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After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY






Christianity and Judaism


Christianity and Judaism
by Bishop Nathanael of Vienna and Austria
Orthodox Life 1978 No.3
Translated and condensed from The Orthodox Way 1950, pp. 92-113

How ancient and painful is the question of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism.  How many mutual accusations, how much hatred and spilt blood there has been throughout the course of mankind's history over this question.  The slaughter of Jews on the one hand, dubious political involvements on the other; the ghetto here, contempt for the Gentile there.  Finally, in recent years, the savage racist theory* that resulted in the slaughter of millions of victims, perpetrated by one of the "Christian" peoples, and the widespread occupation of prominent positions by the Jews in all the driving forces of human history, setting before our eyes the very real possibility of the subordination of humanity to Jewish ideals.

[*It has been pointed out that the above-mentioned "savage racist theory" 
has its roots in the evil theory of evolution: in the idea that selective breeding
and culling out the inferior will assist in perfecting the human race. -jh]

We hope to speak to the inner roots of this grave problem, without an understanding of which it is impossible to comprehend all that is taking place at present.

What is Judaism?  Is it a meek, harmless creature victimized by all without cause, as some try to present it at times, or is it the dreadful offspring of hell, in no way similar to the rest of humanity, which Rosanov, Ford and German propagandists have depicted for us?  To answer this problem, to understand how far from accurate are both of these conceptions, we must recall, from a Christian point of view, Jewish history which, not in vain, is known to us ever so much better than the history of any other nation.

Desiring to effect the human race, to graft the wild vine upon Himself, the Lord began the work of selection in mankind immediately after the Fall, eliminating that which, due to its deeply-rooted perversion, was unfit for the plan of salvation, and on the other hand, singled out and prepared all that was fit.  Every man can be saved, i.e., can become capable of inheriting the Kingdom of God.  Only habitual, unrepentant sin and persistency therein can hinder the process of the maturing of the human soul for the Kingdom of God.  In this case, i.e., persistency in sin, man is eliminated from amongst the living, for in God's creation there is not and cannot be anything senseless, and the existence of a man who does not mature for the Kingdom of God and is unable to mature is indeed senseless.  The same can be said in relation to whole nations.  He Who reads the hearts of men, discerning the inner being of each individual person, nation and tribe, perceived which men, which nations, were fit for the process of maturing for the Kingdom of God which gives meaning to all of life.  Such He spared; others He eliminated.

But for the implementation of the work of salvation, there were very few people capable of being saved.  This was necessary that the very process of salvation might be effected.  The Lord created the process, but His human instruments were absolutely necessary as well.  The share of man's participation in his own salvation might seem insignificant, but it was unfailingly necessary.  Man is not a passive stone; man is God-like, he is a limited, tiny likeness of the Everlasting Absolute, and in accordance with the natural affinity of this likeness, he must take an active part in the matter of his own salvation. The individual man must participate with the best and most active part of his soul; all humanity, with the best and most active element within itself.

With the utmost care, the Lord isolated this best and most active part of humanity, that by selection He might separate a single element.  All the worst portions of mankind were destroyed in the waters of the Flood -- all the descendants of Cain, all the posterity of the other children of Adam and Eve who had been enticed into mixing with the Cainites.  Only the best of the posterity of Seth, the best of the children of Adam, were saved.

At the Tower of Babel, a new characteristic was given to human nature -- the confusion of tongues.  Humanity, which had been united until then, was divided into national units in order to impede the spreading of evil throughout all humanity.  The Lord, putting to good use this new quality which He had bestowed upon mankind, brought forth from the Chaldean land the holiest man alive -- one who believed in God, who forsook his native land and the home of his father at the Lord's command, and journeyed to a foreign land where, in accordance with God's plan, benefiting from the divinely-initiated division of humanity into nationalities, he was not to intermix with the surrounding peoples.

What a shining image of the lofty summit of morality does Abraham, this man chosen by God reveal to us!  Obediently departing for a foreign land and accepting God's promise that from his posterity would arise the people of God and that in him all the tribes of the earth be blessed, Abraham, in accordance with God's command, was prepared to slay his only-begotten son, Isaac, as a sacrifice, even though it was through this son that God's promise was to have been fulfilled.  In this readiness to sacrifice, Abraham became an image of God, thereby increasing his likeness to Him.

  Such is the lineage of the Jewish people -- a lineage lofty in the grandeur of its design.

In order to carry out God's plan, this nation had to possess certain qualities, the first of which was to be faithful to God.  To strengthen them in this quality, they were led through a series of trials: Egyptian bondage, the wandering through the desert, the miraculous manna and the conquest of the Promised Land with the help of God.  It was necessary that this people be convinced through experience that all of its power was in its God, and that it understand that it owed God a debt of gratitude that could not be repaid.  This nation was not to intermix with other nations that had fallen into idolatry.  Thus, in the first generations following Abraham, the people became accustomed not to mix with other peoples by following the example of the marriages of each of the bearers of the fullness of the promise -- i.e., Isaac and Jacob -- to women not of the tribes of the surrounding area.  But Esau, not fulfilling this providential condition, was removed and excluded from the selection.

