Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sungenis and the CASB 2 (Apocalypse of St. John): More Source-Reference Problems

The purpose of this short entry is quite simple. Several people in the past few months have made comments about Robert Sungenis in light of his Jewish Controversies, expressing sentiments along these lines: "Sungenis may have some problems in the Jewish area, but his biblical work is still quite good and very sound."

It has been the contention of RSATJ for quite some time, however, that this is simply not true. Sungenis has demonstrated the same pattern of sloppy scholarship in his non-Jewish writings as he has in his Jewish writings. The pattern is consistent: as long as Sungenis feels he is right on some issue, he absolves himself of adhering to scholarly standards. This was documented several times in Sungenis and the Jews: Just what the Doctor Ordered?, where Sungenis was shown to have taken several short-cuts in his references in Galileo Was Wrong, and in at least one case, to have used a "rumored" quote attributed to Carl Sagan (fn. 242 on p. 107 says, "The quote is attributed to Sagan, but is invariably included among other quotes from Carl Sagan.").

Apparently, the pattern is not going to be broken in Sungenis's newly-released Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, Volume 2: The Apocalypse of St. John.

In the study bible, Sungenis says on pages 14-15 that "The traditional view is that the Apocalypse was written between the years 95 AD and 97 AD, during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian." It should be noted that just a few years ago, in CASB 1, Sungenis had said of this position, "It is admitted by proponents of this view, however, that Irenaeus' language is ambiguous and that he is the lone witness for the assertion, thus leaving doubt as to its significance." (CASB 1, p. 351)

St. Irenaeus's ambiguous language and doubtful significance take a back seat in CASB 2, where the saint's testimony to the dating of the Apocalypse is now propped up as solid evidence: "One of the major patristic witnesses to this late dating is Irenaeus who, in his monumental work, 'Against Heresies', states that the Apocalypse was written 'toward the end of Domitian's reign'."

The question of whether St. Irenaeus was even talking about the writing of the Apocalypse in this passage is disputed, and the counter-evidence has been laid out in more detail here: Dating the Apocalypse of St. John: Was it Written Before or After Jerusalem Fell?

The point here, however, is that Sungenis went from saying that advocates of the late-date theory had one "lone witness", whose ambiguous testimony leaves "doubt as to its significance", to insisting that the late-date theory is the "traditional view", propped up by the "major patristic witness" of St. Irenaeus.

Sungenis's change of position was highlighted in a post at the Catholic Answers forum, and Sungenis issued a public response. He writes:

Now, the Matthew CASB 1 was written in 2003. Since that time, I have found more witnesses to the 95 AD writing of the Apocalypse than Irenaeus. (Sungenis, Jacob Michael: Incompetence and Immaturity, p. 5)

Indeed, Sungenis made it appear as though he had found "more witnesses" to the late-date view. He mentions them in the CASB 2, in fact. He mentions them again in his most recent defense of the issue:

Incidentally, the additional witnesses to a 95 AD date that Mr. Michael failed to mention are: Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Athanasius, Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine. Footnotes to the sources are provided in the text of the CASB 2. Not too shabby, are they? (Sungenis, Jacob Michael: Incompetence and Immaturity, p. 5)

Here is where we arrive at the reason for this entry: Sungenis says that "Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Athanasius, Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine" all testify to the late-date theory, and more importantly, that "Footnotes to the sources are provided in the text of the CASB 2."

But this assertion was recently brought to the attention of Mark Wyatt, who has been one of the biggest public promoters of CASB 2, and a specific challenge was put to Mr. Wyatt, again at the Catholic Answers forum:

An "excellent" work such as this surely ought to have the patristic sources supplied in the footnotes, and Sungenis claims here that they are provided "in the text of the CASB 2."

So here's the million-dollar question, Mark: what are those patristic sources, referenced in the footnote(s) on pp. 14-15, which show that Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, etc., held to an AD 95-97 date of composition for the Apocalypse? You have the book, so it shouldn't take you long to find them ... (Jacob Michael, CA forum post, 7/6/2007)

Mr. Wyatt, who has shown himself capable of responding to dozens of posts at Catholic Answers within very short time frames, was curiously silent about this challenge. Several days have now passed with no answer.

Perhaps the reason for the silence is simply this: there are no patristic sources given in the text of the CASB 2 for this issue, contrary to Sungenis's explicit claim otherwise.

Rather, the source Sungenis gives in his footnotes is not to any patristic witness, but to Fr. Haydock's extensive commentary in the Haydock Bible. Upon further examination of the "Haydock source", however, it turns out that not even Fr. Haydock gives patristic sources on the issue of the dating of the Apocalypse. In fact, Fr. Haydock doesn't claim any patristic witnesses for the date of the Apocalypse at all.

A quick review of what Fr. Haydock actually says on the page number referenced by Sungenis in the CASB 2 reveals immediately what happened: Sungenis wasn't reading carefully, and thus misrepresented Fr. Haydock's claims. Fr. Haydock writes:

Though some in the first ages doubted whether this book [the Apocalypse] was canonical, and who was the author of it, (see Euseb. 1. 7. Histor. c. xxv.) yet it is certain much the greater part of the ancient fathers acknowledged both that it was a part of the canon, and that it was written by S. John, the apostle and evangelist. See Tillemont in his ninth note upon S. John, where he cites S. Justin, S. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertull. S. Cyp. S. Athan. Eusebius, S. Amb. S. Jerom [sic], S. Aug. &c. (Rev. Fr. Geo. Leo Haydock, The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with a Comprehensive Catholic Commentary [Monrovia, CA: Catholic Treasures, 1991], p. 1627; italics in original)

Note well: Fr. Haydock is talking, not about the dating of the Apocalypse, but its acceptance within the canon of Scripture, and its Johannine authorship. These are the two issues for which he claims the patristic witnesses of St. Justin, St. Irenaeus, St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, and the other Fathers whom Sungenis has pressed into service as witnesses of the late-date theory (notice that Sungenis's roll-call is even in the same order as Fr. Haydock's, except for the exclusion of Eusebius, and the insertion of St. Irenaeus).

Here is where the confusion enters. Fr. Haydock goes on, after claiming these Fathers as witnesses to the canonicity of the Apocalypse and to its Johannine authorship, to give his own opinion as to the date of the Apocalypse:

It was written in Greek to the churches in Asia, under Domitian, about the year 96 or 97, long after the destruction of Jerusalem, when S. John was banished to the island of Patmos, in the Aegean Sea. (ibid., p. 1627)

It is clear what happened here. Sungenis took Fr. Haydock's own personal opinion on the date of the Apocalypse and confused it with the patristic evidence concerning the book's canonical status and Johannine authorship. He then claimed in the CASB 2, erroneously, that all of these Fathers testify to a late date for the Apocalypse. He then further trotted out these same names in his most recent response, but now with the additionally dishonest remark that "Footnotes to the sources are provided in the text of the CASB 2. Not too shabby, are they?"

Yes, those patristic witnesses are indeed "not too shabby", and they would be even more impressive if they were actually lending their testimony to the subject at hand: the date of the Apocalypse. What really would have been "not too shabby" is if Sungenis had actually included the patristic sources in the CASB 2 footnotes, as he explicitly claimed to have done. He did not, and now we can understand why: he was using Fr. Haydock as his primary source, and Fr. Haydock himself does not give primary source references, but rather points back to "Tillemont in his ninth note upon S. John."

In other words, Fr. Haydock is citing a secondary source, and Sungenis is therefore citing a tertiary source, but publicly claiming to have actually put the primary patristic sources in the CASB 2. On top of all of that, he is claiming these Fathers as witnesses on an issue for which not even Fr. Haydock claimed them.

Little wonder why Mr. Wyatt went silent. The "excellent work" in the CASB 2 that he has been tirelessly promoting on Sungenis's behalf turns out to be downright misleading and inaccurate.

Let me just anticipate the objection up front: Sungenis and his associates will undoubtedly complain that I'm "nitpicking" and trying to discredit an entire book based on "one example." But keep the sequence of events in mind: it was Sungenis who brought up this question of the patristic witnesses, and he was the one who used it as alleged evidence that his critics need to do their homework before challenging him. As usual, following up on Sungenis's dogmatic assertions has only unearthed new problems. Sungenis put this evidence forward for examination; it has been duly examined, and found wanting.

As far as the ramifications of this discovery go, it is not a question of discrediting an entire book based on one glaring mistake. It is a question of establishing a pattern in Sungenis's work; one example by itself would not be significant, but the cumulative effect of multiple examples in several places across many years is a different story - a garbled Truesdale quote here, a bogus Schoeman quote there, a ruined Haydock citation masquerading as patristic evidence here, a falsified Einstein quote there, an unverified Sagan quote here, a bogus saying of John Paul II there. The question can legitimately be asked: how can anything Sungenis cites be trusted at face value, without double-checking it yourself? And at that point, if you're already having to validate his sources, then of what value is his work? You might as well do the research yourself, since he can't be trusted to accurately report what his sources say.

Unfortunately, the end result of testing this latest Sungenis claim is decidedly negative: rather than being an example of how Sungenis is "solid" on biblical issues unrelated to the Jews, the CASB 2 turns out to be another example of how Sungenis has a bad habit of bypassing scholarly standards - even in his biblical work - when he thinks he is right on any given issue.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Sungenis Smears Bishop, Continues to Mislead and Distort the Record

Recently, in an attempt to explain extremely misleading information he and his associates have given about the Catholic Apologetics Study Bible (CASB1 and CASB2), Robert Sungenis made a plethora of additional false or misleading statements and chose to smear his own bishop in the process. Some of these statements will be addressed below.

The careful reader should note a pattern throughout this unfortunate saga. Sungenis continues to make extremely misleading and occasionally outright false statements with the absolute confidence and assertiveness of the well-seasoned professional debater that he is. At this point, it should be plain that important assertions made by Robert Sungenis should not be accepted without first carefully examining the evidence and hearing all sides.

1) The Smearing of Sungenis’ Bishop

In reaction to the fact that Sungenis’ bishop refused to grant an imprimatur for CASB2, Sungenis chose to smear him:

"With all due respect to Bishop Rhoades, I believe I know what his theological viewpoint is, since he is a protégé of William Cardinal Keeler and very close to him personally and theologically, Keeler having come from the Harrisburg diocese and the ordinary who ordained Rhoades. If you remember, Cardinal Keeler was a co-author with several Jewish rabbis of the Reflections on Covenant and Missions document in 2003. I think you get the picture. I won't say anymore out of respect for Bishop Rhoades."
(Jacob Michael, the Imprimatur and the Smear Campaign, p. 11)

Yes, unfortunately, one does readily “get the picture.” Sungenis opted to smear his own bishop with innuendo and guilt by association and then had the nerve to claim he was showing “respect” for him by so doing. The reader will notice that Sungenis provided no substantive documentation for his implied charges. He simply associated Bishop Rhoades with Jews, Cardinal Keeler and the RCM document and that was enough for him to conclude that the Bishop must subscribe to the dual covenant position, or perhaps must be one of those bishops he previously described thusly:

"As long as [my critics]…refuse to condemn the USCCB and other hierarchy for their capitulation to the Jews, then they will never be my friends, they will be my enemies. God will be the judge of who of us has been right."
(Article, page 23)

This attack on Bishop Rhoades is particularly outrageous and hypocritical as Sungenis and his associates have bitterly complained that Sungenis is a victim of guilt by association in regard to Jewish issues. They have argued that he is being called an anti-Semite simply because some of his sources are anti-Semitic. However, in Sungenis’ case, it is most certainly not a matter of guilt by association. It is not guilt by association when one actively and purposely promotes, uses and otherwise directly associates oneself with the “Jewish research” of anti-Semites.

In stark contrast, Sungenis provided no documentation at all that bishop Rhoades holds to or promotes the “two separate, salvific covenants” concept suggested by the RCM document. His mistreatment of Bishop Rhoades is therefore a classic example of guilt by association.

This is made all the more ugly by the fact that Bishop Rhoades has a good, conservative reputation and is highly regarded by orthodox Catholics. He is certainly not considered liberal and has also exhibited a favorable disposition toward the Traditional Latin Mass.

Apparently, relatively soon after Sungenis’ attempted defense was posted in multiple venues, he received complaints on the outrageousness of this smear against the bishop and removed it. However, characteristically, no public retraction or apology has been made by him at CAI.

As a side note, one also wonders why Sungenis felt the need to only present selected parts of the letter from his diocese regarding CASB2 rather than reproducing the entire text, as he did in the case of the letter from the USCCB on the rejection of CASB1. A natural question arises as to what exactly is in the rest of the letter that led Sungenis to exclude it.

2) Sungenis Promises of an Imprimatur for the CASB

“Now, some people might ask why we didn’t reveal that we had been denied an imprimatur from the Harrisburg diocese. The reasons are many. First, to be quite blunt, it is really nobody’s business but ours. For example, if one is declined an imprimatur, he is not required to put a notice on the inside cover of the book that it has been denied. Books are denied imprimaturs all the time. Have you ever seen someone advertise that they have been denied?”
(JMISC, p. 9)

One has to agree with Sungenis on his last point. One would be hard-pressed to find an individual who advertised that they had been denied an imprimatur. However, one would be equally hard-pressed to find an individual who advertised that he would have an imprimatur on books that had yet to be reviewed by his bishop or even written, for that matter. By so doing, Sungenis presumptuously attempted to prematurely appropriate official Catholic clout in an effort to prime the well for the sale of his books. And therefore it was he, not anyone else, who initially made a public issue of this matter. One cannot reasonably trumpet the expectation of an imprimatur in public in order to facilitate sales and then cry foul when a denial of the same is also brought out in public.

