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Israel and the Church: The Origins and Effects of Replacement Theology [Paperback]

By Ronald E. Diprose (Author)
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Item description for Israel and the Church: The Origins and Effects of Replacement Theology by Ronald E. Diprose...

Modern Israel and its relations with its Arab neighbors has been conspicuously in the daily news ever since World War II. Until that time, the concept of "Israel" and a continuing Jewish people had been hovering in the distant background of Christian thought and doctrine since the postapostolic era. In this important work, Dr. Diprose demonstrates the uniqueness of Israel and its special place in the divine plan. By carefully reviewing relevant New Testament and postapostolic writings, the author traces the origin and development of Replacement Theology-the concept that the Church has completely and permanently replaced ethnic Israel in the outworking of God's plan throughout history-challenging its origin and role in the development of Christian thought on the future of ethnic Israel.

Publishers Description
Modern Israel and its relations with its Arab neighbors has been conspicuously in the daily news ever since World War II. Until that time, the concept of "Israel" and a continuing Jewish people had been hovering in the distant background of Christian thought and doctrine since the post-apostolic era. In this important work, Dr. Diprose demonstrates the uniqueness of Israel and its special place in the divine plan. By carefully reviewing relevant New Testament and post-apostolic writings, the author traces the origin and development of Replacement Theology the concept that the Church has completely and permanently replaced ethnic Israel in the outworking of God's plan throughout history challenging its origin and role in the development of Christian thought on the future of ethnic Israel.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Paternoster
Pages   265
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2004
ISBN  1884543979  
ISBN13  9781884543975  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ronald E. Diprose

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ronald E. Diprose has an MA from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL and a Ph.D. from the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Louvain, Belgium. He is Academic Dean at the Insituto Biblico Evangelico Italiano, Rome, Editor of the theological journal Lux Bibilca, and author of numerous publications and articles in the Italian language.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Israel and the Church?

Finally, A Man with no guile!  Mar 6, 2008
The well constructed step by step, clear and concise explanation on where replacement theology comes from and it's gnostic alegorized roots. How a Jewish sect became greek sophistry. Thanks Mr. Diprose, for weakening the roots of a long lived anti-semetic forest.
Simply superb  Sep 7, 2007
In brief, this is simply the best introduction to a bibical and historical overview of supersessionism. Diprose quotes the early church writers and provides salient critique of key arguments used by replacement theologians. The book is a handbook for anyone looking for the facts of history and the arguments of Scripture.

Highly recommended!
On Replacement or Fulfillment  Feb 6, 2007
Noting the atrocities committed against the Jewish people throughout history,
Professor Diprose has undertaken to demonstrate that Christian theology's
inattention to the biblical data concerning Israel has been destructive to
Christian thought (page 3). Diprose marks "replacement theology"
(also called "supersessionism")
as the chief culprit--the notion that for her disobedience Israel has been
disinherited from her covenantal relationship with God, allowing the
covenant promises to pass to the church.

Diprose begins by laying out the Old Testament case for Israel's uniqueness.
He turns next to the New Testement evidence, perusing ten relevant texts.
Having concluded in his estimation that replacement theology is not necessitated
by the
biblical data, he turns to the post-apostolic fathers in his pursuit
of the origins of the doctrine. In this central and most helpful
chapter of the book Diprose traces the development of replacement theology
from the second century, pseudonymous "Epistle of Barnabus" to Augustine--
a storied development, he shows aptly, that proceeds hand in glove
with the allegorical method of Origen and others. He concludes with
chapters documenting the effect of replacement theology for ecclesiology
and eschatology. He argues that, as they considered themselves to have
surplanted Israel, the post-apostolic and medieval churches took on the
trappings of Israel herself--as illustrated by the three-tiered hierarchy
of priest, elder and deacon over and against the New Testement model (102).

Though offering an insightful look into the sub-apostolic church, the book is
not without its difficulties. Diprose gives little attention to defining
replacement theology before beginning his debunking of it. The doctrine is,
instead, treated monolithically, as a doctrine "now widely rejected," (2) and
that without giving much attention to its modern developments. Really? What
are we then to make of the various shades of continuity found throughout the
Reformed traditions? These different schools emphasizing continuity between
the testaments are recognized in a footnote, but one gathers from those cited
that the argument is really being advanced against the more virulent forms of
the doctrine found in the realized eschatological school. Second, Diprose's
cursory treatment of the New Testament passages (all within one chapter) leaves
one feeling that there might be more his opponents could contribute. Though
admitting that some passages do allow for replacement theology
(Gal. 6:16 and 1 Peter 2:4-10),
Diprose advances only one passage that, in his view, clearly excludes the doctrine
(Romans 9-11). That this passage is a central one does favor his argument, but one
wonders if such a weighty argument can really be resolved in a few pages. Finally,
the conclusion leaves the reader wondering how he ought to respond. Diprose states (173),
"Likewise, the teaching of systematic theology, whether in schools or in local churches,
should include reflection on Israel just as it includes reflection on the Church...
Theologians also need to weed out those elements in Christian theology which are the
fruit of replacement theology." Teach Israel? Whatever does he mean by this? And weed out?
Stopping where and at what? A few examples might have been helpful.