This characteristic of non-intermingling with other nations, the separation from them, has so strongly penetrated into the spiritual and bodily fabric of the Jewish people that to this day it is one of their fundamental national traits.  But despite their non-intermingling with other nations, the Jewish people were not called upon to be merely a selection of mankind, but also its representative.  It had to preserve to the greatest possible degree a unity with all mankind, to keep within itself a wide variety of humanity, that all branches of the human race might recognize in that nation their own fundamental characteristics which are essential for salvation.

This we see also in the Jewish nation.  Russian and African, Frenchman and Japanese -- all understand these spiritual processes that operate within the chosen people, and which the Bible has recorded for us. And it is not for naught that the holy Fathers see in the history of the Jewish nation a typological history of each human soul: the Egyptian captivity and bondage to Pharaoh as the condition of the soul under the dominion of sin; the exodus from Egypt as deliverance from sin; the forty years of wandering through the desert as the process of purification from sin; the murmuring of the Jews at that time as the frequent murmuring of man during the testing which accompanies purification, and so forth.  "Swine's meat and fleshpots and Egyptian food hast thou preferred above the heavenly, O my soul, as of old did the senseless people in the wilderness" [Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Ode VI, troparion 8].

On the other hand, thanks to this particular quality of their nature, the Jews always, both in the first preaching of the Christian Gospel and in contemporary political rhetoric, show themselves to be the best disseminators of any movement amongst other peoples.

At the same time, while richly bestowing upon His chosen people all manner of natural gifts necessary for the carrying out of His plan, the Lord guarded them from unnecessary and superfluous gifts.  For example, political power was not given to this nation.  It was not called upon to build great empires like the Persians, Macedonians and Romans.  Outside turmoil, even comparatively little of the clankings of great historical events, would have been superfluous and could have deflected the spiritual and physical powers of the holy people to an external activity, whereas God had foreseen for them something higher: active participation in the formation of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of all the ages which will have no end, before the destiny of which the proud glory of Alexander, of Caesar and the Romans will seem by insignificant, tawdry banality and contemptible vulgarity.

Certain currents are especially important in the history of Israel.  Of primary significance is the outward preparation for the reception of the Son of God, even though this was a comparatively passive and external matter which, personally speaking, could also have been carried out by almost any other nation so richly endowed.  We speak now of the construction of the tabernacle, and later of the temple, of the organization of the divine services and of the entire external ritual of life.

But this current is closely and organically bound to the second important current in the life of the chosen people: its moral preparation necessary for the advent of the Son of God in its midst.  The soil had to be made ready for this meeting.  For the reception of divine truth it was necessary to become prepared through acceptance and penetration of the didactic, preparatory Law of God, by a circumcised heart and purified ears,  This is especially clear in the paramount commandment of love for one's enemy.

As a result of the long process of sin, extending from the fall of Adam through Cain's murder and on through a vast multitude of other murders, it was not love that became natural for the sinful, self-centered human heart, but rather revenge upon one's enemy -- a vengeance which knew neither bounds nor satiety.  If someone knocked out a man's tooth, he would smash the whole face of the one that did so.  If someone poked his eye out, he would roast that man over a slow fire, chop him into little pieces, exulting in his torment.  We have an example of this sort of thing in the Second World War, when people who had renounced Christ took revenge for the murder of one of their comrades by the slaughter of tens, hundreds and, in some cases, even thousands of people whom they suspected of having taken part in such a murder.  Thus have we been convinced of the utter insatiability of human vengeance.

To say without preparation to a man accustomed to unbridled revenge: "Love your enemies, do good to them who hate you" [Lk. 6:27] would be hopelessly unrealistic, words cast into the wind.  But the Lord does not cast words into the wind.  Our Lord, Who created reality, Who always creates only reality, the Existent One Himself, is a realist in all things.  Therefore, before saying: "Love your enemies," it was necessary to prepare the human heart for this by restricting its propensity towards ungovernable revenge.  And Moses wrote down: "An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth" [Ex. 21:24], at the Lord's dictation.

Such a form of limiting man's insatiable, unbridled revenge could be acceptable to unprepared men, for this rule hearkens back to a feeling of justice which had been preserved from times prior to the fall of mankind, and which is naturally inherent in each human heart.  And if a man acknowledges some limit to his vengeance and accepts it without reservation, with his mind and will, putting it into practice in his life, the law enters into his very nature.  Then when someone knocks out his tooth, he cannot disfigure the whole man, but is able to inflict upon the other person only that which that man had done to him.  For the putting out of an eye, only an eye can be taken in revenge, and not unlimited torture.  When this concept has been assimilated, man, having acquired the habit of controlling his wrath, will be prepared to receive the law of divine love, and will be able to learn to love his enemies.

