The Category of the Primordial in the Study of Early Christianity and Second-Century Judaism

by Steven Grosby
The Category of the Primordial in the Study of Early Christianity and Second-Century Judaism
Steven Grosby
History of Religions
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Jesus said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." (MATTHEW 15:24)

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them as follows: "Do not turn your steps to pagan territory . . . go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." (MATTHEW 105)

I Examinations of selected passages from the New Testament, like the two above from Matthew, have led an increasing number of scholars of the New Testament and historians of early Christianity to conclude that Jesus lived as a Jew. Moreover, the life and work of Jesus are to be understood as having taken place clearly within a framework of Jewish eschatological expectation;' that is, Jesus intended Jewish restoration2 In support of these conclusions, E. P. Sanders in his impressive work Jesus and Judaism points to a number of what he takes to be historical facts, among which two are the call of the twelve apostles, the number "twelve" representing indirectly the twelve tribes of the nation of all- ~srael,~

and the turning over of the tables of the money changers in the

On the use of "twelve," see Matt. 19:28 and, of course, the Epistle of Saint Barnabas VIII, in The Genuine Epistles of the Aposrolic Fathers, trans. William Wake (Philadel- phia, 1846):"To whom the Lord gave authority to preach the gospel: being at the beginning

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temple (Matt. 21: 12). The latter historical fact, according to Sanders, is not to be interpreted as a rejection of either the temple or Israel; rather, Jesus' action represents a demand for the purification of the temple of a renewed all-Israel. As such, the demand stands squarely within Jewish tradition (see 2 Kings 18:4, 22:3-23; 1 Macc. 4:36-60; 2 Macc. 10:l- 8).4 Furthermore, Jesus' instructions to the twelve apostles in Matt. 10:5, "Do not turn your steps to pagan territory," reminds us of what was expected by the restoration of all-Israel as expressed in, for example, Bar. 2:34-35: "Then I [Yahweh] will bring them [Israel] back to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and make them masters in it. . . . I will be their God and they shall be my people. And I will never again drive my people Israel out of the land that I have given to them." In other words, the eschatological expectation was the reestablishment of the primordial integrity of the nation of all-Israel; that is, the land from Dan to Beersheba would once again belong to its only appropriate possessor, the putative descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

There were, of course, other elements in the work of Jesus, for example, the belief in eschatological miracle in the establishment of the kingdom and the salvation of the individual as an individual. As is well known, these elements were further developed by Paul, albeit not without exac- erbating the ambiguities and potential conflicts in Jesus' Jewish escha- tological expectation. Nevertheless, if the life and work of Jesus took place in the context of his idea of Jewish restoration, then our under- standing of the dispute between Paul and James as indicated in such pas- sages as Gal. 2: 11-12 becomes clearer. In point of fact, the increasing scholarly acceptance of conclusions similar to those of Sanders only adds credibility to Adolf von Harnack's conclusion, prompted by his consid- eration of such passages as Gal. 2: 11-12, on the organizational structure of the early church in Palestine. Approximately eighty-five years ago, Harnack observed, "The fact that it was Jesus' relations, however, who were pushed to the front, can not have been merely the consequence of the high esteem in which James 'the Just' was held, and his reputation with all sections of the community, but the idea that blood relationship

twelve, to signify the tribes, because there were twelve tribes of Israel." For "all-Israel" as a term of national restoration, see S. Grosby, "Religion and Nationality in Antiquity," Archives Europkennes de Sociologie 2 (1991): 229-65, "Kinship, Territory and the Nation in the Historiography of Ancient Israel," Zietschriftfur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 1 (1993): 3-18, and "Sociological Implications of the Distinction between 'Locality' and Extended 'Territory' with Particular Reference to the Old Testament," Social Compass 40, no. 2 (1993): 179-98.

See W. D. Davies, The Gospel and the Land (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), pp. 339. n. 10, and 190. Unless noted otherwise, English translations of the Bible are from the Jerusalem Bible (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1968).

with Jesus conferred on these descendants of David a right to rule must have been a contributing fa~tor."~

The intention of these foregoing remarks is not to reexamine the con- siderable difficulties surrounding the quest for the historical Jesus. It is rather to bring into the foreground the element of primordiality in early Christianity and the Judaism of that period. The purpose in doing so is by no means merely to reassert the significance of primordiality in Jew- ish eschatology (i.e., the beliefs in the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the land of all-Israel) or in the constitution of the early Church (i.e., the apparent criterion of Sippen-or Erbscharisma for leadership of the early Palestinian church). As important as primordial relations are for the sociological study of early Christianity, in particular for our under- standing of the boundaries of the different communities, the intention of these foregoing remarks is to point to the possibility of a different and broader point of departure in the consideration of the significance of pri- mordiality for the study of early Christianity.

I1 By "primordiality" I mean beliefs about the significance of nativity, that is, about the life-giving and life-determining connections formed through both birth to particular persons and birth in a specific territory. These are beliefs that attribute significance to the creation and transmis- sion of life; they are the cognitive references to the objects around which various structures of kinship, from the family to the nation, are f~rrned.~

That Christianity attempted doctrinally to sweep away the significance of primordial relations is so well known that it need not be elaborated on here in any detail. It will suffice merely to refer to Gal. 3:27-29, "All are baptized in Christ, you have all clothed yourselves in Christ, and there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus." Further- more, the constitution of the early church quickly abandoned the criterion of relation by blood-assuming Harnack was correct-for hierocratic office.' All of this is well known and obvious, but does this rejection

'Adolf von Harnack, The Constitution and the Law of the Church in the First Two Centuries (London: Williams & Norgate, 1910), pp. 33-34.

E. Shils, "Primordial, Personal, Sacred and Civil Ties," British Journal of Sociology 8 (1957): 130-45; Clifford Geertz, "Primordial Sentiments and Civil Politics in the New States," in Old Societies and New Stares, ed. C. Geertz (New York: Free Press, 1963);

S. Grosby, "The Verdict of History: The Inexpungeable Tie of Primordiality," Ethnic and Racial Studies 17, no. 1 (1994): 168-74, "Territoriality," Nations and Nationalism 1, no. 2 (1995): 143-62.

Although for over a century the primacy of the Armenian church remained in the family of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, passing frequently from son to son; see Charles

of primordiality settle once and for all the matter of its role in early Christianity?

To consider Matt. 10:35-38 (see also Mark 3:33-35) in the context of this question, even briefly, is to recognize a far more complicated situa- tion: "For I [Jesus] have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies will be those of his own household. Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daugh- ter to me is not worthy of me." Here we see that the primordial relations constitutive of the family evidently pose obstacles for the universalistic ties of the Christian community. If for no other reason, they do so because they raise the following question: Who has the power of the gift of life, the parents or ~od?~

The obviousness of the alternatives suggested by this question appears to indicate that human beings recognize two diverse and distinctive loci of power bearing on the existence and conduct of life; that is, human beings are responsive to two sources of the sacred, one being the universally valid norms ordained by a transcendental god about the right order of life and the second being the generation and transmission of life itself.

