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Verbum et Ecclesia

versão On-line ISSN 2074-7705
versão impressa ISSN 1609-9982


VAN OORT, J. Augustine and the Jews: An introductory overview. Verbum Eccles. (Online) [online]. 2009, vol.30, n.1, pp.349-364. ISSN 2074-7705.

The article explores how Augustine of Hippo (354-430) deals with the Jews and Judaism. First it investigates the occurrence and meaning of the word "Iudaeus" in Augustine's works. It turns out that Augustine, unlike many a predecessor, does not make a sharp distinction between "Hebrew", "Israelite", and "Jew". Mainly on the basis of The City of God the role of the Jews in history is discussed. According to Augustine, all true believers (even those living before the time of Jesus) are "Christ believers" and are considered to belong to Christ's body, the Church. The diaspora of the Jews is evaluated both negatively and positively: negatively as a consequence of "their putting Christ to death"; positively since through the dispersion of the Jews their Scriptures have been dispersed as well and so provide "testimony to the truth taught by the Church". The so-called "mark of Cain" can not be interpreted as a predominantly positive sign: it provides protection indeed, but this divine protection is, once again, "for the benefit of the Church". Contrary to some current opinion, it is stressed that Augustine knew contemporary Jews in Roman North Africa quite well.

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