The same holds true with regard to the rest of the moral law of the Old Testament: it prepared the human heart so that it was able to accept the law of Christ.  And this preparation was accomplished within the chosen people, who played in this matter the role both of the best selection of mankind and its representative. The success of this matter in relation to the Jewish people was a success in relation to all humanity, for all human characteristics were concentrated in that nation which the Word of God calls pre-eminent people, to a greater degree than all other men.  It is not for naught that one of these people would be called the Son of Man.

The most holy current in this nation, in all humanity, and in all the world created by God, was that which was completely hidden by God from every foreign, importunate gaze -- a current in which, from generation to generation, by the grace of God, the cleansing of human nature itself was carried out, to render it capable of receiving the Son of God.

Abraham was holy with a lofty sanctity, but side by side with his spiritual soaring we see in him also the depths of his fall in Egypt and at Abimelech's.  The Son of God was not able to come to him directly or to unite with him in perfect union.  Yet his sanctity did not remain without fruit: with both spirit and flesh he participated in the fulfillment of the divine plan, for from his seed the God-Man was born.  We could say the same of Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, and of all who were spiritually and physically ancestors of Christ.  We can say this of almost all the forefathers of the Old Testament, for they participated directly in the building up of the moral atmosphere created by God, in which could spring forth only the best flower of humanity which would be able to receive within itself the Son of God.

The heart trembles at the thought of this, when it considered how, in a quiet province of Palestine, preserved by God from the turmoil of the broad roads of history, the perfect fruit of the best strains of humanity was ripening, without whom the Lord would not be able to come to the people.  This ripening fruit was the All-holy Virgin, whose name was Mary.

The first half of God's plan Israel worthily and rightly carried out.  It preserved the true faith amid pagan darkness in the course of a long series of centuries; it built the temple of God, the model for all churches of all times; its prophets prepared the soil for the advent of Christ: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight" [Is. 40:3]. From its bosom sprouted forth the All-holy Virgin and St. John of whom the Lord would say: "Among them born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist" [Mt. 11:11].

Nothing can deprive Israel of this greatest of glories, this extra-ordinary summit of its destiny.  Even all that followed could not erase the debt of gratitude that all mankind owes Israel.  Furthermore, this debt of gratitude could not be annulled because, having taken upon itself the height of glory and the fearsome weight of God's election, Israel bore this heavy yoke for other nations.  No other nation could have borne this yoke as Israel bore it.  Any other would have bent beneath its weight and would have fallen much earlier.  This is what the teaching of the Church tells us of Adam and Eve: that, although we do not condone their disobedience to God, we dare not condemn them, for in their place we might have done the same.  The same might also be said of Israel: if, having carried out the first half of God's plan for them, they were unfaithful to the second half of that plan, any other nation in their place might have done even worse and been yet more unworthy of being God's chosen people.

The fall of Israel is a tragedy not only for it, but for all of mankind, for it is the selection and representative of the whole human race.  Likewise, its fulfillment of the first  half of God's plan, the preparation for the advent of Christ, is not only its inalienable, unfading glory, but is also the glory of humanity as a whole.

On trial before Pilate and to the pharisees that questioned Him, Christ said that His Kingdom was not an earthly one: "My Kingdom is not of this world" [Jn. 18:36], "the Kingdom of God is within you" [Lk. 17:21].  But to those that accepted His Kingdom, the Lord gives outward glory -- external, earthly dominion -- as a bonus, as an instrument for serving His Kingdom, in accordance with the law uttered by Him: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" [Mt. 6:33].

That the preaching of the Gospel might be carried out without hindrance, the Lord gave the Roman people the Roman people the might to create a world-wide empire.  And that this preaching might be disseminated as far as possible throughout the whole world, the Lord gave the Christian nations hitherto unprecedented, immense political and scientific powers.  Of course, if the chosen people of Israel had fulfilled God's plan concerning them, if all, or at least the fundamental, guiding, representative segment of that nation, had followed Christ, had desired to acquire the inner Kingdom of God, doubtless it would have received earthly glory and an almighty kingdom as well.  Knowing how fervently, how selflessly, the Celtic, Teutonic and Slavic tribes accepted the faith in Christ, we can well imagine what worship, honor and service they might have lavished upon the nation first  born in Christ -- the nations of the Lord's kinsmen in the flesh.  The honor the Christian nations accorded Rome and Byzantium would have been insignificant by comparison.

Naturally, God's plan for mankind was such: the portion He had prepared to receive the Son of God would have been cast into the rest of the world like yeast into the dough.  From this abundant leavening the whole human race would have risen into the Kingdom of God, and God's chosen people would have strode ahead of all other nations, leading them all on the path of union with God, as the vanguard of Christ's Church. Their temple -- the Temple of Jerusalem, throne of the whole world, would have become the first Christian house of worship where, in place of blood sacrifice -- the Old Testament foreshadowing, Christ Himself would have offered the New Testament Sacrifice of His Body and Blood.  There, absorbing within itself the fullness of all the elements of the Old Testament divine services [which were preparatory], the New Testament divine ritual would have been produced. The entire nation of Israel, knowing better than any other the great diversity of human souls, would have gone forth to the missionary labor of preaching the Gospel to the remaining portion of humanity which had still not been prepared; in this labor, each would have taken part, according to the talents given it by God; thus the rest of the nations would all have entered into the Kingdom of God.

