Abstract

Recent scholarship has stressed Augustine’s positive appraisal of the Jews and Judaism. In particular, Paula Fredriksen has presented Augustine’s “witness doctrine” as an approbation of the Jews in their Jewish identity after the time of Christ, drawing especially on Answer to Faustus. An alternate interpretation of Augustine’s theology arises from City of God, where Augustine recounts a comprehensive history of humanity as divided according to contrasting loves, whether for self and earthly goods, or for God and heavenly reward. The Jews constitute a kind of third thing between the two cities: a slave people unduly concerned with earthly reward that nevertheless worships the one true God. Despite some exceptions, the Jews mostly failed to receive Jesus in the incarnation and now persist as blind librarians who cannot read the Scriptures before them. Still, ethnic Israel will be restored en masse in the eschaton through repentance and faith in Christ. This interpretation affirms Fredriksen’s argument that Augustine elevates the Jews over other non-Christian communities while challenging her depictions of Answer to Faustus and Augustine’s policies toward actual Jews.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3184
Print ISSN
1067-6341
Pages
pp. 523-551
Launched on MUSE
2016-11-30
Open Access
No
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