Speak, of the Old Things:

For Barnabas and his Gentile Christian followers, the covenant between God and the Jews was a sham; it was never ratified. When, bringing down the Law from Sinai, Moses saw that the Jews were engaged in the worship of the golden calf, he smashed into pieces the two stone tablets inscribed by God's hand, and thus rendered the Jewish covenant null and void. It had to be replaced by the covenant sealed by the redemptive blood of the "beloved Jesus" in the heart of the Christians (Barn. 4. 6-8; 14. 1-7). 
Barnabas's portrait of Jesus is considerably more advanced than the Didache's "Servant" of God. He calls Jesus "the Son" or "the Son of God" no less than a dozen times. This "Son of God" had existed since all eternity and was active before the creation of the world. It was to this pre-existent Jesus that at the time of "the foundation of the world" God addressed the words, "Let us make man according to our image and likeness" (Barn. 5.5; 6.12). The quasi-divine character of Jesus is implied when Barnabas explains that the Son of God took on a human body because without such a disguise no one would have been able to look at him and stay alive (Barn. 5. 9-10). 
The ultimate purpose of the descent of "the Lord of the entire world" among men was to enable himself to suffer "in order to destroy death and show that there is resurrection" (Barn. 5. 5-6). We are in, and perhaps slightly beyond, the Pauline-Johannine vision of Christ and his work of salvation. 
The type of outlook represented by the Didache has no place in the religious vision of Barnabas. The parting of the ways between Jewish and Gentile Christianity is manifest already at this stage and the Epistle of Barnabas marks the start of the future doctrinal evolution of the church on exclusively Gentile lines. Half a century after Barnabas, for the bishop of Sardis, Melito, the Jews are judged guilty of deicide: "God has been murdered...by the right hand of Israel" (Paschal Homily 96). Jewish Christianity makes no sense any longer.

The Didache is the last flowering of Judaeo-Christianity. In the second century, and especially after the suppression of the second revolt of the Jews by Hadrian in 135 CE, its decline began.
And it fell, as Chesterton said of Carthage, like nothing has fallen since... well, perhaps the image is inapt here.  If it is, though, we might ask just why.


Dad29 said...


It is notable that both JPII and B-16 have emphasized and underlined the Judaeo part of the Judaeo-Christian tradition.

A great deal of B-16's writings on New Testament events and text refer back to OT writings, e.g.

Also--without doing a lot of painstaking research--it strikes me that the cite of Barnabas in the post is 'not quite' Catholic mainstream theology. It is certainly the case that the "deicide" motif is out of bounds in the Catholic church.

While it is true that the political-theological Establishment (remember that Judaism is like Mohammedanism in that to them, religion and government are inseparable) 'pulled the trigger' on the crucifixion, it is ALSO true that Christ's self-identification as the Son of God was a most-serious crime. We have hindsight: He WAS (and is) the Son of God. They didn't. So it could not have been "deicide" in that they did not know who He was. (Some, of course, objected and counseled prudence; they were over-ruled.)

B-16 notes that a great friend of his and prominent rabbi--with whom he's had lengthy conversations about Jewish/Catholic relations--simply cannot accept Christ's words.

Grim said...

I also have a great friend, a man whom I admire in the highest degree, who is -- if not quite a rabbi -- a strictly observant Jew and a philosopher. Of course, he doesn't buy even the 'Judaeo-Christian' view as it is set out here, but the strictly Jewish one.

What's interesting to me is the degree to which the Judaeo-Christian church -- earlier in form, and headed by James the brother of Jesus -- leaves out everything that is important to the Christian faith as we know it. I mean Logos, the divinity of Jesus, and the capacity for redemption.

By the way, speaking of the Pope and the Rabbi, I assume you know the old joke? I retell it here in the confidence that my own friend would approve.

Several centuries ago, the Pope decreed that all the Jews had to convert to Catholicism or leave Italy. There was a huge outcry from the Jewish community, so the Pope offered a deal: he'd have a religious debate with their leader. If the Jews won, they could stay in Italy.

The Jewish people met and picked an aged and wise rabbi to represent them in the debate. However, as the rabbi spoke no Italian, and the Pope spoke no Hebrew or Latino, they agreed that it would be a 'silent' debate.

On the chosen day the Pope and rabbi sat opposite each other.

The Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers.

The rabbi looked back and raised one finger.

Next, the Pope waved his finger around his head.

The rabbi pointed to the ground where he sat.

The Pope brought out a communion wafer and a chalice of wine.

The rabbi pulled out an apple.

With that, the Pope stood up and declared himself beaten and said that the rabbi was too clever. The Jews could stay in Italy .

Later the cardinals met with the Pope and asked him what had happened.

The Pope said, "First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up a single finger to remind me there is still only one God common to both our faiths.

"Then, I waved my finger around my head to show him that God was all around us. The rabbi responded by pointing to the ground to show that God was also right here with us.

"I pulled out the wine and host to show that through the perfect sacrifice Jesus has atoned for our sins, but the rabbi pulled out an apple to remind me of the original sin. He bested me at every move and I could not continue."

Meanwhile, the Jewish community gathered to ask the rabbi how he'd won.

"I haven't a clue," said the rabbi. "First, he told me that we had three days to get out of Italy, so I gave him the finger.

"Then he tells me that the whole country would be cleared of Jews but I told him emphatically that we were staying right here."

"And then what?" asked a woman.

"Who knows?" said the rabbi. "He took out his lunch, so I took out mine."

Dad29 said...

Love the humor!!

the degree to which the Judaeo-Christian church -- earlier in form, and headed by James the brother of Jesus -- leaves out everything that is important to the Christian faith as we know it. I mean Logos, the divinity of Jesus, and the capacity for redemption.

I'm sure you are using "brother" in the Aramaic/Hebrew sense of "close friend."

Regardless, your comment says it all about the sect and why it is no longer part of the Catholic main.

Grim said...

I'm using it in the sense Paul uses it in Galatians 1:19.

I think that is also the reason that the Judaeo-Christian faction faded. Without that core, there was nothing to sustain the faith of later generations.