Originating as a doctoral dissertation, it is written in an academic style. Owing to its lengthy, and helpful, citations, this book would be a useful addition for those interested in the developments of the doctrine within historical theology.
Clarity on the Relationship of Israel and the Church  Aug 11, 2005
A scholarly work emanating from Europe that essentially defends a Premillennial view of Israel and the Church is an unexpected surprise. Yet that is what Ronald Diprose has written. Diprose is Academic Dean at the Evangelical Italian Bible Institute in Rome and is Editor of the theological journal Lux Biblica. An American who studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Diprose received his doctorate from the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven, Belgium. This work is the result of his dissertation there.

The subtitle of the book, "The Origin and Effects of Replacement Theology" summarizes succinctly what Diprose has attempted to do. He has traced the rise of the view in the second century and he has illustrated its effects in a number of theological areas. He is obviously critical of "Replacement Theology" which he briefly defines as the idea that "all that formerly pertained to ethnic Israel now pertains to the Church" (169). While those sympathetic to this view may quibble about such an oversimplification of their theology, they will have to deal with Diprose's thorough analysis and criticism, rather than carping about his definition. It will not do if some respond that their version of Israel and the Church is not exactly what Diprose criticizes in all its details. It is true that he has painted with a broad brush, but (to continue the metaphor) he has thoroughly covered the wall with that brush.

According to Diprose, "In spite of the fact that Israel's status as an elect people is confirmed by Paul in Romans 9 - 11, the view that the Church had completely replaced Israel in God's plan became the dominant opinion in post-Apostolic Christendom." He illustrates how "some church fathers went further when they affirmed that the Church had always been the true Israel of which the physical Israelites were but the visible sign" (169). The logic of replacement theology required that much of the Old Testament be allegorized. Only in this way could the Church be made the subject of passages in which the nation of Israel is addressed. This, according to Diprose, led to the virtual abandoning of the Hebrew world view and concept of God and the adoption of a framework of thought which had roots in Greek philosophy. All of this then led to an attitude of contempt toward ethnic Jews and led to the exclusion of Israel as a subject of theological reflection. Our author provides an abundance of quotes from fathers, both ancient and medieval, to illustrate these attitudes in Chapter Three (69-98).

Diprose then discusses in two chapters the implications of this view for ecclesiology and eschatology (99-168). The increasing use of Levitical terminology (priests officiating at a sacrifice, e.g.) illustrates just one ecclesiological implication. The view of the Church as the normative expression of the Messianic kingdom with the result of an unhealthy triumphalism in the Middle Ages illustrates an implication for eschatology.

Diprose emphasizes two principles that emerged from his study. First is the "failure to reflect seriously on Israel in light of all the relevant biblical data has serious consequences for the entire enterprise of Christian theology" (171). He works out one further theological implication in an extended appendix where he critically evaluates the "Two Covenant View" espoused by some Christian theologians and Jewish writers (175-189). This is one of the few writers to address this view which has a growing fascination, especially among those preferring "dialogue" between the communities, as opposed to traditional evangelism among Jewish people. Diprose encourages such advocates of the two-covenant" view to look further back to the Abrahamic Covenant rather than the Sinaitic Covenant for greater clarity on this subject. In this regard he would seem to have the backing of Paul, especially in Galatians 3 and 4.

The second principle emerging from his study is that "Christian theology must be based on sound hermeneutical principles which presuppose the Church's essential relationship with Israel" (172). One of those hermeneutical guidelines is what he calls the "canonical principle" (191). I quote: "Inasmuch as the Jewish-Christian dialogue involves parties that recognize two partially different canons of Scripture, Christian partners in dialogue are obliged to bring to bear their understanding of the inter-relatedness of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament writings. Where the constraints of dialogue lead to the development of views involving the suppression of apostolic teaching, the best interests of both Israel and the Church are lost because no real progress can be made at the expense of truth" (191-92).

It is his commitment to the implications for ecclesiology and missions that distinguishes Diprose's book from others who simply criticize covenant theology and amillennialism on the basis of their dispensational weaknesses. Dispensationalists will find little to criticize in this book. Although Diprose comes at the issue from a different angle, he arrives at conclusions that are essentially the same as others who have voiced concerns over replacement theology's non-literal hermeneutic.

This book is highly recommended to students, to pastors, and to literate laymen who face today the onslaught of replacement theology in its various forms.

Excellent Treatment of an Important Topic  Apr 30, 2005
This volume contains parts of a dissertation for which the author was awarded the Ph.D. In Theology.

The topic is extremely important, both for a better understanding of Jewish-Christian relations throughout history, and for an accurate assessment of the role of Israel today, especially in relation to the promises of Scripture and the need to evangelize the Jews.

