Connect with us

News and Views

Boston.com: Enter Christianity – The ghosts in the room during the Mideast peace process have a long history in another religion

Published

JUDAISM AND Islam developed with only marginal reference to Christianity, but Christianity’s evolution has been entangled with the two other monotheisms — as essential foils. That has nowhere been more evident than in the Middle East. European Christendom came into existence in tension with an imagined “Holy Land” to which both Jews and Muslims had competing claims. That competition continues — sometimes dangerously, as on the Israeli-Lebanese border last week. If the current Obama push toward a revitalized peace process succeeds, with Palestinian and Israeli negotiators re-convening, ghosts in the room will have Christian origins. The way to render those ghosts harmless is to identify them.

Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity began as rivals, but they were comparably despised minorities in the pagan Roman Empire. Then, with the conversion of the emperor Constantine (310), the empire became Christian, and the church began to reinforce its claims with the power of the state. Heresy became a capital crime, and those who rejected, say, the doctrine of Christ’s divinity were put to death. Jews came under harsher scrutiny, too. How ludicrous, the thought went, that Christians were killed for dissenting from theological technicalities, while Jews, who disdained the whole of Christian belief, were allowed to live. By the end of the 4th century, prelates like Ambrose of Milan advocated violence against Jews, effectively offering them the choice of conversion or death. This was immediately opposed by the only figure with stature sufficient to challenge Ambrose — St. Augustine, who cited a psalm in defense of Jews, “Do not slay them!”

Instead, Augustine argued that Jews should be allowed to survive within Christendom as Jews. (But for Augustine’s “lovely brainwave,” as the 18th-century Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn put it, “we would have been exterminated long ago.”) But this was a defense with a catch. Jews were to survive, but never to thrive. Permanently in exile from their homeland, they would, in Augustine’s formula, be a wandering “witness people” whose homeless misery would demonstrate the truth of the very Christian claims they rejected. When Christians were in control of Jerusalem, they almost never allowed Jews to reside there — not merely out of bigotry, but because, after Augustine, Jewish exile was a matter of theological proof.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

In 1904, the founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, met with Pope Pius X to ask for Vatican support for the Jewish return to Palestine. The pope was dismissive. “The Jews who should have been the first to acknowledge Jesus Christ have not done so to this day,” he said. “And so if you come to Palestine and settle your people there, we will be ready with churches and priests to baptize all of you.” The Jewish people, as a Jesuit theological journal explained at the time “must always live dispersed and vagrant among the other nations so that they may render witness to Christ. . . by their very existence.”

Source: Boston.com

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Muslim American born in Brooklyn, NY with Guyanese parents currently living in Virginia working full-time as a web developer.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

..
..
..

Ramadan Video Series

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

Trending