On Being an Olive Branch: A Deepening of Ochs’ Critical Reading of Yoder

Paul Martens
Baylor University

Since John Howard Yoder’s The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited (hereafter JCSR) was published in 2003, the question of whether Yoder is or is not supersessionist has received considerable attention. The bulk of the material in JCSR was available for years prior to its publication,1 yet, when the editors of the volume suggested that Yoder’s rethinking of the Jewish-Christian schism entails an “unintended form of supersessionism”2 or that there are “supersessionist effects of Yoder’s argumentation”,3 a new and controversial conversation on Yoder’s theology was launched. The three-fold purpose of this essay is to further this conversation (a) by clarifying the nature of Peter Ochs’ charge that there is a strain of Yoder’s thought that tends toward supersessionism, (b) by fleshing out a theological understanding of why Ochs’ critical assessment can be affirmed and deepened with reference to a Christian understanding of humility, and (c) in conclusion, by arguing that Yoder’s supersessionism is deeply intertwined with his lack of appropriate humility concerning the nature and will of God and God’s kingdom.

Before attempting to outline the critical elements of Ochs’s reading of Yoder, it is helpful to reiterate the backdrop I assume that grounds the ensuing engagement. First, Yoder was profoundly and personally interested in articulating a reoriented Christian response to the violence that Jews have experienced at the hands of various sorts of Christians throughout history. Certainly, there are many reasons why the Shoah in particular should profoundly exercise a Christian theologian or ethicist. Yet, the fact that Yoder’s father-in-law was arrested by the Nazis on July 15, 1944 and held in Sachsenhausen and then Buchenwald until American forces arrived in April, 1945 provides Yoder with a unique perspective and motivation for unsettling the theological status quo. Second, Yoder had long-standing and mutually-enriching relationships with several Jewish thinkers, most notably the pacifist philosopher Rabbi Steven Schwarzschild. Although Yoder rarely displayed collegial affection—it seems that dedicating JCSR to Schwarzschild is as close as it gets—Schwarzschild’s letters betray the intimate depth of their relationship with affectionate quips like “Need I say it?  I do love you,”4 and playful jabs like “My God, man: in the past I have had some—purely theoretical—objections to your out-doing me in Jewishness; from the thoroughness with which you people seem to operate I am now beginning to fear that you may also out-do me in my Germanness—and that, surely, is too much.  Are you trying to steal all of my identity?”5 Third, Yoder spent the 1975-76 academic year at the Ecumenical Institute for Advanced Theological Studies at Tantur/Jerusalem. Although it is a little unclear what sort of professional interactions Yoder had during that year, it seems perfectly transparent that he left Israel with a heightened awareness of the political problems inherent in tying Judaism to the state of Israel and of his responsibility to articulate the enduring ties between the free church and Judaism.

Lastly, and narrowing our review of the backdrop to the immediate context, this paper surely would not exist if Ochs did not see much good in Yoder’s historical revision of Jewish Christian relations.6 I take this to be a non-controversial recognition that is generally (if not totally) affirmed in the debate concerning the ramifications of Yoder’s JCSR. It is alongside this affirmation, therefore, that the claim that Yoder is supersessionist has generated considerable confusion and, dare I say, disappointment. After all, Ochs himself states that “Post-liberal Jews should be maximally grateful for Yoder’s unflinching critique of Christian supersessionism.”7 If this last statement is true, however, why would he then charge Yoder with the same offense?8

A. Victory through Peace, Or, Why Ochs is Critical of Yoder

The olive branch is an ambivalent symbol. In ancient Greece, the victor in each event of the Olympic Games was presented with a wreath made from a wild olive branch. In ancient Rome, the olive branch was used as a sign of peace in martial contexts. The symbolic representation of peace is adopted by early Christianity, and the branch is often depicted as being carried by a dove in an attempt to signify that peace is brought by the Holy Spirit. The olive branch is, however, borne by other less-than-benign symbols as well. For example, echoing the ambiguous context of ancient Rome’s symbolism, the Great Seal of the United States depicts an eagle with an olive branch in one talon and a cluster of arrows in the other.

I begin with this brief comment on the olive branch simply to illuminate the polyvalent manner in which the olive branch can be perceived or received. The metaphor I intend here is that Yoder’s pacifist Jewish Christianity (and all that this description entails for Yoder) is the olive branch. For Yoder, it is the rediscovered Jewish Jesus of the first century that makes lasting peace between Judaism and Christianity possible, both in the first century and today. As such, this kenotic Jesus is victorious in the battle against the distorted forms of Constantinianism—in any form, but particularly Christian anti-Semitism and Jewish Zionism—that evolved in the struggle between Christians and Jews to construct mutually-exclusive identities. Therefore, Yoder’s revised historical account, which suggests the possible reunification of Judaism and Christianity, is offered as an olive branch—a sign of peace—to both Jews and the vast majority of non-Free Church Christians with hope and expectation.

However, when reading Ochs’ grateful dialogic response to Yoder’s offer of a revised Jewish Christianity, one cannot help but feel that Ochs is grateful while also more than a little nervous about the specter of the ambiguous symbol noted above. That is, Ochs fears that receiving the olive branch offered by Yoder’s right hand entails receiving something more pernicious from the left hand. In short, Ochs denotes this left-handed entailment with a familiar epithet: supersessionism. Much has been made of this charge. Upon closer examination, however, it is necessary to note that Ochs’ concern is not with Yoder’s politics (the usual forum in which supersessionism becomes concrete) but in the logic or methodology Yoder allows to determine the shape of his Jewish Christianity. For this reason, I devote this first section of my argument to demonstrating that Ochs’ disagreement with Yoder is, most basically, about the logic of his theological thinking and, therefore, the logic through which he reads Scripture.

