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The Mark of Cain and the Jews


Augustine’s Theology of Jews and Judaism


This book examines the development of Augustine of Hippo’s theology of the Jewish people and Judaism. Formulating a typological association between the biblical figure of Cain and the Jews, he crafts a highly intricate theology that justifies and even demands the continuing presence of Jews and their religious practices in a Christian society. Such a theology emerges out of his highly original interpretation of Genesis 4:1–15 and yet mirrors and theologically justifies the reality of Jews and Judaism in the late Roman Empire.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0385-6
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Jun 18,2014
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 214
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0385-6
$36.00

This book examines the development of Augustine of Hippo’s theology of the Jewish people and Judaism. Formulating a typological association between the biblical figure of Cain and the Jews, he crafts a highly intricate theology that justifies and even demands the continuing presence of Jews and their religious practices in a Christian society. Such a theology emerges out of his highly original interpretation of Genesis 4:1–15 and yet mirrors and theologically justifies the reality of Jews and Judaism in the late Roman Empire.

Augustine first develops this theology of the Jewish people and Judaism in his anti-Manichaean work, the Contra Faustum. Based on his interpretation of Genesis 4:1–15, Augustine constructs an elaborate and detailed typological association between the figure of Cain and the Jews. Based on such a reading, Augustine insists that the Jewish people serve as a witness people to the truths of Christianity. Because of their role, Augustine formulates a policy of non-violence toward the Jews by insisting that they stand under divine protection. The mark of such protection is their on-going Torah observance. Thus, Augustine provides a theological justification for the practice of contemporary Judaism, a right granted them even under the Christian emperors of the late Roman Empire. What is new and distinctive in Augustine’s teaching on the Jewish people is that he forges an innovative Christian understanding of Jewish Torah observance after the first coming of Christ. Augustine’s theology will mark and shape Jewish-Christian relations for centuries.

This book examines the development of Augustine of Hippo’s theology of the Jewish people and Judaism. Formulating a typological association between the biblical figure of Cain and the Jews, he crafts a highly intricate theology that justifies and even demands the continuing presence of Jews and their religious practices in a Christian society. Such a theology emerges out of his highly original interpretation of Genesis 4:1–15 and yet mirrors and theologically justifies the reality of Jews and Judaism in the late Roman Empire.

Augustine first develops this theology of the Jewish people and Judaism in his anti-Manichaean work, the Contra Faustum. Based on his interpretation of Genesis 4:1–15, Augustine constructs an elaborate and detailed typological association between the figure of Cain and the Jews. Based on such a reading, Augustine insists that the Jewish people serve as a witness people to the truths of Christianity. Because of their role, Augustine formulates a policy of non-violence toward the Jews by insisting that they stand under divine protection. The mark of such protection is their on-going Torah observance. Thus, Augustine provides a theological justification for the practice of contemporary Judaism, a right granted them even under the Christian emperors of the late Roman Empire. What is new and distinctive in Augustine’s teaching on the Jewish people is that he forges an innovative Christian understanding of Jewish Torah observance after the first coming of Christ. Augustine’s theology will mark and shape Jewish-Christian relations for centuries.

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Contributor Biography

Lisa Unterseher

Lisa A. Unterseher is currently Associate Professor of Religion at Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina. She received her Master of Divinity and Ph.D. in the History of the Christian Tradition from Southern Methodist University.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Acknowledgements (page 7)
  • Introduction (page 9)
  • The Legal and Social Context of Augustine's Theology of Judaism (page 21)
  • Cain and Abel in the Pre-Augustinian Exegetical Tradition (page 61)
  • Augustine's Exegetical Pilgrimage (page 89)
  • Augustine's Theology of Jews and Judaism (page 113)
  • Reverberating Themes (page 151)
  • Conclusion (page 171)
  • Bibliography (page 183)
  • Index (page 205)
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