Further on in his reply, Sungenis seems to at least somewhat sense the problem and attempts an answer:

“R. Sungenis: There is nothing wrong or dishonest about this statement [promising an imprimatur], since my books Not By Faith Alone and Not By Scripture Alone do contain imprimaturs. But at the time the above statement was written, we had not even completed the first volume of the Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, and the advertisement that is on our website is from that time period. Notice that Mr. Michael does not show a date for the above statement, since he knows it comes from 2003, but that date wouldn’t add any fuel to his accusation, since it shows we were anticipating getting an imprimatur long before the book was published.” (JMISC, p.4)


“Mr. Michael is trying to give the impression that just because the page exists on our website as of June 27, 2007, then it must apply currently. He knows it doesn’t because he knows that it is an ad from 2003 that was never taken off our website. There are many things on our website that we fail to take off for one reason or another. It’s been that way since we started CAI in 1993.” (JMISC, p. 8)

Aside from the fact that Sungenis doesn't seem to realize that this is a rather odd and embarrassing admission, unfortunately, his statements don’t resolve the actual issues involved. Again, at least as of July 6, 2007, the teaser ad/link for this same advertisement is still prominently displayed on the home page of Sungenis’ website and Sungenis is fully aware of it. Click on the advertisement at the lower right-hand portion of the screen that excitedly exclaims, “3 Down 10 to Go!”:

“And, of course, they contain the Catholic Church's Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, just as the CASB will contain.” (link)

First, again, it is extremely presumptuous to publicly promise an imprimatur for books that have as yet to be reviewed by one’s bishop, as Sungenis has recently discovered. Second, Sungenis seems to be arguing that because he initially posted the advertisement some time ago, this somehow nullifies its current relevance and effect. This is an irrational argument.

Consider an analogy. Driving down the road you see a sign exclaiming “Unleaded Gas, $2.00/gal!” So you pull in and fill up with 20 gallons. When you look at your receipt, the charge is for $60 ($3/gal). Confused, you call over the station owner himself and he tells you that the price is $3 a gallon. You point out that big sign in front of the station promising $2/gallon. And he replies, “Listen, I put that sign up there two years ago. You can’t possibly hold me to that now!” Would you be satisfied with that answer?

The fact is, Sungenis publicly made a presumptuous promise that he had no right to make. And that ill-considered promise is renewed every day it remains on his website. That’s simply common sense.

The final problem for Sungenis’ argument in this case is the fact that it is almost certain he was made aware that this advertisement was still up at CAI for at least the past month and a half. And he has yet to revise it. For anyone who has followed the work of ubiquitous Sungenis defender and promoter Mark Wyatt and CAI “Media Technician” Laurence Gonzaga, there can be no serious doubt that Sungenis was informed about this matter:

On May 24th, 2007, Sungenis associate, Mark Wyatt, wrote:

“Unfortunately the description you are reading about the updated DR is in the ad titled ‘1 down [i.e., Matthew], 12 more to go!! ‘. In fact this was true when he started and finished the Matthew study bible, but is not true now after finishing the Apocalypse and Romans / James (in publication). He needs to update his site.” (link)

And then we have these assurances from CAI “Media Technician” Laurence Gonzaga on May 25th, 2007:

“I think CAI should revise their page on the CASB to avoid any confusion... I will talk to Bob about it later...” (link)

“Okay... I can understand your concern especially with the information on the CASB page... It needs to be REVISED reflecting this issue and future plans...” (link)

Although both Mr. Gonzaga and Mr. Wyatt apparently asked Sungenis to revise this ad, the erroneous material still remains even now, a month and a half later. (link)

The careful observer will notice that Sungenis did recently manage to find the time to update the teaser/link for the advertisement on his home page to reflect the fact that 2 more volumes of the CASB had been completed, however. The initial teaser/link said, “1 down, 12 to go!” Now it says, “3 down, 10 to go”. It seems Sungenis has his own personal priorities.

Additionally, one may also notice some selective presentation of facts at work. Sungenis writes:

R. Sungenis: There is nothing wrong or dishonest about this statement, since my books Not By Faith Alone and Not By Scripture Alone do contain imprimaturs. (JMISC, p. 4)

However, below you will find the full quote to which he referred from his advertisement:

“If you are familiar with my books (Not By Faith Alone; Not By Scripture Alone; Not By Bread Alone, et al) you know what kind of material to expect in the CASB. And, of course, they contain the Catholic Church's Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, just as the CASB will contain” (emphasis added, link)

Sungenis failed to mention that his ad also includes Not By Bread Alone in this list of books that have a nihil obstat and imprimatur. Not By Bread Alone does not have an imprimatur or a nihil obstat, as noted in the previous blog post here at RSATJ. So there certainly is something "wrong or dishonest about this statement."

As a final note, Sungenis' views on truthfulness were further illuminated as a result of this latest episode:

Thus, when I said that we were applying and waiting for an imprimatur for the CASB2, I was referring to the SECOND attempt to do so at the diocese of my publisher. Hence, nothing I said was false.” (emphasis in original, JMISC, p. 1)

The fact is that Sungenis and his associates were questioned directly as to whether he had been denied an imprimatur, whether he had heard anything back from his bishop and when he applied for the imprimatur. The answers that he and his associates chose to give were purposely crafted to give the false impression that Bishop Rhoades, to whom the manuscript was first submitted for an imprimatur, was still in the process of reviewing the work and that there was no reason to doubt that it would arrive in good order. The deceptive effect of their answers is illustrated here: link 1, link 2 and link 3

3) The Purported Appeal of the Denied Imprimatur

First, contrary to Sungenis’ implications, it should be pointed out that it has not been claimed that Sungenis must have an imprimatur for the commentary portion of his study bibles simply in order to publish them. However, as acknowledged even by his associate Mark Wyatt, he cannot sell them “in churches or oratories” where he may speak or debate “unless they have been published with the permission of competent ecclesiastical authority” (Can. 827 §4)

Sungenis also makes the following assertion:

“In fact, a little while after I received Bishop Rhoades letter, I wrote to Queenship Publishing and told them I would like to apply for an imprimatur for the CASB2 in Queenship’s diocese. They obliged and the matter is in process.” (JMISC, p. 1)

This statement by Sungenis raises several issues and questions. Sungenis indicated that he appealed “a little while after” he was denied, which occurred at the beginning of December, 2006. In light of Sungenis’ demonstrated willingness to give seriously misleading impressions, it would certainly be helpful to know precisely when he filed his purported appeal. It has been over 7 months since he was denied the imprimatur. And the diocese of Harrisburg has already indicated that they have no record of any appeal in process, which would be expected in such circumstances. Was the purported appeal by any chance filed after questions were being increasingly raised about the missing imprimatur? Did Sungenis inform this other purported bishop that he was denied the imprimatur, as he was directed that he must by the diocese of Harrisburg? These are reasonable and pertinent questions that deserve an answer.

4) The Letter from the USCCB Regarding Sungenis’ New Translation

“Mr. Michael, in another attempt to discredit me a couple of weeks ago, was traveling around the Internet making derogatory comments that the letter from the USCCB that I said I had received stating that the USCCB could not grant an imprimatur for the Matthew translation because it was actually a ‘translation of a translation,’ didn’t exist. Mr. Michael suggested I was fabricating the letter in order to diffuse the issue.” (JMISC, pp. 11-12)

This distortion is significant enough to call it a falsehood. The issue was not whether Sungenis had ever received any letter from the USCCB that denied an imprimatur due to his “translation of a translation” difficulty (although, even here, it turns out that Sungenis and his associates had omitted an additional reason for the rejection, see below). Rather, Jacob Michael focused on the impression being given by Sungenis associates Mark Wyatt and Laurence Gonzaga that Sungenis had a letter from the USCCB explicitly giving him carte blanche permission to go ahead and publish his translation without an imprimatur:

“If he has a letter from the USCCB giving him a free pass, where is it? Why wasn't mention of it made in his CASB 1? Why doesn't he just put it out there, now that he knows (due to your recent contact with him) that the lack of imprimatur has become an issue?....Did Bob get a free pass from the USCCB or didn't he? You've made the claim publicly, so where's the proof?”

In fact, Jacob Michael was correct. Sungenis never received a letter that granted him permission to go ahead and publish his unapproved translation. If one carefully reviews the letter from the USCCB, as reproduced by Sungenis himself, one will notice that there is nothing expressly mentioning any such permission, or a “free pass” as Jacob Michael phrased it. As he has so often in previous situations, Sungenis seems to have jumped to conclusions that were not expressly stated in the letter itself, conclusions that were most beneficial to him.

As a final note, it is also clear that the USCCB did not definitively reject Sungenis’ translation in CASB1, leaving him without an avenue for appeal. In fact, they invited him to consider pursuing this avenue. Yet, oddly in this case, he seems to have considered his work definitively “denied”, unlike the case of CASB2. Additionally, the USCCB did not reject the translation in CASB1 solely for a “technical” difficulty as Sungenis and his associates have led everyone to believe since November of 2006. The USCCB also rejected Sungenis’ application for an imprimatur because of his stated advocacy of an approach that tended toward “dynamic equivalency.” (JMSIC, p. 13) This reason for the rejection was previously concealed by Sungenis, as illustrated below:

“R. Sungenis: When I applied for the Imprimatur for the Matthew volume, the USCCB determined that my modifications to the DR were a ‘translation of a translation’ and not a true translation, and therefore, I could not get the specific Imprimatur for a ‘translation.’” (Q and A 73, November 2006)

In light of these newly discovered facts, perhaps it becomes much clearer why Sungenis has long been so reticent to make this letter from the USCCB public.

5) Copyrights for the RSV-CE

Sungenis writes:

“They tried to claim I was being unethical regarding the CASB 2, The Apocalypse of St. John. They claimed that I did not get approval from the copyright holder of the bible portion of the book. Result? The responsibility of the copyrights and other such issues are Queenship’s. As they have in the past, they secure rights and pay the fees whenever it is required, as they have done for me the last 11 years.” (JMISC, p. 2)

This is false. No one “claimed” that he had been unethical or had not gotten approval. Sungenis was asked, privately, with his closest associates as witnesses, whether he had been given permission. And he was given an opportunity to provide proof to dispel any doubt, privately, precisely in the manner which he has repeatedly complained has been refused to him in the past (e.g., "Mr. Michael could have easily come to me and asked about the situation, but since he has been incommunicado with me for almost a year, that kind of polite Christian gesture wasn’t on his agenda. Instead, he prefers to gossip on the Internet with juicy insinuations in order to further his campaign against me.", pp. 1-2). Despite his protestations that his critics can always "easily come to me and ask" questions of this nature, Sungenis refused to answer any questions in private, and insisted it was no one's "flipping business." (email of 6/28/2007)

In light of Sungenis’ well-established history of plagiarism (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4 and link 5), it was not unreasonable to ask Sungenis if he had obtained permission to use the RSV-CE.

Sungenis avoided answering the question. The reader will note that he never indicated whether permission was granted or not and chose instead to deflect any possible blame to his publisher. Regardless of who should have obtained the permission, if it was not obtained, then this is yet another mark against Sungenis’ CASB.

The holder of the copyright (the NCCC) has indicated that they have no record of granting permission to either Sungenis or Queenship. And they have very specific verbiage that must appear on an author’s book when permission is granted (see here) - in particular, the notice "Used by permission" must appear on the copyright page, a notice which does not appear on the copyright page of CASB 2. Perhaps Sungenis does have permission, in which case it would be a simple task to provide the proof and end the doubt. For some reason, however, Sungenis has resisted providing proof and - let the reader make note - has decided to make a public issue of this, rather than taking the opportunity offered him to deal with it in private. Similar gross distortions of personal correspondence with Sungenis were also made in his latest defense.

6) The Unexplained Contradiction:

In Sungenis, the CASB (The Apocalypse of St. John) and the Imprimatur, the following issue was brought to light:

“The reader will note that Sungenis himself indicated back in September 2006 that the CASB 2 was ‘at the Bishop's office’ being considered for an imprimatur – long before it was published. However, in May 2007, Sungenis indicated that he had ‘already decided to submit the manuscript for an Imprimatur after the book was published.’ Clearly, barring a tortured interpretation of these statements, they do not reconcile with one another.” (link)

Sungenis’ answer (JMISC, p. 5) was essentially an admixture of bluster and insult with no substance. He never got around to actually explaining how to reconcile these two conflicting statements about CASB2.

To recap, first, he acknowledged that he had sent CASB2 to his bishop in September 2006, before it was published. Then after he came under scrutiny he claimed that he had “already decided to submit the manuscript for an Imprimatur after the book was published.” Note, Sungenis’ new claim to have submitted another request for an imprimatur to a different bishop does not provide an obvious means to readily reconcile these two statements. The original discrepancy remains: How could Sungenis “already” have decided to submit the manuscript “after” it was published, when in his own words, he actually submitted the manuscript long before it was published? Perhaps Sungenis can finally elaborate on a sound, logical way to fully reconcile these two conflicting statements.

