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SIDIC Periodical VIII - 1975/2
People - Land - Religion (Pages 04 - 14)

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The link between People, Land and Religion in Old and New Testaments
Clemens Thoma


Much has already been written about people, land and religion in the period of the Old and the New Testaments.' Unfortunately no consensus has yet been reached in Christian research on how these three biblical gifts are to be seen as a unity. The following exposition attempts to clarify — from the history-of-religion and the theological points of view — the unity and differences, the continuity and discontinuity between Old Testament and New Testament statementson land, people and religion. The necessary approach is extremely difficult, both from a methodological and from a religio-scientific point of view. The objective can, however, be more or less attained after mastering two main sections: 1) an exposition of the afflictions and ideals of « extra-new-testament » early Judaism at the time of Jesus,' and taking this into account, 2) interpretations of New Testament statements on land, people and religion.

I Afflictions and Ideals of Early Judaism at the Time of Jesus

It is generally recognized among scholars today that at the time of Jesus — that is to say among the Maccabees, the members of Qumran, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the apocalyptics, the revolutionaries, etc. — « it was not the letter of the Torah . . . which was in practice considered as royally recognized law, but the predominant interpretation and application, i.e. the historically actual form of the Torah ».3 In order to understand New Testament statements one must therefore take into consideration the « actual form of the Torah » of that time, i.e. the stage of biblical interpretation among the groups of early Judaism. The most predominant views on the Bible at the time of Jesus are available today in the Targumim, the Midrashim and in specific writings of the various groups (Qumran, pseudepigraphic writings). There is no direct way — which is reliable from the history-of-religion point of view — from the Old to the New Testament or from the New to the Old Testament. There is only an indirect, mediated one: via the time of Jesus. Anyone who nevertheless tries simply to leap over the abyss of time which separates the lifetime of Jesus and the evangelists from the time of the composition of the books of the Old Testament, will be suspect of being an ideologist. In any case he cannot pursue a theology of the unity of the Old and the New Testaments nor a methodologically tenable history of religion. This must also be taken into consideration in the exposition of the problem of land-people-religion.


Two events in particular were decisive for early Jewish thought and for the fate of early Judaism in general:

a) The conquest and spoliation of the Temple of Jerusalem and the syncretistic transformation of its cult through the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV (175-163 B.C.), who found willing accomplices in the Jewish high priests (especially Menelaus, 172-162 B.C.). These encroachments, manipulations and transformations led to a severe persecution of those Jews who remained faithful to their traditions. The Maccabean revolt — especially in its first phase (167-164) — was a reaction against the efforts within early Judaism to hellenize religion and more especially against the « abomination of desolation in the Holy Place » (cf. Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Matt. 24:15). Later, when persecution and revolution had calmed down and the former leaders of the revolution had established themselves as Jewish-Hellenistic princes in the now independent Jewish state, the inner and outer unity of early Judaism

b) The first Jewish war against Rome (A. D. 66-73), the most tragic event of which was the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. It led to the deportation and massacre of tens of thousands of Jews. Temple worship abruptly came to an end. Formerly authoritative groups (in particular the Sadducees) lost their possessions and their field of activity. Now, in the period without a Temple, which continues to this day, Pharisaism took over the leadership.

The period of encroachments of Antiochus IV and the Jewish Hellenists who collaborated with him was felt by many contemporaries to be the period of greatest affliction since the creation of the world (cf. Dan. 12:1; I Macc. 9:27). The same was said about the period of the Jewish war (cf. Matt. 24:21; Bellum Judaicum II, 441; V, 566; Tacitus Hist. 1,3; 4,9). In several passages this statement is linked with a radical condemnation of opposing Jewish groups. That this has something to do with our subject can for instance be seen by two quotations: Bellum Judaicum V, 442 and 566, where Josephus Flavius degrades the Jewish revolutionaries as the most godless rabble of all times. Bellum Judaicum 442 reads: "No generation since the creation of the world was more ingenious in the performance of wickedness." Bellum Judaicum 566 sounds even more prophetically threatening: « If the Romans had not forthwith annihilated that rabble of criminals, then Jerusalem would, I believe, have been either swallowed up by the earth, flooded by a deluge, or like Sodom consumed by fire from heaven. For the city harbored a much more godless generation than were those upon whom these chastisements came. Indeed through their (i.e. the rebels') madness, the whole nation (pas ho laos) was ruined.»

