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The Church of England, Judaism, and the Jewish Temple in Early Modern England Achsah Guibbory I From its beginnings, Christianity has forged its identity in relation to the Judaism from which it emerged.
The Church of England, Judaism, and the Jewish Temple in Early Modern England Achsah Guibbory I From its beginnings, Christianity has forged its identity in relation to the Judaism from which it emerged. That relation has been complex, conflicted, and continually changing. The first centuries were a critical period for the definition of Christianity s relation with Jews and Judaism. With the crisis of the Reformation and the separation from Rome, however, the reformers were once again faced with articulating what true Christianity was, and thus again had to think about its relation to Judaism. As Protestants separated from the Church of Rome, hoping to restore the supposed primitive purity of the church, they found themselves renegotiating the relation between Christianity and Judaism. My interest here is specifically in how the effort to define the reformed, national Church of England, in the aftermath of the break from Rome, involved controversies about value and significance of the Jewish past, and particularly the Jewish Temple, for England. 1 The reformation and construction of the English Church was an ongoing, contested process, as clergy argued over how much of the traditional worship and structure of the Roman Church should be retained. Although much valuable work has been done on the tensions in post-reformation England, 2 little has been written about the role Judaism played in these conflicts. Peter Lake has pointed out that 1 Research for this essay was supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Research Fellowship. 2 See esp. P. Lake, Anglicans and Puritans? Presbyterianism and English Conformist Thought from Whitgift to Hooker, London 1988; P. Collinson, The Religion of Protestants, Oxford 1982; P. Collinson, Godly People, London 1983; C. Haigh, English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society under the Tudors, Oxford 1993; A. Milton, Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought , Cambridge 1995; and J. Maltby, Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England, Cambridge Achsah Guibbory those advocating conformity to the ceremonies retained from the Church of Rome often cited the Old Testament to support their positions, but the Jewish aspect of English controversies over worship has not been recognized or explored. 3 My claim is that Judaism and the Jewish presence were a crucial part of the arguments and discussions about what England s reformed church should be and what English Christianity was. Conflict over the identity of the English Church turned on its relation not just to Rome but to the Jewish past and religion out of which Christianity had emerged. II We might begin with John Foxe, whose influential Acts and Monuments (popularly known as the Book of Martyrs) expressed a strong reformist position that, as it defined Rome as the anti-christ, also identified the Catholic Church with Judaism. Drawing on a long history of anti-jewish rhetoric, and painting the Jews as anti-christian as well as the persecutors of the early Christian church, Foxe described the corruption and decay of Christianity as a relapse to Judaism, the infusion of Jewish superstition into Christianity. Degeneration began when Christians tried to build a more glorious new church on the improper foundation of the law and workes code words not just for Mosaic Law but also for rabbinic Judaism. Foxe dated the declining time of the church in England from the coming of William of Normandy, who brought Jews into England (something Foxe does not mention but may well have assumed as common knowledge). 4 Foxe noted that by Wycliffe s time, the whole 3 Peter Lake has pointed out that those advocating conformity to ceremonies retained from the Church of Rome often cited the Old Testament to support their positions, but the Jewish aspect of English controversies over worship has not been recognized or explored. See P. Lake, The Laudians and the Argument from Authority, in: B. Y. Kunze and D. D. Brautigam eds., Court, Country, and Culture: Essays on Early Modern British History in Honor of Perez Zagorin, Rochester 1992, pp , at John Fox[e], Acts and Monuments of The Church, 9 th edition, London 1684, vol. 1, p. 192 ( The Fourth Book Containing Other three hundred years from William Conqueror, to the time of John Wickliffe, wherein is described the proud and mis-ordered Reign of Antichrist, beginning to stir in the Church of Christ ). The excellent article by Sharon Achinstein, John Foxe and the Jews, Renaissance Quarterly 54 (2001), pp , observes that Foxe s anti-judaism was primarily theological (p. 114), though I would suggest that theological anti-judaism can easily spill over into vicious extra-theological forms. 