In closing, even aside from the fact that Sungenis’most recent defense/complaint is far more full of deflection, rationalization, distortion and falsehood than substance, his demands for apologies ring quite hollow in light of the repeated gross injustices he has inflicted on so many without a word of apology, from non-Catholic Jews, to Jewish converts, to his own friends and volunteers, and now even to his own bishop. Sadly, it appears that Sungenis’ many years of debating have led this bright man to the point where he reflexively seeks to win an argument at all cost rather than seeking and promoting the truth. It’s apparently all about Bob, even for certain ubiquitous Sungenis promoters. One standard for me, another for thee. Whether or not he has actually convinced himself and his associates of his own gross distortions, rationalizations and falsehoods is an open question.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sungenis, the CASB (The Apocalypse of St. John) and the Imprimatur

A few days ago, an individual wrote to RSATJ claiming to have contacted the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA in order to determine whether or not Sungenis’s CASB2 (The Apocalypse of St. John) was expected to receive an imprimatur, before using it as a catechetical text. The individual claimed to have been informed by the diocese that Sungenis had already been denied the imprimatur. To establish the veracity of this claim, an inquiry was just made to the chancery office of the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA. The chancery has now confirmed that Sungenis had been denied the imprimatur on the CASB2, late in 2006.

Following are the relevant statements made by Sungenis over time in regard to this issue:

“And, of course, [Sungenis’s books] contain the Catholic Church's Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, just as the CASB will contain.” (emphasis added) (CAI Link)

August 2006: Sungenis announced that his "CASB Vol 2, The Apocalypse of St. John, is now with Queenship and is being printed. It should be out in their next catalogue, and the book should be available in a month or so." (Q&A 18, August 2006)

September 2006: Sungenis informed an inquirer that CASB 2 is "presently at the Bishop's office in Harrisburg PA in the process of obtaining an imprimatur." (Q&A 38, September 2006)

November 2006: Sungenis indicated that "the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition" was used for "the text for CASB, vol 2, The Apocalypse of St. John," and announced that this volume "should be out before the end of the year." (Q&A 56, November, 2006)

February 2007: CASB 2 was still not yet published, and Sungenis explained that "there has been a delay in Queenship's publishing of The Apocalypse of St. John. They had trouble with the formatting and had to start from scratch." (Q&A 4, February, 2007)

March 2007: Sungenis indicates to a reader that CASB 2 "will be available this Spring." (Q&A 19, March, 2007)

May 2007: When challenged on the fact that his newly-published CASB 2 lacked an imprimatur from his Bishop, Sungenis claimed, "I had already decided to submit the manuscript for an Imprimatur after the book was published, which is in the works…Mr. Michael would know none of this because he doesn’t communicate with me. The only thing he does is gossip about me on Internet forums with fallacious imaginings of his own hateful and jealous mind.” (emphasis added)
("Jacob Michael: Incompetence and Immaturity", pp. 9-10)

The reader will note that Sungenis himself indicated back in September 2006 that the CASB 2 was "at the Bishop's office" being considered for an imprimatur – long before it was published. However, in May 2007, Sungenis indicated that he had "already decided to submit the manuscript for an Imprimatur after the book was published." Clearly, barring a tortured interpretation of these statements, they do not reconcile with one another.

Additionally, questions were raised about this issue at the Catholic Answers Forums:

“it doesn't make sense to me to be going for an imprimatur now after you publish and not before you publish a book and I still stick to it. I haven't heard any answer on that. Do you ask him about that one, too?” CAF

“Did Bob apply for an imprimatur for CASB 2 or didn't he? More importantly, when did he apply for it, if he applied at all? Was he rejected? Did the bishop's office just ignore the request? Was it approved pending further investigation?” CAF

Based on what they were told by Sungenis, Sungenis associates Mark Wyatt and Laurence Gonzaga posted the following answers to these concerns at the Envoy and Catholic Answers Forums:

Mark Wyatt:

“My understanding is that he is in the process of getting one. In the mean time he has a schedule, so he released the volume." CAF

“My understanding is that Robert did apply for both Vol. I and vol. II. He is still in the process of obtaining imprimatur for Vol. II…" CAF

“ understanding is that he is trying to get the imprimatur.” (Envoy Forum)

CAI "media technician" Laurence Gonzaga:

“Well, it does have one [an Imprimatur], for the translation... The commentary itself is being sought..." CAF

“no it doesn’t seem wierd (sic) to seek it [an Imprimatur on CASB2] after it is published because the book can be published again." CAF

Clearly, Sungenis has always understood the value and importance of having an imprimatur on his books and has sought it for all of them. Indeed, whether a work has received the Church’s official acknowledgment of freedom from errors of faith and morals or has been denied the same is a legitimate issue of Catholic concern and inquiry. And from the beginning of the CASB project, Sungenis has certainly used the (anticipated) presence of a Catholic imprimatur as a marketing tool:

If you are familiar with my books (Not By Faith Alone; Not By Scripture Alone; Not By Bread Alone, et al) you know what kind of material to expect in the CASB. And, of course, they contain the Catholic Church's Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, just as the CASB will contain (emphasis added) (CAI Donations Page; page contents as of 27 June 2007)

As a side note, Not By Bread Alone (NBBA) does not have an imprimatur. Sungenis explained in considerable detail the purported reasons for the missing imprimatur in the pages of NBBA itself. In contrast, no such explanation was given for the missing imprimatur in the pages of either CASB1 or CASB2.

Aside from aiding internet and book-store sales, there are other reasons why this approbation would be important to have. The Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law states:

Can. 827 §4. Books or other writings dealing with questions of religion or morals cannot be exhibited, sold, or distributed in churches or oratories unless they have been published with the permission of competent ecclesiastical authority or approved by it subsequently.

This means that, for example, CAI would not be able to sell volumes which lack the approval of his bishop in a parish church in which talks on apologetics or other topics were given.

For all the assurances that each of the CASB volumes will bear ecclesiastical approbation, the promised imprimaturs for the CASB have failed to materialize. The first volume of the CASB, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (CASB1), was published without an imprimatur (the reasons for this lie beyond the scope of this entry.)

In regard to CASB2, the phrases used by Sungenis and his associates like "in the process of getting one", "is still in the process of obtaining", "being sought", "in the works", clearly assure the reader in May of 2007 that the reception of the Imprimatur was simply a matter of time, practically a foregone conclusion. Again, it has been confirmed that Sungenis was informed in late 2006—at least five months before CASB2 came out and almost six months before these misleading statements were made by Sungenis (both directly and by proxy)—that the imprimatur for The Apocalypse of St. John had been denied. Although an appeal of such a ruling either to the CDF or to the bishop of the diocese in which the volume is to be published is technically possible, the party making the appeal is to communicate to the CDF or the other bishop that the work has already been denied the imprimatur. To date, the diocese of Harrisburg has no record of any pending appeal. In any event, this would not explain the answers Sungenis and his associates have given to direct inquiries on this matter.

In contrast to the granting or denial of an imprimatur, the reasons for any rejection are not properly a matter of public conjecture and discourse. That is a matter most properly handled between an author and his bishop. Largely for this reason, the comment box has been turned off. Whether here or elsewhere, everyone is encouraged to avoid unnecessary and unhelpful speculation in that regard.


NOTE: Important follow-up articles that shed a great deal of additional light on this situation may be found here, here, here, here and here.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

More Confusion on Sungenis's Catholic Apologetics Study Bible?

Robert Sungenis's newest volume of his Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, The Apocalypse of St. John (CASB2), continues to be a source of confusion and concern. Sungenis had promised a new translation of the Scriptures based on the Douay Rheims, going back to the original languages to assure the most accurate translation available today. However, after his translation was refused an imprimatur by the USCCB (due to a technical difficulty, according to Sungenis), he decided to use the RSV-CE in all future volumes.

Yet, and All Catholic Books, the only sources that come up aside from CAI to purchase CASB2 on google, have the following to say about CASB2:

Product Description
Second Volume of the series using an updated Douay Rheims translation...extensive Scripture.

"The CASB gives you an updated version of the Douay-Rheims Bible, the most accurate and authoritative Catholic translation available. The CASB replaces some archaic 16th century words with more precise words. The grammar and syntax of the original Greek and Hebrew are analyzed in conjunction with the Latin Vulgate for the most accurate translation."

All Catholic Books

Sungenis has known for months about the change in translation. So why is this misinformation still posted on the web? It's not as if there are hundreds of retailers selling his product.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sungenis and Co. Evasive on Simple Questions about Catholic Apologetics Study Bible (CASB) and Canon Law

Robert Sungenis's CAI associates Mark Wyatt and Laurence Gonzaga have been out promoting Sungenis' new Catholic Apologetics Study Bible: here.

However, important questions have arisen about both his first volume on the Gospel of Matthew and his second volume on the Apocalypse.

An RSATJ reader has recently pointed out that Robert Sungenis' Catholic Apologetics Study Bible (CASB) has neither an imprimatur nor a nihil obstat, although Sungenis has actively sought and received both approbations in the past (Not By Scripture Alone, Not By Faith Alone and How Can I Get to Heaven). While it is not strictly necessary for a Catholic to have either an imprimatur or nihil obstat in order to publish an apologetics book (although it is recommended by canon law), Sungenis has clearly exhibited a desire to receive such important Catholic approbations in the past. In fact, in the case of Not By Bread Alone, when Sungenis did not receive the imprimatur, he made sure to give a thorough explanation of the extenuating circumstances surrounding his inability to procure it (although it is perhaps odd that no mention has been made by either Sungenis or his associates about attempts to procure the missing imprimatur for Not By Bread Alone now that the purportedly extenuating circumstance no longer exists).

However, perhaps even more importantly, it has been pointed out that Sungenis, in addition to publishing apologetics material, has also taken it upon himself - in this case of CASB 1, The Gospel According to St. Matthew- to create and publish his own translation of the Sacred Scriptures, apparently without the requisite approval of the Catholic Church. Unlike the publication of apologetics material without an imprimatur, this is a more serious matter. The Church is extremely protective of the Sacred Scriptures.

Canon law clearly states:

"Books of the sacred scriptures cannot be published unless the Apostolic See or the conference of bishops has approved them. For the publication of their translations into the vernacular, it is also required that they be approved by the same authority and provided with necessary and sufficient annotations." Canon 825 §1.

Sungenis went on at considerable length about the depth of the research involved in his new translation, touting the level of the scholarship involved in completing it (pages i-iii, Volume 1, Matthew). While "the CASB has remained as close as possible to the Vulgate and Douay-Rheims translations," Bob insists he "has also made many necessary improvements." The reader is assured that "great care has been taken in producing the CASB translation," and "scholar and layman" alike "can trust that what is presented in the CASB is a faithful representation of what appears in the original languages." Bob maintains that he has even gone beyond the Vulgate where necessary: "The CASB endeavors to bring out even more accurately the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew text underlying the Latin Vulgate."

Sungenis and his associates now claim that he was told by the USCCB that he is free to publish his translation of the Gospel of Matthew, even though he has not received canonical approval, because his translation of the Scriptures is a "translation of a translation" and that such translations technically cannot be approved under this canon law.

This certainly sounds odd. Because Sungenis' translation isn't a completely new translation, the bishops have essentially given Sungenis a free pass of sorts to print it? Also odd is that, unlike the case of Not By Bread Alone, Sungenis failed to detail this extenuating circumstance and the concomitant "free pass" of sorts purportedly given by the USCCB in the introduction CASB 1 (Matthew) itself.

Sungenis associate Laurence Gonzaga has claimed that Sungenis told him he switched to an approved translation of Scripture (the RSV) precisely in order to facilitate the reception the coveted imprimatur for CASB 2 on the Apocalypse. Sungenis associates Mark Wyatt and Laurence Gonzaga have claimed that it's no "big deal" to get an imprimatur and that even "garbage" books can get one. Yet, oddly, there is still no imprimatur anywhere to be found in the pages of CASB 2, even though Bob has had 4 or 5 years to obtain one, after being made aware of the problem with his translation on CASB 1.

Sungenis himself has written an article as a supposed answer to these significant issues. Unfortunately, he failed to answer the basic questions and only raised the level of doubt by playing what appears to be evasive word games.

There are four simple questions Sungenis should answer for the sake of his patrons and everyone who plunks down the large sum of money required to buy his CASB:

1) Did the USCCB explicitly give Bob Sungenis permission to publish CASB 1, or did they only refuse his request for an imprimatur based on a technicality, and Bob inferred the rest?

2) Where is this supposed letter from the USCCB granting Bob permission to publish his new translation because of this technicality? If it were so completely favorable to Bob's case as his associates claim, wouldn't he have published it long before now?

3) When, exactly, did Bob apply for the imprimatur on CASB 2, using the RSV translation?

4) Is Bob asking us to believe that he has never received any kind of refusal, or any other kind of indication one way or the other from his bishop concerning the imprimatur on CASB 2?

While we're at it, what of Galileo Was Wrong? Why does Bob not have the imprimatur for that book either? Was it submitted to his bishop for approval? Was he refused? If not, then what exactly did Bob's bishop indicate?