This divine plan was destroyed by Israel's betrayal of God.  Although part of it -- the most holy portion of Israel and of humanity followed after Christ. [The apostles were all Jews and could not have been from any other nation, for other peoples had not been prepared for this role.]  Yet, the majority of the people, and the leaders and representatives of the nation in particular -- the priests, government officials, rabbinical pharisees -- the actual rulers did not follow Christ, but crucified Him through the hands of the soldiers of Rome, crying out: "His blood be on us and on out children" [Mt. 27:25].

This terrible catastrophe, the twisting of God's plan for the subsequent history of a human race redeemed and saved by Christ, one can compare only to the Fall of mankind -- Adam and Eve's fall through sin -- in its significance and inner meaning.  Israel was rejected; or rather, the Chosen of God Himself rejected His election and did not desire to serve that which He had chosen or to carry out His plans.  There were countless reasons for this: all the temptations, all the stumblings, from the very least temptation of the satisfying of the flesh to the greatest haughty imaginings of creating the universal Kingdom of Israel on earth of which the prophets speak -- all of this was united, at Satan's instigation, to lure Israel from its path, i.e., from its being the chosen instrument of the salvation of all mankind.

Let us dwell for a moment on the foremost, most profound and significant temptation -- the lure of an earthly Kingdom of Israel which was apparently entertained by the best thinkers among the Jews, in accordance with the image evoked by the prophets of a kingdom in which swords were to be beaten into ploughshares and all the tribes of the earth were to be at peace.  Here, significantly, the history of the temptation of the first man and woman was repeated.  The Lord created man for deification.   Having fashioned him according to His image and likeness, He gave him the task of becoming more and more like Him, to become more and more divine, as the Lord said: "I said: Ye are gods, and all of you the sons of the Most High" [Ps. 81:6], so teaches St. Basil the Great: "I am a creation, but have received the task of becoming God."  But the devil, deceiving man, said to him: "Eat of the fruit, and ye shall be as gods" [cf. Gen. 3:6], ahead of the Trinity.  The same did the devil do with Israel.  Intending it to be an instrument for the establishment of His spiritual Kingdom, the Lord [as we have pointed out] would, of course, have given Israel an earthly kingdom as well.  But the leaders of Israel strove for the earthly kingdom, rejecting the Kingdom of God, and fell from their pre-eminent destiny of election.

We say that thereby they destroyed God's plan, but this is but partly true.  An individual or an entire nation can destroy and pervert God's plan for themselves, for the inner fate of a man or a nation is entrusted by God to their free will.  But no one can destroy the plan of God entirely.  The wisdom and power of God unceasingly set aright the damage to God's plan wrought by the power of the devil and lost human will.  And all the angelic hosts and all of God's just unceasingly marvel at this power and wisdom of God which is ever able to set aright all things in the world He created, and they render unending glory to the Lord for this, as John, the seer of mysteries testifies.

The work of saving men had to be carried out, and Israel should have been foremost in this labor.  But Israel fell away.  How then could salvation be accomplished?

Christ knew beforehand that the leaders of Israel could not by their recalcitrance hinder what God had ordained. "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham" [Lk. 3:8].  And from stones -- from the gentiles yet unprepared to accept Christ -- did the Lord raise up a new Israel, the Christian people, who have become children of Abraham in spirit, for they have inherited his whole legacy -- the work of Israel, the election of God, the leading of humanity in the task of salvation.  On these people did God generously and compassionately bestow the tremendous spiritual and mental powers essential for this greatest of tasks -- those very powers He would have given Israel, had it remained faithful.  And these Christian peoples, taking Israel's place, brought the world to Christ and to salvation.

However, if Israel had been prepared throughout its past history to lead the nations in the labor of their salvation, and if pagan coarseness had been uprooted in it [or, in any event, should have been uprooted], these new peoples -- the wild olive tree -- came to the Church unprepared by history; they were grafted onto it from wild uncultivated stock, and the task of their preparation should have been a protracted, complex process.  And we see how, indeed it was with great effort and countless struggles that the Christianization of these peoples was accomplished, and how there long remained in them considerable traces of their old pagan traits.