1. The Logic of Yoder’s Thought.

According to John Nugent, it is not entirely clear what Ochs means by supersessionism when he is speaking of Yoder.9 In one sense, Nugent is right. Although the glossary provided by the editors in JCSR defines supersessionism broadly as “the theological claim that the Church has replaced Israel as God’s people for the salvation and blessing of the world,”10 the equivocation in Ochs’ language between supersessionism and non-nonsupersessionism invites equivocation in the charge against Yoder. What Nugent rightfully recognizes is that the charge of supersessionism serves to discredit Yoder’s Old Testament narration and, therefore, it cannot simply be ignored if one seeks to adhere to Yoder’s understanding of the biblical narrative as a whole. For this reason, Nugent works very hard to deflect the charge Ochs levels at Yoder.11

One cannot, however, transfer the equivocation in naming the charge against Yoder to an equivocation in the content of Ochs’ critique of Yoder.12 In The Free Church and Israel’s Covenant, Ochs provides a syllogism that captures Yoder’s thought, and it is most helpful for distilling his criticisms. I will simply appropriate and annotate this basic syllogism below in order to crystallize Ochs’ critique.13 In short, he attributes the following logic to Yoder:

Proposition A: Both rabbinic Judaism and the Free Church resist being defined by any set of choices that includes landedness, non-pacifism, centralization, anti-missionizing, and so on.
For Ochs, this proposition represents Yoder’s dominant voice; this is the voice of Yoder that is both postliberal and nonsupersessionist.14 This proposition also enables an account of the “wonders” associated with Yoder’s legacy. In short, Ochs gratefully and broadly affirms the content represented by this proposition—that is, Yoder’s challenge to anachronistic readings of the New Testament and the history of Christianity that assume a contest between reified and oppositional forms of Judaism and Christianity that emerged much later—and it is on the basis of the agreement expressed on these matters that Ochs, Daniel Boyarin, and others have come to value Yoder’s historical and theological contributions to Jewish-Christian relations.15 I take this to be the noncontroversial proposition that does not need further comment in this context.

Proposition B: Faithfulness for rabbinic Judaism and the Free Church requires resisting these choices (named in Proposition A) by logical negation within a binary system.
This proposition reflects what Ochs refers to as Yoder’s secondary voice, the “modern” voice that opens the door to supersessionism (or at least non-nonsupersessionism).16 Stated variously, the basic problem here is that Yoder’s logic is dyadic,17 binary,18 has no middle-ground,19 and is defined by the law of excluded middle.20 There are examples in Yoder’s corpus that defy this proposition (e.g., in What Would You Do?, he imaginatively describes the diverse, non-dualistic possibilities of responding to the threat of violence—that is, choosing neither to accept passively the threat as the final word nor to return the threat with violence).21 At his best, Yoder’s dominant voice overrides Proposition B. Yet, there are themes in Yoder’s corpus that operate along the lines of this secondary voice. According to Ochs, one of these themes is Yoder’s revisionist description of Jewish Christianity.

Ochs is not satisfied with simply stating Proposition B; he also outlines what he takes to be the philosophical foundation behind Yoder’s secondary voice, a foundation he spells out in some detail in both JSCR and Another Reformation.22 The reasoning that grounds the second proposition contains the following elements:

i.a. It maintains a mistrust of all inherited traditions (and one may think of Yoder’s

i.b. it places excessive trust in immediate or direct disclosures of knowledge (and here Ochs has in mind the Cartesian shape of what he terms Yoder’s “Christological intuitionism: a claim that members of the free church have immediate intuitions of what the Christ of Scripture demands of them”).23

ii.a. It draws a sharp distinctions between true and false statements, and

ii.b. it assumes that what appears to be the contrary of a true statement must be a false statement (and Ochs worries that this distinction is uncompromising in that it applies to all statements equally)

iii.a. It assumes a doctrine of fulfilled or messianic time (even if confined within the free church or among Christians). Therefore,

iii.b. messianic visions are conceptually clear and distinct (which is linked to i.b.), and (making possible the shift from epistemology to ethics),

iii.c. Christians have the potential to live these visions in fulfilled time (which also grounds Yoder’s refusal of Niebuhrian approximations as normative).

Once the reasoning of Yoder’s secondary voice is stated this way, it becomes clear that Ochs is not yet at the point of claiming that Yoder is supersessionist. Rather, this second proposition merely reveals the reasoning that makes the final conclusion possible. It is in the conclusion that the charge of supersession becomes a real possibility.

Conclusion: Therefore, we can infer that both rabbinic Judaism and the Free Church affirm the set of choices that includes non-landedness, pacifism, de-centralization, missionizing, and so on. 

According to Ochs, the problem with this conclusion can be stated in several ways. Perhaps most simply, the problem is that it logically creates a false essence to both rabbinic Judaism and the Free Church that resolves their individual identities and their alleged differences by creating one singular identity. There is no longer the possibility of complementarity through difference and dialogue.24 That is to say that their shared opposition to the normative claims of landedness, non-pacifism, centralization, anti-missionizing, etc, has been transformed, through Yoder’s application of the logic of the excluded middle, into a new set of normative claims about Jewish and Christian identity that renders them essentially indistinguishable.25 This essence is valorized, and other expressions of Judaism and Christianity are delegitimized.26 All difference—whether hypothetically or actually realized in history—“did not have to be,” to use Yoder’s own phrase.27

Further, Ochs points out that this syllogistic reasoning promotes a typology in the name of a kind of historical science28 (e.g., “Jeremianic Judaism” freezes one moment in the history of the Jews into a “clear-and-distinct, once-and-for-all construction” or emblem that avoids the complexities of the actual biblical narrative,29 especially the partial return to the land in Ezra-Nehemiah).30 Again, Ochs does not fear the contents of these emblems. Rather, he fears the conceptual finality of their form. In his own words, “I fear that this is precisely the form of secular Western rationalism rather than of the redemptive pattern of God’s word among us. It is not the new wine I fear, but the absence of old skins. These conceptual forms are not the skins of Jacob, but of the secularized uses of Enlightenment thinking that bred nationalism along with a reduced hermeneutic of reason. I do not trust such skins.”31 What this means for reading the Bible, therefore, is that when Yoder reads Scripture in this mode, he is doing little more than drawing Jews and non-Anabaptist Christians into a sphere of already completed interpretive conclusions.32 But is this strand in Yoder’s thought really supersessionist? Below, I argue that it is.

