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Is there a "New Israel"?


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#1 Peter Simko

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 08:17 PM

I have heard it said by Father Thomas Hopko on numerous occasions that there is absolutely no "New Israel", that there is in fact only one Israel. However, on this forum, I've read numerous comments about the Orthodox Church being the "New Israel", while the "Old Israel" consisted of the chosen people before Christ. At present, my understanding is that the Church is grafted into the one Israel through Christ, but I would be interested to hear other perspectives on this--the case for the "New Israel", as it were. Are there any Fathers that seem to support the Church as the "New Israel" or deny this? If anyone knows of any sources, it would be greatly appreciated.


>>>Pete

#2 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:31 PM

There is this:


1 Peter 2:9-10

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God


Pentecost saw the start of this chosen generation, and the early Church Fathers saw the Church as the New Israel. The western Church firmly holds this view which was stated in Vatican II.

#3 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 01:19 AM

If this is indeed an accurate summation of what Fr. Thomas said, then I suspect he may be incorrect, or seriously misinterpreted.


"In Christ, then, the covenant with Israel was fulfilled, transformed, and transcended. After the coming of the Messiah—the Incarnation of God the Son—only those who are 'built into Christ' are counted among the people of God. In Christ, the old Israel is superseded by the Christian Church, the new Israel, the body of Christ; the old covenant is completed in the new covenant in and through Jesus Christ" (Fr. George Cronk, The Message of the Bible; St. Vladimir Seminary Press; 1982, p. 80).

Saint Paul wrote, "Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham … if you are Christ’s then you are of Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:7-9). St. Paul also called the body of believers "the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16).

The Hymnody of the Church is full of references to the "New Israel" referring to the Church. I don't know how anyone could possibly interpret it otherwise, but then, I am a bear of admittedly little brain.

Herman the not so new Pooh

#4 Peter Simko

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 11:34 AM

Here are two quotes from two podcasts of his:

[Y]ou have the new Testament; you have the new Covenant; you have the new anthropos, the new man, the new humanity; you have the new Heaven and the new Earth; you have the new song to sing. All things are made new, but there is no new Israel. There’s only one Israel of God. And that Israel, belonging to Abraham—it’s a matter of faith, not a matter of flesh and blood.


There is no new Israel; there is the one Israel of God, which is the people that God has gathered. But once the Messiah comes, it includes the Gentiles. It includes the Jew and Gentile, slave and free, men and women, barbarian, Scythian, free, whatever. It includes any human being who’s a sinner and wants to enter in to be saved. There’s no exclusion of anybody who believes and accepts the Gospel, none.


Herman, could you provide a hymn with this wording? I beleive you, but I don't particularly recall an instance where "New Israel" appears. "New Jerusalem", yes, but I don't remember "New Israel".

As much as I love and appreciate Father Tom, I can understand that he could be just plain wrong, but my suspicion is that the term "New Israel" can mean different things--different enough to allow meaning to penetrate further than the mere term...

#5 Peter Simko

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 12:07 PM

I just discovered this, the third stichera on the Lord, I have cried from Palm Sunday:

Let us also come today, all the new Israel, the Church of the Gentiles, and let us cry with the Prophet Zechariah: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem; for behold, Thy King comes unto thee: He is meek and brings salvation, and He rides upon the colt of a donkey, the foal of a beast of burden. Keep the feast with the children, and holding branches in your hands sing His praises: Hosanna to the highest; blessed is He that comes, the King of Israel.


The question to me, given this text, is this: does the "New Israel" include the "Old Israel"? Or are those separate entities? Personally, I am now inclined to think that the New Israel should be inclusive, let's say, of the righteous of the Old Testament. But given the "Church of the Gentiles" language in the hymn, that doesn't exactly mesh. Any insights?

#6 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 12:31 PM

Peter, I don't think that Fr. Thomas, in the quote you provided is saying any different than the witness of the Church. He is saying that there are not TWO Israels and he is right. The "new" thing is simply overemphasizing a semantic issue to make a point. There is one continuing worshipping people of God. The Church is not a "different" Israel, it is the same one, so in a sense it is not "new". But it is no longer a geopolitical issue, it has become something more, therefore it can be said that it is, indeed, new. We tend to make too much out of rhetorical techniques. Rhetoric is not absolute. Hyperbole and over statement are valid techniques when used to make a point. We "moderns" no longer appreciate what that means anymore since we have been successfully dumbed down by what passes for modern education.

#7 Seraphim Hamilton

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 04:04 AM

I think a more precise expression of the Church's teaching is identifying the Church as the "Renewed Israel." God did not do away with His old People and create a new one. All the covenants and promises of old are in full force. He simply renewed His People in the Person of the incarnate Logos, cutting off those who, in apostasy, rejected the Messiah, and grafting in those Gentiles who accepted the Messiah. "The Church" is the highest and most advanced form into which God has shaped His People.

In Christ,
Seraphim

#8 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 06:14 PM

Given that any New Israel would have to have the New Jerusalem as its capital, and that the New Jerusalem is yet to be presented to the world...

#9 Mike L

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 04:41 PM

It's not so much a "New" Israel, but a New Covenant with the Israel of God. Re: Jer. 31:31 tying in with Heb. 8:8. The Church is Israel, but what some never say is also that Israel was/is the Church ("ekklesia"). People tend to think of the literal descendants of Jacob, but "Israel" always implied the People of God, as the name literally means "man ruling with God" (ish-ra-El).

#10 H. Smith

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 04:22 AM

Here are two quotes from two podcasts of his:

Herman, could you provide a hymn with this wording? I beleive you, but I don't particularly recall an instance where "New Israel" appears. "New Jerusalem", yes, but I don't remember "New Israel".