Thus at the time of Jesus the triad landpeople-religion was very remote from any realization. The lament over this (with reference to the late psalm-verse 74:1) can be found among other texts in Daniel 3:38 (Gk.); I Maccabees 4:46; 14:41 as also — in a more general and more indirect way — in various rabbinical (e.g. bSanh. 11a; bSotah 49b; bGittin 56b; Abot de R. Nathan IV) and New Testament passages (e.g. Matt. 22:1-14 and parallels: parable of the royal wedding-banquet; Matt. 23:1-39 par.: parable of threats against the pharisees; Mark 12:1-12 par.: parable of the wicked husbandmen; Mark 13 par.: small apocalypse; Luke 13:34ff: threatening prophecy over Jerusalem).' Let us cite Daniel 3:38 (Gk.) as an example of a lament —it concerns the Seleucid-Hellenistic affliction: « We have at this time no leader, no prophet, no prince, no holocaust, no sacrifice, no oblation, no incense, no place where we can offer you ( =God) the first-fruits and win your favor.»

In critical times, when it is a question of life or death, of preservation or extinction of the religious and national existence, the oppressed are not satisfied with superficial apologetics, nor with secondary religious speculation. This can be very clearly perceived at the time of Jesus. A radical religious, individual and national consciousness of the crisis prevailed. Fervent hopes for the eschatological, judicial and saving intervention of God agitated men's spirits. Besides that, there were dreams of absolute eschatological freedom, of safe possession of the land and religious purity. The Jewish and heathen blasphemers were cursed down to the ground. There was distrust of the Jerusalem establishment. The fundamental feeling with regard to human abilities and possibilities was pessimistic. The historical polarization between the true, suffering Israel and the aggressive heathens together with their Jewish sympathizers was exaggerated. Many fled from the places of abomination to the desert. Others withdrew to a monastic-conventual form of life and devoted themselves to secluded religious ideals and practices.6

An episode from the year 162 B.C. shows to what extent the problem of the land had to give way to the absolute ideals at the time of Jesus. The pious (hasidim) had at first supported the Maccabean revolt under Judas (cf. I Macc. 2:42; II Macc. 14:6) but only up to the moment when the Temple of Jerusalem was reconquered and thus the worship according to the will of God was again possible. But Judas the Maccabean then took measures to engage the revolutionary movement attached to him for the establishment of an independent Jewish state. The pious, however, who were waiting for the reign of God, distrusted this way of making something political out of the rebel movement. They therefore turned from Judas and supported the high priest Alcimus (cf. I Macc. 7:14), who was politically extremely dubious. For them, worship in Jerusalem according to the will of God, which was now again possible, was more important than political independence. On the contrary — probably in the context of their belief that the end of time was imminent — they saw in the possession of political power, dependent on religion, the great danger of apostasy from the service and from the expectation of the reign of God. They thus decided against universal safety and security in a Jewish state and for the way of suffering, insecurity and « foreign rule » {cf. Gen. 17:8; 28:4) in their own country, which was ruled over by enemies.7


The early Jewish groups (associations, religious parties, « sects ») must be classified according to three aspects:

a) according to their relations with Hellenism,

b) according to their commitment to the politico-religious well-being of the Jewish nation as a whole and

c) according to their attitude to the coming reign of God. The group constellations remained essentially the same until A.D. 70.8

Certain religious attitudes corresponded to these groups. This must not be understood as though each group had a uniform and exclusive religious spirituality. Nevertheless, certain religious attitudes were concentrated more especially in certain groups.9

a) The religious attitude which was fascinated by the eschatological basileia

Those Jews of the time of Jesus who were impressed by this attitude aimed, in an excited way, at what was according to their conviction the closely impending absolute future, when God would pronounce his eschatological word of command as judge, savior of the just, punisher of the wicked, and renewer of the universe. These people were especially indignant about the religious crimes in Jerusalem and the syncretism which was spreading more and more within Judaism. In view of the eschatological basileia (kingdom), which would soon break into the temporal state, they considered Jewish religious politics and the organization of Jewish community life as unimportant. Instead they called for repentance, fervent expectation and perseverance in affliction.