How about some straight and non-evasive answers, for a change?

Sungenis Dishonesty and Hypocrisy Over Racist National Vanguard Continues

Recently, Robert Sungenis of Catholic Apologetics International wrote:

R. Sungenis: I have stated repeatedly that I did not know the philosophy of National Vanguard up until Ben Douglass did the research and verified it for CAI when he worked here. When Mr. Douglass alerted me to National Vanguard's white supremacism, I told our webmaster to take off their material from our website, and it was only one or two items, if I remember correctly. That is all there is to it. But leave it to the gossip-mongering racists to make it sound as if I endorse National Vanguard!
(Adventures in Blogland, p. 9)

See here for information on The National Vanguard:

So, is Sungenis telling the truth? Is that really "all there is to it" as Sungenis claims? Or is he continuing to be dishonest and hypocritical? Follow the date-line and facts, below:

March 16: Ben Douglass writes to Bob Sungenis and warns him about the National Vanguard (NV), saying they are racists and that CAI should shouldn't touch them "with a 10 foot pole."

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 14:47:23 -0500

Robert and Jason,

One adjective ruins the latest feature article at CAI:

"The millions of honest White people who are members of such churches will be questioning the motivation, honesty and even genuine Christianity of
their leadership."

I really think we need to avoid posting the works of Anglo-Saxon
Israel supporters, White Nationalists, and the like. For
example, this National Vangaurd group praises
anti-miscegenation laws "to protect our precious [white]
blood, protect our national character, protect our unique
combination of beauty, intelligence, and creativity, and
protect our childrens future." We should be wary of touching
these kinds of groups with a ten foot pole. Besides
following the references they dig up for us, I don't think
we should use them at all, whether by posting their works
in their entirety or by directly quoting them.


April 10: The Latin Mass author, Matthew Anger, publishes an article exposing the racist nature of NV and Sungenis' use of NV.

April 12: Robert Sungenis writes to Matthew Anger and an email list of several other individuals, claiming that he doesn't know anything about National Vanguard. He then writes that he "could care less" as to whether they have a racist ideology or not, regardless. He threatens that he is going to post a response to Anger at CAI and additionally threatens to expose Anger's attempt to cover over the sins and errors of the Jews in his next article on Judaizers in the Church to the email group. Finally, Sungenis defends his use of the racist National Vangaurd with the same kind of diversionary tactics he has tried against nearly everyone else who has called him on his anti-Semitism:

CC: BEN DOUGLASS (other names deleted)
Subject: My Reply to Mr. Anger -- R. Sungenis
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2006 23:10:01 EDT

"Mr. Anger judges who they [sources] are based whether they critique or don't critique bad Jewish people. It's like a vicious circle. Never mind that Jerry Falwell actually says that Jews don't need to convert. Never mind that Abe Foxman says the New Testament is anti-semitic. That's not important to Mr. Anger. What is important is that he give Jewish people a free pass and make them immune to criticism. Some Catholic faith Mr. Anger has. I suppose he now believes Jews don't have to convert, and that the New Testament is anti-semitic."

Aside from the fact that Falwell did not say that Jews don't need to convert and that Abe Foxman is not the issue, the fact is that Sungenis had no idea what Anger thought about Jews and their conversion when he wrote this. This was nothing more than typical Sungenis bravado and diversion designed to distract people from what he had done in using a blatantly racist source.

April 13: Ben Douglass chastises Robert Sungenis again, this time for saying that he doesn't know anything about National Vanguard. Douglass reminds Sungenis about his March 16th email (above). This is sent to the entire email list, shaming Bob for his untrue statement to the group:

(Other recipients deleted)
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 11:19:40 -0400 (EDT)


I have to criticise this statement:

'I don't know anything about National Vanguard, and I could care less.'

Remember, I sent you an e-mail about them after you posted
the Falwell Article from their site at CAI. They advocate
anti-miscegenation laws to protect Our precious white blood
and our unique combination of beauty, creativity, and

April 17: Robert Sungenis finally agrees to remove the National Vanguard articles. But also note a very important admission from Sungenis, pointing to a continuing problem at "Cut and Paste" CAI:

Subject: Re: your goodbye message
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 13:17:35 EDT

"I've already alerted Ben to the fact that no more article [sic] from National Vanguard will be run on our site, now that I know who they are. I have a bad habit of not checking the sources...which will not be the case in the future."

Also note the following at Robert Sungenis and the Jews:

"2) [Sungenis] has repeated verbatim or sometimes merely reformulated slightly writings he has obtained from others on Jewish issues. He has sometimes represented these as his own, without acknowledgment or attribution and has even defended these practices.

3) [Sungenis] continues to evidence a propensity to uncritically seek out and accept unsavory, dubious and/or negatively biased information in regard to Jews and has drawn others with similar proclivities to his website."

April 18: Articles removed

In Robert Sungenis and the Jews, we learn that it was approximately two weeks after Sungenis was notified before he removed the articles from the racist National Vanguard (an organization that has been shut down by the Commonwealth of Virginia). RSATJ was overly conservative. The record proves that it was actually over a month before Sungenis removed the articles and only after being chastised by his own V.P., an article published by a well-known Traditionalist author exposing what Sungenis had done, and another chastisement and shaming by his own V.P. in front of an email list.

It may also help to once again recall Sungenis' own stern (and hypocritical) warning to Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong:

Sungenis: “If you have no political affiliation with these neo-cons, then I suggest you put a disclaimer on your site, otherwise people are going to get the wrong impression, and you can't blame them if they do. Any person with common sense who sees their names on your web site would assume that you support the political views of the aforementioned unless you say otherwise.”
(Sungenis, Q&A, January, 2005, Question 3).

Indeed. And when someone repeatedly uses the kinds of sources Sungenis does, "people are going to get the wrong impression, and you can't blame them if they do."

As radio personality Paul Harvey is best known for saying: "that's the rest of the story."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More Sungenis Dishonesty and Plagiarism with Ben Douglass?

The following was sent in by Ben Douglass with his permission to reproduce it here at this blog:

[The following is] another instance of Sungenis being very dishonest with me, back when I was still VP of CAI. On September 21, 2006, he sent me a draft of "Michael Forrest and the Jews", asking me for suggestions for improvement. Two of my biggest problems with the article were his matter-of-fact, yet completely unsubstantiated, claims that (a) Talmudic Judaism regards Gentiles as sub-human and (b) the Talmud lessens the penalty for rape of young boys and girls as opposed to rape of adults. My objections, and his responses, are below.

(Douglass) 2) Back off from these charges against the Talmud, unless you can back them up with specific citations from the text itself and respected Jewish commentaries. Even then, you should be somewhat equivocal. Say that such and such a passage is in the Talmud, and even though it might be saying something else, it sounds like it's saying this. And in any case these passages have been used by modern Jews to justify sexual misconduct. In the article "On the Rabbi's Knee" by Robert Kolker, from May 22 issue of New York Magazine, we are informed that a revered orthodox rabbi named Pinchus Scheinberg told concerned Jewish parents that as a matter of Jewish law, their rabbi's fondling their children did not count as sexual abuse.

Sungenis: Understood. Acutally, my main objection against the Talmud is that it denies Jesus as the Son of God, and says he is a false prophet under God's judgment. I don't think there is much to argue about that.

(Douglass) 3) I think you can find many orthodox Jews who will deny that Gentiles are animals or less than animals. If you are going to stick by this charge against Orthodox Judaism, you should explicitly quote an Orthodox Jew saying this.

Sungenis: I'll try.

The following is from the version of the article which he then published at CAI, and which is still posted there:

Forrest: Jews who follow Judaism loathe non-Jews and consider them less than animals.

Sungenis: I hope it’s not true, but unfortunately, I haven’t found too many Orthodox Jews (who believe and follow what is stated in the Talmud), to deny that Gentiles do not have the same rights as Jews, and in some cases, have the same rights as animals. If a Jew wants to repudiate the Talmud and admit that the Talmud does not have the whole truth, then I will be willing to accept his statement that “non-Jews are less than animals.”

Forrest: Judaism teaches that it’s okay to rape young boys.

Sungenis: Another half truth. I said that there are statements in the Talmud (not Judaism, per se) that lessen the crime of sodomy and pedophilia against young boys as opposed to the crime against an adult. The Talmud does the same for the raping of young girls as opposed to the raping of mature women. That being the case, it is incumbent on Michael Forrest to admit and condemn this breach of justice taught by the Talmud instead of trying to make me look bad while making Judaism and the Talmud look good. In fact, passages have been used by modern Jews to justify sexual misconduct. In the article “On the Rabbi's Knee” by Robert Kolker, from May 22 issue of New York Magazine, we are informed that a revered orthodox rabbi, named Pinchus Scheinberg, told concerned Jewish parents that, as a matter of Jewish law, a rabbi's fondling their children did not count as sexual abuse.

As you can see, he did not make the changes which he indicated to me that he would make. The only thing he changed was that he plagiarized my statement about Pinchus Scheinberg. So, I sent him the following e-mail:


Your response to me indicated that you would back off from your statements about the Talmud teaching that non-Jews had the same rights as animals, and that not too many Orthodox Jews would deny this, and that the Talmud lessens the crime of sodomy and pederasty against the young. But you haven't qualified them. Orthodox Jews do quite often deny teaching that Gentiles have the rights of animals. And you replied "understood" to my advice that you should be equivocal about the pedophilia charge, and instead of saying "the Talmud lessens..." say that such and such a passage is in the Talmud, and even though it might be saying something else, it sounds like it's saying this, and some Jews have used it like this. But instead, you are as unequivocal as ever and simply included my reference as backup. You haven't made the changes that I thought you were going to make based on what you just told me. As it stands, this piece is going to make the scandal continue.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sungenis' Scriptural Exegesis of Passages Predicting the Antichrist Will Be Jewish

Once again, here is a small sampling of the positively confident statements Robert Sungenis of Catholic Apologetics International has made in expectation of the Antichrist being of Jewish ancestry (specifically from the tribe of Dan):

Sungenis: “…Antichrist, who, according to the Fathers, is supposed to have his ancestry in the tribe of Dan.” (here)

Sungenis: “In fact,…Catholic tradition… has unofficially declared that the future Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction." (here)

The following are four examples of the exhaustive, expert Scriptural exegesis Robert Sungenis has completed in order to support statements like those above:





(No need to adjust your monitor, all four are indeed blank.)

The following is from Robert Sungenis and the Jews:

"It is particularly noteworthy that the Scriptural evidence for this belief [Jewish identity of the Antichrist] seems far less direct, substantial and convincing than the Scriptural evidence for an unusual conversion of the Jews. To my knowledge, Bob has put forth no Scriptural exegesis of these passages at all, which is very strange in light of the amount of time he has spent formulating his technical grammatical interpretation of Romans 11:25-26 alone in order to dismiss the idea of a future unusual conversion of the Jewish people. It seems even more striking in light of the fact that Scriptural exegesis is supposed to be one of his areas of greatest expertise.

The Scriptural evidence for the Antichrist emerging from the tribe of Dan is apparently based upon three verses, primarily: 1) Jeremiah 8:16, which certainly seems a bit creative (and which one would expect Bob to summarily discount in light of the rigorous demands he has placed on passages used to support an unusual conversion of the Jews), 2) Revelation 7:57, which merely omits the tribe of Dan from the list the 144,000 Israelites marked with the seal of the servants of God and 3) Genesis 49:16-17 which says that Dan will be like a snake in the way that bites the horse's heels that his rider may fall. Again, for Bob to be consistent, he could not credibly claim that these Scriptural passages predict that the Antichrist will be a Jew from the tribe of Dan."

In light of Sungenis' almost Herculean efforts over the past several years to discount the broad and deep Catholic witness for an unusual conversion of the Jewish people to Christ in the last days (centered almost exclusively around his own personal exegesis of Romans 11), why were Catholics not treated to an even more vigorous Sungenis dismissal of the relatively thin Catholic witness for the belief that the Antichrist will be a Jew from the tribe of Dan? After all, the Scriptural evidence for this belief is rather flimsy, at least compared to the scriptural citations and interpretations in support of the "Conversion of the Jews" (see here) and these Scriptural passages are central to what historical Catholic support there is (Patristic and otherwise).

Why has Sungenis not exerted similarly sustained exegetical efforts to save Catholics from believing the evidence that the Antichrist will be a Jew? Indeed, why was his reaction in this case the polar opposite: a ready embrace of this idea as taught by "the Fathers" and that it was "unofficially declared" by "Catholic tradition" without so much as a cursory exegesis of the Scriptural evidence?

Certainly this is an odd development for a man whose expertise is purportedly Scriptural exegesis.

(Note: Again, the intention of this post is not to completely undermine belief in the possibility that the Antichrist will be a Jew. The point is to underline the clear inconsistencies exhibited by Robert Sungenis. If something is positive about Jews, Sungenis tends to spare no effort to contradict and undermine it. If something is negative about Jews, Sungenis tends to readily accept and further propagate it.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Refusing to Admit the Obvious: Sungenis's Einstein Quote is Fraudulent

Recently, Robert Sungenis wrote an article in which he further entrenched himself in anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. The vast majority of his article serves as its own rebuttal, but there are a few issues that may eventually be addressed. Because of the disturbing parallel to what Bob has done to Roy Schoeman (eagerly accepting and using a fraudulent quote to attack him), Bob’s tortured, continued defense of his blatantly fraudulent Einstein “quote” at CAI will be addressed first. He writes:

R. Sungenis: No, the quote is not “fraudulent,” it is merely put together with ellipses from what Einstein himself said. I have thoroughly rebutted Mr. Forrest’s claims.