The continuing recognition of the ever-present potential for the chal- lenge of the primordial relations of the family to universal Christianity may be seen in the insistence of Augustine that "in regard to natural gen- eration, it may be said: Neither the wife nor the husband's part is any- thing, but it is God who fashions the form of the offspring; nor is the mother who bears and brings the child to birth anything, but it is God who gives the gr~wth."~

The consequences of this ever-present potential

Burney and David Marshall Lang, The Peoples of the Hills: Ancient Ararat and Cauca- sus (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971), p. 224. Malachia Ormanian, in The Church of Armenia (London: Mowbray, 1955), p. 14, wrote that "the retention of the patriarchate in the family of St. Grigor was at the wish of the nation, either as a desire to do homage to the great Illuminator, or as an unconscious compliance with the influences of a pagan custom." Nina G. Garsoian, in "Secular Jurisdiction over the Armenian Church (Fourth- Seventh Centuries)," and "Prolegomena to a Study of the Iranian Aspects in Arsacid Arme- nia," both in her Armenia between Byzantium and the Sasanians (London: Variorum,

1985), pp. 234-35, 9-10, 24, n. 45, has attributed the practice to the influence of earlier Iranian tradition in which all offices of the realm were the hereditary prerogatives of cer- tain noble lineages.

The differences between Matt. 10:35-38 and Mic. 7:6 are so striking that the former should not be considered in the context of the latter. See also Matt. 19:29. Note Celsus's accusation that the Christians demand that children disobey their parents (the father); Origen: Contra Celsus, ed. Henry Chadwick (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953), pp. 165-66.

Saint Augustine, City of God, ed. V. 3. Bourke (New York: Doubleday, 1958). bk. 22, chap. 24. Note also bk. 12, chap. 26: "Nor do we look upon a woman as the creator of the child she bears . . . whatever bodily or seminal causes may play a part in reproduction . . . by the intermingling of the two sexes . . . nevertheless every nature as such is created wholly by the Supreme God."

may be seen in the historically recurring denunciation of carnal relations and marriage as unclean ("since sex is always a danger" [l Cor. 7:2]) by various Christian sects, albeit heretical ones, for example, the Montanists, the quasi-gnostic Bogomili of the Eastern church, and the Cathari of the west.'' Of course, only such sects could interpret Matt. 5:28 ("But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already commit- ted adultery with her in his heart") in such a fashion that it ascetically sets itself against the persistent, primordial relations of humans. In con- trast, the church has avoided directly confronting the primordial rela- tions of the family-a confrontation that would do violence to persistent human sensibilities-by seeking to sanctify those relations (1 Cor. 7; 1 Tim. 4:3) and thus place them under its jurisdiction. By so doing, the church has sought to bring the primordial relations of the family into harmony with the universalistic Christian community so that the family becomes a constitutive component of that community. Where the church's subordination of the primordial relations of the family has not proven ade- quate to abrogate the conflict for very pious, ascetic Christians between being one with Christ and the primordial ties of the family, it has seg- regated those individuals into the holy orders of the church.

The intention of these remarks is not to reopen a sociological inves- tigation of the relation between male and female members of the vari- ous Christian communities during the first and second centuries of their existence, however important such an investigation continues to be. The significant point is the recognition of historically persistent, heter- ogeneous loci of sacrality that indicate the existence of historically per- sistent, heterogeneous sacral patterns of transcendence. From our very brief consideration of Matt. 10:35-38, we have not merely observed the well-known strain between the universalism of the Christian commu- nity and the primordial relations of the family. We are further interested in the fact that despite this tension, the primordial relations of the fam- ily have persisted. Moreover, and of special importance, this persis- tence is true not only for the family, which for us was but an example, albeit a marked one, of the persistence of a primordial locus of sacral- ity, but also for the primordial relations of other structures of kinship, namely, nationality and its constitutive element of territoriality. It is the continued presence and influence of especially these other structures of kinship, even after the emergence of the universalism of the world re- ligions, that substantiates the merit of the category of the primordial for historical investigation into human affairs. That merit has been implic-

lo See, e.g., S. Runciman, The Medieval Manichee (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1947). For an interesting work on the background of the Bogomili, see Nina G. Garsoian, The Paulician Heresy (The Hague: Mouton, 1967).

itly challenged in various ways, perhaps the most interesting of which is the historicism of Karl Jaspers. Before examining the influence of ter- ritoriality and nationality on early Christianity, we must turn our atten- tion to Jaspers's argument.

111 In The Origin and the Goal of History, Karl Jaspers described the axial age as the period of human history when humanity took the step into universality in every sense." This step into universality was embodied in the emergence of what Max Weber had earlier called the "world religions," in contrast to the primordial religions of a particular people and locality. In the West, the charismatic breakthrough that provided the foundation for the subsequent establishment of the world religion of Christianity was accomplished by the Israelite prophets in their formu- lation of an ethical, monotheistic religion.12 The latter was character- ized by an increased rationalization in understanding cosmic events that otherwise resisted a consistently ethical explanation. The primordial reli- gions could not provide such a relatively coherent view of the world, for example, a rational explanation of the defeat of one's country in war. For the primordial collectivity and its religion, the defeat of one's coun- try necessarily signified the defeat of its national god. In other words, a characteristic of the world religions of the axial age is the ascendant recognition of universal, otherworldly criteria and principles by which to judge the affairs of this world. Concomitantly, beliefs in the ability to manipulate the deity through magic were, if not entirely swept aside,I3 certainly subordinated in the world religions to beliefs in a deity who demanded righteousness and obedience to his law by all. Another characteristic of the world religions of the axial age was their ability to migrate, that is, to become established outside the territory of their origin and separate from the population of their origin, for example, the expansion of Buddhism from India to China, the expansion of Con- fucianism and Buddhism across East and Southeast Asia, and, of course, the expansion of Christianity and Islam throughout the world. In other words, for the world religions, or, as A. D. Nock called them, "prophetic

l1 Karl Jaspers, The Origin and Goal of History (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1953). p. 2. See also The Origins and Diversity of Axial Age Civilizations, ed. S. N. Eisenstadt (Albany: SUNY Press, 1986).

IZ Max Weber, Ancient Judaism (New York: Free Press, 1952), pp. 297-335.

l3 One should certainly not overlook the importance of either the magical character of the sacraments or the beliefs in the exorcism of demons for early Christianity (e.g., Greg- ory the Wonder Worker; Saint Gregory the Illuminator, who putatively freed the king of Armenia, Tiridates, of demoniacal possession; etc.). This is a common enough recogni- tion. For examples, see Morton Smith, Jesus the Magician (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978); Ramsay MacMullen, Christianizing the Roman Empire A.D. 100-400 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1984), pp. 27-29, 60, 108-9.

religions," conversion was possible, in contrast to primordial religions.I4 With regard to this ability to expand through conversion, it is of interest to note Seneca's bitter complaint about the subversion of Roman religion as being a result of "the conquered having given laws to the conquer- ors."15 No doubt, the ability of the religion of the conquered-in this case, the ethical monotheism of early Christianity-to subvert the pri- mordial religion of the conquering Romans was a consequence of the former's significantly more rationalized doctrine.

