Messiah Journal: Excerpt from “Origins of Supersessionism in the Church”

Yeshua not only defined himself as the gateway to salvation, but commanded his Jewish disciples to do something that had never been done before. Yeshua commanded his Jewish disciples to make non-Jewish people disciples in a Jewish sect that followed the Messiah and worshiped the God of Israel. Yeshua identifies his Jewish disciple Peter as the rock upon which he will build the Messianic community (Matthew 16:18). Acts 4 shows us that thousands of Jews came to faith in the Messiah well before the time when Paul began to actively seek non-Jewish disciples. We also see in Acts 15 that the Jewish Jerusalem council exercised authority over the Gentile assembly of the Messiah. With the foundation of the early Messianic community being so thoroughly Jewish, how did a concept like supersessionism even come into being? Actually, the seeds of this rather ugly plant began to sprout early.

Excerpt from the article
“Origins of Supersessionism in the Church”
by James Pyles
Messiah Journal
Issue 109/Winter 2012

I just received my advance copy of the latest edition of Messiah Journal (MJ) and of course, as it contains my first article published in religious literature, I’m more than thrilled. I showed my wife and she said that she will have to read it, which is even more intriguing (as surprising as it may sound, she doesn’t often read my material). I hate to admit this, but like many authors, I really enjoy seeing my work in print. I suppose it is the same feeling a painter has when he or she sees their work on display in an art gallery.

But I shouldn’t forget everything else this issue of MJ has to offer. I haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet (so I can’t review its contents), but I’ve looked through this issue and there are definitely some submissions I’m anxious to dig into.

There’s an article written by Tsvi Sadan called “Halachic Authority in the Life of the Messianic Community”. Apparently, it was delivered as a lecture to Messianic leaders in Israel in September of 2008 as the “final chord of a debate between those Messianic Jews who teach to live according to Jewish tradition and those who view this tradition as ‘the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'” This discussion has taken place in the Messianic blogosphere fairly recently, such as in Judah Himango’s blog post Kosher Jell-O, and whether Messiah’s disciples need our own ruling body, as well as on my own blog in the write up Tradition! (and as always, some of the most interesting parts are in the comments sections).

I must admit, I will probably dive into Sadan’s article first, but I also want to read Russ Resnik’s “Shema: Living the Great Commmandment” (Part 1). I’m also very interested in Toby Janicki’s article “The Gentile Believer’s Obligation to the Torah of Moses”, which is also a topic of great interest among non-Jews who are attracted to Jewish religious lifestyle and worship. I believe MJ has had similar articles in the past and want to find out if this is just a reworking of material with which I’m already familiar or something entirely new. I know I’ve been challenged on this topic by comments made on my own blog very recently, both in Defining Judaism: A Simple Commentary and The Focus and the Lens, so I’m hoping for some “re-enforcement” to augment my own knowledge in this area.

For tomorrow’s “morning meditation,” I’m posting a blog on Gentiles and the Shabbat, and Aaron Eby has an article in the current issue of MJ called “Fire by Night: Lighting the Shabbat Candles” which (you should pardon the pun) should prove illuminating. That’s not all of the contents of issue 109 of MJ but those are the highlights. Of course, if you find all of that tantalizing, don’t forget my own article on the origins of supersessionism in the church, how the seeds were first planted, who the major players were, and how the history points to modern times.

If you don’t already regularly receive issues of Messiah Journal, go to the First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) website and order issue 109 today. I’m really looking forward to reading it myself.

10 thoughts on “Messiah Journal: Excerpt from “Origins of Supersessionism in the Church””

  1. When I first read Tsvi’s article three years ago I cried–I was on a flight at the time and it brought up such emotion. It was really embarrassing. I so identified with his journey and pain. I immediately contacted him to see if we could reprint it in Messiah Journal. I am honored to see it finally published in MJ. I hope you like it. Thank you also for your strong contribution. This issue is really stellar. Boaz

  2. Thank you, Boaz. I read Tsvi Sadan’s article right before I went to bed last night, and I was deeply impressed. It is the perfect counterpoint to many of the online discussions I’ve been involved with lately, and I will be posting a review of “Halachic Authority in the Life of the Messianic Community” either later today or tomorrow. I also look forward to reading and reviewing the other articles in MJ 109.


  3. Just a personal comment here, on Jesus’ command to make non-Jewish disciples, it seems odd that during his lifetime (or at least in his recorded lifetime) in his few interactions with gentiles Jesus was less than friendly. I can recall 3 occasions: the roman centurion (he never actually met him, the roman sent representatives from the jewish comunity knowing that many jews did not come in contact with gentiles), the second is the siro phoenician woman, where Jesus was less than friendly, rude even, first ignoring her, then calling gentiles ‘dogs’, and finally giving her what she asks for. and the 3rd is with the samaritan woman, in which it is recorded that the woman was surprised that a Jew speak with her. Jesus seems to say that since he is thirsty and she is the only one there he must speak to her. He obviously also rubs in Jewish national pride saying that Jews know how to worship whereas samaritans obviously are in the dark.
    I’m not saying anything here, neither do i have an agenda, it was just an observation that I discovered as I was reading ‘El Judaismo de Jesus’ (the Judaism of Jesus) by Dr. Mario Saban. unfortunately the book is only in spanish, but it’s very good reading in which the author argues for Jesus’ judaism so to speak (though he is in no way messianic or otherwise). According to him, the great commission in Matthew and Marc are additions, since he sees nowhere in the gospels that Jesus would want to extend his followership to gentiles. He says that came primarily as a result of Paul (surprisingly for a Jewish author he also defends Paul’s Judaism and vision in his other book ‘El judaismo de San Pablo’ (The Judaism of Saint Paul). Anyways this is already a longer comment than I wanted to post! thanks for your articles, they’re always much appreciated!

  4. Thank you for your kind and informative comments, JD.

    My only response is that if Jesus didn’t come to establish a “gateway” by which all humanity can be reconciled to God, then we are without hope. Jesus first came for “the lost sheep of Israel”. He commanded his disciples to come for the rest of the sheep.


    1. Yeah it’s true. Also there is Jesus’ criticism of the pharisees who went over land and sea to make a proselyte. I guess that’s where the believer and unbeliever must part ways. But I’m sure there’s an answer to that one too… But anyways as I said I’m not making any conclusions neither am I saying that I adopt the author’s positions, just sayin’ there are a few inconsistencies that seem to be in the text. Since even the apostles were surprised at first that the spirit would come upon the gentiles. It seems that Paul developed this idea much more (as a result of the vision he had in which Jesus himself commanded him to go to the nations). His was a less nationalistic message than Jesus’. It was more about the general and ultimate redemption of mankind, as opposed to jesus’ more nationalistic reestablishment of Israel’s kingdom (although of course he was also speaking about the coming Kingdom of Heaven). And of course there are the comment such as when he speaks of the ‘other flock’ and all which do hint at the nations.

  5. I just read in Matthew 8:11 where he says also that many will come from the east and from the west and sit at the table with Avraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom. So there’s another one arguing for Jesus’ inclusion of gentiles 🙂

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