R. Sungenis: Mr. Forrest has his facts wrong. The quote was separated by ellipses, and thus it was not “cobbled together.”


Once again, here are the facts:

A) Bob first claimed that he found this “quote” from Collier’s magazine (Article). He did not. After being confronted, he eventually admitted that he found it somewhere else but refused to disclose where:

“Let me admit to you that I did not get the original quote. I copied the quote from another source. Regardless of the source…” (Article)

Although, he later contradicted himself and misstated the facts when David Palm also brought up the fraudulent Einstein quote:

“I didn’t admit anything. I said the quote was from Collier (sic) magazine, and nothing more.”

In his latest response, he simply declined to interact with this specific issue at all (the source for the “quote”). Again, a simple google search reveals white supremacists, Neo-nazis, and other anti-Semites as the most common purveyors of this fraudulent quote: Google Search

If you have difficulty bringing up this search, it is because Google filters it due to the objectionable nature of the material. You have to disable the filter.

B) The actual Collier’s issue in which the article appeared was tracked down, purchased and a scanned copy of each page was provided for Sungenis and everyone else: (Article). The direct links are:

Page 1,
Page 2,
Page 3,
Page 4

C) Here is the fraudulent “quote” as used repeatedly by Robert Sungenis to “prove” that the charge of anti-Semitism is “nothing but a clever ploy” and that Albert Einstein thought so as well:

“Anti-Semitism is nothing but the antagonistic attitude produced in the non-Jew by the Jewish group. The Jewish group has thrived on oppression and on the antagonism it has forever met in the world…the root cause is their use of enemies they create to keep solidarity.”
Article 1, Article 2, Q and A #26, July 2006, Article 3

Is Bob’s latest attempted defense true, that this quote is “not fraudulent”, “not cobbled together” and “merely put together with ellipses”? Examine Bob’s “quote” again (directly above), and then review what Einstein actually wrote, in greater context. I have put in bold italics the fragments that Bob’s source used:

The members of any group existing in a nation are more closely bound to one another than they are to the remaining population. Hence, a nation will never be free of friction while such groups continue to be distinguishable. In my belief, uniformity in a population would not be desirable, even if it were attainable. Common convictions and aims, similar interests, will in every society produce groups that, in a certain sense, act as units. There will always be friction between such groups-the same sort of aversion and rivalry that exists between individuals…

The formation of groups has an invigorating effect in all spheres of human striving, perhaps mostly due to the struggle between the convictions and aims represented by the different groups. The Jews too form such a group with a definite character of its own, and anti-Semitism is nothing but the antagonistic attitude produced in the non-Jews by the Jewish group. This is a normal social reaction. But for the political abuse resulting from it, it might never have been designated by a special name.

At this point, eight paragraphs of material are written by Einstein in the article, eventually leading to this:

In the foregoing I have conceived of Judaism as a community of tradition…
perhaps even more than on its own tradition, the Jewish group has thrived on oppression and on the antagonism it has forever met in the world. Here undoubtedly lies one of the main reasons for its continued existence through so many thousands of years.

Quite a different story. We can see that it was certainly not Einstein’s intent to paint anti-Semitism as a “clever ploy” of the Jews concocted to cow gentiles, as Bob framed it. This is sophistry, plain and simple. Einstein was merely making general sociological observations and applying them to Jews as well in the first two paragraphs. Minority groups that do not readily assimilate and instead hold to their distinct identity tend to create friction with the larger population. This is normal and expected. However, in the case of Jews, that friction has resulted in particularly serious political abuses…such as those witnessed in Nazi Germany.

In the third paragraph quoted above (again, eight paragraphs removed from the other two), Einstein speaks of the fact that oppression can strengthen. As an explanation for why the Jewish group has survived for so many thousands of years, Einstein says, "Perhaps even more than on its own tradition, the Jewish group has thrived on oppression and on the antagonism it has forever met in the world." (Collier's, p. 38) In other words, while the Jews have (like many other ethnic groups in history) met oppression and antagonism at the hands of other ethnic groups, the Jews have (unlike other ethnic groups in history) been strengthened and invigorated by that antagonism - apparently, it activates their strong drive to survive. In fact, a similar thing may be said of Christianity. It has historically thrived on oppression rather than crumbling under it.

One will inevitably note several important facts:

1) The third fragment of Bob’s “quote” (“the root cause is their use of enemies they create to keep solidarity”), arguably the most important for firmly establishing the meaning Bob sought, is completely fabricated. It does not exist, period. Bob has yet to even simply acknowledge this documented fact.

2) As you can see, the first two sentences of Bob’s “quote” are actually fragments of longer sentences in the Einstein article. Yet they are presented in Bob’s “quote” as complete sentences. This is also false. Ellipses should have appeared both before and after each of these sentences and they don’t.

3) Not only are the first two sentence fragments fraudulently presented as whole sentences, they are presented as though one follows immediately after the other. This is another outright falsehood. Bob’s fraudulent quote has absolutely no ellipses between them. Again, eight paragraphs separate these two fragments in Einstein’s article.

4) The only ellipses in Bob’s “quote” (ellipses are typed as “…” in order to denote that text has been omitted) are between the second sentence and the third:

The Jewish group has thrived on oppression and on the antagonism it has forever met in the world…the root cause is their use of enemies they create to keep solidarity

The problem, again, is that the third sentence does not exist in Einstein’s article at all. So the ellipses here obviously don’t help Bob.

5) Even if Bob’s quote did use ellipses in the correct places (which it does not), this would still be completely illegitimate. First, to use ellipses to join two sentence fragments, making them appear as a continued train of thought, when in actuality they are separated by eight paragraphs, is ridiculous. As demonstrated above, the context surrounding the two fragments is different. Einstein was addressing two distinct issues in the context of those sentence fragments.

To give you a more concrete idea of what Bob is defending, let’s try this with the Bible and one of Bob’s books:

First, from the Bible:

“All who are of Israel are Israel. They shall be called children of the living God…for the Jews will always be more loved by Him than the Gentiles.”

(First sentence taken from Romans 9: 6, second sentence taken from Romans 9:26, followed by a completely fabricated phrase)

One doubts Sungenis would defend this particular “quote” (and neither would we).

Now let’s extract a “quote” from Sungenis’s book, How Can I Get to Heaven?:

“God is pleased with us. It is a personal righteousness that God can recognize…because we attack Jews without ceasing.”

Again, one hopes Bob would not defend this “quote.”

(First sentence taken from page 45, second from page 48, followed by a completely fabricated phrase).

In any case, the fact is that Albert Einstein never indicated in any way that the charge of anti-Semitism is “nothing but a clever ploy” concocted by Jews to cow gentiles. It’s plain nonsense and, sadly, that doesn’t seem to matter to Bob.

The question is, how long will Bob leave this blatantly fraudulent quote up on his website? He has been informed about the problem for 7 months now. Perhaps Roy Schoeman should be pleased that it only took Bob a couple of weeks to remove the fraudulent quote he used to attack Roy.

At this point it might be worth a quick review of Bob’s accuracy and source problems:

Without sufficient corroboration, any information, especially in these kinds of sensitive areas, is as good as false. We have all learned our lesson, . . . (apology from the Mr. X affair, c. May 2003).

[L]et me offer my sincerest apologies…I know that some of the words I chose and some of the sources I used tended to incite offense. I can assure you that such will be the case no longer. (Open Letter dated 18 Sept 2006.)

I already told them that I would check and recheck my sources and speak charitably in my critiques (Question 60- jews?)

...our sources and facts will be checked and rechecked… (Question 55- Michael Forrest and the boys, emphasis his)

Our sources will be checked and rechecked, and if there is a questionable source, we will inform our reader so that he can judge the content and the source for himself. (Question 16)

As we do so, CAI is going to make a concerted effort to clear up the so-called “source problem,”…plan to silence the “source critics” once and for all.
("Christopher Blosser and the Catholic ADL")

Especially for those who remember the “Mr. X” debacle, this is all particularly ironic. Bob intended to attack William Webster for his purportedly illegitimate use of ellipses. He claimed that Webster used them in such a way as to seriously distort the meaning of what the Early Church Fathers wrote.

One standard for me, another for thee.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Ongoing Role of the Jews in Salvation History

The Conversion of the Jews

Updated 2/23/07

When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice, for the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not fail you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers which he swore to them (Deut 4:30-31).

As we have seen in Section 2 of this essay, the central question addressed by Schoeman in his book is whether there is any place for the Jews, as a distinct ethnic people, in salvation history between the first and second comings of Christ. To this both he and I answer Yes. So does Pope Benedict XVI, the man whom Sungenis dubbed, "one of the best theologians with which the Church has been blessed" (Q&A Question 45, Jan 2007):

In Christ we participate in the same heritage of the Fathers as you, to serve Almighty God "with one accord" (Zep 3: 9), grafted onto the one holy trunk (cf. Is 6:13; Rom 11:16) of the People of God. This makes us Christians aware that, with you, we have the responsibility of cooperating for the good of all peoples, in justice and in peace, in truth and in freedom, in holiness and in love.

In light of this common mission, we cannot but denounce and battle with determination against the hatred and misunderstandings, injustices and violence that continue to sow anxieties in the hearts of men and women of good will. In this context, how can we not be grieved and concerned about the renewed demonstrations of anti-Semitism that are at times reported?" (Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Dr. Riccardo di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome, January 16, 2006)

And even more powerfully:

Deep down, those vicious criminals, by wiping out this people, wanted to kill the God who called Abraham, who spoke on Sinai and laid down principles to serve as a guide for mankind, principles that are eternally valid. If this people, by its very existence, was a witness to the God who spoke to humanity and took us to himself, then that God finally had to die and power had to belong to man alone - to those men, who thought that by force they had made themselves masters of the world. By destroying Israel, by the Shoah, they ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their own invention: faith in the rule of man, the rule of the powerful." (Pope Benedict XVI, Visit to the Auschwitz Camp, May 28, 2006)

This last quote especially shows how, according to the Holy Father, the Jews continue to have a mission today: they stand as a concrete, historical witness to the reality of God and His activity in salvation history. Israel "by its very existence" is "a witness to the God who spoke to humanity," specifically "on Sinai." The Pope says that the Nazis were ultimately trying to "tear up the taproot of the Christian faith", not by attacking the Catholic Church as we might expect, but by attacking the Jewish people.

But to the question of whether the Jews, as an ethnic people, have any special ongoing role in salvation history, Sungenis answers No. He categorically denies that there is any such place for the Jews:

The Jews were once God’s chosen people but those days are over. They were over when Jesus died on the cross, and they have been over for the last 2000 years. The Jews have no special covenant with God; they will receive no special protection from God as they did in the Old Testament; . . . The Jews and Israel are just like any other people or nation today. (Q&A Question 45, Jan 2007)

The Catholic belief in a future conversion of the Jews to Christ runs directly contrary to his assertion, so it is little wonder that he has focused such a lot of effort to try and downplay that belief. But let me state here categorically that I do not believe that the Jewish people have a separate, abiding Covenant with God which is salvific for them. The Catholic Church is indeed the New Israel and salvation for the Jews is on the same basis as for everybody else, through faith and baptism into Jesus Christ under the auspices of the New Covenant alone. The future conversion of the Jews to Christ spoken of by so many Fathers, Doctors, and Popes takes place under the auspices of the New Covenant and their salvation comes through Christ alone.

And yet, as Schoeman has rightly said, the mere fact that the Old Covenant has been fulfilled by the New Covenant does not obliterate any and all special dealings God has with the Jewish people. And one of the most clear examples of this is the testimony of Scripture and Tradition to a future collective conversion of the Jews to Christ.

The Catholic belief of the significant conversion of the Jews to Christ at the end of time is probably the best evidence of God's ongoing care and concern for the Jewish people in the sweep of salvation history after the Cross. And a necessary concomitant to the belief in a future conversion of the Jews to Christ is their continued existence as a distinctive people down through the centuries, despite the shattering of the central rituals of the Jewish religion and the loss of their nation in A. D. 70:

The way that this tiny people, who no longer have any country, no longer any independent existence, but lead their life scattered throughout the world, yet despite this keep their own religion, keep their own identity; they are still Israel, the way the Jews are still Jews and are still a people, even during the two thousand years when they had no country, this is an absolute riddle. This phenomenon in itself shows us that something else is at work here. . . .