There were two forms of this attitude, a quietist and an activist one. The Daniel and Enoch apocalyptics, as also to some extent the members of Qumran, belonged to the quietist or peacefully-confident awaiters of the basileia. Militant activists for the basileia were on the other hand the rebels of the Jewish war. Their anarchist and terrorizing activity was based on their conviction that by taking up arms they could hasten or even bring about the coming of the basileia. They conceived of the basileia as a state of final freedom, of secure possession of the land, of a perfect theocracy and of a nationhood free from strangers or crimes.

b) The attitude which was fascinated by the transcendent basileia

This type of piety characterized those of the time of Jesus who, together with the awaiters of the impending eschatological basileia, were convinced that the present is filled with crimes and criminals. However, in view of this they did not start fleeing forward, in the direction of the absolute future, but in an upward direction. They aspired above all to a mystical union with the transcendent, the primary spirit, the throne of God, the pleroma. We must mention here but differentiate the allegorists of Alexandria belonging to Philo's circle (cf. Philo, Quis div. heres. 249ff), the early Jewish throne-mystics (ma'aseh merkavah) and the gnostics. In apocalyptics and early rabbinics one also meets with phenomena of rapture (cf. I Enoch 14; Rev. 4-5; bHagigah 12-15).

c) The attitude which was fascinated by the national-religious past

It was above all the chief representatives of the Jerusalem establishment who were committed to this attitude: high priests, Sadducees, Hasmoneans, and probably to some extent also Pharisees. Their restoration tendencies became evident for instance in their royalist solidarity with David, his dynasty and his kingdom, as also in their fidelity to the established Temple worship. The fifteenth chapter of II Maccabees is a good example of this national-religious attitude.

d) The attitude which was fascinated by the present time

For these people the important thing was not primarily hopes for the future, longings for the past or experiences of the transcendent. On the contrary, they saw the most profitable and most necessary religious fulfillment of life in the configuration of earthly daily life to the spirit and the letter of the Torah. They knew of the danger of extreme messianic hopes, of secluded mystics, of nationalistic exuberance and of obstinate ref-erence to the past. They were convinced that through faithful accomplishment of every-day life according to the precepts of the Bible, a sort of province of God would be established on earth, that the Divinity (Shekhinah) would rest on this province and that in this way the reign of God would reach a partial transparency on earth. This attitude demanded in the first place prayers (of praise), study of the Torah, organization of community life and accomplishment in all realms of life of the biblically-founded religious laws. One had in general to be concerned with the preservation and cultivation of all those special gifts the God of Israel had bestowed on his people Israel. The Land of Israel was also one of these gifts, and its habitation and cultivation and the preservation of its ritual purity were considered, according to this attitude, as an important divine precept (cf. mAvodah Zarah IV, 3; bKet. 110b). Pharisaism and rabbinism in particular made an effort to realize this attitude.

II. New Testament Statements on Land-People-Religion

We must now confront New Testament statements on land-people-religion with the attitudes of the time shown above, and then determine how and to what extent interests of the Old Testament are taken up in the New. In order to avoid misunderstandings from the very outset, two remarks must be made. It must first of all be pointed out that the formula land-people-religion as a unity is nowhere in the New Testament explicitly declared to be abolished. Indeed, it is also nowhere emphasized in its original, earthly sense. In view of the proclamation of Christ and of the eschatological basileia, it was, as it were, put into the shade. This means, however, that the Old Testament conception of land-peoplereligion also remains latently available for the Christian through the New Testament. He can and should actualize it in connection with Christ and the eschatological reign of God. The second remark concerns the mode of expression of the New Testament itself. The New Testament presents no abstract theology. On the contrary, it contains manifold reflections of the convictions and expressions of faith of various communities of disciples. The faith of these communities was first and foremost oriented towards Christ, but was also founded on a traditional Jewish basis. This basis was slightly different in each community, according to which Jewish spiritual tendency the members of the community originated from. Hence, in one community an eschatological fascination was predominant, in another a fascination for the transcendent. A third community referred predominantly to the past, whereas a fourth set special store by the reign of God in the here and now (eschatology of the present).