The Church's relationship to Israel is a dichotomy.  On the one hand, the Church clearly and definitely maintains that Judaism has no right whatsoever to the name "Israel" under the New Covenant; that the Church Herself has become the New Israel, the chosen Bride of Christ; that it is to Her, and not to Judaism, that the fullness of the gifts God promised to the sons of Abraham belong, for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the righteous of the Old Covenant, belong to the Church and entered into Her as a component part.  Moreover, the Church emphatically cuts Judaism off from Her life, from all inter-relationships with Herself, until such time as Judaism repents and does homage to the Church.  On the other hand, the foremost representatives of the Church have regarded the tragic fate of Old Testament Israel with the most profound regret and the finest perception.  Let us bring to mind verses from the Apostle Paul's writings, so full of boundless love for his dear, lost people.  We can find similar passages in the writings of St. Basil the Great, a Greek by extraction, but one that fervently loved the Israel of the Old Covenant, who was unable to think of Abraham without weeping, and who healed many Jewish souls with his love, leading them to Christ.  We find like passages in the works of St. John Chrysostom and other holy Fathers.

Nonetheless, as we have already stated, there yet remained among the allegedly Christianized peoples much that was coarse and pagan, and which was not consonant with regenerating Christian love.  Thus, the old Israel drained the bitter cup of degradation amid the Christian nations.  The dread word the Lord pronounced over them has been completely fulfilled:

 "If thou wilt not hearken to do all the words of this law, which have been written in this book, to fear this honored and wondrous name, the Lord thy God; then the Lord shall magnify thy plagues, and the plagues of thy seed, great and marvelous plagues, and evil and infamous diseases.  And He shall bring upon thee all the evil sickness of Egypt, of which thou wast afraid, and they shall cleave to thee.  And the Lord shall bring upon thee every weakness, and every plague that is not written and every one that is written in the book of this law, until He shall have destroyed thee.  And ye shall be few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of the sky in multitude; because thou didst not hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God.  And it shall come to pass that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you; and ye shall be quickly removed from the land, into which ye go to inherit it.  And the Lord thy God shall scatter thee among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other; and thou shalt there serve other gods, wood and stone, which thou hast not known, not thy fathers.  Moreover, among those nations He will not give thee quiet, neither by any means shall the sole of thy foot have rest; and the Lord shall give thee there another and a misgiving heart, and failing eyes, and a wasting soul.  Any thy life shall be in suspense, before thine eyes; and thou shalt be afraid by day and by night, and thou shalt have no assurance of thy life.  In the morning thou shalt say, Would it were evening!  And in the evening thou shalt say, Would it were morning! for the fear of thy heart with which thou shalt fear, and for the sights of thine eyes which thou shalt see.  And the Lord shall bring thee back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said, Thou shalt not see it again; and ye shall be sold there to your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen,and none shall buy you" [Deut. 28:58-68]

For centuries the Jews had to hide and grovel, flattering ingratiating themselves, kissing the hands of the dull coarse Europeans of the Middle Ages, in whom there remained so much wild, primitive paganism, unregenerated by Christianity.  The Jews of the Middle Ages possessed of a refined soul chosen by God for a loftier destiny for the leadership of all mankind, naturally held the coarse baron or noble who scoffed at him in profound contempt.

Yet despite their degradation, the medieval Jews understood their election well, and carefully preserved testimony of their descent from David or from Aaron.

∞ ∞ ∞

In out time, we see how Judaism is winning new positions in the world, one after another.  Nearly all the reins, all the driving forces in contemporary humanity it has captured.  The founding of a Jewish state, the significance it immediately obtained in the world, expressed in particular graphic manner by its instantaneous recognition by the two most powerful nations in the modern world -- the United States and the Soviet Union, the the diligence with which both of these states have in the past striven to obtain sympathy for Israel: all of this clearly evinces the singularity of Israel's position and its universal significance.

From this point of view, it is of particular interest that some time ago, in the Daily Mail, an English newspaper published in Paris, there appeared an interview between its correspondent Jenny Nicholson and Israel's former chief rabbi, Mr. Hertzog.  Jenny Nicholson writes:

"... The rabbi began to speak of an ancient prophecy:  'The young state of Israel, the return of the Jews to Palestine -- all of this is in preparation for the coming of the Messiah,' he said.  'The coming of the messiah will be an event on an exclusively Jewish scale, but will have significance for he entire world.'  But the prophecy state the Messiah will be of the House of David.  How many people lay claim to descent from the House of David?  Asked Jenny Nicholson.  Rabbi Hertzog smiled.  'Not long ago I was invited to attend the circumcision of a child whose father is the heir to the throne of David his ancestor.'" 

According to information printed in the Palestine Post [forerunner of the present Jerusalem Post], thousands of Israeli citizens can prove their descent from the House of David.  All Jewish scholars agree that anyone who can prove his descent from Abravanel is a descendant of King David.  {Samuel Abravanel arrived in Seville in 1391, and was employed as a debt collector.]

Since the foundation of the modern Israeli state, there have been several people that have proclaimed themselves heirs to the throne of Israel, at least one of whom has named his eldest son Emmanuel, one of the prophetic titles of the Messiah.  And while this is not, perhaps, without its comic element, the problem has still been posed; it has been placed at the crossroads of modern life.  What awesome, what sacred feelings do these words elicit within us:  "King of Israel; Son of David; He is of the House of David, Who sitteth on the throne of David His father, and to Him is due the homage of all peoples of all ages; Emmanuel"?  From the earliest years of our childhood, when the first mental impressions began to penetrate our consciousness, these titles have been near, familiar and everlastingly dear to us; we know very well that they refer to Him on Whose cross was written: "King of the Jews," to Whom people thirsting for healing of soul and body turn with the cry: "Son of David, have mercy on us!"  We know Who Emmanuel is.