But they always kept their identity. Their faith could never die. And likewise it is still like a goad in the very heart of Christianity, which sprang out of the story of Israel and is inseparably bound up with it. You can see, in this way, that there is something more than mere historical chance at work. The great powers of that period have all disappeared. Ancient Egypt and Babylon and Assyria no longer exist. Israel remains - and shows us something of the steadfastness of God, something indeed of his mystery. (Ratzinger, God and the World [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2000], p. 148)

Of course, if God is going to bring about a significant conversion of the Jewish people to Christ sometime in the future then it is necessary that they remain as a distinctive ethnic group. And this has happened, despite the fact that humanly speaking it is inexplicable. And I think that any Catholic who is open to the evidence will find that belief in a future special conversion of the Jews to Christ, in fulfillment of Rom 11:25-26 (along with Deut 4:30-31; Isa 59; Mic 2:12-13; Hos 3:4-5), is extremely well attested in the Catholic Tradition. Even Fr. Denis Fahey, whom I think nobody will mistake for a shining example of a philosemite, especially in his later writings, speaks of a significant future conversion of the Jewish people as a certainty:

The conversion of the Jewish people to the true Supernatural Messias is, therefore, certain, in spite of the overwhelming evidence of uncompromising hostility to Him on their part at the present time. Their conversion will be a glorious triumph for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It will be a special source of exultation for Her, when Her own people will at last acclaim her divine Son as their King and welcome as their Queen her who is their sister according to the flesh, and who so ardently desires to be their Mother according to the divine life of grace. (Fr. Denis Fahey, The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation, chapter 7; the emphasis is mine here and throughout unless otherwise noted.)

But again, so that we keep straight just exactly who bears the burden of proof in this dispute, let me stress that there is no need for me here to attempt to prove that belief in this future Jewish conversion is an essential part of the deposit of Faith, something that must be definitively held by all the faithful. That would be stating my case too strongly. What I will demonstrate, though, is that there is more than enough evidence to safely permit the Catholic faithful to look forward with hopeful expectation for just such a miraculous occurrence. In fact, the most authoritative witnesses in the Catholic Church—Fathers, Doctors, and Popes—have held this view as a matter of course. That this is neither heretical, nor even dubious, will be demonstrated from the luminous and orthodox Catholic minds which have held it. And if there is indeed to be a future conversion of "all Israel" then obviously the Jews will need to remain as a distinctive people until the end of time. And this demonstrates that Roy Schoeman is perfectly within his bounds to conclude that "the Jews continue to have a role to play in salvation history following Christ" (Salvation is From the Jews, p. 68).

In the interest of space I will not reproduce all the evidence—the reader is strongly encouraged to look at that for himself here, and here (which is the excellent presentation found in Jacob Michael's book Never Revoked by God, pp. 199-220.) Note especially that these witnesses all speak of the conversion of the Jews to Christ as a special, future event. This stands in direct contrast to Bob's contention that the only thing we can look forward to is an ongoing trickle of Jewish converts.

The list of patristic authors compiled by Jacob Michael and Michael Forrest includes: Origen, Tertullian, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Hippolytus, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Hilary of Poitiers, Bl. Theodoret of Cyrus, Pelagius, St. Prosper of Aquitaine, Pope St. Gregory the Great, Victorinus of Petovium, Ambrosiaster, Cassiodorus, Pseudo-Constantius, Diodore, St. Isidore of Seville, St. John Damascene, and the Venerable Bede, for a total of 21 patristic witnesses.

The medieval and modern authors cited by Michael and Forrest include: St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope Innocent III, Pope Martin V, St. Peter Damian, St. Robert Bellarmine, the Glossa Ordinaria, Bl. Pope Pius IX, the Douay-Rheims Bible notes, Suarez, Cornelius a Lapide, Fr. M. J. Lagrange, Fr. Fernand Prat, Fr. Leo Haydock, Fr. Charles J. Callan, Ludwig Ott, and even Fr. Denis Fahey, whom Sungenis has praised so highly in conjunction with various Jewish issues. Fahey adds to this list two more medieval luminaries, St. Anselm and St. Bernard.

Now just to focus our attention on the importance of these witnesses, let's consider that the specific proposition that there will be a future, significant conversion of the Jews to Catholicism is held by at least fourteen Doctors of the Church, nine of whom are in the patristic era. These Doctors are St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Jerome, Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Isidore of Seville, St. John Damascene, Venerable Bede, St. Peter Damian, St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Robert Bellarmine.

As Michael Forrest has pointed out, those of us who have argued the pedigree of dogmas such as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin could only wish for attestation so strong. With a line-up like that, a faithful Catholic would have to have some pretty compelling reasons to reject the proposition in question.

But contest it Sungenis does. Rather than rehash the copious primary evidence which is already laid out here and here,I will instead examine the means by which Sungenis seeks to dismiss the witness of this venerable throng. In doing so I will uncover still more of his double standards and will show how he readily adopts a thoroughly non-Catholic approach to the evidence, all so that he can deny that there will be special graces given to the Jews in the future. So what reasons does Bob give for rejecting this proposition? Speaking broadly there are seven of them:

1) He argues that there aren't very many witnesses.

2) He argues that they don't hearken back to an apostolic tradition.

3) He argues that the witnesses are "divided".

4) He argues that the witnesses sometimes offer alternative interpretations.

5) He argues that their witness is invalidated because some of them (incorrectly, he contends) speak also of a literal return of Enoch and Elijah in the end times.

6) He argues that they have not provided a "detailed" exegesis of Rom 11 and this invalidates their testimony.

7) He argues that God doesn't do mass conversions.

Let's tackle these one at a time:

1) Sungenis argues that there aren't very many witnesses to this belief:

"Only two Fathers hold out for any future large restoration of faith in Israel" (Sungenis, "The Fathers and the Return of the Jews")

"Only three Fathers hold out for a future and distinct conversion of Jews" ("Judaizers").

[O]f the over one hundred Fathers of note in the patristic era, only a little over half a dozen speak about an anticipated conversion of Jews, and half of them apply it exclusively to the salvation of a remnant during the Church age; another portion see both a remnant saved in the Church age and a more significant portion in the distant future; ("Judaizers")

There seems to be some confusion on Bob's part as to just how many witnesses are arrayed against him. Perhaps it would be better if he would reserve his comments until he's done a more careful study. As it stands, though, Sungenis simply misstates the force of the evidence against him. He has nowhere demonstrated that any Fathers apply the conversion of the Jews exclusively to a remnant in the Church age. As we will see, some Fathers supported complementary views, but a fixture of their belief was this special future conversion of the Jews. Sungenis has never shown that any Father held a view that was limited exclusively to the Church age.

He has also radically downplayed the number of patristic witnesses. There are many more patristic witnesses than his two, three, or half dozen. There are, as we saw above, at least twenty one, including nine Doctors of the Church. Again, space does not permit reproducing the evidence, but the reader can easily convince himself of this by looking at the links provided.

Sungenis also violates his own principles when evaluating the evidence. In one place, when arguing against Scott Hahn, Sungenis lays out one set of guidelines for establishing doctrine based on the patristic witness:

The general rule in basing doctrine on testimony found in the patristics is: the prominent and authoritative Fathers must offer their support, and there must be a consensus among them. (Sungenis, "Do the Fathers Support Scott Hahn's Theory?")

But on a special, future conversion of the Jews to Christ we have many very prominent and authoritative Fathers (again, at least nine Doctors of the Church, from both the East and the West.) Though some include certain details such as the literal coming of Enoch and Elijah, there is a consensus among them on the central point—that there will be such a significant conversion in the end times. Despite such weighty testimony, Sungenis rejects it.

But then when it comes to defending some of his own pet ideas, such as "God's anger and related issues of contingency", he dispenses himself entirely from the rules he himself laid out:

Mr. Michael: . . . I wonder if Ferrara is aware that Robert Sungenis himself interprets certain Scriptural texts in a way that isn't found explicitly in councils or Church Fathers, and in some cases is actually contrary to the Fathers?

R. Sungenis: Name one, Mr. Michael, that is contrary to the Fathers. I can save you the trouble. There aren't any. Not even the issue of God's anger and related issues of contingency, since there is no unanimous consent among them . ("Dialogue between Jacob Michael and Bob Sungenis")

In fact, on Sungenis' idiosyncratic views on God's wrath (see here) Bob's excuse that there is "no unanimous consent" of the Fathers against him actually papers over the glaring problem that the two major Doctors who laid the foundation of Catholic metaphysics and our understanding of such things as God's "wrath," namely, Augustine and Aquinas, are in total disagreement with Bob's theology on this issue. And of course, they're both against him on the Jewish conversion issue too. There seems to be a pattern here.

We also have the strange circumstance of Bob playing up the evidence that the Antichrist will be Jewish and will hail from the tribe of Dan. Michael Forrest clearly and convincingly presented the evidence for this rather bizarre double standard in "Robert Sungenis and the Jews". For example, Bob claims that "the Fathers have much to say" on the possibility that the Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction ("Judaizers"). But the fact is that only a handful of Fathers have anything to say about it; and for his part, he cites exactly one Father (St. Irenaeus) in support of this idea. He proceeds to claim that "the medievals were just as informed" and cites two examples. One of these, St. Bridget of Sweden, says absolutely nothing about the Antichrist being of Jewish extraction, leaving one wondering why Bob would bother to have cited her at all ("Judaizers"). Does he even read the material he deploys against Jews? Similarly, Bob insists that "according to the Fathers" the Antichrist will come from the tribe of Dan. Again, the patristic evidence for this is extremely thin, but Bob accepts it almost without question and presses it on his readers as the view of "the Fathers". Forrest is certainly correct to warn his readers:

[K]eep in mind the very different approach Bob takes on a positive development regarding the Jews as opposed to this very negative one regarding Antichrist: reflexively dismissive of the former and reflexively accepting of the latter. This is the essential point of the entire section: further detailing the breadth and extent of Bob’s deeply negative bias. If something is negative about Jews, Bob exhibits a clear tendency to uncritically believe, defend and further propagate it. If something is positive about Jews, Bob exhibits a clear tendency to automatically reject and discredit it. (RSATJ:3, emphasis his).

When Mark Cameron cited the Catholic Encyclopedia in support of the belief that there would be a significant future conversion of the Jews, Bob waved him off from that source:

R. Sungenis: "Mark, I understand why you might hold this in high esteem, but let me warn you that the Catholic Encyclopedia is not our official authority on these matters. As for the CE's comment on Romans 11:25-26, that is merely the statement of a single person who has no ecclesiastical authority, except to write his opinion." ("Intense Dialogue")

But when it comes to the Antichrist coming from "Jewry", suddenly the Catholic Encyclopedia is a great source; indeed, Bob contends that the Catholic Encyclopedia "predicts" that the Antichrist will be Jewish and even that the same source demonstrates that "Catholic tradition . . . has unofficially declared that the future Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction" (whatever "unofficially declared" means):

(Sungenis): “As we have documented earlier, our Catholic saints and doctors have said the same thing. The 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia predicts that the Antichrist will come from Jewry. The 1936 Catholic Encyclopedia followed this by predicting that a Temple would be built for him in Jerusalem…” ("Neo-Conservatism and the Evangelical/Protestant Connection")

Sungenis: “In fact, . . . Catholic tradition . . . has unofficially declared that the future Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction. As late as 1911 the Catholic Encyclopedia stated it quite plainly ("Politics, Religion, Israel and the Seduction of the Catholic Voter").

Now in his response to Michael Forrest, Sungenis tries to dodge the accusation of a clear double standard in the way he treats positive versus negative evidence on Jewish issues:

I don't consider that the Antichrist will be Jewish as a solid fact of prophecy. I merely mention the fact that some Fathers believed it to be so, and I do so in order to combat people like Michael Forrest who think, or at least previously thought, that such things were out of the realm of possibility for Jews. (MFATJ, p. 41).

This is a typically flimsy response from Sungenis when he is caught in a double standard or faux pas. He downplays the force of his own words and seeks to transfer blame (even if he has to fabricate that blame) to his opponent. The fact is that he has been caught holding a huge double standard with respect to the evidence, downplaying the positive future conversion of the Jewish people to Christ while at the same time playing up the negative, but much flimsier, evidence for the Antichrist being of Jewish extraction. And he simply fabricates the charge that Michael Forrest thinks that it is "out of the realm of possibility" that the Antichrist would be of Jewish extraction. On the contrary, if he had actually bothered to read "Robert Sungenis and the Jews" he would see that Forrest explicitly acknowledges this possibility:

I do not at all dispute the possibility or even likelihood that the Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction from the tribe of Dan and I have researched it only at modest length. It seems plausible and rational. There is a certain symmetry to the expectation (Christ Jewish/Antichrist Jewish). (RSATJ:3).

Bob has accused Forrest again and again of never, ever, (ever!) saying anything negative about Jews. Yet here was a statement from Forrest right in front of his face, agreeing that it is a possibility and even a "likelihood that that Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction". And he misses this entirely and goes on to accuse Forrest of thinking that "such things were out of the realm of possibility for Jews". Sungenis does exactly the same thing with Jacob Michael. On the one hand he repeatedly jeers that Michael won't ever (ever!) say anything negative about the Jews, while on the other he threatens that Abe Foxman and the ADL will be bringing Jacob up on charges of anti-Semitism for suggesting in Never Revoked by God that the Beast of the Apocalypse might be institutional Judaism (see "Christopher Blosser and the Catholic ADL", p. 2). So which is it, Bob?

As it stands, Forrest's accusation that Sungenis reflexively embraces negative views about Jews while downplaying positive ones stands well established, while Sungenis' view that Forrest will never say anything negative about the Jews falls absolutely flat.

2) He argues that they don't hearken back to an apostolic tradition.