2. A Strand of Supersessionism?

If the operative definition of supersessionism here concerns the claim that the Church has replaced Israel as God’s people, then one can only move to address the question by displaying how the formal logic outlined above determines—or does not determine—Yoder’s handling, materially, of the relationship between the Church and Israel. In this context, I will attempt to reconstruct in skeletal form (a) the overarching shape of Yoder’s Old Testament narrative, (b) his theological interpretation of the appearance of Jesus in the first century, and (c) his turn to a normative appropriation of the narrative that invites the charge of supersessionism.33

In order to illuminate Yoder’s general understanding of the Old Testament narrative, it is helpful to step back from some of the narrower discussions contained in JCSR. For example, in The Original Revolution, Yoder articulates what he takes to be the real historical “progress” revealed in the Old Testament. He suggests that the focus of this progress should not be thought of in terms of a changing ethical code but in terms of progress in “an increasingly precise definition of the nature of peoplehood.” He clarifies:

The identification of the people of Israel with the state of Israel was progressively loosened by all of the events and prophesies of the Old Testament. It was loosened in a positive way by the development of an increasing vision for the concern of Yahweh for all peoples and by the promise of a time when all peoples would come to Jerusalem to learn the law; it was loosened as well in a negative direction by the development of a concept of the faithful remnant, no longer assuming that Israel as a geographical and ethnic body would be usable for [Y]ahweh’s purposes.34

A few pages later, he continues:

Thus the relativizing of the given ethnic-political peoplehood is completed in both directions. There is no one in any nation who is not a potential son of Abraham since that sonship is a miraculous gift which God can open up to Gentiles. On the other hand there is no given peoplehood which can defend itself against others as bearers of the Abrahamic covenant, since those who were born into that unity can and in fact already did jeopardize their claim to it by their unbelief.35

It is clear that this narrative, obliquely contra Yoder’s assertion about ethical codes, is not just about the definition of peoplehood but about a definition of the lived faithfulness of a peoplehood. This narrative concerning the relativization of the Jewish peoplehood culminates in Christ, the one who reconciles Jews and Gentiles into one unified body, the new humanity, the community that faithfully follows the politics of Jesus:36 “[T]wo estranged histories are made into one. Two hostile communities are reconciled. Two conflicting lifestyles flow together.”37

Acknowledging the possible disjunction between these strong claims concerning Christ’s role in defining God’s peoplehood and the preexisting practices and beliefs already present in the Hebrew Scriptures, Yoder appeals to Paul and, more specifically, to Paul’s reference to the “mystery of Christ” in the letter to the Ephesians. For Yoder, a mystery is like information that is temporarily hidden. Therefore, the “mystery of Christ” referred to in the letter to the Ephesians “is rather like a military battle plan which was previously hidden from the public eye, although it was present in the mind of the strategist, but is now visible for all to see because the acting out of what was planned is itself its revelation.”38 Explaining the metaphor further using martial examples such as the British conquest of the Malvinas and the Israeli conquest of Lebanon, he claims that the world, including the Jews of the first century, could only learn about God’s battle plan for the new humanity “from the church.” For Yoder, only when Jew and Gentile are eating at the same table (and here Yoder has in mind the messianic “love feast,” that is, the most basic form of the Eucharist)39 and “lovingly adjusting their lifestyles” is it possible to say that peace is God’s purpose.40 Finally, now that the mystery of Christ has been revealed in the life and practices of the early church, one must “get on board” and join the battle on the side of Christ. Yoder offers a most relevant and most emphatic articulation of what is at stake here in the progressive definition of the people of God:

The coming of the kingdom of God is unstoppable. We need to be reminded that God’s reign is not a democracy. It doesn’t depend on the consent of the governed. God’s kingdom and the certainty of the ultimate triumph of God’s purposes in, for, and beyond history is a fact. You don’t vote on facts. A fact just is. You believe it and adjust to it, or you are damned.41

Stepping back from this brief reconstruction of Yoder’s account of the transition from an “ethnic-geographical” definition of the children of Abraham to a description of the faithful remnant as followers of Christ, one can see that the binary logic of either “ethnic-geographical” or “faithful” echoes precisely Ochs’ concerns noted above. Yes, Yoder has overcome an absolute dualism between Jews (an ethnic-geographic identity) and Gentiles—that is, Gentile Christians (an ethical-political identity)—but the non-dualism is resolved immediately in non-difference: the non-difference of exilic, pacifist, democratic, missionizing Jewish Christianity that Ochs refers to repeatedly with considerable ambivalence. This is not merely “offering a biblically rooted vision of communal faithfulness,”42 although it is a form of that. Rather, it is an over-reaching narrative of progress that claims (implicitly and explicitly) that the Church has replaced Israel as God’s people for the salvation and blessing of the world, which, as indicated above, is the definition of supersession provided by JCSR.43 Or, perhaps even stronger, it is a narrative in which the terms “Israel” and “Jewish” no longer have any constitutive meaning outside of the Church other than as modes of damnable unfaithfulness.44

B. On Being Grafted, Or, On Christian Humility

In order to turn to the task of posing an appropriate Christian response to Yoder’s secondary voice, I would like to return to the metaphor of the olive branch. In Romans 11, two kinds of olive branches make an appearance: wild and cultivated olive branches. The former refers to Gentiles, and the latter refers to Jews; neither neatly parallels the popular imagery of peace or victory. The relationship between the two branches in Romans 11 is rather complicated and, perhaps, confounding. Paul attempts to provide a rough chronological and theological ordering of the various horticultural activities God has performed on the “cultivated olive tree” (v. 24), the metaphor that applies to the people of Israel:

(1) Israel, which has been carefully tended by God throughout history, has rejected God through disobedience and contrariness. Therefore, God has broken off some of the branches from it “because of their unbelief” (v. 20).

(2) God has, “by grace” (v. 6), chosen a faithful remnant from Israel. That is, God has allowed some of the indigenous branches to remain untouched.

(3) Gentiles—“wild olive shoots”—have been grafted on to the cultivated tree in the place of the broken branches. In this way, Gentiles are supported by the “rich root of the olive tree” (v. 17). This is, admittedly, “contrary to nature” (v. 24).

Holding on to the metaphor, he then sketches the potential future activities of the divine gardener:

(4.a) If the engrafted wild branches do not “continue in [God’s] kindness” (v. 22), they will be broken off as well.

(4.b) If Israel does not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in again.