Now from a slightly different context, we pose again our previous question: Has the expansion of the world religions at the expense of pri- mordial collectivities and their religions settled once and for all the mat- ter of the significance of primordiality? Jaspers thought that the axial age represented the step into universality in every sense. He thought that in the new creations of the Geist, as embodied in the world religions of the axial age and, above all, in their greater potential for explaining the inescapable misfortunes of life, "there had developed qualities that pro- gressed to the free personality founded on existence as an autonomous individual."16 Clearly there is much merit to Jaspers's observations, for the prophecy of the world religions assumes the existence of the con- science of the individual and addresses itself to that conscience. The em- phasis in the work of Jesus on the salvation of the individual as an individual is unmistakable. Yet, as was observed earlier with the prob- lem presented to Christianity by the primordial properties of the family, the situation is far more complicated than what Jaspers's sharp disjunc- tion would suggest, and, for that matter, more complicated than those categories of historical analysis that rest on this disjunction, for example, "modernity." Indeed, the persistence of nationality is evidence enough to indicate that a far more complicated relation exists between the ethi- cal universalism of the world religions and those territorial collectivities of nativity, nations.

It is obvious enough that the world religions have undermined various primordial religions and their respective collectivities, but they have not undermined primordiality. The world religions have sought and estab- lished in various ways a mbdus vivendi with the significance of primor- diality. Numerous and historically varied examples of the complicated interrelationship between these two patterns of transcendence, the pri- mordial and the universal, may be adduced: the primordial structures of

l4 A. D.Nock, Conversion (Oxford: Clarendon, 1933). By conversion I mean, follow- ing Nock, a thorough reorientation of the soul from the old wrong to the new right. The contrast between primordial religions and world religions is, of course, ideal-typical (i.e., it is based on historically abstract categories of a pure type, the justification for which is heuristic), with numerous religious movements, e.g., Orphism, Mithraism, and the terri- torially expansive cult of Isis, representing transitions between these two poles.

l5 Saint Augustine, bk. 6, chap. 11.

l6 Jaspers, p. 57.

kinship and territory providing jurisdiction for the postprophetic laws of Deuteronomy (see Deut. 15:12, 23:20, 24:7);17 the crusades of the thir- teenth century, undertaken in the name of universal orthodoxy against the Albigenses, resulting in the incorporation of Toulouse into the ter- ritory of France; the papal recognition of Poland as a distinct Catholic province in the attempt to safeguard the territorial integrity of Poland, in particular her western border, from the Order of Teutonic ~ni~hts;'*

and the assertion of the primordial boundaries of a collectivity constituted, in part, by the universalistic beliefs in the liberty of the individual as ex- pressed in John Jay's Federalist Paper no. 2.19

The persistence and resilience of the primordial ties of distinctive, territorially constituted and delimited cultural traditions, as seen in the above examples, indicate that the "free personality" of "an autonomous individual" of which Jaspers wrote is an abstraction with only limited empirical support. The universalistic breakthrough of the axial age did not obliterate primordiality; most individuals are members of collectivities not because of a voluntary exercise of conscience but be- cause of the significance that is attributed to the fact that they are born into them. As such, the distinctive cultural tradition of such a collectiv- ity is a constitutive element in the development of the character of the individual as he or she matures from infancy into adulthood; the dis- tinctive cultural tradition has a bearing on the thoughts and actions of the individual. This fact, and the above examples, indicate not only that the universality of the world religions has dramatically transformed various primordial collectivities, but also that primordial rela- tions have had a bearing on the historical expressions of universality, indeed, often providing the structural jurisdiction for that transcen- dence. This is certainly obvious in the paradoxical combination of pri- mordiality and universality of Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism: the national, Christian church. In these two instances, the distinctive cultural

l7 For the classic treatment of the Deuteronomic laws as postprophetic, see Julius Well- hausen, Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel (1878; Gloucester, Mass.: Smith, 1978). For a more recent treatment, see E. W. Nicholson, God and His People (Oxford: Clarendon, 1986).

la See Norman Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982); Konstantin Symmons-Symonolewicz, National Consciousness in Poland: Origin and Evolution (Meadville, Pa.: Maplewood, 1983).

l9 "With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people-a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established their general liberty and independence. . . . This country and this people seem to have been made for each other" (Alexander Hamilton, James Madi- son, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers, ed. Clinton Rossiter [New York: Mentor, 19611,

p. 38).

traditions constitutive of the primordial collectivity circumscribe the universality of the Christian doctrine.

In matters such as these, one should abjure conceptions of the unilinear and unequivocal progress of one pattern of transcendence over all others. It is more in keeping with the facts to recognize a complicated and shifting interplay between various patterns of transcendence, each of which appears to be persistent in human affairs. The ethical monothe- ism of the world religions is the result of the rational pursuit of human- ity for answers to the problem of what is the right order of life. This entails the pursuit of universal sacrality, which is one pattern of tran- scendence, but it does not exclude the attachment to other patterns of sacrality. The existence of beliefs constitutive of primordial collectivi- ties like the national state appears to be the result of the attachment to patterns of primordial sacrality having to do with the propagation and protection of life. This is a second pattern of sacrality. These are two differing loci of the sacred-the one cosmic, the other primordial. They correspond to two different sets of beliefs: those about what is the right order of life and those about the propagation and protection of life.

IV What significance does the recognition of the persistent existence of heterogeneous loci of sacrality have for the sociological understanding of early Christianity? In particular, how might that heterogeneity be manifested in the organizational structure of the early church? Primor- dial relations are often considered to have had little or no bearing on the activities and structures of the early church. In support of such conclu- sions, references are often made to the equality among the members of the local communities (as expressed in, e.g., such practices as the agapae or dogmatic propositions such as Gal. 3:28, 5:6, 6:15; 1 Cor. 12:13) and between the local communities themselves (at least before the tri- umph of the principle of the monarchical episcopate). Insofar as refer- ences to locality have been factors in these considerations, they have been restricted to observations such as (the now-mystical) Jerusalem as the eschatological center of the universe. Nevertheless, as with the per- sistence of the primordial ties of the family, so, too, primordial attach- ments to locality have persisted. Beliefs in the existence of those sites where access to the deity was perceived to be more efficacious were not entirely ~ndermined.~~

Such sites were believed to be more efficacious for contact with the deity because these sites, in contrast to others, were perceived to be sacred; that is, recognitions of the spatial heterogeneity

20 See, e.g., Maurice Halbwachs, La topographie lkgendaire des kvangiles en terre sainte: Etude de mdmoire collective (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1941); Peter Brown, The Cult of the Saints (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981).

of the sacred continued even in the context of a Christian equality and universalism that, at least dogmatically, implied a spatial homogeneity of this world. At the basis of this spatial heterogeneity of the sacred often rests a continuing significance attributed to territorially distinct cultural traditions.

Evidence for the existence of this locational parochiality of the sacred in early Christianity is, as we shall see, rarely explicit. Nevertheless, when the following examples of Montanism, Donatism, the separatism of the Copts and Armenians, and the cult of Theotokos are considered together, we perceive the influence, however indirect, of primordial rela- tions on the otherworldly universality of Christianity. Let us consider briefly here Montanism, the least self-evident of the above examples.

