People of God

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People of God is a description in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible that applies to the Israelites and that in the New Testament applies to Christians. Within the Catholic Church, it has been given greater prominence because of its employment in documents of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965).

Old Testament First part of Christian Bibles based on the Hebrew Bible

The Old Testament is the first part of Christian Bibles, based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites believed by most Christians and religious Jews to be the sacred Word of God. The second part of the Christian Bible is the New Testament.

Hebrew Bible Canonical collection of Hebrew scripture

The Hebrew Bible, which is also called the Tanakh or sometimes the Mikra, is the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, except for some Biblical Aramaic passages in the books of Daniel and Ezra. The Hebrew Bible is also the textual source for the Christian Old Testament. The form of this text that is authoritative for Rabbinic Judaism is known as the Masoretic Text (MT) and it consists of 24 books, while the translations divide essentially the same material into 39 books for the Protestant Bible.

Israelites Confederation of Iron Age Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan

The Israelites were a confederation of Iron Age Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the tribal and monarchic periods. According to the religious narrative of the Hebrew Bible, the Israelites' origin is traced back to the Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham and his wife Sarah, through their son Isaac and his wife Rebecca, and their son Jacob who was later called Israel, whence they derive their name, with his wives Leah and Rachel and the handmaids Zilpa and Bilhah.

Contents

In the Bible

In the Old Testament, the Israelites are referred to as "the people of God" in Judges 20:2 and 2 Samuel 14:13. The equivalent phrases "the people of the Lord" [1] and "the people of the Lord your God" are also used. [2] In those texts God is also represented as speaking of the Children of Israel as "my people". [3] The people of God was a term first used, by God in the book of Exodus Chapter 6:7 which carried stipulation in this covenant between man and God. God promised deliverance, in return the people owed obedience.

Yahweh God of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah

Yahweh was the national god of the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel (Samaria) and Judah. His exact origins are disputed, although they reach back to the early Iron Age and even the Late Bronze: his name may have begun as an epithet of El, head of the Bronze Age Canaanite pantheon, but the earliest plausible mentions of Yahweh are in Egyptian texts that refer to a similar-sounding place name associated with the Shasu nomads of the southern Transjordan. Some scholars believe that Yahweh was originally thought to be one of the seventy sons of El, who later killed his siblings and displaced his father El at the head of the Israelite pantheon.

Covenant (biblical) A religious covenant that is described in the Bible.

A biblical covenant is a religious covenant that is described in the Bible. All Abrahamic religions consider biblical covenants important.

In the New Testament, the expression "people of God" is found in Hebrews 4:9 and 11:25, and the expression "his people", that is, God's people, appears in Revelation 21:3. 2 Corinthians 6:16 mentions the same promises to the New Testament believer "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" which is a parallel to Exodus 6.

Later Christian use

Continued use of the expression "people of God" (in Latin, populus Dei) in the writings of the Church Fathers are found in Augustine's De civitate Dei [4] and Pope Leo I's Lenten Sermon. [5] Its use continued up to and including Pope John XXIII's apostolic letter Singulari studio [6] of 1 July 1960, two years before the Second Vatican Council.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Church Fathers Group of ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers

The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers. There is no definitive list. The era of these scholars who set the theological and scholarly foundations of Christianity largely ended by AD 700.

Pope Leo I Pope from 440 to 461

Pope Leo I, also known as Saint Leo the Great, was Bishop of Rome from 29 September 440 and died in 461. Pope Benedict XVI said that Leo's papacy "...was undoubtedly one of the most important in the Church's history."

In Gaelic, Latin populus Dei became pobal Dé and has continued for centuries to be an expression in everyday use for the Church in a parish, a diocese or the world. [7] [8]

Christian Church Term used to refer to the whole group of people belonging to the Christian religious tradition

The Christian Church, also called the holy catholic church, is a Christian ecclesiological concept of a church invisible comprising all Christians. In this understanding, "Christian Church" or "catholic church" does not refer to a particular Christian denomination but to the "body" of all "believers", both defined in various ways. Other Christian traditions believe that these terms apply only to a specific concrete Christian institution, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, or the Assyrian Church of the East; or to a group of institutions, as in the branch theory taught by some Anglicans.

A parish is a territorial entity in many Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a parish priest, who might be assisted by one or more curates, and who operates from a parish church. Historically, a parish often covered the same geographical area as a manor. Its association with the parish church remains paramount.

Diocese Christian district or see under the supervision of a bishop

The word diocese is derived from the Greek term dioikesis (διοίκησις) meaning "administration". Today, when used in an ecclesiastical sense, it refers to the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. Sometimes it is also called bishopric.

Second Vatican Council

The dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium devoted its chapter II to "the new People of God", "a people made up of Jew and gentile", called together by Christ (section 9). It spoke of "the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh" as among those who "are related in various ways to the people of God" (section 16). It described in detail the qualities of this People of God in words "intended for the laity, religious and clergy alike" (section 30), while also pointing out the specific duties and functions of the different ranks of which it is composed, such as that of "those who exercise the sacred ministry for the good of their brethren" (section 13).

Lumen gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, is one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council. This dogmatic constitution was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 21 November 1964, following approval by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,151 to 5. As is customary with significant Roman Catholic Church documents, it is known by its incipit, "Lumen gentium", Latin for "Light of the Nations".

