People of God: historical and theological perspectives

Juha Pihkala Doctor in theology, docent of dogmatics, University of Helsinki (Universitetsgatan, 4, Helsingfors, Finland, 00100),

Pihkala J. People of God: historical and theological perspectives, Religiya. Tserkov’. Obshchestvo. Issledovaniya i publikatsii po teologii i religii [Religion. Church. Society: Research and publications in the field of theology and religious studies], Saint-Petersburg, 2016, vol. 5, pp. 18–33.

doi: 10.24411/2308-0698-2016-00002

Language: English

The article discusses the term «People of God» and its theological interpretations. The question is important for theology of religion in the Jewish-Christian context, because this picture is both joining and separating these religions. «People of God» is one of the central terms portraying the Jewish faith-community, but also the Christianity has espoused it, believing to be its successor.
The early Christianity felt, that Christ fulfilled the messianic promises of the Old Testament: in him the People of God got its new King from stock of David. The Jewish community didn’t accept this interpretation. Therefore, the raising Christianity had to detach from them, but not from the Old Testament and the idea of the continuity of the People of God. Paul, for instance, emphasizes, that all the promises given to Jewish people in the Old Testament are still valid. Nonetheless, some other interpretations occurred, which contended quite the opposite: when the Church was born, the Jewish people became derivative. Many conflicts in history had been undoubtly promoted by these interpretations.
The author stresses, that it is not possible to give reasons for such kind of «replacement theology». Even though Christians and Jews now are separated, the one has not substituted the other. There is only one People of God, but it went on two distinct roads. In this context this article also discusses the status of so called Messianic Jews.
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Key words: Сhurch, ecclesiology, images of Church, replacement theology, theology, holocaust, continuity


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