Could we really be mistaken?  Could these titles actually belong not to Him, but to someone else who is yet to come. who is due to arrive in the near future, as the worthy Rabbi Hertzog and others maintain?  There is really nothing at all of this that should come as a surprise for us.  From  the Sacred Scriptures and the writings of the divinely-inspired Fathers we know that another will contend for all the glory, all the works, and all that was brought to perfection by our Lord.  This other is he to whom the Savior refers, saying: "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." [Jn. 5:43].

The hallmarks of him who will come in the place of Christ [the Greek prefix anti- means "in the stead of" -- hence Antichrist] are recorded in many passages of the Holy Scriptures, most notably in the Apostle Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonians and in the Apocalypse [Revelation] of St. John the Theologian. Less well known is the Church's description of the characteristics of Antichrist found in the Synaxarion for Meatfare Sunday.  In accordance with the order of services in the Orthodox Church, this account should be read in all churches at that time, though in actuality this is done only in certain monasteries.  The Synaxarion states: "Antichrist shall come and shall be born, as St. Hyppolytus of Rome says, of a polluted woman, a supposed virgin, a Jewess of the tribe of Dan who was the son of Jacob, and he shall go about, leading a life in imitation of Christ, and shall perform miracles such as Christ worked, and shall raise the dead.  Yet shall he do all by illusion ... And then shall the son of perdition be revealed in all his power and signs and lying wonders.  Yet he is not the devil himself incarnate, as John Damascene affirms, but a man born of fornication, and he shall satisfy the people ... and he shall overstep the Divine Scriptures.  And compelled by the people, he shall be proclaimed king.  And the Jewish people shall love him much, and he shall reach Jerusalem and shall raise up their temple ...


For nearly two thousand years Christians have read these lines, and though they believed them without questioning, these matters seemed to be very remote, hidden in the farthest darkness of the ages. But now all of this has come upon us in earnest, unexpectedly, and we are come to the crossroads of our times.

Israel, which had rejected God and spurned His path, wished to secure -- without God's help, against Gods wishes, apart from God -- by its own means that which its fathers had envisioned, that which God had promised it, which the Lord would have given it if it had followed the path He laid out.  What it had hoped to obtain on these contrary paths is the universal dominion of Israel, rule over all the nations of the world, in accordance with the prophecy: "And the sons of strangers shall build thy walls and their kings shall wait upon thee ... For the nations and the kings which will not serve thee shall perish; and those nations shall be made utterly desolate ... and the sons of them that afflicted thee shall come to thee in fear, and of them that provoked thee; and all that offended thee shall bow down to the soles of thy feet, and they shall call thee the city of the Lord, Sion of the Holy One of Israel" [Is. 60:10,12,14].  All of this was promised to the children of Israel if they kept the ways of God; and behold, they have nearly acquired all of this themselves, having rejected God's path.  Before our very eyes the mighty, even the mightiest of the world, hasten to do homage to the young state.  How has Israel obtained this?  In what manner?  Why?  Has it been solely through the power and influence of the worldly capital it has amassed?  Has it been accomplished by the Jews' innate cultural superiority over other peoples?  Or is there some other, deeper reason?  Of course, Jewish capital covert influence and natural gifts play a role in the extraordinarily important and crucial manifestation of our times.  But the principal reason does not lie therein, but rather in the fact that the Christian nations themselves have not kept to the path set forth by God for Israel.  Thus have they themselves become like old Israel.

Wherein lies the meaning of the tragedy of the Jews?  In that they had become God's instrument for he salvation of the world, and that everything had been bestowed upon them to this end -- and yet they cast it all away.  Wherein lies the meaning of the great falling away from Christ which has been gaining momentum among "cultured" people for many generations?  Called to take the place of the old Israel, having become the New Israel, the guiding light of humanity, leading it to its Christianization, to its salvation, they have renounced their calling, their election, and thus, in an inner, ontological sense, have become judaized.  This has been a complex and varied process.  Speaking personally, I believe it began almost immediately after the founding of the Church, manifesting itself in each person that has fallen away from Christianity.  A particular lucid example of this is Emperor Julian the Apostate[reigned 361-363], in whom we may easily recognize the traits characteristic of modern "educated" man -- a profound hatred and contempt for Christianity, draped in the toga of tolerance and impartiality.  This process grew especially strong in the West following the Renaissance [and in Russia after the reign of Peter I] when hungering for fleshly diversions and freedom from inhibitions, European man, on the eve of the new and great task laid down for him by preceding generations, on the eve of the discovery of the lands of the New World, was drawn into long-abandoned paganism, rejecting Christ.  The process gained momentum after the French Revolution and, finally, took the form of open revolt against God and His Christ in the Russian Revolution of 1917.