In 1960 E. Kasemann coined the phrase: « The apocalypse was . . . the mother of all Christian theology.» " This thesis finds its support above all in the fact that in the oldest literary layer of the New Testament, in the « Source of sayings » (Q), a strong apocalyptic key-note prevails. For our purpose it is however more profitable to examine not the oldest apocalyptic parts of the New Testament but rather the more recent ones, i.e. the apocalypse of John. Its author was a Christian apocalyptic who wanted to win for Christ Jewish apocalyptics of his time. He therefore presented Christ as the primal apocalyptic and interpreted his work of salvation as the fulfillment of all apocalyptic yearnings.

A first quotation concerning our subject is Revelation 5:10: « And you ( = Christ) have made them ( = those who have been redeemed through Christ's blood) a kingdom and priests to our God, and they Flail reign on earth.» According to the history of motifs, we have here a combination of Exodus 19:6 with apocalyptic expectations of sovereign functions for the pious at the beginning of the eschaton (cf. Dan. 7:13f, 27; I Enoch 38, 5; 48, 9; 50, lf; 92, 4; 95, 3; 96, 1)." Elisabeth Schiissler-Fiorenza gives a correct interpretation of this quotation when she writes: « The concept of the basileia is not to be understood in the first place in the sense of active exercise of power and of royal dignity, but must rather be interpreted in the sense of royal people or kingdom for God. Because the Lamb has created through its death the community as the place and the group of people on earth where the reign of God is recognized already now and where it is a reality, therefore the Lamb is capable of taking on the reign over the whole earth. The Lamb has shown itself worthy of taking over the reign from God and of exercising it as his delegate and with him, because it was capable of creating for God a people which confesses this reign of God and tries to fulfill its claims and its laws, in spite of all appearances that the world is ruled not by God but by powers which are hostile to God and to Christ.» " We thus have here a land-peoplereligion formula. Indeed, it hardly has an earthly odor about it but is meant in a purely interiorspiritual-eschatological manner, and bears the unmistakable christological mark.

There is an almost equivalent land-peoplereligion formula in Revelation 14:1. « Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.» The transcendent, meta-historical character of the vision is even clearer here than in 5:10. In this verse Zion is not the temple mount in Jerusalem but the Zion of the new age, i.e. the point of crystallization of the meta-historical basileia.

In Revelation 11:2, a fragment from the time shortly before A.D. 70, the earthly Jerusalem is called « holy city » (similarly in Matthew 4: 5; 27:53). Shortly afterwards a statement to the contrary follows. According to 11:8 the earthly Jerusalem has been spiritually perceived as « Sodom and Egypt ». In the following chapters of the apocalypse the attribute « holy city » is given to the heavenly Jerusalem of the coming new aeon (cf. 21:2,10; 22:19). Due to the characterization of the earthly Jerusalem as pleasing and displeasing to God, it becomes possible for Jerusalem to become a biblical codeword for caricatures of the basileia. In Revelation 18:24

Babylon for instance is called the city in which « was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth ». The same is said of Jerusalem in Matthew 23:35. However, these aggressive statements against Jerusalem do not exceed the equivalent polemics of the prophet Ezekiel (20-24).

In Revelation 20:11 the heavy accent on the coming age and the unimportance of this world and its structures is expressed in a very tangible manner: « Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.» Hence, at the turning-point of the aeon there will be no continuous transition into the new. Everything earthly must disappear, especially everything iniquitous (cf. 20:13-15). The new heavenly order alone will then exist. According to the chapters 21 and 22, only the name of Jerusalem — but no longer its earthly reality — will figure in the new age. A second connection with the present age will be that the new age will « come down » to the place of the present earth (21:2). But everything else will be different, will be perfect.