Outlined this way, it may appear that the story of Jewish and Gentile inclusion and exclusion follows a certain economy or logic of exchange: disobedience and unbelief result in a good pruning, and faithfulness and kindness preserve the life of the branch. This sort of reading can be appropriated easily for ethical ends, but this reading of the Romans passage is only a half-truth. A closer examination of the passage reveals that Paul cannot quite describe God’s gardening within a logic of exchange. In fact, any potential economic logic that humans might understand is quickly undermined, first in that God’s grace is the means of selecting original branches to remain in place, second in acknowledging that the “gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (v. 29) regardless of human response, and finally, in claiming that “God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all” (v. 32). As it turns out, the apparent lack of logic that emerges from his musings upon the cultivated and wild branches causes Paul to throw up his hands and exclaim in the manner of Job:

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or, who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. (vv. 33-36)

I have returned to the metaphor of the olive branch not primarily for the purpose of arguing that Yoder should have addressed this passage directly and incorporated the notion of Israel’s election into his narrative. Tommy Givens tackles that issue head-on, and others have recognized Yoder’s relative silence about this text and have proposed different conclusions to explain its absence.45 I return to this particular passage, however, in order to illustrate one simple theological point: first-century Christians could maintain no posture in their existence as wild olive branches other than one of humble and grateful praise in the face of the mystery of God’s grace. That is the conclusion Paul is led to. Did this position entail a demand for faithfulness and obedience? Of course, yet this was neither the first, nor the last, nor a universally specified word. I believe that Yoder does not quite account for the complex reality that Paul’s metaphor of the olive branch evokes in his narration of Jewish Christianity, and this is what I take to be the root of the problem in Yoder’s articulation. What do I mean by this? I will attempt to explain with reference to the confident character of Yoder’s overarching narrative. To specify what I take to be Yoder’s fundamental difficulty in Christian terms, I return to Ochs’ constructive proposal.

1. Ochs’ Appeal for Vagueness.

One cannot tell Yoder’s narrative of the progress, culmination, and completion of the kingdom of God without a supremely high level of confidence in one’s understanding of “the facts” of God’s kingdom and in one’s reading of Scripture and history. Responding to the version of Yoder’s allegedly Jewish narrative contained in Nonviolence which, like the narrative in The Original Revolution, begins with holy wars and ends in the model of nonviolent salvation after the style of Jehoshaphat,46 Ochs admits:

This single end is not the plain sense of the Tanakh, except when that Bible is read through the lens of the Gospel. And, even then—if I read this correctly, and I cannot be sure—except when the Gospel is read through a lens reading the name of Jesus Christ as also the name “nonviolence.” This returns me to my starting point: a wariness about substituting words of natural language for divine names and divine attributes, finite words for the infinite, clear ones for the mysterium.47

Certainly, Yoder never shied away from claiming that the person of Jesus is “the ultimate canon within the canon,”48 but that fact does not automatically lead him to his supersessionism any more than his pacifism automatically leads him to the same. After all, Stanley Hauerwas would hold some form of both of these as non-negotiable for Christianity, yet he is considered among the nonsupersessionists by Ochs.49 The heart of Ochs concern, rather, is that Yoder’s modern reasoning arrogates to a reading of Scripture and history that cannot be claimed by human beings. Or, to rephrase, it falsely assimilates the theocentric (divine speech) and the anthropocentric (scientific discourse—specifically social-scientific discourse—and human language) in a manner that is then encoded in a specific, clearly defined and rationally understood set of actions that are valid in all times and places.50 Ochs continues with reference to the confidence Yoder demonstrates in his domestication of the nonviolent Christ within the political:51 if Yoder is right about the mystery of Christ—that is, if Christianity is “made clear” in this modern sense—then supersessionism is another name for conceptual totalization.52

Against this potential for conceptual totalization exhibited in Yoder, Ochs appeals to the modes of reading Scripture that emphasize a “tolerance for vagueness.”53 This call for vagueness is rooted in Ochs’ larger postliberal attempt to read Scripture in a reparative manner after modernity. (This will be familiar to many readers of this journal.) In terms of the relation between Judaism and Christianity, postliberalism is generally considered the third phase or epoch of their continually evolving relationship. Typologically considered, the first epoch was concerned with communal self-definition that defined the other as other; the second epoch, which Ochs identifies as modern, attempted to overcome this mutual exclusion by assimilating both Judaism and Christianity to the unifying religion of reason. When Ochs describes Yoder as modern or Cartesian, he is essentially identifying the strand in Yoder’s thought that imitates this Enlightenment attempt to unify Judaism and Christianity with reason.54 Postliberalism, the third epoch, is still in its relative infancy. Given its immediate history, however, one can naturally expect an exceptional sensitivity to the temptation of the reasonableness and clarity promised by the Enlightenment. Therefore, the appeal to vagueness should be understood as a constitutive element of the practice of reading Scripture and not as something that can be overcome in any a priori or non-contextualized sense. But, of course, the question still remains: how does a “tolerance for vagueness” actually serve Ochs’ scriptural interpretation?

To begin, in order to repair the binary logic of modernity that Ochs has also attributed to a strain of Yoder’s thought, he suggests in Another Reformation that a postliberal reading of Scripture formally recognizes (1) that all readings of Scripture are context-specific, (2) that the interpretation forms and only operates within a logic of relationality, (3) that the mode of repairing the binaries of modernity is vague—that is, the rule of repair cannot be diagrammed independently of the specific activity of repair—and (4) that God is the ultimate source of repair.55 But why these “rules”? In short, Ochs’ suggests that there is no other way to respect the two streams of signification in the scriptural text than to read in this way. To use his own terms, which are appropriated from Pierce and Augustine:

[R]eading the scriptural text means inhabiting a dialogue between what one may call two streams of signification: on the one hand, the range of referential meanings that flow from the plain sense of the scriptural text (itself understood as a set of relations among words and meanings within the text); on the other hand, the narrower range of interpreted (or “said”) meanings that flow from this text’s relation to this reader or this community of readers.56