In 2001, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was to become in 2005 Pope Benedict XVI, stated that the council's choice of this term reflected three perspectives. The principal one was to introduce a term that could serve as an ecumenical bridge, recognizing intermediate degrees of belonging to the church. Another was to put more in evidence the human element in the church, which is also part of her nature. And the third was to recall that the church has not yet reached her final state and that she "will not be wholly herself until the paths of time have been traversed and have blossomed in the hands of God". [9]

Ratzinger also declared that the term is not to be understood in way that would reduce it "to an a-theological and purely sociological view" of the church. [10] Michael Hesemann wrote:

After the Council, the expression was taken up enthusiastically, but in a way that neither Ratzinger nor the Council Fathers had intended. Suddenly it became a slogan: "We are the People!" The idea of a "Church from below" developed; its proponents wanted to engage in polemics against those who held office and o carry out their agenda by democratic majority vote. Although the theological, biblical concept of people was still the idea of a natural hierarchy, of a great family, suddenly it was reinterpreted in a Marxist sense, in which "people" is always considered the antithesis to the ruling classes. The centre of the Christian faith, however, can only be God's revelation, which cannot be put to a ballot. Church is being called by God. Joseph Ratzinger said: 'The crisis concerning the Church, as it is reflected in the crisis concerning the concept "People of God", is a "crisis about God"; it is the result of leaving out what is most essential. [11]

While the council distinguished between the Jewish people and "the new People of God", Carl E. Braaten has said that, being somewhat analogous to the expression "chosen people", the term "People of God" suggests a persisting trend of supersessionism in the church, and that the expression "People of God" implying that the church is the same people as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Hebrew Bible. [12] [ verification needed ][ page needed ]

Use since the Second Vatican Council

The Popes have continued to use the expression "the People of God". Pope Paul VI used it with regard to his profession of faith known as the Credo of the People of God. Pope John Paul II used it in his catechetical instructions, teaching that the church is the new People of God. [13] Pope Benedict XVI has spoken of "the Church, the people of God throughout the world, united in faith and love and empowered by the Spirit to bear witness to the risen Christ to the ends of the earth". [14] On 20 August 2018, Pope Francis released a letter, addressed to the "People of God", in response to recent revelations of sexual abuse cases within the Church, quoting St. Paul: "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it" (1 Corinthians 12:26). [15]

The concluding messages of each General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops are addressed to "the People of God." [16]

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church devotes a section to describing the church with this image, [17] and indicates the characteristics of the People of God "that distinguish it from all other religious, ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history", so that it does not belong to any one of these groups. Membership of the People of God, it says, comes not by physical birth but by faith in Christ and baptism.

See also

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References

  1. Numbers 16:41; Judges 5:11, 5:13; 1 Samuel 2:24, 10:1; 2 Samuel 1:12, 6:21; 2 Kings 9:6; Ezekiel 36:20; Zephaniah 2:10
  2. Deuteronomy 27:9
  3. Exodus 3:7, 3:10, 5:1, 6:7, 7:4, 7:16, 8:1, 8:20-23, 9:1, 9:17, 10:3-4, 12:31, 22:25; Leviticus 26:12; 1 Samuel 2:29, 9:16-17, 2 Samuel 3:18, 5:2, 7:7-11; 1 Kings 6:13, 8:16, 14:7, 16:2; 2 Kings 20:5; 1 Chronicles 11:2, 17:6-10; 2 Chronicles 1:11, 6:5-6, 7:13-14; Psalms 50:7, 81:8-13; Isaiah 1:3, 3:15, 10:24, 40:1, 47:6, 51:4, 52:4-6, 58:1, 63:8, 65:10, 65:19, 65:22; Jeremiah 2:11-13, 2:31-32, 4:11, 4:22, 5:26, and over 30 other verses of the Book of Jeremiah; Ezekiel 11:20, 13:9-10, 13:19-23, 13:19-23, 14:8-11, 21:12, and at least another 15 verses of the Book of Ezekiel; Hosea 4:6-12, 6:11, 11:7; Joel 2:26-27, 3:2-3; Amos 7:8, 7:15, 8:2, 9:10, 9:14; Obadiah 1:13; Zechariah 2:8-11, 8:7-8, 13:9
  4. De civitate Dei 19:26
  5. Lenten Sermon 50:2
  6. Singulari studio
  7. Parish as Pobal Dé
  8. A poem in an eighteenth-century manuscript begins with Is fairsing dealbh pobal Dé ("Extensive is the aspect of the people of God").
  9. The Ecclesiology of Vatican II
  10. Church as "Mystery" or "People of God"
  11. Georg Ratzinger, My Brother, the Pope. As told to Michael Hesemann (Ignatius Press 2011 ISBN   978-1-58617-704-1), p. 202
  12. Jews and Christians : People of God, Carl E. Braaten
  13. "The Church Is the New People of God. General Audience at November 6, 1991". Archived from the original on 20 October 2012.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Cite web requires |website= (help)CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  14. Farewell ceremony at Sydney airport, 21 July 2008
  15. Letter of His Holiness to the People of God, 20 August 2018
  16. For example, Message of the October 2008 assembly
  17. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 781-786