From these and other passages of the apocalypse of John, an attitude is conspicuous which is fascinated by the eschatological meta-historical basileia. It stands under an emphatic, unrenounceable christological mark. The main stress and the goal of the basileia lie in meta-history. This attitude (with the exception of its confession of Christ) is widely spread in the contemporary, extra-new-testament Jewish sphere. Nor did the transfer of the basileia into meta-history occur in any way for the first and only time in the apocalypse of John. « One cannot define when eschatology was definitively transferred into meta-history. But one can indeed presume that this happened during the period of transition to apocryphal literature.» 13 Such transpositions also occur in rabbinical literature, which otherwise stresses very strongly the earthly representation of and responsibility for the basileia. A striking example for this is in mSanhedrin X, 1, where a passage containing a promise of the land is interpreted meta-historically: « All Israel has a part in the world to come. For it is written: 'Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land for ever, the shoot of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified' (Is. 60:21).»

Having made these statements, the question now arises of the foundation in the Old Testament of these subjects of proclamation. As far as this is concerned, a certain strangeness between the Old and the New Testaments will have to be noted. The statements on land-people-religion of the apocalypse of John are a continuation of Old Testament hopes for the future and attempts at transcendence — this is the only loose connection — but now transposed to a new level and placed under a new sign. They are probably closer to the Old Testament attempts at transcendence than to the hopes for the future, which could for instance be shown by an exegesis of Deuteronomy 11:10-12. However, the Old Testament scholar — especially if he takes into account the statements in Deuteronomy — will be particularly struck by the fact that nowhere in John's apocalypse is there a reference to the land, given by degrees as a gift to the people of God in the past (cf. Deut. 4:21; 15:4; 19:10; 20:16, 21:23; 24:4; 25:19; 26:1). The apocalypse hardly looks beyond the phenomenon of Christ back to the past. It is fascinated by the absolute future. It is much less earth- and nation-bound than the Old Testament. Nevertheless, it does not negate the corresponding Old Testament past, although it does not speak of it explicitly.


Matthew 5:5 can perhaps be understood as an anti-Zealot logion of the New Testament:
« Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land [or earth].» The exegetes are unable to agree on the following points concerning this verse: Are the « meek » to be understood in an ethical moral sense or in a sociological sense? In the latter case the expression would denote a group. It could designate some Qumran-like group which can no longer be identified exactly and which was marked by the ideal of the piety of the poor. Furthermore, does the « land » mean the land of Canaan, the whole world, the life to come, or the eschatological basileia? It is certain only that Matthew 5:5 is a logion which formally refers to Psalm 37:11 (and perhaps to Isaiah 61:1). Probably with this beatitude Matthew's Christ praised those who were marked by a trustful, quietist (not revolutionary, remonstrating) immine_it messianic expectation. At the coming of the eschatological basileia they will inherit the land — it is not said how, how much, nor which.

The anti-Zealot attitude of the New Testament (cf. also Matt. 5:43-48 par. and elsewhere) can very rightly appeal to the Old Testament (indeed, Zealotism can too!). We must mention here especially Isaiah 30:15: « In quietness and trust shall be your strength.» This saying, from the end of the eighth century B.C., was spoken at a time when every oppressed small state in the western part of the Semitic world was intent on revolutionary conspiracy against Assyria.14

Through its unequivocal and forceful attitude toward religious-messianic terrorism, the New Testament gave considerable support to the Old Testament and to Judaism at the time of Jesus. Many had become confused on account of the ambiguity of the Old Testament in questions of peace and war. The New Testament took up position against hatred, the cursing of the wicked and death. Rabbinical Judaism is at one with the New Testament on this question.


In Hebrews 11 Old Testament conceptions on land-people-religion are taken up by an attitude of faith which tends to sublimate. Formally this chapter is a midrashic interpretation of themes of hope central to the Old Testament. Abel, Enoch, Noah and his tribe, Abraham, his wife Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and his sons (especially Joseph), Moses, Joshua, the prostitute Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, Samuel, David and the prophets are called upon as witnesses that the Old Testament promises do not have their final sense in the terrestrial, that therefore neither living in the earthly land of Israel, nor the fulfillment of the promise of numerous posterity, nor the exercise of the hereditary religion signify a goal or a final fulfillment of the promise. Verse six is probably a minimum formula or a « Torah in nuce »." The verse reads: « And without faith it is impossible to please him ( = God). For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.» A religiousness is here proclaimed with neither ethnical nor geotheological additions. However, the latter are not negated. Besides that, there is a strong inclination to the supernatural. The final fulfillment of all biblical promises lies in the heavenly city, in the heavenly homeland. According to the example of the Old Testament fathers, teachers, heroes and prophets, one must tend in faith towards this heavenly home which vouchsafes complete fulfillment and complete calm: « These all died in faith, not having received what was promised . . . they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one » (11:13,16). The motivation of the reason for faith must be noted. The promises were indeed given to the Old Testament fathers, but not their accomplishment.