The foreword, written by Donald Tinder, Ph. D., summarizes the problem (xi-xii):

"The triumphant professing church of the Middle Ages assumed (without bothering to prove) that it had taken over the promises and blessings (but not the curses) that God had promised Israel. Our own time has seen the culmination of centuries of Christian Anti-Semitism in the German Holocaust and the subsequent debate as to whether Jewish people are considered to be saved-as Christians would understand it-by virtue of God's covenant with Israel. Dr. Diprose demonstrates that major areas of Christian doctrine have been shaped by the Church's attitudes towards Israel. But tragically for the Jewish people and for the Christian theological tradition, this crucial role of Israel has not been systematically, publicly, and generally reflected upon."

Replacement Theology--the view that the Church has replaced Israel as the recipient of God's promises-- has caused much confusion and contributed to the sad reality that many Christians undervalue or misunderstand the Jewish roots of their faith. At the same time, Christian attitudes toward the Jews and their Scriptures (Rom. 3:2; 9:4) have dissuaded the Jews from considering the New Testament to be a Jewish book.

An especially valuable contribution of this book is the author's discussion of the development of Replacement Theology in post-apostolic times. Replacement Theology was spawned in the fertile ground of a developing rivalry between Judaism and Christianity concerning the interpretation of the Old Testament:

"A particular area of rivalry between Christianity and Judaism concerned the Old Testament Scriptures. For their part, the Rabbis rejected the Christian interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures when these were used to demonstrate that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel. On the other hand, Christians freely appropriated to themselves much in the Hebrew Scriptures that was originally addressed to Israel. This was facilitated by the practice of allegorical interpretation."

As the animosity grew between Judaism and Christianity, the tendency to follow the literal interpretation of the text-wherever it led-was suppressed and the Scriptures were twisted to serve the needs of either party in this polemic confrontation. The result was a denial of Israel's identity and significance within Scripture. The author provides a helpful survey of early Church Fathers tracing the development of the idea that Israel was replaced by the "New Israel," the Church.

Another valuable chapter considers the effect of Replacement Theology upon ecclesiology (the doctrine of the Church). If one has ever wondered how the governmental structure of the historic Christian Church came to differ so greatly from that found in the New Testament, part of the answer is found in the development of Replacement Theology. Once the Church appropriated to itself Old Testament passages concerning the nation of Israel, it was inevitable that the liturgical understanding of the Church would borrow increasingly from the Law of Moses and the levitical priesthood. This failure to apprehend the distinction between Israel and the Church underwrote the development of a New Testament priestly sect-clearly portrayed within Roman Catholicism, but also present among branches of Protestantism. Predictably, the New Testament doctrine of the priesthood of all believers suffered as a result.

More familiar to those who have studied eschatology (the doctrine of the last things) is the effect of Replacement Theology upon an understanding of the sequence of events related to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the "thousand years" of Revelation 20. The premillennialism of the early Church eventually toppled as the Church was motivated to deny a future literal kingdom on earth in favor of a purely spiritual kingdom consisting of the Church here and now. Predictably, this resulted in a denial of a key element of the millennial kingdom as set forth in both Testaments: the future spiritual restoration of the nation Israel.

The author is to be commended for avoiding the excesses which lie on both sides of this topic: those who deny the uniqueness and continued relevance of Israel to God's plan and those who deny the need for the Jews to exercise faith in Jesus as the sole means of salvation. As the eccumenical inter-faith movement continues to develop, voices within Christianity are increasingly being heard to the effect that Judaism can find salvation by virtue of a different covenant than Christianity: the Mosaic rather than the New. The author identifies the unbiblical nature of this view (Jer. 31:31-34; Acts 13:38; Rom. 3:20; 11:26-27; Gal. 3:21).

A minor disappointment is the author's apparent disdain for dispensationalism (xiii). Having initially been taught Replacement Theology, this reviewer is indebted to dispensationalism, and its literal grammatico-historical interpretation, for revealing the unbiblical premise that the Church is the "New Israel." The author dislike for dispensationalism is difficult to understand given its contribution to the topic at hand. Consider the remark from the foreword: "But tragically for the Jewish people and for the Christian theological tradition, this crucial role of Israel has not been systematically, publicly, and generally reflected upon." Yet a comprehensive treatment of this topic has been systematically, if not publicly, reflected upon--by no less a dispensationalist than Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum (Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology). Indeed the modern reemergence of a Biblical understanding of the prophetic significance of Israel owes a tremendous debt to dispensationalism and its premillennial understanding of Scripture, complete with a literal 1,000-year reign of Jesus from a restored Jerusalem. This distain for dispensationalism is particularly puzzling considering that the very distinction between Israel and the Church which the author supports has been identified as an essential attribute (sine qua non) of dispensationalism (Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 39).

This is a minor disappointment in a text which is a breath of fresh air amid the growing confusion in theological circles concerning the continued relevance of Israel in light of Biblical revelation. Diprose's treatment of the topic contains a wealth of important data, is balanced on the whole, and stands as a much needed antidote to the errors of Replacement Theology, and especially its more virulent manifestation: Preterism.

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