12 The Church of England, Judaism, and the Jewish Temple state of Christen Religion was so defiled and spotted with superstition that there could be no great difference almost perceived between Christianity and Jewishnes. 5 The superstitious Ceremonies were both new fangled and old, for they constituted a return to Jewish worship that undid the liberty of the gospel, which Paul in Galatians (chapters 2-5) had opposed to the bondage of Jewish ceremonial law. 6 For Foxe, it was necessary to maintain firm boundaries between Judaism and Christianity. Like many Protestant reformers, Foxe represented Roman Catholicism as a continuation of Judaism. In the vigorously reformed imagination, a shared emphasis on corporal worship, and on ceremonial and external matters, linked Catholicism with the Jewish religion. Although John Bale looked forward to the eventual conversion of the Jews, his Image of both Churches showed how the Church of Rome had assumed the place of the supposedly anti-christian Jews, not only by persecuting true Christians (that is, Protestants), but by a new crucifiyenge of Christ in their Mass, playing al parts, Judas, Annas, Caiphas, Herode, Pilate, and the Jewes. 7 There also seemed to be a genealogical connection between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews. In a section on The Proud Primacy of Popes, Foxe printed Pope Boniface s statement, which expressly grounded his authority in the Old Testament and Aaron: my Institution began in the Old Testament, and was consummate and finished in the New, in that my Priesthood was prefigured by Aaron, And other Bishops under me were prefigured by the Sons of Aaron, that were under him. 8 We see two conflicting positions here about the relation of Christianity to Jewish precedent: for Boniface, typology reinforces succession, the link between Jewish precedent and Christianity; for Foxe, there must be a divorce between the law and gospel. Paul had argued in his epistles that faith, the gospel, and Christians had superseded and replaced works, the law, and the Jews. Rome, in confounding the law and gospel, thus proves that it is not 5 Fox[e], vol. I, p Fox[e], vol. I, p J. Bale, The Image of Both Churches, London 1550, sig. h.iii. 8 Fox[e], vol. I, p Achsah Guibbory fully Christian. It has not divested itself of the Judaic mentality nor broken from the old religion of the Jews. The Church of Rome, pretending only the name of Christ and of his Religion, is actually not much unlike the old Synagogue of the Scribes and Pharises, who under the name of God crucified the son of God, and under pretence of the Law, fought against the Gospel. There is a great difference between the Church of Rome that now is, and the Ancient Church of Rome that then was. Fallen from its earlier purity, emphasizing outward and ceremonial exercises and outward Works of Law, the Church of Rome now teaches the people, that what so ever the law saith, the Gospel confirmeth; and whatsoever the Gospel saith, the same is agreeable to the Law, and so make they no difference between Moses and Christ. 9 Both exemplifying and teaching Jewish/Christian continuity, Rome is, for Foxe, dangerously anti- Christian: it draws the people back to a Jewish way of thinking about religion. Foxe s sense of the sharp division between law and gospel, Jewish and Christian religion, contrasts with the very different view that was expressed first by Richard Hooker at the end of the sixteenth century, and then by seventeenth-century church apologists for the episcopal English church who consciously followed in Hooker s footsteps. III If asked to state their position about the relation between Christianity and Judaism, most English clergy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century probably would have said they agreed with Foxe, whose tome had a fixed place in every English church along with the Bible. Yet the controversy over worship and church government tells a different, more complicated story. For, from Hooker on, those defending the Church of England s worship and discipline against Presbyterian and puritan objections did so in part by grounding it in Jewish biblical precedent. In this way, the English Church was linked with what they called the ancient Church of the Jews. Whereas Foxe believed that the Church was truly Christian only as it was purged of residual Jewish elements, Hooker and apologists who 9 Fox[e], vol. I, pp. 26, 32, The Church of England, Judaism, and the Jewish Temple followed him turned to ancient Judaism, and specifically the Jewish Temple, to authorize the Church of England. In turning to Jewish precedent, they were responding, on the one hand, to the Roman Church s objection that the reformed church was new and, on the other, to puritan desire for a more thorough reform from popish ceremonies and government. As the inventor of Anglicanism, the person who after 1660 would become (as the historian Peter Lake puts it) the patron saint of Anglicanism, 10 Hooker shaped the institutional identity of England s church. In his Lawes of Ecclessiasticall Polity, he gave it a curiously Jewish foundation, providing ideological justification for identifying the English Church not just with the priestly government of the ancient Israelites but specifically with the ancient Temple. Hooker s sense of Christian/Jewish relations was complex, divided. In his Preface, he criticizes puritans for claiming to be Gods owne chosen people, applying all thinges unto their owne companie which are anye where spoken concerning divine favours and benefites bestowed upon the olde common wealth of Israell. 