This is still to come. The attitude which disposes for it is faith.

F.W. Marquardt writes something very pertinent on the attitude of the letter to the Hebrews concerning the problem of land-people-religion:
«Israel's strangerhood in the land always meant: only through faithful obedience, only in accomplishing the Torah, is one at home, not in simply possessing the land. It is God's land, not Israel's; it is holy soil. Only he who does the will of God belongs there (Deut. 30: 16-18). The author of the letter to the Hebrews has an eye upon this criterion when he cannot consider Joshua's entry into the land (Heb. 4) as being already Israel's entrance into its rest: faith is still missing. And John the evangelist (4:19ff) applied the same criterion when he opposed the worship in spirit and in truth to the worship on Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem.» 15


One can deduce from the New Testament neither an unlimited yes — in spite of Matthew 5:17f — nor a flat no to contemporary Jewish piety based on the law. It is often overlooked that the New Testament does not always nor exclusively argue from the standpoint of the coming basileia and of christology. Besides this, it contains discussions on the plane of religious law which seem completely traditional. There are numerous examples of this, especially in the synoptic gospels. Acts 15:13-17 is also typical:

«After they finished speaking, James replied, .• .. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people (laos) for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, as it is written, « After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and will set it up, that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles (panta to ethne) who are called by my name » (Amos 9: 1 lf; Zech. 2:15 [LXX] )'.» These words, which are put into the mouth of James or of the Jewish-Christian party of the assembly of the apostles, culminate in this, that the sign of the rebuilding of Israel as foretold by the prophets has become a reality in Christ and in those who believe in Christ. A statement of religious law is thereby made: the nations are now also in union with the people of God (cf. also Rom. 9-11). But it is expressly not said that the nations have taken the place of Israel. However, it becomes clear from the context that the taking of the nations into Israel is linked only to the keeping of the noachic laws, but not of the whole of Jewish law (cf. 15:19-21, Jewish-Christian reservation).

The connection with the Old Testament of these statements about the taking of the nations into Israel is established first of all through the Septuagint version of Zechariah 2: 15: « Many nations will join the Lord on that day; they will become his people.» We must furthermore mention here the prophetic visions of the future which see the harmonious unity of Israel and the nations as the ideal for the future (cf. Is. 2; 60; Ezek. 34; Zeph. 3).17


In the New Testament there are many reinterpretations of traditional concepts and values pointing to the community of Christ. From the history-of-religion perspective there is suggested a comparison with the early Jewish attitude which was fascinated by the present time (cf. I, 2d).
In Ephesians 2:19-22 there is a reinterpretation of the Temple and its worship to mean the Christian community: « So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.» The main idea here is of a christological ecclesiological nature. Christ, who gives the faithful the decisive support, and the faithful, who are built into God's dwelling-place in the spirit, are now signs of the reality of salvation, similar to the Temple and its worship. One cannot overlook the symbolical, personalizing and actualizing tendency. The same spirit can be felt for instance in I Peter 2:5f, according to which the ideal community of the faithful is a « spiritual house » which builds itself up and in which « spiritual sacrifices » are offered (cf. also I Cor. 3:16f; II Cor. 6:16-18). It must, however, be noted that the New Testament does not personalize and actualize indiscriminately. It takes the necessary « material » solely from the cultic sphere. Nowhere for instance do we find any resemblance to the seemingly obvious thought that the Christians are the true land of Israel, the spiritual land of God!

III Concluding Remarks

1. The New Testament is linked everywhere with that Judaism of the time of Jesus which did not believe in Christ. It refers to every form of religious style of life of that time. It shares or corrects the basic moods of the time. It even happens frequently that the New Testament, in conformity with contemporary trends and together with them stands in opposition to Old Testament ideas and interests.