First, you’ll notice that Gregory does not cite any earlier patristic witness. In order for a massive conversion of Jews at the end of time to be the abiding view of the Church, there would have had to be an apostolic teaching that such was the case. As it stands, none of the early Fathers speak of such a massive conversion in the distant future, let alone say they received such teaching from the apostles. ("Intense Dialogue")

John Damascene is rather late in the patristic record, and thus he offers little evidence of an apostolic precedent for his view. He certainly doesn’t cite any patristic witness to back up his claims. ("Intense Dialogue")

Now the fact is, as we have already seen, there is patristic evidence (from Origen and Tertullian) that extends back to the early third century. And several of the later Fathers make plain that this belief in a significant conversion of the Jews sometime in the future was a stock belief among Catholics, a part of their faith that was accepted as a matter of course. In the East, St. Cyril of Alexandria says that:

Towards the end of time, Our Lord Jesus Christ will effect the reconciliation of His former persecutor Israel with Himself. Everybody who knows Holy Scripture is aware that, in the course of time, this people will return to the love of Christ by the submission of faith . . . Yes, one day, after the conversion of the Gentiles, Israel will be converted, and the Jews will be astonished at the treasure they will find in Christ." (Commentary on Genesis, Bk. 5; cited at Sungenis and the Jews)

Here, as Michael Forrest notes, "St. Cyril states that this belief is common knowledge for Catholics, not merely his own personal view." (RSATJ:5)

And in the West, St. Augustine says:

It is a familiar theme in the conversation and heart of the faithful, that in the last days before the judgment the Jews shall believe in the true Christ, that is, our Christ (City of God, Book XX, Chapter 29).

Again, Forrest notes, "Here Augustine indicates that the idea of the conversion of the Jews is 'a familiar theme' among 'the faithful', once again indicating that this belief was not his own speculation but that it was well-known." (RSATJ:5)

Cassiodorus and Pope St. Gregory the Great both treat this belief as common knowledge among the faithful:

He will not always be angry, nor will He be wroth forever . . . this verse can be applied also to the Jewish people who we know are to be converted at the world’s end. On this Paul says: Blindness in part has happened in Israel, that the fullness of the Gentiles should come in, and so all Israel should be saved. (Explanation of the Psalms; cited at Sungenis and the Jews)

As Jacob Michael says, "What is interesting about Cassiodorus' statement is that he so easily tosses off the statement that 'we know' the Jews 'are to be converted'; he takes this for granted, as though everybody already knows this fact" (Never Revoked, p. 209).

And Pope St. Gregory the Great states:

Peter and John, the ones who loved more than the rest, ran more swiftly than the rest (to the sepulchre). The two ran together but John outran Peter and came first to the sepulcher; but did not presume to enter it. Peter came after him and went in….What does John signify then, if not the synagogue, and Peter, if not the Church?

The synagogue came first to the sepulchre, but did not enter, because although it received the commandments of the law and listened to prophecies of the incarnation and passion, it was unwilling to believe in the one who had died. John saw the linen cloths lying there, but even so he did not enter, because the synagogue know the mysteries of the holy scriptures, yet put off entering by putting its faith in the Lord’s passion.

Then follows: Therefore that disciple who had come first to the sepulcher then entered also. After Peter entered, John also went in. He who had come first entered second. We know, my friends, that at the end of the world even Judea will be brought to faith in the Redeemer. Paul testifies to this by saying: “Until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, and thus all Israel is saved.” (Homily 22 from Forty Gospel Homilies; cited at Sungenis and the Jews)

Again, note that Pope St. Gregory says "We know, my friends . . .", as though this is common knowledge for the faithful, not at all disputed or speculative.

This is also a good place to highlight what I believe is another large double standard in the way Sungenis treats the patristic evidence. He insists, on the one hand, that there is much greater support for geocentrism among the Fathers than for a special future conversion of the Jews:

As I said in one of my earlier rebuttals, the patristic and medieval consensus on geocentrism is about a hundred times stronger than the opinions of the Fathers on a future conversion of the Jews, yet we don’t find Mr. Michael or any of his colleagues endorsing geocentric cosmology, and that in the face of the fact that geocentrism was a true consensus, that is, every Father believed that the sun went around the earth. (Sungenis, Review, p. 13)

Of course, we saw above that Sungenis says that there are something like one hundred significant witnesses in the patristic era. So if we take Sungenis at his word that the consensus for geocentrism is "about a hundred times stronger" than that for a future Jewish conversion, we would only need to find two witnesses in favor of this future conversion to turn his statement into a ridiculous exaggeration. But in fact, we have over twenty. On the other hand, the list provided from Galileo Was Wrong here cites something like twenty seven witnesses. A careful reading that, if one were to apply his hermeneutic of suspicion and deconstruction techniques to the same witnesses that speak of geocentrism, we could whittle them down just as effectively. But Sungenis won't apply his reductionist techniques to beliefs he's in favor of, only to those which he wants to discredit.

Here's a perfect example. In an interview with Jacob Michael on geocentrism, Bob was asked to pick the best one or two patristic quotes he had in support of geocentrism. He picked this one from St. Basil the Great:

There are inquirers into nature who with a great erudition of words give reasons for the immobility of the earth....Do not then be surprised that the world never falls: it occupies the center of the universe, its natural place. By all necessity it is obliged to remain in its place, unless a movement contrary to nature should displace it. If there is anything in this system which might appear probably to you, keep your admiration for the source of such perfect order, on the wisdom of God. (Hexameron, Homily 1, 10, NPNF2 p. 57.) (source)

Now here is the actual quote from NPNF2:

There are inquirers into nature who with a great display of words give reasons for the immobility of the earth. Placed, they say, in the middle of the universe and not being able to incline more to one side than the other because its centre is everywhere the same distance from the surface, it necessarily rests upon itself; since a weight which is everywhere equal cannot lean to either side. It is not, they go on, without reason or by chance that the earth occupies the centre of the universe. It is its natural and necessary position. As the celestial body occupies the higher extremity of space all heavy bodies, they argue, that we may suppose to have fallen from these high regions, will be carried from all directions to the centre, and the point towards which the parts are tending will evidently be the one to which the whole mass will be thrust together. If stones, wood, all terrestrial bodies, fall from above downwards, this must be the proper and natural place of the whole earth. If, on the contrary, a light body is separated from the centre, it is evident that it will ascend towards the higher regions. Thus heavy bodies move from the top to the bottom, and following this reasoning, the bottom is none other than the centre of the world. Do not then be surprised that the world never falls: it occupies the centre of the universe, its natural place. By necessity it is obliged to remain in its place, unless a movement contrary to nature should displace it.(3) If there is anything in this system which might appear probable to you, keep your admiration for the source of such perfect order, for the wisdom of God. (source)

First of all, as an aside, there are some differences in wording, even in the section he quotes on either side of the ellipses. Given Bob's track record when it comes to proper use and attribution of sources, we may be forgiven for wondering if once again he is not citing a primary source here, but an unverified secondary or tertiary source. It at least raises the question: if Bob knows the primary source and it is easily accessible (and St. Basil's Hexameron is viewable on several web sites), why doesn't he just quote the primary source?

But second, read carefully the part he left out with the ellipses. Notice that this is all based on a kind of scientific-philosophical argument. There is no reference to an unbroken patristic tradition. In fact, I have yet to see a patristic citation in support of geocentrism that contains any such appeal to apostolic tradition. Certainly none of the citations cited at which purport to be from Bob's book Galileo Was Wrong have any such appeal to apostolic tradition. And in fact, if we applied all of Bob's criteria that he uses to dismiss the testimony of the Fathers in support of a future conversion of the Jews, we would find that list of witnesses for geocentrism likewise decimated.

And what's more, the argument given in the citation by St. Basil above—namely, that the earth is at the center of the universe because it's the heaviest thing in the universe—is simply wrong, as even modern geocentrists would have to agree. Therefore this text, which is the witness that Bob provided when asked for the strongest he could supply, does not provide anything like the support he would want for geocentrism, if we apply his own standards. But, of course, for Bob it is one standard for me and another for thee.

3) Bob frequently argues that the witnesses on a future conversion of the Jews are "uncertain" and "divided":

There are a few Fathers that looked for some ethnic or physical blessing, but by and large, the Fathers are very divided on this issue, and there really is no consensus among them. ("Intense Dialogue")

Be that as it may, the fact remains that there was not a consensus among the Fathers that the Jews would convert to Christ, en masse. Granted, there were more that believed there would be some type of conversion than not, but that is not a consensus, and we are not required to accept it. This is especially true in light of the fact that some Fathers and medievals opposed the possibility of an en masse conversion. (MFATJ, p. 43)

Now to sustain the claim that the Fathers and Doctors are "divided" on an issue, he would have to show where they actually contradict or oppose the idea in question. This Bob has never done. He has never shown a single Father, Doctor, or Pope who denies that there will be a future, significant conversion of the Jews to Christ and I do not believe that any such witness exists. He has never provided the references in which "some Fathers and medievals opposed the possibility of an en masse conversion." Certainly, such denials would be expected if this belief were disputed, since it has been widely known within the Church from very early on. As Michael Forrest has rightly commented:

Bob has on occasion claimed that a couple of the Fathers contradict their own views and as such, we cannot take much of anything substantive from them on this topic. However, to my knowledge, he has never proved and documented these purportedly contradictory views that deny a future unusual conversion of the Jews, either in context or not. It seems likely that if there is anything to his assertions at all, these few Fathers have merely expressed complementary views rather than views that contradict themselves. (RSATJ:5)

And Forrest rightly points out that Sungenis is frequently heedless of the context when he tries to dismiss the testimony of the Fathers. Indeed, I believe that Mark Cameron, in his dialogue with Bob, showed well that Sungenis had ignored essential contextual clues and sometimes cropped quotes to make the Fathers seem as if they were opposing the view, when in fact they were supporting it. For example, Mark catches Bob truncating St. John Chrysostom and putting in ellipses precisely where the quote would prove him wrong:

Mark: . . . I also find that you have shortened the St. John Chrysostom quote in a way that reduces any suggestion of a future conversion . . . You quote Chrysostom as saying: "God's covenant will be fulfilled not when they are circumcised . . . but when they obtain the forgiveness of sins . . . it will certainly come to pass."

But the full quote is this: "God's covenant will be fulfilled not when they are circumcised, nor when they do other deeds of the law, but when they obtain the forgiveness of sins. If this has been promised but has not yet happened in their case, nor have they enjoyed the forgiveness of sins in baptism, it will certainly come to pass." This language of fulfillment of the covenant that "has been promised but has not yet happened in their case" (which you omitted) sounds more like "a distant event in the future."

R. Sungenis: But again, Mark, even this quote is not definitive, since Chrysostom says "IF....this has not yet happened in their case." But the point is that it HAS happened, and continues to happen, as Paul made clear in Romans 11:5, 14, 23, as a remnant of Jews, beginning at Pentecost, were added to the Church, and "some" of the whole nation is saved, and "regrafted" into the olive tree even though the whole nation was cut off. ("Intense Dialogue")

Notice that in his reply Sungenis dodges the fact that Cameron caught him cropping a quote specifically to eliminate the material that ran against his view. Sungenis also insists that:

Instead, many of these same Fathers wrote many essays remarking about the unbelief of the Jews, and how it will continue to the end of time" ("Intense Dialogue").

Many Fathers, he says? Which ones, pray tell? Many essays? If there really were many, it shouldn't be difficult to tell us what they are. But tellingly, he doesn't cite any of them; he merely asserts that they exist. But the days are long past when Bob Sungenis can simply assert something and have the force of his assertion carry any weight. As always, that which is gratuitously asserted may be just as gratuitously denied. And so we see that the impressive positive witness of the Fathers for a future conversion of the Jews to Christ is not in any way "divided".

4) A related but slightly different tack is to argue that the patristic witnesses sometimes offer alternative interpretations; from this he proceeds to essentially dismiss their witness.

They waffle back and forth between a remnant and a larger group; and they waffle back and forth between a spiritual and ethnic restoration. ("Intense Dialogue")

Here Bob attempts to downplay the force of any given patristic testimony with a ploy typically used by non-Catholics, in this case by his use of the phrase "waffle back and forth." If a particular Father or Doctor says something you don't like, find a place where he says something slightly different on the same topic and use that to negate the former meaning. In other words, if Bob can find a place where a given Father gives a spiritual interpretation of a passage which elsewhere he had applied literally to a future conversion of Israel, well then the testimony of that Father can dismissed entirely. Jehovah's Witnesses use this ploy all the time to negate various patristic witnesses to the divinity of our Lord. Protestants use it to try and undermine the testimony of the Fathers to such Catholic distinctives as the Real Presence in the Eucharist and the divine institution of the papacy. It might seem strange to find a putative Catholic apologist utilizing exactly the same tactic. Frankly, to me it stands as one more evidence of an underlying animus on the part of Bob Sungenis toward the Jews. Michael Forrest very rightly pointed out this double standard in "Robert Sungenis and the Jews":

As Bob has previously argued against Protestant apologist James White in regard to the Holy Eucharist, a Father may at times speak only about the spiritual nature or symbolic nature of the Eucharist without simultaneously intending to deny or contradict the physical reality of Christ’s presence.

