Saturday, September 04, 2021

Augustine, Harmony of the Evangelists.1.12-14: The Romans and the Jews


1.12: Of the fact that the God of the Jews, after the subjugation of that people, was still not accepted by the Romans, because His commandment was that he alone should be worshipped, and images destroyed.

Augustine declares that the Jews were defeated by the Romans and expelled from Jerusalem because of “the most heinous sin” of putting Christ to death. He adds that the Romans did not embrace the God of the Hebrews, because he demanded that he alone be worshipped and that images would not be permitted. He further notes that the Romans could not claim any moral superiority as to why God gave them victory over the Jews.  They had no “piety and manners” to commend them, and, in fact, their early history reveals that Rome was originally an asylum for criminals and that Romulus committed fratricide in striking down his brother Remus. He closes by stressing the sovereignty of God, who acts as he pleases “according to the fore-ordained order of the ages.”

1.13: Of the question why God suffered the Jews to be reduced to subjection.

Why did God permit the Jews to be defeated by the Romans? For Augustine the answer is simple: It came about, because in their “impious fury” they put Christ to death.

1.14: Of the fact that the God of the Hebrews, although the people were conquered, proved Himself to be unconquered, by overthrowing their idols, and by turning all the Gentiles to His own service.

Augustine points out the fact that Christ is now being preached and worshipped across the Roman Empire. This fulfills the promise made to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through his seed (Gen 12). God took kingdom and priesthood from the Jews, because Christ is the true King and Priest. This was announced by the prophets (without the use of magical arts). Christ could not have written books promoting magical arts, because his doctrine is so vehemently opposed to it.


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