QuoteOriginally posted by: Marsdenaccording to traditional Judaism, for example, Christians, but not Muslims, are idolators.I just wanted to comment on this as it is an interesting area.The earliest comments on Christianity by Jewish commentators who are widely revered to this day are from Maimonides (Rambam) and Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki ("Rashi") in the 10th and 11th century. To Orthodox Jews both these Rabbis are intellectual giants -- and they held widely differing views. Maimonides lived in Muslim Egypt expressed hostility towards the idea of the Trinity, however, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki who lived in Christian France did not. In today's Orthodox world, I believe the Chief Rabbi of England, Jonathan Sacks, does not consider Christianity to be idolatry. Here is the Chief Rabbi of Milan, who I think is worth reading:QuoteThe Sephardic front is authoritatively represented by Maimonides, who, if compared with the diversified position of the Talmud, takes a more radical and univocal stance, eliminating the distinction between the inhabitants of the land of Israel and those living outside Israel, treating all Christians as idolaters tout-court. Next to this negative vision of Christian theology, Maimonides does however give a more open and moderate assessment of the Messianic role of Christianity and Islam in the world. Here is for instance a passage of the Treatise on Kings, which does not appear in all editions (of the Mishneh Torah), because in most of them it is censored: "To understand the thoughts of the Creator of the world is not possible to man, because our ways are not His ways and our thoughts are not His thoughts (Is 55,8); nevertheless, all the words of Jesus of Nazareth and of the son of Ishmael [Mohammed] who came after him are aimed at paving the way to the King-Messiah and at preparing the whole world to serve God together, as it is written: because I shall then transform the language of the peoples into a pure language, so that all shall invoke the Name of the Lord shall serve him in a sole unit [all together, in harmony] (Sof. 3,9)?. Following the line of thought begun by Yehuda ha-Levy in the Kuzari, Maimonides lets Christianity and Islam, so to speak, do a 'qualitative leap': he includes the two religions within a sole providential plan that sees them as protagonists of a preparatory itinerary of humanity as a whole towards the Messianic event.In the so-called Ashkenazi world, where we find personalities such as Rashi, the Tosafists, and other rabbinical authorities who carry much weight in the French-Germanic environment, it is emphasized that the Christians (in the countries where the Jews lived) are not idolaters. We can therefore see a rather marked distinction between the evaluation of the Christians given by the Sephardic world represented by Maimonides and the evaluation given in general by the highest authorities of the European Ashkenazi world. According to the latter, the Christians are not idolaters, or they do not know of any idolatrous practice, or echoing the well-known claim by Rabbi Yohanan mentioned earlier (from the treatise Hullin of the Talmud) what they do is to practice out of habit the rituals of their fathers, without any intention of thereby carrying out idolatrous practices. In such a delicate context, we ought to mention a rather odd circumstance. In a very important halakhic text (the Tur by Ya?aqov ben Asher), the controversialist and jurist Joseph Caro explicitly mentions that "at the present time [we are in the 16th century], the Christians believe in the Creator of the world and thus are not to be considered idolaters." In another work of his, the codifying treatise Shulhan Arukh, the same Joseph Caro does however fail completely to mention his conviction as a halakhic norm. On a personal note, I have some of Fr James Schall's most popular books, and I find them very useful.
Last edited by brontosaurus
on July 23rd, 2010, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.