While the second-century heresy of Montanism doctrinally shared much with the Christianity of that time, it was nonetheless distin- guished by its chiliasm, its hostility to sexual relations and marriage, and its insistence that the "spiritual man," the prophet, as the embodier of Spirit, was alone the true church capable of pardoning transgres- sions, while the "organizational men," the bishops and priests, did not have this capacity.21

"But," you say, "the Church has the right to pardon sins." This I recognize more than you [yet] this right will pertain to those who are spiritual, either to an apos- tle or prophet. For indeed the Church itself is properly and principally the Spirit itself. . . .And for this reason the Church indeed will pardon transgressions; but it is the Church of the Spirit, done by means of a spiritual man, not the Church which consists of a number of bishops. For the right and the decision belongs to the Lord, not to the servant; it belongs to God himself, not to the priest.22

In this last characteristic, Montanism anticipated Donatism and ele- ments of Protestantism as well. With such characteristics, Montanism represented, generally speaking, a more radical, ascetic rejection of the world than what one typically finds in the increasingly accommodating

21 The oracles, writings, and references to Montanism have been conveniently col- lected into one volume (Ronald Heine, The Montanist Oracles and Testimonia, Patristic Monograph Series 14 [Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 19891). I have used Heine for reference, rather than J.-P. Migne's Patrologiae Latinae and Patrologiae Graecae. With regard to its chiliasm, note the second- to third-century anonymous polemic against Montanism: "For there have been more than thirteen years to this day since the woman [the prophetess Maximilla] died, and there has been neither a local nor a general war in the world, but by mercy of God there is rather an enduring peace even for Christians" (ibid., p. 19). On its hostility to sexual relations and marriage, see Apollonius's assertion that Montanus "taught the dissolution of marriage" (ibid., p. 23) and Tertullian's exhor- tation to chastity, "Seize the opportunity not to be obligated to anyone in conjugal matters . . . for by continence you will gain a great store of holiness" (ibid., p. 65). Note also Tertullian's contrast of spirit to flesh (ibid., pp. 77, 79).

22 Ibid., p. 93. The quotation is from Tertullian.

Christianity of that time. What is remarkable about Montanism, espe- cially in such an otherworldly context, was the belief that "Jerusalem would descend from heaven" in the Phrygian home town of Montanus, Priscilla, and Maximilla, Pep~za.~~

Indeed, the accusation is repeatedly made that Montanus and his prophetesses renamed Pepuza "Jerusalem." Typical of these accusations is the one by Filastrius of Brescia: "The Cataphrygians proclaim certain prophets of their own, that is, one named Montanus, and Priscilla, and Maximilla. . . . They apply the name Jeru- salem to their village Pepuza . . . where Maximilla and Priscilla, and Montanus himself are recognized to have spent their useless and fruit- less lives."24

That Christ's kingdom was to be located in Phrygia was for Harnack an indication of Montanus's pretentiou~ness.~~

No doubt, Harnack was right, but surely the significance of the Montanist reversal of Gal. 4:26 ("the Jerusalem that is above"), such that Phrygia was proclaimed to be the promised land, rests elsewhere. This is not to say that by such a proc- lamation Montanus was a nationalist or that Montanism was a nation- alist movement. Nonetheless, Montanus's statement that his Phrygian home was the new Jerusalem indicates, even if only indirectly, the pos- sibility of a geographical parochiality of the sacred coexisting with the universal transcendence of Christianity.

The influence of primordial relations on early Christianity, as in the case of Montanus's attachment to his Phrygian home of Pepuza, is by no means limited to the attribution of sacrality to specific localities. More significant for the history of Christianity has been the influence of the attachments constitutive of more extensive, bounded territories on Christianity. What was the sociological expression of this influence?

In The Constitution and the Law of the Church in the First Two Cen- turies, Harnack provided a most suggestive point of departure for the consideration of the significance of the historically profound primordial tie of territory on the organization of the early church.

23 Ibid., p. 5. The oracle is attributed to Priscilla by Epiphanius.

24 Ibid., p. 139. See also the accusations of Apollonius (ibid., p. 23). Cyril of Jerusa- lem (ibid., p. 113), Epiphanius (ibid., p. 131). and Augustine (ibid., p. 163).

25 Adolph von Harnack, History of Dogma (1885; New York: Dover, 1961), 1:168.

the situation caused by this tension and the opposition between the universal and the local organization. . . . We allude to the inner and outer connecting ties sub- sisting between the communities situated in one province. . . . The consequence of this state of affairs was two-fold. In the first place, the division of the empire into provinces, and consequently the provincial spirit, gained an influence over the church. . . . Between the more or less ideal universal church and the local church there comes in the provincial church. . . . And this again is a proof of how absolutely dependent everything here is on the political ~r~anization.'~

By these remarks, did Harnack miss the significance of his suggestive references to the existence of both the "inner and outer connecting ties subsisting between the communities situated in one province" and "the provincial spirit"?

The provincial spirit of the second and third centuries to which Har- nack referred indicates the existence of distinct cultural traditions that have "settled" in territories, and, as such, constitute them. The justifica- tion for this observation is by no means merely theoretical. Only a few centuries after the appearance of the apostolic, missionary community, we are confronted with the existence of more or less national churches- for example, the Armenian and the Coptic-and community-bound as- sertions-for example, that made by Gregory of Tours, that the Franks are a special people chosen to defend Christianity.

Armenia of the fourth century, as described in the fifth-century work The Epic Histories by Faustus of Byzantium, provides a good example of what Harnack meant by the existence of "the inner and outer connect- ing ties subsisting between the communities situated in one province," re- sulting in a "provincial spirit." During the middle part of the fourth century, Tiran, the king of Armenia, satiated with food and drunk with wine at the table of his Persian guests, was kidnapped by the Persians and subsequently blinded by them.27 As is to be expected from the Chris- tian historian, Faustus explained the blinding of Tiran as God's retri- bution for Tiran's earlier executions of Saint Daniel and the Christian patriarch Yusik. What is especially noteworthy for our purposes is Faus- tus's description of the Armenian response to the kidnapping of their king: "Then the men of the realm of the land of Armenia-the magnates, nobles, governors, lords, and retainers, the army leaders, judges, chieftans, and princes, not to mention the army commanders and even [somelmany?] of the non-noble people [tamik] and peasants [Sinakanl- gathered together in a council [or assembly] of still greater accord. Then they began to speak to one another and said, '. . . Let us protect our realm

26 Harnack, Constitution (n. 5 above), pp. 156-60.

27 The Epic Histories Attributed to PCawstos Buzand trans. Nina G. Garsoian (Cam- bridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989), bk. 3, chap. 20.

and ourselves, and let us avenge our own "true-lord."' "28 In this descrip- tion we observe not only the existence of what could legitimately be called a national council but also a conception of an Armenian territory, "the realm of the land of Armenia," constituted by a recognition of the geographical jurisdiction of the dominion of the royal house and the ex- tent of Armenian cultural tradition and language.29

