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

By Matthew A. Tapie

A subtle teasing out of Aquinas’s thoughts on the relationship between Judaism and the Church, showing the wealth and ambiguity of his ideas.

ISBN: 9780227175071


Theologians have long debated the significance of the Jewish religion for the Christian Church. Some scholars see Thomas Aquinas as the leading advocate of the belief that Israel has been superceded by the Church, while others hold that Aquinas avoids supersessionism altogether. The discussion has, however, not always analysed the terminology, nor has it taken into account some of Aquinas’s commentaries on Paul’s letters, his writings most relevant to the subject.

Drawing upon the Pauline commentaries, Matthew Tapie shows that while Aquinas’s most commonly articulated view is that the passion of Christ made Jewish worship and the Mosaic law obsolete, Aquinas also advanced views that set this into question, in ways that support Christian teachings affirming the value of post-biblical Judaism. In doing so, he provides both a rich and timely reminder of the ambiguities in Aquinas’s thought and makes an important contribution to the literature of supersessionism.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 214

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Matthew A. Tapie is Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology at The Catholic University of America, Washington DC.


Foreword by Pim Valkenberg


1. The Language of Supersessionism
2. Aquinas and the Question of Supersessionism
3. Israel and the Church in Aquinas’s Pauline Commentaries
4. The Ceremonial Law as a Shadow of the Night (Hebrews)
5. The Ceremonial Law as Present Spiritual Benefit for Jews (Romans)
6. The Ceremonial Law as Fulfilled, Dead, and Deadly (Galatians)
7. The Replacement of Israel as Societas Sanctorum (Ephesians)
8. Rival Versions of Christ’s Fulfillment of the Law:
     The Tension in Aquinas’s Thought between Galatians 5:2 and Romans 3:1-2
9. Aquinas as Resource for Jewish-Christian Relations



Endorsements and Reviews

Tapie’s rich, thorough, and multi-dimensional picture of Aquinas’s views on Jewish observance of the ceremonial law after Christ is destined to become a landmark.
R. Kendall Soulen, Professor of Systematic Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington

Matthew Tapie carefully analyzes the terminology of supersessionism and develops a working definition that enables us to discern the tensions in the writings of Thomas Aquinas and to understand the rival assessments of his modern interpreters. Guided by his insightful commentary, we come to see a Thomas who is both a son of his own age and a rich resource for those of our own times seeking a Christian theology of Judaism that is faithful to the teaching of Nostra Aetate.
Mark S. Kinzer, President Emeritus, Messianic Jewish Theological Institute, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tapie has provided a definitive study on Aquinas’s complex and at times contradictory reading of Paul as supersessionist or not. In the process, Tapie offers the clearest teaching I have seen on the meaning of supersessionism in modern scholarship … he concludes with a sober yet hopeful account of the trajectory of Thomas’s thinking – an account that should contribute significantly to contemporary discussions of Judaism and the church.
Peter Ochs, Edgar M. Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies, University of Virginia

The perspectives Tapie has opened are a landmark contribution to the difficult work of reconciliation between Christians and Jews.
John Connelly, Professor, University of California at Berkeley

This work is a positive contribution to an understanding of a very significant phase in the evolution of [Jewish-Christian relations] as well as recalling an influential mode of scriptural interpretation within theology.
Anthony O’Leary, in Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Vol 38, No 5

The study of Aquinas’s theology is carried out by the author with great care and honesty, benefiting from nuance provided by the inclusion of the context surrounding each epistle. The work is characterised by lucidity and balance.
J. Radermakers SJ, in Nouvelle revue théologique, Vol 138, No 2

… the process of close reading and the conceptual definition of supersessionism undertaken by Tapie make this an important book.
Gavin D’Costa, in Theology, Vol 119, No 4

Aquinas on Israel and the Church provides an excellent and thorough analysis of Aquinas’ theology. … Matthew Tapie brings a great deal of clarity to the discussion on Aquinas’ views. … Tapie’s work is well worth reading for anyone concerned with Christian-Jewish relations or the theology Thomas Aquinas.
Ben Thompson, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 25, Issue 1