Author Topic: Is Jews' worship idolatrous?  (Read 279 times)

Offline Geremia

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Is Jews' worship idolatrous?
« on: November 19, 2019, 11:11:51 AM »
St. Thomas Aquinas believes Jews' worship isn't idolatrous (Summa Theologica II-II q. 10 a. 10 co.):
Quote from: St. Thomas Aquinas
from the fact that the Jews observe their rites, which, of old, foreshadowed the truth of the faith which we hold, there follows this good—that our very enemies bear witness to our faith, and that our faith is represented in a figure, so to speak. For this reason they are tolerated in the observance of their rites.
Is this the common view among Catholic theologians?
 
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Offline coffeeandcigarette

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Re: Is Jews' worship idolatrous?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2019, 08:36:34 PM »
Well I think it depends which Jews you are talking about. If you are talking about Karaite Jews, then probably not. They still worship God. Kabbalists and Talmudics believe in this god-force essence as the unifying element in the world and the actual messiah. They are not even waiting for a messiah, for the fulfillment of God's promise. They believe that a self-generated force of love and human connection is the messiah. Their worship, which borders on earth worship/Pantheism would most certainly be idolatrous; although I suspect they mostly worship in front of the mirror. Now, all this crazy started in the 12th and 13th centuries in Spain and Portugal. St. Thomas would not have been considering this particular cohort of jews when addressing the question.
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is Jews' worship idolatrous?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2019, 07:14:18 AM »
I don't know.

Even if what St. Thomas Aquinas says is true, and even if his opinion is the 'common view' among theologians (I'm not sure whether it is or isn't), it still doesn't rule out idolatry.
Because even if the Jewish rites are a 'figure' of the truth of the Christian faith, it doesn't seem to follow that the object of Jewish worship (Adonai) is necessarily the same object as the object of Christian worship (Jesus).

Appeals to historical continuity don't seem to cut it, since there's no way to know whether the Old Testament 'Adonai' and the post-Old Testament 'Adonai' are the same person. (Maybe the former is God and the latter is a devil.)

Yet at the same time, I'm not saying that the Jews don't worship God. (Maybe the Old Testament Adonai and post-Old Testament Adonai are, in fact, the same person, viz. Jesus; and that the Jews are simply mistaken for thinking that Adonai and Jesus are two different persons.) I really have no idea. All I'm saying is that I don't see how anyone can know whether or not their worship is idolatrous.

I'll further point out, this doesn't even seem to be a question of theology to begin with. Theology can't even show that Jesus is God. (Christian theology does not prove Jesus to be God but presupposes Jesus to be God.) How, then, is theology in the position to make a judgement concerning the Jewish God (or the various other putative Gods, such as the Muslim God, the Hindu God, the Neoplatonistic God, etc.)?
« Last Edit: November 22, 2019, 07:18:19 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline coffeeandcigarette

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Re: Is Jews' worship idolatrous?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2019, 09:35:45 AM »


Yet at the same time, I'm not saying that the Jews don't worship God. (Maybe the Old Testament Adonai and post-Old Testament Adonai are, in fact, the same person, viz. Jesus; and that the Jews are simply mistaken for thinking that Adonai and Jesus are two different persons.) I really have no idea. All I'm saying is that I don't see how anyone can know whether or not their worship is idolatrous.


You are saying God and Jesus interchangeably. That is fine, unless we are talking about Jews. Couldn't St. Thomas have meant that since they worship God the Father, they are not idolatrous; although they ignore the fullness of the Trinity which was revealed in Jesus Christ? They (the Karaite Jews at least) worship the God of Abraham. They do not accept any development after that in our understanding of the Divine Economy. Nor do they acknowledge or worship Jesus. Perhaps St. Thomas was giving them "credit" for staying faithful to the Old Covenant.

 
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Offline TheReturnofLive

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Re: Is Jews' worship idolatrous?
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2019, 12:00:29 PM »
Me personally, I think the Jews have a heretical conception of God rather than being idolaters.

Idolatry is what the word etymologically implies - “Idol worship.” It suggests a worship of a false god (Krishna, Baal, Zeus, Odin, Chernobog) or proclaimed deity (Worship of Angels, Satan) and usually occurs with Polytheism.

The object - their target - of worship for mainstream Jews (things get wacky with Liberal or Kabaalistic Jews) is the God of the Old Testament. They just hold to a heretical view of the Nature of the God of the Old Testament.

I think functional equivalents would be Arians, or even Nestorians.

The real question would therefore be this - do heretics worship God when they have a false understanding of God?
« Last Edit: November 22, 2019, 12:05:12 PM by TheReturnofLive »
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Offline TheReturnofLive

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Re: Is Jews' worship idolatrous?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2019, 12:08:23 PM »
Also, I don’t think that Thomas Aquinas is making the argument here that whether the Jews worship God or not. He’s saying that the reason why the Jews are politically tolerated by Catholic states  (implicitly, why the Jews have spread everywhere despite being just one of many Middle Eastern religions) is that it demonstrates the Truth of Christianity to non-believers.

Saint Augustine made the same argument - the reason why the Jews are still around and significant is that they show that the origins of Christianity - God and His relationship with the Israelites - are true
« Last Edit: November 22, 2019, 12:10:04 PM by TheReturnofLive »
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Offline Geremia

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Re: Is Jews' worship idolatrous?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2019, 12:26:28 PM »
I don’t think that Thomas Aquinas is making the argument here that whether the Jews worship God or not. He’s saying that the reason why the Jews are politically tolerated by Catholic states  (implicitly, why the Jews have spread everywhere despite being just one of many Middle Eastern religions) is that it demonstrates the Truth of Christianity to non-believers.
cf. arg. 2, which St. Thomas's response addresses:
Quote
the rites of the Jews are compared to idolatry, because a gloss on Gal. 5:1, "Be not held again under the yoke of bondage," says: "The bondage of that law was not lighter than that of idolatry." But it would not be allowable for anyone to observe the rites of idolatry, in fact Christian princes at first caused the temples of idols to be closed, and afterwards, to be destroyed, as Augustine relates (De Civ. Dei xviii, 54). Therefore it follows that even the rites of Jews ought not to be tolerated.

Offline TheReturnofLive

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Re: Is Jews' worship idolatrous?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2019, 02:25:26 PM »
Okay. Sorry, should've checked the citation.
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Offline Daniel

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Re: Is Jews' worship idolatrous?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2019, 05:59:31 PM »
Couldn't St. Thomas have meant that since they worship God the Father, they are not idolatrous; [. . .] They (the Karaite Jews at least) worship the God of Abraham.

I didn't mean to imply that the Jews acknowledge the God of Abraham to be Jesus, or Jesus to be God.

But the God of Abraham, at least to my knowledge, is not God the Father. The God of Abraham is Jhvh. And Jhvh, as far as I know, is just another name for the pre-incarnate Jesus, or, Jesus in his divine nature. (Though if anyone has any sources to dispute me, please go ahead.)

What I meant to say was that maybe the object of their worship--unbeknownst to them--is Jesus, in which case there is no idolatry.


(But then again, it's also possible that it's not, and that it is idolatry. I'm not affirming one way or the other. And I don't think man is in the position to figure it out.)