The analytical problem is to describe the relation and probable causal factors between a provincial spirit and the universal mission of Paul, with respect to the "territorialization" of the church. Harnack was certainly correct to focus our attention on the early, provincial division of the church. However, the implication of his remarks is blunted by his reducing the significance of the provincial division to the historical realities of either a mere matter of administrative convenience or a mere continuation of, or accommodation to, Roman practices.30

In The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Cen- turies, Harnack was correct to insist that, in the controversy over Easter between the Greeks and the Romans, the differences were not nati~nal.~' Yet this appropriate observation, once again, does not settle the matter: the differences were expressive of the persistence of differing traditions in the face of the otherwise expansive universalism of Catholicism. The tenacity of these differences was confirmed by subsequent events. Those differences retarded the expansion of a consistent universalism. But it is not enough to recognize the retardation; it is not enough to recognize the weight of tradition. We wish to know why a consistent expansion was thwarted; what is the significance of the weight of those traditions con- stitutive of a territory? Do the answers to these questions exist in het- erogeneous loci of sacrality?

Harnack's comments are, for us, but an example. One could just as well have pointed to A. H. M. Jones's criticisms of E. L. Woodward's arguments about the putative national character of the disputes of the

Ibid., bk. 3, chap. 21. 29 For Garsoian's discussion of the technical terms erkir (land) and erkir haykakan lezui (land of Armenian speech), see ibid., p. 524. 'O For the Roman provinces, see A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284-602 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1964), app. 3.

'' Adolf von Harnack, The Mission and the Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries (1902; Gloucester, Mass.: Smith, 1972), p. 65. But note the later com- ments: "The ever-increasing dependence of the Eastern Church upon the redistributed empire (a redistribution which conformed to national boundaries) imperilled by degrees the unity of the church and the universalism of Christianity. The church began by showing harmony and vigor in the sphere of action, but centrifugal influences soon commenced to play upon her, influences which are perceptible as early as the Paschal controversy of A.D. 190 between Rome and Asia, which are vital by the time of the controversy over the bap- tism of heretics, and which finally appear as disintegrating forces in the fourth and fifth centuries" (ibid., p. 442, n. 1). Our problem is, what were these centrifugal tendencies?

early It is most certainly not the intention of this article to argue that disputes over dogma are reducible to differences between nationalities. It is to say too much to argue that Donatism was an ex- plicitly national movement, yet it did become a largely Numidian, sep- aratist movement.33 It would clearly be wrong to argue that the disputes over the nature of Jesus Christ were nationalist in intention, yet there arose a separate, Coptic Monophysite church.34 It is certainly incorrect to reduce religious disputes to conflicts between social or national groups-the achievements of the mind acquire a relative independence from their creators. They have a life of their own; once created, they follow their own This is, after all, how we are to understand the increasingly rational pursuit for the meaning of life as expressed in the emergence and consolidation of the world religions-a pursuit that follows the logic of the beliefs themselves. Nevertheless, it is also incorrect to proceed as if differing territorial or national traditions were irrelevant as factors influencing the structure of the early church or affecting the substance of certain religious beliefs. To be sure, the evidence for indirect influence may be inferential. Let us consider, for example, the matter of language. It is generally assumed that the Hussite translation of the Bible contributed to and was an expres- sion of the existence of a separatist, Hussite movement. If so, what con- clusions, if any, should we draw for the development of the Coptic church from the translation by the end of the third century of the Bible into Sahidic? What conclusions should we draw from the fact that, in the Egypt of the sixth and early seventh centuries, outside the Greek- speaking area of Alexandria, the Coptic church reigned supreme?36 What conclusions should we draw from the fact that the LibyanlBerber- speaking areas of North Africa were mainly Donatist in contrast to Latin-speaking proconsular Africa and ~artha~e?~'

No doubt, distinc- tive languages are expressions of and vehicles for distinctive cultures. But why should the existence of various languages be a factor in the retardation and deflection of a consistent universalism of Christianity?

It is interesting that mathematics, in contrast to religious doctrine, main- tains a consistent notational system. The significance of the difference

32 A. H. M. Jones, "Were Ancient Heresies National or Social Movements in Disguise?" Journal of Theological Studies, n.s., 10 (1959): 281-98; E. L. Woodward, Christianity and Nationalism in the Later Roman Empire (London: Longmans, 1916).

33 W. H. C. Frend, The Donatist Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952).

34 E. R. Hardy, Christian Egypt: Church and People (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952). 35 See Hans Freyer, Theorie des objektiven Geistes (Leipzig: Teubner, 1928). 36 Hardy, p. 163. See also W. H. C. Frend, "Nationalism as a Factor in Anti-Chalcedonian

Feeling in Egypt," in Religion and National Identity, ed. Stuart Mews (Oxford: Blackwell, 1982). p. 32. 37 Frend, Donatist Church, pp. 52, 57.

between the consistent notational system of mathematics and the trans- lation of the Bible into the languages of distinct communities may point to varying degrees of capacity for both the rationalization and migra- tion of varying kinds of knowledge. This is not merely a matter of the well-known, technical difficulty of translating one term from the Bible into the language of another culture and period.38 Our considerations thus far point to the underlying significance of that very difficulty. Is it the case that the difficulties arising from the translation of the univer- salistic doctrine of the church into various languages represent indi- rectly the confrontation between the universalistic, sacral pattern of the right order of life, namely, the Gospels, and the parochial, sacral pattern of the generation and protection of life, namely, the distinct cultural tra- dition of the primordial collectivity? This possibility appears likely if we keep in mind that since language is an expression of and a vehicle for the life of a distinct cultural community, then, as such, it would be a factor in the deflection of the attempt to organize that life along uni- versalistic lines.

The indirect bearing of distinct cultural traditions on universalistic Christianity may, of course, be expressed in other ways. Why were two areas, Phrygia and Numidia, which were traditionally resistant to clas- sical influence, territories of religious dissent, respectively, Montanism and Donatism? Were there protonational, anti-Roman sentiments at play in these instances? Returning to Egypt, one cannot help but notice that throughout the fifth and sixth centuries there was competition between Constantinople and Alexandria. Were there protonational, pro-Egyptian, anti-imperial sentiments at play in this competition? The imperial policy to enforce Chalcedonian orthodoxy on Egypt would have set such sen- timents into motion. In any event, W. H. C. Frend struck the right note when he wrote that "it will be no longer adequate to label the African Donatists 'schismatics' and the Egyptian Monophysites 'heretics' with- out further ado. Conflicts over orthodoxy have rarely been simple conflicts over truth and error. Both now and then they have in part been the outcome of clashes of cultures, themselves represented by deep- rooted territorial . . . tradition^."^^ One element underlying this territorial

38 For example, certain Hebrew terms such as ~kdeqor rciah have various meanings in the Hebrew Bible and are notoriously difficult to translate. The word ~kdeqcan mean "right relations" either in terms of measures and weights or in terms of proper sacrifice. It can also mean, and is usually translated into English as, "righteousness" in the sense of an ethical attribute. The Hebrew ~4deqis usually translated into Greek as dikaios and into Latin as justus. Just a glance at Deut. 33:19 will suffice to indicate the difficulty of trans- lating ~kdeqas dikaios, justus, or "righteousness." In Deut. 33:19 of the Jerusalem Bible, skdeq is translated as "success." The word rciah can mean "breath," "wind," or "spirit." It is usually translated into Greek as pneuma and into Latin as spiritus. Just a glance at 2 Sam.

