The Catholic University of America

Matthew Anthony Tapie Defense

Final Examination of Matthew Anthony Tapie

For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Monday, April 16, 2012 9:00 a.m., Caldwell Room 125

Director

William C. Mattison III, Ph.D.

Abstract

Aquinas on Israel and the Church: A Study of the Question of Supersessionism in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas

During the last decade, the discussion over whether Thomas Aquinas’s theology is supersessionist—the idea that God abolishes Jewish observance of circumcision and Torah and replaces Israel with the Church—has elicited deep disagreement among scholars. With the exception of a few studies on Aquinas’s commentary on Romans, scholars in the discussion over whether Aquinas’s theology is supersessionist have overlooked his commentaries on Paul’s epistles to the Galatians, Hebrews, and Ephesians, which include some of Aquinas’s most extended reflections on the subjects of Israel and the Gentile Church and on Jewish observance of the ceremonial Mosaic Law after the passion of Christ. The neglect of Aquinas’s commentaries on Paul’s epistles represents a significant gap in the current scholarship on the question of supersessionism in Aquinas’s theology. This dissertation adjudicates conflicting claims in the discussion over whether Aquinas’s theology is supersessionist by examining Aquinas’s view of the ceremonial Mosaic Law after the passion of Christ in his neglected commentaries on Paul’s epistles. My dissertation demonstrates that throughout Aquinas’s commentaries on Paul’s epistles there exist tensions and contradictions in his views of the theological status of the ceremonial Mosaic Law after the passion of Christ. In his Galatians lectura and in his Hebrews lectura, Aquinas argues that the observance of the ceremonial Mosaic Law after the passion of Christ is a mortal sin. Yet in Aquinas’s lectures on Ephesians and Romans, Aquinas leaves this teaching out of his discussion of the ceremonial Mosaic Law after the passion of Christ. In his lectures on Galatians and Hebrews, Aquinas argues that circumcision is superfluous for all. Yet in the Romans lectura, Aquinas argues circumcision is a present spiritual benefit for the Jewish people after the passion of Christ. This dissertation illuminates the scholarly discussion over whether Aquinas’s theology is supersessionist by demonstrating that Aquinas’s thought, as revealed in his commentaries on Paul’s epistles, contains economically supersessionist views of the Jewish people alongside and in tension with significant post-supersessionist resources.