For Ochs, there is a natural tension between these two non-identical streams of signification, but this tension is mediated by a Third, the one who speaks both streams and yet is not reducible to them: God.57 To eliminate the mediating Third—that is, to attempt to read Scripture without dependence on God—is to descend into the agonistic dialectic of competing streams; to drop one of the streams, either intentionally or unintentionally, is to create the illusion that there is a non-contradictory way to conduct an inquiry of the text. To assert that either or both streams are monolingual is to claim that the reading of Scripture is no longer necessary. In their own ways, all three of these attempts to circumvent the vagueness inherent in the practice of reading Scripture thereby replicate the logic of modernity. And, returning to Yoder, it is this third attempt that Ochs implies rather explicitly when he charges Yoder with reading Scripture along the lines of “already completed interpretive conclusions.”58 Consequently, Yoder’s Christ, the pacifist and political Christ, becomes reified, conceptualized, and sociologically (i.e., empirically) constructed. In short, “Christ encountered directly replaces the Christ of Scripture—the one who is read and interpreted in community and, thus, vaguely.”59 Ochs simply counters: “we cannot possibly know, before the fact, how [a] community of study will read Scripture and what voice will speak from out of their reading.”60

2. An Appeal for Christian Humility.

In the space that remains, I would like to reframe Ochs’ concern for vagueness in terms of humility, especially the humility required by Christians in the face of the grace and mystery of Christ. In doing so, I argue that it is finally possible to free the dominant voice in Yoder’s thought to fulfill its promise. Until this point, I have retained Ochs’ naming of the “voices” or “strains” of Yoder’s thought as “dominant” or “primary” (that is, the strain that displays the wonders of Yoder’s thought) and “secondary” (that is, the strain that displays the burdens of Yoder’s thought). This manner of naming indicates a relative hierarchy or relative privilege. In the following, I hope to demonstrate that these strains are, in fact, intertwined and at times deeply dependent upon one another. In some cases, what Ochs’ labels as “secondary” is in fact functionally dominant. Therefore, to avoid confusion, I suggest that replacing Ochs’ terms with the designations “reparative” and “constrictive” may lend further clarity to the relationship of these strains in Yoder’s corpus.

To begin this task, it is important to note that much has been made of Yoder’s emphasis on patience, specifically his anti-Constantinian appeal to obedience in terms of patience and faithfulness rather than in terms of effectiveness.61 In recent years, Chris Huebner and others have shown that Yoder’s patience can positively respond to Ochs’ appeal for vagueness in some measure, and this has not gone unnoticed by Ochs.62 Patience and humility, however, are not the same virtues even if there may be significant overlap both semantically and in common practice. The former is primarily concerned with expressing a willingness to wait for an indeterminate amount of time; the latter is primarily concerned with a posture that recognizes its limits and/or defers to an authority other than oneself. I believe this distinction is helpful to begin to understand how Yoder can strongly advocate patience while also exhibiting a lack of humility in certain respects, especially in his reading of the nonviolent metanarrative of Scripture. In this connection, Peter Blum helpfully reminds us that patience “is by no means incompatible with the strong conviction that one’s views are in fact true, a point that comes across clearly in Yoder’s essay.”63

In a general sense, Ochs’ anti-modern insistence that neither the things of the created world nor the messages of God’s revealed Scriptures are adequately “captured,” represented, or defined by humanly constructed claims is on the right track.64 The Christian tradition has at least two richly represented streams of resistance to this modern tendency: the apophatic or negative stream that emphasizes the non-identity of God and human claims and the kataphatic stream of surplus that claims that God is more than any definition or quality that humans might claim.65 And, contrary to these streams, it is precisely in Yoder’s claims about the content in the divine domain that he lacks sufficient humility.66 Because of this lack of humility, Yoder’s constrictive voice is allowed to gain traction and assert itself, first in terms of his eschatologically-oriented metanarrative of salvation history and, subsequently, in terms of his supersession of Judaism. To begin to explain, I return to his most popular text, The Politics of Jesus.

On the final page of the text, Yoder unveils that the driving force of his entire theological project is the eschaton. The confidence with which he describes the ends and means of the eschaton,67 however, is startling:

The future that the seer of Patmos sees ahead is a universe—that is, a single system—in which God acts and we act, with our respective actions relating to each other. The spiritual and providential laws which we expect to see at work in this system are as solid for the believer as are the laws of dialectical materialism for the Marxist.68

He continues, spelling out the requisite human actions in terms of a social style characterized by “the creation of a new community” and “the rejection of violence of any kind.”69 Or, to rephrase, Christians are living in messianic or fulfilled time as they instantiate this particular social style. To summarize, “the means is the end in process of becoming.”70 The medium is the message; there is no distinction between the what and the how: “How God is doing it is not distinguishable from what God is doing, and how the world can know about it is again the same thing.”71 Understood this way, it appears that Yoder’s strong moral commitment to the politics of Jesus definitely has as its object a semantically precise set of actions, developed in detail in many of his writings and expressed most generally as the creation of a community that rejects violence of any kind.72 By extension, therefore, the same semantically precise set of actions that characterize and, in fact, causally bring about the coming kingdom are the identifying marks of the faithful church (his early nomenclature)73 or the Jewish Christian community (his later nomenclature).

If this is the case, then it should surprise no one that the Jewish-Christian schism is necessarily read through the above metanarrative. Therefore, Yoder’s normative description of Jeremianic Judaism again necessarily aligns with the nonviolent social style displayed by a select stream within the free-church tradition. This is the new community in which the mystery of Christ is fulfilled and made plain in history. This is the new world in which there is only one sort of olive branch, and it will be victorious. However, this does not seem, to me at least, to be the translucent logic of God’s actions in the world portrayed in Romans 11. Of course, one may want to stand with Yoder in asserting that Christians need to be patient in waiting for the day when the Lamb will rule the world, and one may want to assert with Hauerwas that an eschatological ethic “puts one in the ball park” of peace and places the burden of proof on those who attempt to justify Christian participation in war.74

But there is little room in Yoder’s narrative for one to admit that one’s human language cannot adequately capture the nature and will of God and/or the appearance of the kingdom of God in history. Once one gets to the level of confidence displayed by this strain of Yoder’s thought, biblical interpretation and theology become little more than thinly-veiled exercises in apologetics. His nonviolent eschatological framework already serves as the presumed and irreproachable ground from which Scripture is read and theology is constructed in the service of a nonviolent political agenda, and it seems only natural that self-proclaimed followers of Yoder have now begun to rewrite their theology in terms of a completed conception of a nonviolent God with a remarkable lack of humility. This revised theology completely lacks (a) a recognition of the limits of human epistemology and language in the domain of the divine and (b) a recognition that, even with Scripture and the Incarnation, Christians are still left with an incomplete, limited, and imprecise revelation.75 In this voice, Yoder seems to imply that either Paul was wrong that Christians “see through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12) while still on this earth, or that we in the present day have a perspective that qualitatively transcends that of Paul.