22:16 indicates that, at least in this instance, the Greek and Latin terms are not quite appro-

priate for rriah. 39 W. H. C. Frend, The Early Church (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982), p. 2.

expression of the conflicts over universal orthodoxy appears to be that one locus of the sacred-the geographical, bounded dispersion of the primor- dial tie constitutive of a territory-reasserted and extracted its due from another locus of the sacred, the doctrinal universality of Christianity.

The existence of what Frend called the "deep-rooted territorial traditions" is, especially in light of subsequent developments, the most salient pri- mordial factor influencing early Christianity. There are, of course, other factors, for example, infant baptism (the incorporation of the infant into the ethically universal church on the compulsory basis of the primordial criterion of birth into a particular family). There is also another primordial factor, associated with territoriality, which is particularly significant for Christianity, given the religious prominence of Constantinople.

In the sixth and early seventh centuries, Constantinople was besieged by the Avars and the Persians. During the siege the Virgin Mary, The- otokos, "she who gave birth to God," emerged as the special protectress of ~onstantinople.~~

It was believed that she had fought alongside the defenders of the city in the battle before the very walls of her church at ~lachernae.~~

As a consequence, the Virgin's hymn, the Akathistos, was adopted as the city's special hymn of thanksgiving to Theotokos, whom the inhabitants clearly envisaged as their own special mediator.42

Unto you, 0 Theotokos, invincible champion,

Your city, in Thanksgiving ascribes the victory for

the deliverance from sufferings.

And having your might unassailable,

free me from all dangers, so that I may cry

unto you: "Hail! 0 bride unwedded. . . . 43

Hail! 0 defense against invisible foes.
Hail! To you, who opened the gates of paradise . . .
Hail! To you, through whom Hades was despoiled.
Hail! To you, through whom we are vested in glory.44

40 Averil Cameron, "The Theotokos in Sixth-Century Constantinople," Journal of Theo- logical Studies, n.s., 29 (April 1978): 79-108; Vasiliki Limberis, Divine Heiress: The Vir- gin Mary and the Creation of Christian Constantinople (London: Routledge, 1994). For a defense of the Catholic belief in the cult of the Virgin Mary, see John Henry Newman, Certain Dificulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching (1864; London: Longmans, Green, 1920), pp. 27-118, esp. pp. 68-76 on the intercessory power of Theotokos.

4' Cameron, p. 80.

42 Ibid.; see also N. Baynes, "The Supernatural Defenders of Constantinople," in Byzantine Studies (London: Athlone, 1955), pp. 248-60. For this translation of the Akathis- tos hymn, see Limberis, pp. 149-58.

43 From the early seventh-century prologue (Limberis, p. 149).

From verse 7 (ibid., p. 152).

Hail! 0 unshakable tower of the Church.
Hail! 0 impregnable wall of the kingdom. Hail! To you, through whom trophies of victory are assured. Hail! To you, through whom enemies are ~anquished.~~

Of course, this paganization, if you will, of Mary, that she was now seen as the defender and champion of her city, Constantinople, was a conse- quence of a particular convergence of historical factors. Approximately two hundred years earlier, the sister of the emperor Theodosius 11, Pulcheria, herself a virgin, established at Constantinople a festival celebrat- ing virginity. Central to this festival was the worship of the Virgin Mary. Pulcheria was also responsible for having built the church dedicated to Theotokos, Blachernae, in which Mary's shroud was placed. Thus, while it appears that Pulcheria was a pious ascetic, there can be little doubt that Pulcheria intended a convergence of the veneration of the Virgin Mary as Theotokos and the virgin empress, P~lcheria.~~

Such a conver- gence was a corollary to the assertion of imperial authority into the affairs of the church, especially at the expense of the troublesome head of the Constantinople church, the anti-Marian and anti-Pulcheria Nestorius. In any event, by the seventh century, the Virgin Mary, Theotokos, had become for the Christians of Constantinople their wall of defense, their all-victorious general, their supernatural champion on earth, and their mediator in heaven.47

The belief that there exists a special relation between a locality and a deity is a feature of primordial religions. One is reminded of the preem- inent armed goddess of the city of Athens, Pallas ~thena.~~

It will be re- membered that Athena, too, was a virgin.49 As with Mary two hundred years later at Constantinople, Athena, according to Zosimus, was seen walking about the walls of Athens as she successfully defended her city against Alaric in 396 B.c.E.: "While Alaric with his entire force was approaching the city he spied Athena Promachos patrolling the wall just as she can be seen in statue form, armed and looking capable of with- standing the invaders. . . . Alaric could not bear the sight of her, but put a stop to any attempt against the city and offered terms of peace through heralds."50 Is it possible that even as late as the sixth century the Athe- nian tradition still exerted influence, transfigured, to be sure, on the Chris-