2. If one considers the triad land-people-religion in a general sense as key-words of the Old Testament conception of life, then one must remark that the New Testament makes considerable corrections. It groups, as it were, all reality around Christ and the basileia, it sublimates and symbolizes, it brings things which were meant within-history into connection with the absolute future, it ignores revisionist national tones, it does not really trust piety based on the law, it leaves out the unessential and wants to keep only the essential.

3. With regard to the land-people-religion question, efforts toward theological agreement with Judaism, which refers to the Old Testament, cannot therefore be realized by Bible exegetes on
their own. On the contrary, additional theological systematic considerations are necessary. The notion of the coherence of the promises, which F.W. Marquardt introduced," would for instance be of importance here. The Old and the New Testaments do not indeed bear only a relation of present and past to each other, but both are essentially dependent on the future (cf. I Cor. 15:28).
If one considers these and other points of reference, one will find it preferable not to speak unconditionally of a de-territorialization of New Testament theology in comparison with Jewish theology. One cannot simply say, as W.D. Davies did in part, that there is only a spiritualization of land, people and religion in view of Christ."

4. A central question for all biblical and dogmatic considerations is that of the significance of Jesus in so far as he was a Jew and lived in the land of Israel and among the people of Israel.

In any case, this was not simply something external or coincidental. In some way which it is difficult to describe, there arises out of this a Christian duty of solidarity with the kinsmen of Jesus in the land of Israel. Indeed, one must be on one's guard in this question, too, against superficiality. Jesus did not institutionalize any specific New Testament places of pilgrimage in the Land of Israel. He did not charge his disciples with honoring his dwelling-places nor with erecting places of worship there. The New Testament is in general convinced that Jesus is the decisive New Testament « place » of divine worship (cf. John 1:51; 4:19-24; 10:30). The personalization of the places of worship in reference to Christ is specifically New Testament. On the other hand, the general direction of thought from the object to the person already exists in the Old Testament (cf. especially the songs of the Suffering Servant)." However, the specifically New Testament personalization of the places tells against any religio-judiciary claims on Christian holy places. If one has such legal claims, then they must be found outside the New Testament.

For theological reflection the fact is also important that Jesus clearly took position against Zealot, i.e. religio-militant efforts to realize the reign of God, it is true, but that he did not pronounce against national-religious attitudes. He was indeed critical of worship and the upper establishment, but accepted in principle the legitimacy of their authority.

5. From the New Testament point of view, one can understand that the Church is reserved towards messianic trains of thought in connection with the State of Israel. According to New Testament understanding the culminating point of the history of revelation was reached in Jesus Christ. In so far as an eschatology with a new order of cosmic dimensions is still expected after the appearance of Christ, this will (apparently that is the way it is imagined) no longer have its earthly centre in Judaism alone but in the people of God consisting of Jews and Gentiles. But the decisive problem for the Church is, precisely, the correctly balanced connection between the Old and the New Testaments and between Judaism and Christianity.

A study of the patristic and scriptural sources makes us conclude that the belief the Jews could never regain their lost nationhood did not have its origin in Scripture or in a dogmatic patristic tradition. Rather is it based on the writings of several of the Fathers of the later fourth century — principally Chrysostom — who, unduly influenced by the dramatic failure of Julian the Apostate to reconstruct the Temple, interpreted certain texts of the Old and New Testaments in the light of this event and read into them temporal specifications which an exacting exegesis cannot discover or support. Hence, the existence of a Jewish state, be it the state of Israel or another, does not contradict sacred Scripture (Edward H. Flannery, "Theological Aspects of the State of Israel", The Bridge, Vol. III, ed. John M. Oesterreicher, New York: Pantheon, for the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies, 1958, pp. 312-13).

Dr. Clemens Thoma is Professor of Sacred Scripture and Judaism in the Faculty of Theology in Luzern, Switzerland.broke apart. Groups came into existence which were more or less radically hostile to one another.'