But there can be no real return to paganism.  Paganism is a phase that is past.  The heathen has not known Christ, has not encountered Him.  But on meeting with Christ, one must without fail either accept Him or reject Him.  And the nations that reject Christ become internally related to Judaism, both to that which is contemporary to their choice and to that which rejected Christ  two thousand years ago.  And the Lord Who did not spare the "ancestral branches," will not show partiality to the new nations that have been called to replace Israel.

We see how the pre-eminence of the nations of European Christendom, their position of leadership, has been taken away from them, when, in consequence of their betrayal of Christianity, this position lost its inner meaning.  In the labor of Christianization, in the work of winning nations for Christ, the European peoples were called to take Israel's place, because Israel chose not to lead the peoples of the world along God's path.  But betraying their own calling by entering into a metaphysical relationship with the Israel that rejected Christ, the European nations are, in essence, losing all their rights to whatever position of leadership they may have had among humanity.  Rejecting Christ, they pass, quite naturally, under the leadership of that people to whom, from time immemorial, were given countless gifts for the guidance of the nations.  And this nation, which, according to God's plan, was called to lead the nations that have been saved on the path to salvation, has become the leader of fallen nations on their way to perdition -- a path it has taken of its own free will, rejecting Christ.  In essence, this is natural and inescapable.  Absurd and deserving of pity were the Germans' attempts to usurp the Jews' place at the head of a world that had renounced Christ.

It is interesting to note that hatred and disdain for the Jews [i.e., antisemitism, although, of course, the matter does not lie in the semitism of the Jews; no such feelings are directed against other Semites -- e.g., Arabs, Kurds, etc.] has not diminished, but increases among nations that have lost their Christianity and, in fact, are under the direction of Israel.  With total Christianization antisemitism vanishes, and in general, it has never been strong among the clergy.  First of all, through Christianization the fundamental, subconscious reason for hatred disappears: the doomed world sees in the Jews, as in its own leaders on the path to perdition, the initiators of suffering and destruction, heaping upon them their own share in the common guilt, just as the first-created people did in the Fall; but the saved world has no cause to hate anyone.  The Church, examining this great problem in a sober and sensible manner and coming to an understanding thereof, has never approved of antisemitism under any circumstances whatever, and will not approve of it even if hounded to death by the Jews. Antisemitism is not only sinful to the same degree as any other form of misanthropy, but is misanthropy par excellence, to its greatest possible degree.  In the present survey we are striving to point out why the entire gamut of human characteristics is to be found in Judaism, and why one may say to those who seek to mock the Jews or those that hate them: "He that laughs at someone, laughs at himself; he that hates someone, hates himself."

Yet, condemning antisemitism utterly and unconditionally, the Church at the same time has struggled with and will continue to struggle with Judaism until the end, with Jewish life which, as we shall demonstrate, is ontologically bound up with the betrayal of Christ, with the rejection of God's plan for the salvation of mankind.  Some, losing this battle, others, spreading slander, attempted at times to present this view as a form of antisemitism.  But the Church emphasizes that this struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the ancient enemy of God and man, against him that strives to turn every man and every nation against God.  The basic principle of the Christian struggle against Judaism was outlined at the dawn of Christian history by St. Ignatius the Godbearer [†c. A.D. 107].  {St. Ignatius was himself a Jew by birth, apparently, for according to Holy Tradition, he was the child whom Christ set in the midst of His apostles, saying: "And whosoever shall receive one such little child in My name, receiveth Me" [Mt. 18:5, Mk.9:36; Lk. 9:48].}  He writes: "But if anyone preach Judaism unto you, listen not to him."  Further on, explaining that this issue is not personal, i.e., is not antisemitic, he states: "For it is better to hearken to Christian doctrine from a man who has been circumcised, than to Judaism from one uncircumcised.  But if either of such persons do not speak concerning Jesus Christ, they are in my judgment but as monuments and sepulchres of the dead, upon which are written only the names of men.  Flee, therefore, the wicked devices and snares of the prince of this world, lest at any time being conquered by his artifices ye grow weak in your love" [Epistle to the Philadelphians,6].  Thus the fundamental method employed in this struggle is emphasized: do not grow weak in your love.  As long as the Christian heart does not grow cold, nothing foreign can cling to it; as soon as it does grow cold, an external, sullying tendency begins to take effect, drawing the person [or people] backwards towards perdition.  Only the rebirth of the spiritual forces of the Christian people can effect their healing, their salvation.  There is no other way.  And taking that path, we shall not only save ourselves, but shall save the Jews as well.

Having become like the Jews in our rejection of Christ, we shall, if indeed we find healing for this fearsome spiritual condition, find it not only for ourselves, but for all the branches of humanity that have ben afflicted with that universal malady -- apostasy.  But one must clearly understand that the return to the path of salvation from the path of damnation is intricate and laborious -- more complex and difficult than the pagan's first conversion to Christianity.  We can find many examples in everyday life to confirm this statement.

