Jews' Role in Christ's First and Second Coming
Roy Schoeman on Salvation History
BOSTON, Massachusetts, NOV. 10, 2003 (Zenit) - A Catholic convert from Judaism believes that the Jews are not only our "elder brothers" in the faith, but that their prayers and actions prepared the way for Jesus Christ and the salvation of mankind.
Roy Schoeman, who grew up in a Conservative Jewish home and studied extensively with rabbis, realized the full significance of Judaism as revealed in Catholic doctrine after he converted. Since then, the former faculty member of Harvard Business School has studied at several seminaries and has recently written "Salvation is from the Jews" (Ignatius).
Schoeman shares why Judaism and Christianity can only be fully understood in relation to each other, and how the role of the Jews did not necessarily end with the first coming of Christ.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
Schoeman: It seems obvious to me, as a Jew who has entered the Catholic Church, that the Church is nothing else but "post Messianic" Judaism -- that is, the continuation of Judaism after the coming of the Jewish Messiah, now opened up to all peoples.
Before my conversion I was proud of being a Jew, having a sense of the importance and privilege of being Jewish, of being one of the "chosen people" -- chosen to receive God's genuine revelation in the Old Testament and to prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah. But that very sense of privilege and pride in being Jewish exploded a hundredfold when, as a Catholic, I realized the full significance of Judaism as revealed in Catholic doctrine.
For instance, Catholic doctrine teaches that the Jews, in praying for and preparing the way for the Messiah, actually brought about the incarnation of God as man; that the ultimate creature whom God ever created or will create, the absolute perfection of human nature, was a Jew -- the Blessed Virgin Mary; and that even God himself, when he became man, became a Jew and a faithful follower of the Jewish religion.
We also know that the fullness of God's written revelation to the Jews in the Old Testament has been confirmed and adopted in its entirety by Christianity worldwide and the salvation of all of mankind came about through the Jews -- Jesus himself said in John 4:22 that "salvation is from the Jews," hence, the title of the book -- and the Jews in fact succeeded in their God-given task of bringing that salvation.
Also Christian Scripture also suggests, for instance in Romans 11, that the unique importance of the Jews in the economy of salvation will last through all of this world's existence, until the Second Coming.
Yet I did not find these topics being actively discussed and explored in the Church today, although there have been periods -- such as in the late 19th century -- when they were. I felt that Jews were being deprived of an opportunity to see the full glory and nobility and importance of their own identity and religion, and that Catholics were being given an extremely limited and watered-down view of what Judaism really means.
All of this is in the context that our Lord and our Blessed Mother are Jewish. Surely they deserve better than that.
Q: Is it intended mainly for Christians or Jews, or both?
Schoeman: My book was quite consciously written for a dual audience of both Catholics and Jews, although I realize that the majority of readers will probably be Catholic.
To Jews, it reveals the full majesty and importance of being Jewish, how sympathetic a view of Jews and Judaism is given in Catholic doctrine, and that being Catholic does not mean no longer being a Jew.
To Catholics, it teaches not only about Judaism, about the Jewish Scriptures and about the origins of the Catholic faith and Church, but also a great deal about the structure of salvation history itself and how God works through history and peoples to affect his plans.
Q: What is the role of Judaism in salvation history? In the destiny of the world?
Schoeman: Looking backward, the role of Judaism is pretty easy to discern. At the very least, the Jews were chosen to receive the revelation of God contained in the Old Testament; to expect, pray for and prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah; to receive him when he came; to be the first generation of disciples and apostles; and to spread his Gospel throughout the world.
Despite the popular misconception that the Jews failed in their mission, they in fact succeeded -- Christianity itself is proof of that success. It is true that only a minority of the Jews followed Jesus, but doesn't God generally work with humanity through just such "faithful remnants"? It seems that time and time again God relies on the fidelity of the few, not of the many.
Looking forward from the ...
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