1. Cf. L. Baeck, Dieses Volk: Jiidische Existenz, 2 vol., Frankfurt 1955-57; art. « Eretz Yisra'el », Encyclopedia Talmudit, Vol. 2, Jerusalem 1956, pp. 199-235; F.W. Marquardt, Die biblischen Landverheissungen ffir die Christen, Munchen 1964; C. Thoma, ed., Auf den Triimmern des Tempels: Land und Bund Israels im Dialog zwischen Christen und Juden, Wien 1968; W. Eckert, N.P. Levinson, M. Stiihr, eds., Jiidisches Volk — gelobtes Land, Munchen 1970; J. Pfammatter, F. Furger, eds., Judentum und Kirche: Volk Gottes (Theologische Berichte III), Zurich 1974.
2. The time of Jesus is here understood as the time from about 170 B.C. to A.D. 140. The term is used for lack of a better one. Nevertheless it is preferable to the expression « inter-testamental period ». The time from 170 B.C. to A.D. 140 can be seen as a unity in certain ways on account of a far-reaching continuity of problems.
3. J. Maier, Geschichte der jiidischen Religion. Berlin 1972, p. 20.
4 Cf. here C. Thoma, « Religionsgeschichtliche und theologische Bedeutsamkeit der jiidischen Hohenpreiester von 175 bis 37 v. Chr. », Bibel und Liturgie 45 (1972), pp. 4-22.
5 For the problematic in the New Testament see especially W.P. Eckert, N.P. Levinson, M. Star, eds., Antijudaismus im Neuen Testament? Munchen 1967.
6. Cf. W. Harnisch, Verhiingnis und Verheissung: Untersuchungen rum Zeit- und Geschichtsverstiindnis im 4. Buch Esra und in der syr. Baruchapokalypse, Gottingen 1969; M. Limbeck, Von der Ohnmacht des Rechts: Untersuchungen zur Gesetzkritik des NT, Dusseldorf 1972.
7. Cf. J.C. Dancy, A Commentary on I Maccabees, Oxford 1954, p. 122.
8. Cf. C. Thoma, « Spatjudentum », Sacramentum Mundi IV, Freiburg 1969, especially pp. 647-51.
9. To date there are very few satisfactory presentations of these religious attitudes at the time of Jesus. Worth mentioning might be for instance: E. Janssen, Das Gottesvolk und seine Geschichte: Geschichtsbild und Selbstverstandnis ins paliistinensischen Schrifttum von Jesus Sirach bis Jehuda ha-Nasi, Neukirchen 1971. However, Janssen's views differ in several points from those here presented.
10. « Die Anfange der christlichen Theologie », ZThK 57 (1960), pp. 162-85 (quot. p. 180).
11. Cf. U.B. Messias and Menschensohn in jiidischen Apokalypsen and in der Offenbarung des Johannes, Giitersloh 1972, p. 24f; M. Noth, Die Heiligen des HOchsten: Gesammelte Studien zum AT, Munchen 1960, pp. 274-90, 286f; 0. PlOger, Das Buch Daniel (KAT 18), Giitersloh 1965, p. 115 and elsewhere.
12. Priester ffir Gott: Studien zum Herrschafts- and Priestermotiv in der Apokalypse, Munster 1972, p. 285.
13. S. Talmon, « Typen der Messiaserwartung urn die Zeitenwende », in H.W. Wolff, Probleme biblischer Theologie: Gerh. von Rad zum 70. Geburtsag, Munchen 1971, pp. 571-88 (quot. p. 581).
14. Cf. S. Hermann, Geschichte Israels in alttestamentlicher Zeit, Munchen 1973, p. 314f.
15. For this expression cf. G.F. Moore, Judaism, Vol. 2, Cambridge 1944, pp. 84ff.
16. In Eckert, Levinson, Star, op. cit. (Note 1), p. 265.
17. For Acts 15:13-17 see, Th. C. De Kruijf, Das Volk Gottes im Neuen Testament, (Theol. Berichte II), (cf. Note 1), pp. 119-33, especially p. 126f.
18. Op. cit. (Note 1), passim; cf. also J.J. Stamm, Der Staat Israel and die Landverheissungen der Bibel, Zurich 1961.
19. W.D. Davies, The Gospel and the Land, University of California Press 1973.
20. Cf. M. Schmidt, Prophet and Tempel: Eine Studie zum Problem der Gottesnγhe, Zollikon 1948, especially pp. 183-92.


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