Thursday, February 4, 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 ...