45 From verse 23 (ibid., p. 158). 46 Ibid.. DD. 47-61. 47 Bayne;: p. 260. 48 See Walter Burkert, Greek Religion (1977; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 1985). D. 140. bid., p. i43. 50 Zosinzus: Historia Nova, trans. J. Buchanan and Harold Davis (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1967), p. 198. tians of Constantinople? Even if there were such an influence, we are still compelled to ask why the tradition was "reactivated," albeit indirectly. This paganization of Mary has often been described as a consequence of the merging of imperial cult with ecclesiastical worship.51 The obvious location for such a convergence between political and religious author- ity would have been Constantinople, the seat of imperial power. What- ever merit there may be to such a description, we must press further in order to understand the significance of the cult of Theotokos. One element of that significance is a spatial heterogeneity of the sacred: the area of Constantinople was different than other areas; it had a special relation to Mary and, hence, to the divine. This idiosyncratic spatial rela- tion to the divine also meant access to special powers at Constantinople, access that was made more possible because Mary's shroud was located there. This spatial heterogeneity of the sacred is characteristic of pri- mordiality. However, in this case, it is not just the fact that Mary's Con- stantinople was believed to have had a bearing on the generation of the life of the city and its inhabitants that gives it its primordial character. In this case, the primordial locus of the scared is constituted not only by beliefs about the generation of life but also by beliefs about the protec- tion of that generation. The cult of Theotokos in sixth- and seventh-century Constantinople is a categorical, primordial incursion into universal Christianity in the face of the realities of life, that is, war, and the necessity to protect the life of both the individual and the collectivity in the face of it. This is similar to the case of the Polish Mary, Black Madonna of Czgstochowa, the miraculous savior and protectress of Poland. The cults of Theotokos in sixth- and seventh-century Constantinople and the Black Madonna of Czgstochowa are expressions, in the context of universalistic Christianity, of a primordial deflection of the beliefs in the equality of all human beings, as the children of God, and the spatial uniformity of the good- ness of the earth, as the creation of God. This deflection arises from the primordial imperative for the self-preservation of life, including the life of territorially distinct cultures. The significance of the categorical, primordial incursion-the recognition of the categorical necessity to protect the life of the collectivity, patriotism-into the universalism of Christianity is minimized by rele- gating it to a problem of church-state relations, although church-state conflict may be an expression of this significance. For example, the understandable opposition of early Christianity to beliefs in the apothe- osis of man, that is, its opposition to the worship of the Caesars, may be See, e.g., Sabina MacCormick, Art and Ceremony in Lare Antiquity (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1981); Kenneth Holum, Theodosian Em- presses (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982); Limberis. understood as the resolute protest of Christianity against the blending of religion and patriotism and, as such, an expression of the conflict between church and state.52 As Harnack observed, "One of the cardinal aims and issues of the Christian religion was to draw a sharp line between the worship of God and the honor due to the state and its lead- er~."~~ But, if primordiality is a persistent orientation in human affairs, then the matter of its significance, and the significance of patriotism, surely must exist beyond the problem of church-state relations. Its per- sistent significance may be observed in the very continuation of the beliefs in the apotheisos of man in Christianity: by the third century, Christianity permitted the belief in the apotheosis of man, for example, in the worship of saints-and not only saints, but national saints. Cer- tainly the cult of Theotokos is a variation of apotheosis. Other examples of Christian apotheosis as a vehicle of primordial attachment are so numerous that it will suffice to refer only to, in the East, Saint Sava of Serbian orthodoxy and, in the West, Saint Louis, the tutelary saint for the Capetians.54 Even if these examples are less dramatic than the wor- ship of Theotokos in Constantinople, they nevertheless represent the worship of (lesser) deities who are believed to be the champions and protectors of the life of a particular people and their territory. For the world religions of the axial age, the relation between these two evidently inexpungeable patterns of sacrality, the primordial and the universal, is filled with tension. Perhaps the belief in the apotheosis of the individual in Christianity is one way this tension was relaxed. This is the significance of the belief in the apotheosis of the individual and its typical expression in Christianity, the recognition of national saints: it is the homage paid by otherwise universalistic Christianity to the sacrality of the primordial ties of territoriality and nationality; it is the recognition by the representatives of a perceived right order of life- the church-of the categorical necessity of the generation, transmission, and protection of life itself. This is to say that one expression of the modus vivendi established between universalistic Christianity and the 52 On opposition to the worship of the Caesars, see E. Bickerman, "Die Romische Kai- serapotheose," Archivfur Religionswissenschaft 27 (1929): 1-34; A. Momigliano, "How Roman Emperors Became Gods," in On Pagans, Jews, and Christians (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1987). On opposition to the blending of religion and patriotism, see Harnack, Mission and Expansion (n. 31 above), p. 295. 53 Harnack, Mission and Expansion, p. 295. 54 On Saint Sava, see Stella Alexander, Church and State in Yugoslavia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), pp. 3, 16. On Saint Louis, see Elizabeth M. Hallam, "Philip the Fair and the Cult of Saint Louis," in Mews, ed. (n. 36 above), p. 204; Joseph Strayer, "Philip the Fair," in Medieval Statecraft and the Perspectives of History (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1971), pp. 208-9. For a most interesting discussion of death masks and puppets in the excursus to Bickerman, entitled "Zum Bestattungs- zeremoniell Beim Franzosischen Hofe," pp. 32-34. primordial collectivity is the canonization of national saints. A classic example of this phenomenon is the case of Saint Stanislaw, the patron saint of Poland, whose dismembered body was miraculously reconsti- tuted, just as a divided Poland would one day be restored. VI As mentioned above, a characteristic of primordial religions is the spe- cial relation between a deity and a locality, a people, or both. The ethi- cal monotheism of the Israelite prophets shattered the certainty of that special relation by making it conditional on Israel's righteousness and its obedience to the law of God. Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe this break as an ethically monotheistic monolatry, despite the conceptual contradiction in such a description, for the Judaism of the Diaspora preserved the primordial beliefs in a land promised to a people chosen to dwell in it.55 However contradictory such a characterization of Judaism might be, it is no more so than the recognition that the so- cieties of the putatively universalistic Christian Occident are, in fact, monolatrous. After the destruction of the second temple, there was no longer a Jewish state. Yet, there continued to exist a collective entity known as the Jewish people. Gedaliah Alon referred to this entity as an ethnos, a socially distinct group with certain rights to administer its own internal affairs.56I see no good reason not to consider the Jewish people of the first and second centuries who dwelled in what they considered to be their own land (Matt. 10:5)-Eretz YisraJel-to be a nation. To be sure, the existence of a nation without its own state is an unstable predica- ment that the Jews sought to resolve during the so-called Bar Kokhba War of A.D. 132. Why a nation is compelled to seek its own state is a complicated ques- tion requiring a careful and lengthy explanation. Here, a few of these complications will be suggested. Perhaps the primordial collectivity of the nation is compelled to create its own state in order to have the in- struments of power to safeguard its existence. This is to recognize that a structure of kinship-the nation-is, as such, a structure of the gen- eration and transmission of life-that is what a primordial collectivity is-that, seeking to preserve itself (as do all forms of life), requires the means-the state-to do so. If this is so, then when the nation seeks to 55 This contradictory situation was caught well by Solomon Zeitlin, "Judaism as a Religion," a book-length article that runs for a number of issues of the Jewish Quarterly Review (34 [1943/44]: 1-40, 207-41, 321-64; 35 119441: 85-116, 179-225, 303-49). See also Nicholas de Lange, Judaism (Oxford: oxford university Press, 1986), pp. 4, 19-20. 