C. Freeing Yoder’s Reparative Voice

At this point, it is necessary to reiterate that there is another reparative strain in Yoder’s thought that resists the particular sort of arrogance I have attempted to illuminate above. I have spent so much time illuminating the constricting stream of his thought because of what I believe is at stake if it is allowed to remain unchallenged. That is, as long as the constricting voice remains unquestioned, the solidified scriptural metanarrative within which the reparative voice speaks will continue to constrict the practice of reading Scripture and, consequently, will continue to restrict the fruit that it might otherwise bear. This is why I have sought to make the logic of this strain as stark as possible. Two examples—Yoder’s accounts of binding and loosing and dialogical liberty—should suffice to indicate the potential dissonance between the two voices and the manner in which the constricting voice problematically circumscribes the reparative.

At various points in his corpus, Yoder reflects on the practices of the church that serve the church and, in so doing, also serve the world. Two of these are referred to as “binding and loosing” (also “The Rule of Christ”) and “dialogical liberty” (also “The Rule of Paul”). The first, rooted in Matthew 18, is the practice of communal moral discernment and forgiveness. In this process, the members of the believing community are empowered by God to determine when communal rules have been broken, when the rules of the community are inadequate and need modification, when reconciliation and forgiveness are needed, and then what sort of reconciliation and forgiveness is needed.76 The second, rooted particularly in 1 Corinthians 14, is the practice of recognizing that everyone who has been given something to say by the Holy Spirit can have the floor when the community meets. The role of the community, then, is to weigh what is spoken and come to a consensus about what God is saying to the community.77

Both of these practices seem to be entirely in line with Ochs’ form of postliberal reasoning in that both are context-specific and both operate within a logic of relationality. The extent to which these are truly “vague” or dependent upon God, however, is contingent upon the larger framework in which they function. In short, if they are placed within the logic of Yoder’s constricting voice, the God that guides and enables these practices (to use Yoder’s language)78 will be limited by the already distilled ethical categories and possibilities ascribed to God’s kingdom. In this case, Scripture has already done its work, and these communal practices then become utilitarian means of advancing and further specifying the ethical work of the kingdom within the already prescribed set of parameters. Under the logic of the constricting voice, the first practice then becomes person-to-person forgiveness, and the second practice then becomes the open meeting or democracy.79 Of course, these are good and necessary parts of a healthy community. This is why Ochs does not fear Yoder’s politics, but, as Kierkegaard saw so clearly, in construing one’s social ethic in this manner, God becomes a vanishing point because the community’s moral reasoning and dialogical discourse presume that their politics or social ethics are identical to the work of God.80 This is the logic that Ochs also fears, and this logic is good for neither Judaism nor Christianity.

Thus far, I have argued that, to the extent that Yoder’s thought is shaped or framed within his over-reaching metanarrative, that constricting metanarrative perpetuates and perhaps grounds the binary logic of modernity that Ochs has outlined so carefully. However, this need not be the case. This is neither the only nor, hopefully, the final word Yoder has to offer. If the Christian community that practices binding and loosing and dialogical liberty also humbly reads Scripture with the expectation that God has not yet spoken the last word—that God has not yet been fully captured by one’s experience or intellect—then that community is also open to being guided and enabled by the presence of God. Naturally, the faithful Christian community will be rooted in historical debates and tentative conclusions: the deep reasonings, to borrow from Nicholas Adams,81 of the Christian tradition. These deep reasonings, however, are never fully conceptualized or brought to a final resting point as long as Christians believe that God still speaks. Yes, this requires humility, vulnerability, and a recognition that one still has much to learn, but this is precisely what Yoder’s reparative voice also displays in his account of the faithful Christian church and Christianity’s relation to Judaism. Ochs is generous enough to recognize this voice in Yoder’s thought, but he is also brave enough to call Yoder and his readers back to Scripture, back to the Christ of Scripture, back to the mysterious story of how Christianity came to be. It is my hope that Christians who deeply appreciate Yoder’s reparative voice respond in line with Augustine’s exhortation:

Let us rather reflect by whose grace it is, and by much mercy, and on what root, we have been ingrafted. Then, not savoring of pride, but with a deep sense of humility, not insulting with presumption, but rejoicing with trembling, let us say: ‘Come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord,’ because His ‘name is great among the Gentiles.82