11 He ridicules the puritan obsessive identification with ancient Israel. Moreover, Hooker s distaste for (living) Jews appears in his remark that the persons of Jews are most hateful. 12 But Hooker s Lawes also firmly connected the English Church to the Jewish Temple in ways that suggests a more complicated relation to Jews. Hooker valued the permanence and beauty of Solomon s Temple, the material residence for God towards which the earlier desert tabernacle pointed, the splendid building which the Jews after their return from Babylonian exile wanted to restore, and which later Christian churches also, it would seem, emulated. Hooker explained that in Egypt, in bondage, the Israelites were happy to have some corner of a poore cottage to worship God in. Notwithstanding in the very desert they are no sooner possest of some little things of their owne, but a tabernacle is required at their handes. 13 Once planted in Canaan, with a king, 10 Lake, Anglicans and Puritans? (above, n. 2), p R. Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, vols. 1 and 2 in: W. Speed Hill gen. ed., The Folger Library Edition of the Works of Richard Hooker, Cambridge 1977, Preface, ch. 8; vol. I, p Hooker, Bk. 4, ch. 11; vol. I, p Hooker, Bk. 4, ch. 2; vol. I, p Achsah Guibbory they built a proper place of worship. Arguing that the material meanes of worship evolve as religion and the nation become established, Hooker concluded that the circumstances and material conditions of the Apostles and of early Christian worship could not be a model for present-day England. 14 The condition of England in the 1590s was more like that of biblical Israel under David and Solomon. And so, instead, Hooker turned to Solomon s Temple. To some extent, he was following the position of early Church Fathers who found in the pre-mosaic era of the patriarchs a naturall and universal religion and morality that antedated Judaism and thus could be embraced as the pre-history of Christianity. Hooker frequently speaks of Jewish ordinances and practices described in the Hebrew Bible as naturall, reasonable, and hence of perpetuitie. 15 But Hooker went further. In a move away from the anti-judaism that had long defined the Christian church, Hooker recuperated Judaism by including a long, fascinating discussion of the early Christian church that emphasized the overlap between Christianity and Judaism from the earliest years. 16 Particularly in Book 4 of the Lawes, his discussion of Jewish/Christian continuities recovers a historical sense of Christianity as growing out of Judaism. He points out that many early Christians had been Jews and continued Jewish practices after they had embraced Christianity. He reminds readers of Paul s Jewish identity, and the apostle s immersion in Judaicall wisdome at the feet of Gamaliell. 17 Hooker understood that, despite the persistent myth that the Jewes were the deadlyest and spitefullest enemies of Christianitie that were in the world, 18 early Christian/Jewish interrelations were often positive 14 Hooker, Bk. 4, ch. 2; vol. I, p Hooker, Bk. 4, ch. 11; vol. I, p On the anti-judaism of the early church, see the classic study, R. R. Ruether, Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism, New York Richard Helgerson and Deborah Shuger have both emphasized Hooker s historicist bent, his interest in tracing historical narratives. See R. Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England, Chicago 1992, esp. p, 274; D. Shuger, Habits of Thought in the English Renaisssance: Religion, Politics, and the Dominant Culture, Berkeley 1990, esp. pp Hooker, Bk. 3, ch. 8; vol. I, p Hooker cites Acts 22:3. 18 Hooker, Bk. 4, ch. 11; vol. I, p The Church of England, Judaism, and the Jewish Temple and enabling, and that the identity of Christianity could not be grasped without knowing something about Judaism. For Hooker, there was a significant period of overlap between Jewish and Christian practices and identities, a period in which the Church itself continued certain Jewish practices. Implicitly arguing against those who insisted there should be an absolute separation between Christianity and all things Jewish, who insisted the English reformed church must get rid of all traces of Judaism (as well as popery), Hooker offered in Book 4 a detailed discussion of the various ways in which Judaism was part of the Christian practice of the early church. He wrote about how early Jewish Christians continued to sacrifice and worship in the Jewish Temple until it was destroyed by the Romans; how the church continued to use the words Sacrifice and Priest in conformity with the older Jewish usage despite the shift to a metaphorical sense; even how the early church intermingled Old and New Testament readings in the liturgy in a conscious effort to combat Christians such as Marcionites and Manichees who slandered the Jewish law and Prophets. 