56 Gedaliah Alon, The Jews in Their Land in the Talmudic Age (70-640 c.E.) (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989). be a national state, it is seeking no less than its self-completion. Perhaps there is more to this relation between nation and state. It is often ob- served in phenomenological analyses that consciousness must have an object. A theological expression of that observation is that spirit seeks material representation. A sociological expression of that observation is that the spirit of the nation seeks the state so that the nation, through its representatives, might act in the world. It is sometimes argued that after the destruction of the second temple-indeed, it is sometimes argued even after the destruction of the first temple-Judaism emphasized its universalistic elements. There is truth in such an argument, as can be observed even from this brief quo- tation from Josephus's Contra Apionem: "There ought also to be one temple for one God. . . . This temple ought to be common to all men, because he is the common God of all men."57 "It will be also worth our while to see what equity our legislator would have us exercise in our in- tercourse with aliens. . . . All those that have a mind to observe our laws should be allowed to do so [in] a true union which not only extends to our own nation, but to those that would live after the same manner with Nonetheless, such an argument requires significant qualification. Before the destruction of the temple in 70, the Jewish Christians- those who rejected the doctrines of Paul but still believed that Jesus was the Messiah-were considered to be part of the nation of all-Israel. The Jews called the Jewish Christians Minim, and the Christians called them Ebionites. But after the destruction of the temple, the sages declared them to be outside of all-Israel. Also excluded at that time were the Netinim, the descendants of foreign slaves.59 Concomitant with the nar- rowing of the criteria for membership in all-Israel were laws restricting the transfer of property in the land of Israel. Certain halakhot of tan- naitic origin forbade the sale or lease of land or houses in Eretz Yisra'el to n~n-Jews.~'For example, the Mishnah states, "No one may sell to the heathen [non-Jews] anything which is attached to the soil, but after sev- ering it from the soil the sale is allowed. . . . In the land of Israel no one may let houses to them nor (needless to say!) fields."61 The underlying motivation for such prohibitions in the second century was to forestall the permanent settlement of foreigners in the land of Israel by preventing them from acquiring land.62 Piska 80 of the Sifre Deuteronomy makes 57 Josephus, Contra Apionem, in The Works of Josephus, trans. William Whiston (Pea- body, Mass.: Hendrickson), 2.24. 58 Ibid., 2.29. 59 Alon, pp. 26-28. 60 Ibid., p. 285. 6LCAboda Zara, ed. W.A. L. Elmslie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 191 l), p. 15. 62 Alon, p. 286. See also Herbert Danby, The Mishnah (London: Oxford University Press, 1933), p. 438, n. 4. One is reminded of similar restrictions on the sale and leasing clear this continuing primordial attachment to land: "It once happened that R. Judah ben Betherah, R. Mattiah ben Heresh, R. Hananiah ben Ahi, R. Joshua, and R. Jonathan were going abroad. When they reached Platana and remembered the Land of Israel, they raised their eyes (heav- enward) and wept, rent their garments. . . . They said: '(The duty of) dwelling in the Land of Israel is equivalent to all the other command- ments of the Torah put together.' . . . Thereupon they returned to the Land of Evidently, during the first and second centuries, we find a reassertion of the primordial boundaries of all-Israel. Psalm 137:4-5 states, "How could we sing one of Yahweh's hymns in a pagan country? Jerusalem, if I forget you, may my right hand wither." Such recognitions of primordial attachment of a people to their own ter- ritory in the Hebrew Bible (see also, e.g., 1 Kings 9:7-8) point to another probIem in the consideration of primordiality. What are the constitutive elements of a people or a nation? Can, in fact, a people exist separately from actual possession of their land or, in the case of an ethnic group, without reference to the land of its ancestors? When a nation or an ethnic group ceases to exist as such, is it because the attachment, whether actual or ideal, to a particular territory has been dissolved? If this is the case, and if a nation does continue to exist-to be sure, precariously-sepa- rate from the (sovereignty over the) land, the image of which is a con- stitutive element of its existence as a nation, then is not such a nation incomplete? If there is merit to this train of thought, then there is like- wise some merit to Max Weber's imprecise and often criticized charac- terization of that people, chosen to dwell in a land promised to them, of the Middle Ages as a "pariah people." This is also why W. D. Davies was correct when he observed that "Jewish sanctity is only fully possible in the land. . . . The exiled life is, therefore, an emaciated life, even though, through suffering, it atones."64 VII In Romans, Paul champions the universality of the Gospel by contrast- ing a righteousness consisting in faith to submission to the Law. In so doing, Paul has not set Christianity against Judaism, for the Israelite prophets had also elevated righteousness, the circumcision of the heart, above mere obedience to the Law. Even the most superficial knowledge of property in England, where, as late as 1870, no alien could hold real property or inherit land (see Sir Frederick Pollack and Frederic William Maitland, The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I, 2 vols. [London: Cambridge University Press, 19681). 63 Sifre: A Tannaitic Commentary on the Book of Deuteronomy, trans. Reuven Ham- mer (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1986), pp. 134-35. W. D. Davies, The Gospel and the Land (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), p. 60. See also H. Parzen, "The Ruah Hakodesh in Rabbinical Literature," Jewish Quarterly Review 20 (1929): 51-75. of, for example, Jeremiah and Micah makes this clear. The contrast between Christians, on the one hand, and Jewish Christians and Jews, on the other, is made when Paul asserts that it is faith alone that is nec- essary for salvation and, moreover, that it is a gift of an all-merciful God, equally attainable to all mankind. However, from the perspective of the significance of primordiality, perhaps there is a different judg- ment to be made on the relation between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Such a reevaluation seems to be required given the territorial and national divisions in Christendom, divisions that represent a com- promise between two loci of the sacred, one primordial and the other universal. As was observed, Harnack drew attention to the incursion of the pro- vincial spirit into the structure of Christianity that began in the second century. In The History of Dogma, Harnack repeatedly referred to this incursion as the "secularizing of Christian life and the Church." What- ever merit such a description may have regarding the organizational solidification of a church hierarchy, the division of that organizational structure into various territorial jurisdictions should not be understood as merely a process of secularization or routinization. Rather, that ter- ritorial division represented the accommodation of an otherworldly, uni- versal sacrality to this-worldly, territorial structures and to the primordial sacrality that they bear. This provincial spirit was, in fact, the bearer of primordiality. It was the vehicle by which the primordial tie of territo- riality, and all that implies, was carried into the church. We may reformulate a theological consequence and complication, albeit unintended, arising from universal Christianity's accommodation to the evidently inexpungeable tie of primordiality. Recent papal pro- nouncements have affirmed the belief of the church that the covenant between God and the Jews remains intact. There are difficulties-difficulties that have dogged the church from early in its history, such as the Marcionites-for the church, arising from such an affirmation of pri- mordial loci of sacrality, that is, beliefs in a chosen people and a prom- ised land. The church has sought to minimize these difficulties, as it has from its very beginning, by incorporating the Hebrew Bible into its dogma by subordinating it to the New Testament. This incorporation and subordination of the Hebrew Bible to the New Testament has often been expressed theologically in earlier Christian scholarship by repeated attempts to discover the New Testament in the Old. An excellent ex- ample of such scholarship is Sigmund Mowinckel's He That ~ometh.~~ However, if there is merit to Harnack's observation about the provincial spirit, and if we are correct to see greater significance in that spirit- 65 Sigmund Mowinckel, He That Coneth (1951; Oxford: Blackwell, 1956) that is, the primordial tie of territoriality as a locus of sacrality-is it possible that there is a dogmatic and historical irony at play here? Rather than observe the New Testament in the Old, Mowinckel not withstanding, is it the Old Testament, with its beliefs in a promised land and a chosen people, that haunts the New? The likelihood of such a pos- sibility is a theological expression of the merit of the primordial as a category of historical analysis. Villanova University

There is another important point in the organization of the Churches in the ear- liest period which needs attention. . . . We have repeatedly emphasized the fun- damental antinomy and tension which controls the historical development of the constitution [of the early Church]; on the one hand we saw the community as a missionary community, as the creation of an apostle, as his work, and in this aspect it appeared a universal obligation; on the other hand we saw the commu- nity as a self-contained local community. . . . But from the beginning a third fac- tor intervened, at first almost imperceptibly and then more and more clearly, in

E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985), p. 91. Ibid., p. 116. In contrast, see, e.g., C. F. D. Moule, The Origin of Christology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977).

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