From a cursory examination of history, we can see how clearly, how with unsurpassed zeal the pagan peoples burned with Christianity.  Even now similar examples are met with in missionary endeavors, although strictly speaking, there are no longer any peoples that have not in some way been affected by Christianity.  Throughout the world, that portion of each nation which instructs and guides has become acquainted with Christianity, has encountered Christ; and if it has not come to Him, this means that it has partaken in the rejection of Him.  This is why, even among peoples that are officially pagan, cases of zealous conversion to Christ are less frequent than in antiquity.  There has never been a forceful, zealous upsurge of conversion to Christ in the Jewish milieu, apart from the first years of Christianity when, through the apostles' preaching, that portion of Judaism which had rejected Christ was brought into the Christian fold.  On the other hand, there was no other portion of humanity throughout all history prior to this that had been prepared readily to accept Christ.  After this short initial period, conversion from Judaism to Christianity became and still is increasingly difficult, complex, laborious, torturous and painful.  Such a conversion was the transformation of Saul the persecutor into Paul the apostle.  Such were the conversions of St. Epiphanius of Cyprus, St. Cyriacus of Jerusalem, St. Constantine of Synnada, and others.  All of these conversions were complex and difficult, yet crowned with success, they gave the Church great hierarchs and leaders.

In exactly the same way one may speak of modern missionary endeavors amongst nations that are considered, or were considered, Christian.  Missionary activity amongst them also entails a great deal of effort, struggle and labor, to no less a degree than among the Jews, and for the same inner reasons.  But for God all things are possible. Everyday experience teaches us that it is possible to return to Christ after betraying Him.  If this were not so, almost no one could be saved, for every sin is a betrayal of Christ and differs from apostasy only by degree -- the shorter the duration, the less the persistence.  And each of us, with unbounded gratitude to God, can confess from his own experience how easily, how simply, how completely the merciful Lord washes away our sins.

"Wash ye; be clean; remove your iniquities from your souls before Mine eyes.  Cease your iniquities; learn to do well ... And come, let us reason together, saith the Lord, And though your sins be as purple, I will make them white as wool" [Is. 1:16-18].  One should bear in mind that the prophet of old said this to Israel, and through them to all nations.  Clear testimony of this -- however deep may be our hope for Israel's conversion, and consequently, the rebirth of mankind -- is contained in the words of the Apostle Paul which, after all that has been said here, it is especially appropriate to cite, for much of what we have related in this article is dealt with in this passage: 

"For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office if by any means I may provoke to jealousy them that are my flesh, and might save some of them ... For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches.  And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and the fatness of the olive tree, boast not against the branches.  But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.  Thou wilt say, then the branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.  Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith.  Be not high-minded but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He spare not thee.  Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God: on them that fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again.  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more shall these, who are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?  For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits: that blindness in part hath happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.  And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" [Rom. 11:13-26].

Of course, the real sense of these words of he Apostle is not wholly comprehensible to us.  Right now we have too few facts to verify the possibility of Israel's return to Christ and its salvation.  In the grip of pride over the universal dominion it has nearly achieved through its own efforts, in spite of God's will, the last thing Israel is now considering is repentance and reconciliation with Christ.  On the contrary, it inspires and directs the assault on bastions of Christianity.

But Who knows the inner man but He Who created him?  Can Israel, which possess a soul created for communion with God, on attaining the Kingdom of Israel it has longed for, be content with the pettiness of constructing an earthly state?  Will it not flee from this ancient delusion which looms before it and envelopes it?  Will it not return to the Holy Israel it has forsaken?  One cannot seriously choose between Christ and the false heirs to the throne of David, between the images of Israel described by the prophets and the Israel state of Begin, Meir and Dayan, even if the leaders of all the other lands of the earth hearken to them.  When all is said and done, the devil is always vulgar, however much he may try to make of himself something great and beautiful.

In any event, we know one thing: wherever the rebirth of the world, the awakening of the moral powers of mankind begin, be it through Israel or the Christian peoples, that awakening shall be universal in its effect.  The world has already melted into one homogeneous whole.  It already lives by the same concepts, the same fears, the same problems.  These bind humanity together horizontally -- from pole to pole, and vertically -- through all levels of society, for the life of everyone depends upon one or the other outcome of these circumstances which now threaten all mankind.

This blending together of all humanity into one must begin in earnest that the result will be that conclusive separation which was initiated at the beginning of the ages and which has been clearly outlined at this time -- for Christ or against Christ, the saved and the damned.  This final separation will not be bound up with national or class membership: "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left" [Mt. 24:40-41].

And among the saved shall be: "Of the tribe of Judah ... twelve thousand ... Of the tribe of Reuben ... twelve thousand ... [and] an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel ... [and] a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues,stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice saying Salvation to our God Who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb" [Rev. 7:5, 4, 1011].