1. The material constituting this text was initially gathered together as a “Shalom Desktop Packet”, and Yoder circulated it informally among colleagues in 1996. Further, several of the essays included were previously published, and much of the rest of the material was available online through the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
2. Peter Ochs, in John Howard Yoder, The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited (hereafter JCSR), eds. Michael G. Cartwright and Peter Ochs (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 40.
3. Cartwright, JCSR, 206.
4. Letter from Steven to Mr. J. Yoder, Sept. 25, 1972, Box 132, “Steven Schwarzschild,” John H. Yoder Papers, 1947-1997. JM 1-48. Mennonite Church USA Archives – Goshen. Goshen, Indiana.
5. Letter from S. S. Schwarzschild to Prof. J. Yoder, Dec. 10, 1980, Box 201, “S.S.S. Planning Course.”
6. Ochs’ commentary in JCSR repeatedly refers to the “wonders” of Yoder’s contribution to Jewish-Christian dialogue today. For a brief summary statement, see JCSR, 38-39. See also Ochs, Another Reformation: Postliberal Christianity and the Jews (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011), 127-46.
7. Ochs, JCSR, 158.
8. There have been other critical renderings of Yoder’s articulation of Jewish-Christian relations. See, for example, John W. Miller, “In the Footsteps of Marcion: Notes toward an Understanding of John Yoder’s Theology,” Conrad Grebel Review 16:2 (1998): 82-92; A. James Reimer, “Theological Orthodoxy and Jewish Christianity: A Personal Tribute to John Howard Yoder,” in The Wisdom of the Cross: Essays in Honor of John Howard Yoder, eds. Stanley Hauerwas, Chris K. Huebner, Harry J. Huebner, and Mark Thiessen Nation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), pp. 430-48; and, alongside Ochs, Michael G. Cartwright, “Afterword: ‘If Abraham is Our Father…’: The Problem of Christian Supersessionism after Yoder,” in JCSR, pp. 205-40. I have chosen to single out and concentrate on Ochs’ critique, however, because (a) it is the most penetrating and nuanced of the available critiques (especially because he returns to the question in four different contexts) and (b) it is exceptionally useful for contextualizing Yoder’s difficulties and for moving forward constructively.
9. John C. Nugent, The Politics of Yahweh: John Howard Yoder, The Old Testament, and the People of God (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2011), 164.
10. Ochs and Cartwright, JCSR, 278.
11. See Nugent, The Politics of Yahweh, 166-71.
12. Although Ochs’ The Free Church and Israel’s Covenant (Winnipeg, MB: CMU Press, 2010) may have been available at the time Nugent made the comment reiterated above, he certainly would not have had the benefit of consulting Another Reformation or “Nonviolence and Shabbat,” Conrad Grebel Review 29:3 (2011): 88-102.
13. See Ochs, The Free Church, 20-21.
14. Ochs, Another Reformation, 127.
15. See especially Daniel Boyarin, “Judaism as a Free Church: Footnotes to John Howard Yoder’s The Jewish-Christian Schism RevisitedCrosscurrents 56:4 (Winter 2006-2007): 6-21, and Alain Epp Weaver, States of Exile: Visions of Diaspora, Witness, and Return (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2008).
16. Ochs, Another Reformation, 127.
17. Ochs, Another Reformation, 160.
18. Ochs, JCSR, 120. Ochs also suggests that Yoder aligns with Schwarzschild in this way.
19. Ochs, JCSR, 203.
20. Ochs, The Free Church, 21. For a fuller account of the problems Ochs associates with “binarism” and the manner in which Scriptural Reasoning attempts to resist it, see Ochs, “Response: Reflections on Binarism,” Modern Theology 24:3 (2008):487-97.
21. See John Howard Yoder, What Would You Do? (rev. ed.) (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1992).
22. See Ochs, JCSR, 39-40 and Another Reformation, 155. What I have done in this outline is distill and display the various strands of Ochs’ argument in italics and inserted my annotations in parentheses.
23. Ochs, Another Reformation, 156. Readers sympathetic to Yoder might want to argue that Yoder’s assumption of a communal context for interpretation sidesteps this charge (and Alain Epp Weaver suggests this argument in “John Howard Yoder’s ‘Alternative Perspective’ on Christian-Jewish Relations,” Mennonite Quarterly Review 79.3 (2005), 314-15). Ochs might simply reply that the communal hermeneutic process Yoder advocates assumes, on the basis of its confidence in the immediacy and affirmation of the Holy Spirit,  just as much of a Christological intuitionism as the practices of reading a text individually.
24. Ochs, The Free Church, 6.
25. Ochs, JCSR, 68 and Another Reformation, 147.
26. Ochs, Another Reformation, 147.
27. See Ochs, JCSR, 43-66.
28. Ochs, The Free Church, 18.
29. Ochs, The Free Church, 22.
30. See Paul Kissling, “John Howard Yoder’s Reading of the Old Testament and the Stone-Campbell Tradition,” in Radical Ecumenicity: Pursuing Unity and Continuity after John Howard Yoder, ed. John C. Nugent (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 2010), 137-47.
31. Ochs, The Free Church, 22-23.
32. Ochs, JSCR, 159.
33. As indicated above, I understand that others, and Cartwright in particular, have articulated arguments that make the case that Yoder is supersessionist. The argument contained here can be understood to be in general agreement with the charge on the basis of a simpler description of the basic problem.
34. John Howard Yoder, The Original Revolution: Essays on Christian Pacifism (rev. ed.) (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2003), 101.
35. Yoder, Original Revolution, 103-4.
36. John Howard Yoder, To Hear the Word (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2001), 25.
37. John Howard Yoder, He Came Preaching Peace (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1985), 112. This is the most succinct statement, by my estimation, which Yoder makes that crystallizes the central thrust of JCSR.
38. Yoder, He Came Preaching Peace, 109. In this text, “The Broken Wall”, Yoder is referring particularly to Ephesians 3:2-9 as it helps us to understand how Christ removed the wall between Jews and Gentiles. Cartwright uses similar texts to reconstruct his account of the Yoder’s narrative in JCSR, 208-211.
39. Yoder, He Came Preaching Peace, 112.
40. Yoder, He Came Preaching Peace, 115.
41. John Howard Yoder, Radical Christian Discipleship, eds. John C. Nugent, Andy Alexis-Baker, and Branson Parler (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2012), 46.
42. Nugent, The Politics of Yahweh, 168. Nugent suggests that, if this is supersessionist, “then so were Jesus, Paul, and other first century Jewish teachers who did the same thing” (168).
43. For reasons that will become clear below, I have become wary about the consequences of arguments that utilize the language of “progress” or telos as the means of relating Jews and Christians. Yoder is a good example of the problems of the former; I have argued elsewhere that Aquinas is a good example of the problems of the latter in Martens, “On the Superiority of the New Law: Stumbling through some Difficulties with Thomas Aquinas,” Theology Today 60.2 (July 2003): 170-185.
44. In “Nonviolence and Shabbat,” Ochs notes that “the editors of the [Nonviolence] remind me [that] Yoder’s Christianity supersedes all things, not only Jewish self-understanding” (98). As one of the editors of Nonviolence, I would like to take the liberty of elaborating on this statement. I have argued, in The Heterodox Yoder (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2012), that Yoder’s narrative is a narrative in which the term Christianity no longer has any constitutive meaning except as a reference to a specific set of ethical practices (also defined as a social ethics or politics) that have been preserved in the pacifist, free church tradition.
