events that prefigured or prepared the way for him had lasting importance; since his Resurrection, the spread of the Gospel and the development of Christian doctrine have been the dominant themes. Everything else—the migration of peoples, the rise and fall of empires—either draws meaning from some connection with the drama of salavation history or else is trivial, merely profane.

    This conception of history explains the importance of the Jews in Aquinas’s thought. He saw Jewish history as falling into two vast eras—the...

  7. 4. Gravissimum Peccatum: The Crucifixion of Christ and the Guilt of the Jews
    (pp. 62-76)

    Like all medieval theologians, Aquinas believed the death of Christ meant the end of Judaism as a legitimate religion. Judaism had been designed by God to prefigure Christ and make it possible for people to recognize him as the Messiah; the entire history of the Jewish people had been praparatio Christi. Now the Crucifixion had lowered the curtain on this act of the sacred drama. Practices that had once been virtuous and salvific—circumcision, sacrifice, keeping the Sabbath—would henceforth be blasphemous and loathsome in the sight of God. In Christ, the Jews were offered a choice: accept the salvation...

  8. 5. The Jews in Christian Society
    (pp. 77-105)

    Aquinas’s teaching on the role of Jews in the Christian era rested on three theological pillars. The first of these was the doctrine whose development we traced in the previous chapter: the belief that the exile of the Jews was both a punishment for their role in the Crucifixion and a sign of the triumph of Christianity. Aquinas states the essence of his view in the epigraph above: “If an infidel Jew asks a convert: Where is your God? The convert should give this witness to the faith: The presence of my God is manifest in your punishment—that is,...

  9. 6. Aquinas and the Persecution of European Jews
    (pp. 106-112)

    At the outset of this study, we posed three questions: What was Aquinas’s attitude toward Judaism and the Jews? What were its social and theological sources? How did Aquinas contribute to medieval hostility and violence toward Jews? Having dealt with the first two questions in considerable detail, we are now in a position to turn to the third.

    In true Thomistic fashion, we may begin with a distinction. First, to what extent did Aquinas’s writings help entrench the hostility toward Jews that already existed? The answer should already be clear: because of his skill in explicating and rationalizing the traditional...

  10. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 113-114)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 115-136)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 137-140)
  13. Index
    (pp. 141-146)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 147-151)