19 Anticipating the conclusions of modern studies of early Christianity, Hooker demonstrated that the separation of Christianity and Judaism was neither immediate nor absolute. The effect of his extended, detailed discussion of the Jewish aspects of early Christian practice was to suggest that the boundaries between Christian and Jewish were far more fluid than his hotter Protestant opponents believed. Having shown the Jewishness of early Christianity, Hooker could then argue in Book 5 for the legitimacy of the controversial episcopal government and ceremonial worship of the Church of England by reference to the Church of God amongst the Jewes. 20 The reading of the Psalms practiced in the English church goes back to David, and their accompaniment by instrumental music continued in the Temple. Hooker dated the antiphonal singing or saying of psalms, detested by puritans, from the Jews but suggested that perhaps even Moses and Miriam had sung in this way after safely crossing the Red Sea. 21 Sharply criticizing protestant iconoclasts who this daie want to pull 19 Hooker, Bk. 4, ch. 11; vol. I, pp Hooker, Bk. 5, ch. 41; vol. II, p Hooker, Bk. 5, ch. 38; vol. II, p ; Bk. 5, ch. 39; vol. II, p Achsah Guibbory downe the temples which they never built, and to levell them with the ground, Hooker defends places sett for public worship by citing, first, the moveable tabernacle, and, then, the maiesticall and statelie temple in Jerusalem. 22 As Christianity became more established and secure, Christian worshippers (like Jews before them) began to erect temples and consecrate them. 23 So rooted is Christianity in the ethos of Judaism that Hooker interprets Jesus s attack on the Jewish prophaners of the temple, not as a break with Jewish tradition, but in line with it. Jesus was actually defending temples as sacred spaces: Christ could not suffer that the temple should serve for a place of marte. 24 Hooker was at pains to settle the English Church on a Jewish foundation, as he claimed continuity with ancient Jewish, pre-catholic worship. It was a way of at once insisting on an unbroken tradition of worship, and skipping over the corruption of Rome. In his logic, the English were not practicing popish idolatry but simply continuing ancient practices approved by God. Hooker even turned to a Jewish example to prove that it is legitimate for Christians to add new prayers to the established liturgy: he observed that Moses s song after the victory over Pharoah ( that verie hymne of Moses ) eventually became part of the Jewish liturgie (as it still is today). 25 The evolution of Jewish worship itself seems exemplary for Hooker, whose comments make it clear that he was familiar with, indeed had probably examined, contemporary Jewish liturgy. Remarkably, post-biblical Jewish practices, not just pre-christian ones, could legitimate changes within early modern English Christian worship. IV Hooker s apologia for the Church of England, written against the Presbyterians, did not settle the matter. There continued to be conflict within the clergy over the ceremonies and prelatical government of the established church a conflict that escalated in the 1620s and 30s after Charles I came to the throne (1625) and William Laud rose to 22 Hooker, Bk, 5, ch. 11; vol. II, pp Hooker, Bk. 5, ch ; vol. II, pp Hooker, Bk. 5, ch. 12; vol. II, pp Hooker, Bk. 5, ch. 26; vol. II, pp The Church of England, Judaism, and the Jewish Temple power in the church, eventually becoming Archbishop of Canterbury (1633). Under their influence, the English Church became increasingly ceremonial. Stone altars were erected; communion tables were replaced by fixed altars, now set off by rails, signifying the altar as most holy. Laudian prelates beautified churches and sought to impose uniformity of worship. These activities supposedly aimed at unifying the church and nation, but actually increased the divisions within the church. Puritans objected that the prelates were bringing back popery and a Jewish-kind of ceremonial worship that had been abrogated by Christ. Some thought there was a plot to return England to Rome. Laud was arrested in 1641, and the English Civil Wars broke out in 1642, a war fought in part over religion. In January 1645, Laud was executed, convicted of treason and of actually being in league with the Pope. I believe, however, that the project of Laud and other high-church clergy promoted by Charles was, not to return to Rome, but rather to turn the material churches of England and their worship into the English Christian counterpart of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Assumptions defined by Hooker about the Jewish genealogy of the English church his invocation of b
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