45. Tommy Givens, “The Election of Israel and the Politics of Jesus: Revisiting John Howard Yoder’s The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited,” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 31.2 (2011): 75-92. See also Cartwright, “Afterword,” 211, 227-30, and Nugent, The Politics of Yahweh, 167n53. Cartwright treats the fact that Yoder largely ignores Romans 9-11 as supportive of his case that Yoder is supersessionist while Nugent argues that Yoder does acknowledge God’s election of Israel in JCSR and, in that context, also recognizes that there are dialectically related accounts of covenant—metaphysical and ethical—that are both true (though connecting them is a task for Jewish thought) (see JCSR, 84). See also Richard Bourne, Seek the Peace of the City: Christian Political Criticism as Public, Realist, and Transformative (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2009), 259-61.
46. See John Howard Yoder, Nonviolence—A Brief History: The Warsaw Lectures, eds. Paul Martens, Matthew Porter, and Myles Werntz (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010), 79.
47. Ochs, “Nonviolence and Shabbat,” 98.
48. Yoder, To Hear the Word, 77.
49. See Ochs, Another Reformation, 93-126. Hauerwas, in Matthew (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2006), provides a summary statement of his position that, even though articulated in reference to Jews as tenants in God’s vineyard (Matthew 21:33-46), applies well to this context: “Jesus’s use of the vineyard in these parables, as well as his cursing the fig tree, suggest to some that Jesus is rejecting Israel as his promised people. Such a reading makes sense because we know, as is hinted throughout Matthew’s gospel, that the Gentiles often understand Jesus better than his own people do. Moreover, at the end of the gospel Jesus charges the disciples to go to all the nations (Matt. 28:19). But it is also clear that the mission to the nations does not mean that God’s promise to Israel has been superseded. Rather than presuming that these parables provide grounds for determining ‘who is in and who is out,’ we should rather attend to how these parables work to help those who are “out” identify themselves. The chief priests and Pharisees realized that he was speaking about them” (187).
50. Ochs, “Nonviolence and Shabbat,” 94.
51. This is not to say that Ochs worries that Yoder’s Christ will be domesticated in the service of an oppressive political agenda. That Christ can be concretely and precisely captured in political (i.e. empirical) language is Ochs’ concern. To use his own words: “What I trust in Yoder are not the English phrases he uses or the precise definitions he provides for them…” (“Nonviolence and Shabbat,” 99).
52. Ochs, “Nonviolence and Shabbat,” 98.
53. Ochs, Another Reformation, 158.
54. See Ochs, Another Reformation, 4-5.
55. Ochs, Another Reformation, 16-17.
56. Ochs, “Reflections on Binarism,” 493.
57. Ochs, “Reflections on Binarism,” 494.
58. Ochs, JCSR, 159. See also 143.
59. Ochs, Another Reformation, 163.
60. Ochs, JCSR, 159. See also 204.
61. Yoder, Politics of Jesus, 232. See especially John Howard Yoder, “‘Patience’ as Method in Moral Reasoning: Is an Ethic of Discipleship ‘Absolute’?” in Hauerwas et al, Wisdom of the Cross, 24-42.
62. See Chris K. Huebner, “Patience, Witness, and the Scattered Body of Christ: Yoder and Virilio on Knowledge, Politics, and Speed,” in The New Yoder, eds. Peter Dula and Chris K. Huebner (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2010), pp. 121-41, and Ochs, The Free Church, 23. See also, in another vein, Romand Coles, “The Wild Patience of John Howard Yoder: ‘Outsiders’ and the ‘Otherness of the Church,’” in The New Yoder, 216-52.
63. Peter C. Blum, “Yoder’s Patience and/with Derrida’s Différance,” in The New Yoder, 116.
64. Ochs, Another Reformation, 159.
65. While some accounts of the kataphatic present it as positive content about God stated with certainty, I would like to clarify that, when rightly understood, the kataphatic protects the unsayability and unknowability of God via an infinite surplus of positivity and excess of language and concepts. I want to thank David Wilmington for pressing this clarification.
66. This is another way of denoting Ochs’ wariness of Yoder’s Christological intuitionism.
67. In truth, this is not really not so much an unveiling as an extension of his early thought expressed in Peace Without Eschatology? (Scottdale, PA: Concern Reprint, 1959).
68. Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, 242. A claim of precisely this sort appears in Nonviolence as well. Yoder claims that Gandhi took a step beyond Tolstoy because he understood the “cosmos as a unity of spiritual powers, interwoven in an unbroken net of causation.” Further, Gandhi recognized that “fasting or praying or sexual continence, and above all the active renunciation of violence, could exert spiritual power—‘soul force’—upon the adversary.” Most interestingly, he continues: “Had Gandhi been more versed in New Testament theology, he might have spoken of such a power in terms of the logos sustaining all of creation or of the risen Lord subjecting to his sovereignty the powers of a rebellious creation” (24-25). To my mind, this is the best context for understanding the importance of “the powers” in Yoder’s thought.
69. Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, 242.
70. Yoder, Nonviolence, 46.
71. John Howard Yoder, For the Nations: Essays Public and Evangelical (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 41.
72. See Ochs, “Nonviolence and Shabbat,” 95-6. The fact that this community may also exhibit various other ethical activities in their social style—e.g., feeding the hungry, fighting for justice, etc—simply further illustrates the logic at work here.
73. See, for example, John Howard Yoder, The Ecumenical Movement and the Faithful Church (Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House, 1958).
74. Stanley Hauerwas, “The End Is In the Beginning: Creation and Apocalyptic,” unpublished paper presented at Baylor University, March 2, 2012,  p. 21-22.
75. See, for example, J. Denny Weaver, The Nonviolent Atonement (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001). I am grateful to Darrin Snyder Belousek for helping me understand the importance of both of these sets of limits.
76. See, for example, John Howard Yoder, Body Politics: Five Practices of the Christian Community Before the Watching World (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1992), 1-13.
77. See, for example, Yoder, Body Politics, 61-70.
78. Yoder, Body Politics, 9.
79. See Yoder, For the Nations, 29-36.
80. Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, trans. and eds. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), 68.
81. See Nicholas Adams, Habermas and Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 241-42.
82. Augustine, “In Answer to the Jews,” trans. Marie Liguori, in Saint Augustine, Treatises on Marriage and Other Subjects (Washington, DC: Catholic University Press, 1955), 414. To be clear, in citing this portion of Augustine’s text, I am not agreeing with Augustine’s interpretation of Romans 11. For a very helpful introduction to the legacy of Augustine’s understanding of Jewish-Christian relations, see Jeremy Cohen, Living Letters of the Law: Ideas of the Jew in Medieval Christianity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

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