As much as I love and appreciate Father Tom, I can understand that he could be just plain wrong, but my suspicion is that the term "New Israel" can mean different things--different enough to allow meaning to penetrate further than the mere term...

 

Peter,

 

You may note three more statements by Fr. Hopko on this topic:


 

 

According to the New Testament Scriptures and particularly according to Saint Paul, the Church is in complete continuity with Israel, to the point that with all the emphasis in the New Testament on newness—the New Covenant, the new creation, the new heaven, the new earth—we don’t see the expression, ‘new Israel.’



http://yorkshiretale...rm__theosis.php

 

 

“God then sends his only-begotten Son… to be the New Israel, or the real Israel, to show what Israel is


 

http://ancientfaith....firstborn/print

 

 

The same way that Israel was the firstfruit of the Old Covenant, now the new Israel—well, there’s no Israel now—in the Israel of God, by faith and by grace, the firstfruit are those who believe in Jesus as the Christ and who accept him at his coming.


http://ancientfaith....irstfruit/print

 



I think that this clears up his meaning about the way there is- and the way there is not- a New Israel.



#11 Owen Jones

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 12:08 PM

No, it does not clear up the meaning at all.  The underlying spiritual meaning is lost by simply posting quotes that posit "positions." 



#12 Edith M. Humphrey

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 01:26 AM

I'd like to try to shed some light on this question, if I may.  Fr. Hopko is quite right that there is no reference to a new Israel in the NT, which is striking because there is new creation, new Jerusalem, new Adam, etc. And it is clear that he is wanting to stress the continuity of the Church with Israel, which is as it should be, since we honor the OT prophets, etc. as the "crowd of witnesses" present in our worship and represented in icons.  I suspect the main thing he is trying to correct is the idea that Gentiles supersede Israel, in the sense that we might be tempted to be arrogant as some of the Roman Christians appear to have been, and had to be warned by the apostle Paul, "don't boast over the natural branches, because they can be grafted back into the vine even more easily than you wild branches were grafted in."  Language like "New Israel" might give the impression that God has turned his back on Israel after the flesh, and no longer heeds his covenant with them: that is, they have no chance at all to return to God. But when the apostle used terms like "the Israel of God" (Galatians) and "all Israel" (Romans 11) he means, of course, a Church composed of Jew and Gentile, all who trust Jesus and have become members of God's household.  

 

I would respond to this that in the Scripture we see both continuity AND discontinuity, though I understand Fr. Hopko's concern.  After all, Jesus told the parable of the vineyard, and ends with the very threatening reference to the Psalms, which he interprets in terms of a change of workers in the vineyard:

"(Matthew 21:42-43) Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner: This was from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."

 However, it is also true that in several places in Scriptures, this kind of strong prophetic warning remains a warning and does not end in absolute judgement (e.g. Jonah's dilemma, after he preached and Ninevah repented).  So, we probably can't take Jesus' words at the end of this parable as an indication that the original "builders' or workers in the vineyard have been unequivocally rejected, and cannot return.  When St. Paul describes the situation of the general rejection of Jesus by his own people, he comments that there always has been a large body of "Israel" after the flesh, and a smaller group, a 'remnant' that is faithful.  This remnant, of course, is represented in the 12 and the 70, among others, who formed the foundation of the Church--not to mention link figures like John the baptist, Zechariah, Elisabeth, and --praises!--our dear Theotokos.  So, there is ONE Israel, as Fr. Hopko says--and now it includes Gentiles who have been made sons of Abraham.  Through the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension, and through Pentecost, perhaps we should speak of a RENEWED or TRANSFORMED Israel.  There is continuity and discontinuity here, like St. Paul's description in 1 Cor 15 of the soul-animated body (soma psychikon) which we now have, over against the spirit-animated body (soma pneumatikon) which we shall possess at the resurrection--the same person we will be, but transformed. 

 

This is my take on it, anyway.

 

best to all,

Edith 



#13 Lakis Papas

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 12:26 PM

The exodus of the people of God from Egypt was type and image of the exodus of Church from the gentile world and of its way to the heavenly Jerusalem. Exodus in Christ offered salvation and rest, the eternal blessedness, the last exodus, the finish of «the centuries».

 

Old exodus and Moses belong in the past. Jesus, « Christ our passover », is the future, the eschatological era.

 

Faithfulness in the case of Moses, is limited under his house, and only under Israel. It is limited of space and time. The faithfulness of Christ is not limited in national limits. It is universal in character and diachronic. The work and aim of Moses was the extraction of the people of Israel from Egypt and his final rest in the promised land. But while the final rest of the people in the promised land never occurred, neither Moses came into it, because of his unfaithfulness to God, Christians are been admonished to remain «until the end» faithful to Christ, for to come into His rest, in which He has already came into.

 

From 

THE TRADITION OF THE EXODUS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND IN THE RITUAL LIFE OF CHURCH  http://tinyurl.com/cu8mjpr



#14 Edith M. Humphrey

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 12:12 AM

This quote, Lakis, from The Tradition of the Exodus, is helpful in establishing the difference between old and new covenant, but does not really address whether it is appropriate to speak of old and new Israel.



#15 Lakis Papas

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 12:43 PM

I think, if you define the difference you can use the terms "old" and "new" Israel.



#16 Andrew Pantelli

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 09:53 PM

Put simply, the gentiles were grafted into Israel, which is the foundation of Christianity. When the Jews rejected, the Israel that had accepted and became the Church, Israel (Church) was no longer a place but a spiritual people, where all who accepted Jesus Christ were part of. Jerusalem has no temple and no sacrifice is offered there.The Church is the continuation (growth) of Israel, in spirit, as Christ lives in all believers. The israel as it was, is no longer as it was, because it has grown, and become available to all.






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