There are two similarities to the issue at hand. First, St. Paul and the Fathers do certainly speak of “Israel” in the spiritual sense, referring to the Church. That the Church is “Israel” is not in dispute. However, this does not preclude or contradict the more mundane, ethnic meaning of the term which is also used at times. For instance, try to read Romans 11 through while systematically substituting “the Church” for “Israel” and all pronouns that refer to Israel and determine if it makes sense. Second, in regard to the issue of the conversion of the Jews, it is clear that St. Paul did speak of a remnant that continues to be saved even in his day. Yet, this does not preclude or contradict the idea that he also indicated a future, unusual conversion. There is a Catholic “both/and” readily available here. As such, the interpretation would simply be: Jews have and will continue to come into the Church, but in the future, there will also be an unusual, significant restoration of them to Christ. (RSATJ:5)

That certain Fathers express other, complementary interpretations of Romans 11 does not in any way do away with the fact that those very same Fathers also express their belief in a future, significant conversion of the Jews. In many other contexts, Sungenis would be the first to argue that way. But if he desires to deny future spiritual blessings for the Jews, then even non-Catholic argumentation is apparently good enough for him.

5) He argues that their witness is invalidated because some of the Fathers (incorrectly, he contends) speak also of a literal return of Enoch and Elijah.

This argument is easily disposed of. Again, Bob employs a profoundly non-Catholic argument in an attempt to undermine the testimony of the Fathers. Let us acknowledge that certain Fathers and medieval luminaries teach that Enoch and Elijah will return at the end of time. And let us suppose that this turns out to be incorrect (although Bob has not proven that it is.) This does not invalidate the larger fact that they all agree that the Jews will be converted, any more than the fact that a few patristic sources speak of the Blessed Virgin Mary's death while others don't invalidates their testimony with respect to her Assumption.

Similarly, if one looks at the patristic evidence for geocentrism offered by Bob (see here, for example) the Fathers also don't agree on the specifics concerning geocentrism. But we will not find Sungenis discrediting their witness on that account. His standards change radically depending on his topic and the hinge on which they swing most freely these days seems to be any issue involving the Jews.

6) He argues that they have not provided a "detailed" exegesis of Rom 11 and this invalidates their testimony.

You don’t have a "broad consensus," you have merely a half dozen or so citations, many of which are equivocal, all of which offer no exegesis, little of which cite early patristic support for their view, some of which can be taken in a spiritual as well as literal sense, many of which leave out crucial details (e.g., Enoch), all of which have only the obscure passage of Romans 11:25-26 as their Scriptural base ("Intense Dialogue").

[N]ot one of the witnesses ever provide exegesis of the passages, nor cited early patristic support for their interpretation, nor showed that the apostolic tradition demanded their interpretation. ("Intense Dialogue").

Moreover, neither Jerome, Cyril or Chrysostom give a thorough exegesis of the passages in question ("Judaizers").

Gregory offers no exegesis of the crucial phrases in the Romans 11 text (e.g., "fullness of the Gentiles," "so all Israel is saved"). ("Intense Dialogue")

You offered Gregory, but as you can see, he does not offer any patristic support or Scriptural exegesis to back up his view. (ibid.)

Neither Augustine nor Chrysostom "exegeted" Romans 11:25-26. They simply referred to the text. (ibid.)

Since none of them offer a detailed exegesis of the passage; or interact with any of the contextual or grammatical issues at stake, and offer virtually no supporting Scripture with accompanying exegesis to back up their claims, then there is virtually no convincing evidence they have to offer. (ibid.)

Again, this argument is very easily disposed of. Since when can a faithful Catholic flippantly dismiss the testimony of the Fathers of the Church, simply because they don't give a "thorough exegesis of the passages in question"? The fact is, most of them do regularly precisely what he accuses them of doing with regard to the Jews. He says, "Neither Augustine nor Chrysostom "exegeted" Romans 11:25-26. They simply referred to the text." But take any subject you like: baptism, the Eucharist, the papacy, what have you. What the Fathers usually do is "simply refer to the text" without going into any detailed exegesis. And how much of the Summa of St. Thomas contains "thorough exegesis"? Is Bob really going to argue that we can set aside that master work and others like it on the basis of his arbitrary exegetical requirement?

And then let's apply Bob's same criterion to his own pet doctrine, geocentrism. Do the Fathers provide a detailed exegesis of Josh 10:11-14 and other texts normally advanced in support of geocentrism or do they simply refer to the text? At least in the list provided here I find no evidence of detailed exegesis; they simply refer to the various texts. So by his own standards, we should be able to dismiss their testimony on geocentrism as well.

7) He argues that God doesn't do mass conversions.

As Michael Forrest has already pointed out in "Robert Sungenis and the Jews", we have here another of Bob's blatant contradictions. On the one hand he contends that a future significant conversion of the Jewish people isn't going to happen because that's just not the way God works:

Nevertheless, a universal conversion would simply be totally adverse to everything God has ever done with regard to Jews and Gentiles. . . . God simply does not do "universal" conversions. ("Intense Dialogue")

Now of course, Bob is wrongly eliminating such massive (indeed, almost universal) conversions as that of the Aztecs after the advent of our Lady of Guadalupe. And notice how Bob's position changes when the subject is the Russians or even the Aztecs:

But the truth is that if the Church had mentioned 'Russia' in the 1984 consecration, we would have seen millions of Russians embrace the Catholic faith. . . . True followers of Fatima are waiting for the time when Russia will mightily embrace Catholic Christianity and spread her faith all over the world, just as she had previously spread atheism all over the world. ("Dr. Zugibe Responds to Robert Sungenis")


Never mind, as Ferrara points out, that the Aztecs were one of the most blood thirsty pagan cultures known to man, and who Juan Diego helped to abolish by converting nine million of them out of their pagan religion. (From: EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, A review by Robert A. Sungenis, Ph.D.”, p. 19. See here.)

A massive conversion of millions of Russians, in which they "mightily embrace Catholic Christianity and spread [the] faith all over the world" is something Sungenis vigorously defends. And he readily acknowledges the miraculous conversion of the Aztecs by Our Lady of Guadalupe (although giving too much credit to Juan Diego and too little to the Blessed Mother in the process). But a massive conversion of Jews in the end times? No, that's just impossible because "God simply does not do 'universal' conversions."

So we see that none of the methods by which Sungenis seeks to diminish the patristic and medieval support for a future, significant conversion of the Jews are cogent. And this means that the understanding that there will be a future outpouring of grace on this ethnically distinct people, by virtue of God's special favor, is perfectly solid and worthy of Catholic belief.

But now it is important to ask the obvious question: Why does Bob Sungenis advance such limping arguments against the conversion of the Jews? Why would someone fight this hard against this much evidence? Why would someone employ such straw-grasping arguments, unless he really and truly loathed the alternative? And why the loathing? Hasn't he read Tertullian?

[I]t will be fitting for the Christian to rejoice, and not to grieve, at the restoration of Israel, if it be true, (as it is), that the whole of our hope is intimately united with the remaining expectation of Israel. (Tertullian, On Modesty, source)

Again, for all his protests to the contrary, the evidence clearly shows that Bob Sungenis has a fundamental animus toward the Jewish people.

With this foundation in place, then, let's look at yet another charge leveled by Sungenis at Schoeman.

Does Schoeman Say That the Old Covenant "Fulfills" the New Covenant?

It is in the context of this future conversion of the Jews to Christ that we must address yet one more accusation thrown by Bob at Roy Schoeman. Bob has insisted that:

Schoeman believes that “Salvation is from the Jews” because, as he says in his book, the Jews who become saved in the future will “fulfill the New Covenant” by a completion of the Old Covenant, not because Jesus was a Jew. (MFATJ, p. 63)

And elsewhere he writes:

Thus, Schoeman's "alternative" relationship between the Old and New Covenants seems to be a kind of theological ‘reverse osmosis.' The New Covenant is now said to reach its fulfillment only by having the Jews of the Old Covenant return to Christ at the Second Coming. This is certainly a novel teaching and unfortunately it is totally erroneous. The conversion of Jews to the Christian faith is not something the New Covenant has put off into the distant future. Luke 1:67-79, for example, is clear that Christ came at his first coming precisely to save the Jews, and for the express purpose of fulfilling the promises to Abraham and David. Not surprisingly, the first Christians were Jews. Almost ten thousand of them, along with some Gentiles, were saved within a few weeks time (Acts 2:41; 4:4). For those Jews who have accepted His invitation, He has thus saved in the same way for the last two thousand years. ("Judaizers")

Note again that Bob has attributed words to Schoeman which Schoeman never used. Schoeman did not use the word "fulfill" or "fulfillment", but "fruition". He says, "as the Old Covenant was brought to fruition by the New at the First Coming, so will the New Covenant be brought to fruition by the Old, by the return of the Jews at the Second Coming" (Salvation, p. 353). Bob alleges that this somehow shows that Schoeman believes that the Old Covenant "remains in force" after the advent of the New Covenant (Question 16, March 2006). The immediate context completely rules this out, since Schoeman immediately goes on to denounce in no uncertain terms the thesis that there are two separate covenants simultaneously in effect:

[A] new and perhaps even more pernicious error has emerged - that the Old and New Covenants are two "separate but equal" parallel paths to salvation, the one intended for Jews, the other for Gentiles. . . . [I]t is utterly irreconcilable with both the core beliefs of Christianity and with the words of Jesus himself in the New Testament. (Salvation, p. 352f.)

The whole thrust of Schoeman's book shows that the word "fruition" is chosen precisely in reference to an outpouring of God's grace on the Jewish people, resulting in a rich and fruitful harvest of Jewish souls for Christ. Note that it is specifically in reference to "the return of the Jews" that Schoeman posits this bringing to fruition. Schoeman has verified his intention in an e-mail to me:

When I say that the "New Covenant will be brought to fruition by the Old" I am referring to the conversion of the Jews which is to precede the Second Coming (certainly not to the Old Testament sacramental system!). The picture that I present (I think quite clearly) is that the Gospel, having first been offered to the Jews who in general rejected it, then went out to the Gentiles. When the "number of the Gentiles is fulfilled", the Jews will experience some sort of mass conversion and enter the Church, thus completing this phase of salvation history and preparing the way for the Second Coming.

I really don't see how anyone with any honesty or good faith could read what I wrote and come to the conclusions that I am guilty of the heresy that I am accused of! (private e-mail of 26 Jan 2007.)

And this is supported by various patristic authors. Tertullian, quoted above, says "the whole of our hope is intimately united with the remaining expectation of Israel." Origen said, "But as long as Israel persists in unbelief, the fullness of the Lord's portion will not be said to be completed; for the people of Israel are missing from the whole. Yet when the fullness of the Gentiles enters in and Israel comes to salvation through faith in the end time, it will be that that very people which had been first would, in coming last, somehow complete that fullness of the inheritance and portion of God" (Commentary on Romans, 8.8, quoted in J. Cohen, "The Mystery of Israel's Salvation: Romans 11:25-26 in Patristic and Medieval Exegesis", Harvard Theological Review, 98:3 [2005], p. 260). And Pope St. Gregory the Great said, "However, well after the destruction of [Job's] things (property), after the funerals of loved ones, after the misfortune of wounds, after the struggle of battles and of words, he is lifted up by double remuneration . . . the holy Church also . . . receives a double portion of gifts . . . At the end of the world, the hearts of the Jews shall be converted to her." (Moralium Libri, Sive Expositio in Librum B. Job, Cap. X; quoted in Never Revoked by God, p. 202)

We have seen again and again that weighty witnesses have throughout Church history upheld the Catholic belief in a significant conversion of the Jewish people to Christ at some time in the future. It is so significant, in fact, that Ludwig Ott expressly included it as one of the five signs that would herald the second coming of Christ—and the fact that he could do this in a book called Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma only goes to show how common this teaching is. Bob's response to Ott is laughable and should be quoted here:

Ott is saying nothing different than what I have said. If you read my essay carefully, I maintain that "all Israel" will be saved when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. ("Intense Dialogue")

But Ott and Sungenis are most certainly not saying the same thing. Here is what Ott presents in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (page 486):

2) Signs of the Second Coming

b) The Conversion of the Jews

In Romans 11:25-32, St. Paul reveals 'the mystery': When the fullness,
that is, the number ordained by God, of the Gentiles has entered the
kingdom of God 'All Israel' will be converted and saved. There is
question of a morally universal conversion of the Jews.

Bob counters by saying, "Ott offers no exegesis of the text, so we don't know in which direction he is going" (ibid.) But again, this is incorrect. Ott writes "All Israel will be converted and saved" and then "morally universal conversion." (emphasis added) It is clear enough where Ott is going. But he's going where Bob Sungenis doesn't want to go. The only way Bob can attempt to dodge this is by fixating upon and distorting Ott's phrase: "there is question of a morally universal conversion."

Bob attempts to interpret the phrase in this way: "he knows that there are people, such as yourself, who teach there will be a universal conversion, but to Ott that view is at best a 'question.'" (ibid.) But as Forrest already pointed out, Bob ignores the fact that the conversion of the Jews is listed by Ott as a sign that precedes the second coming—and precisely as a sign, it must obviously be unusual, perceptible. Bob's scenario of a continual trickle of Jewish conversions right up to the end would not qualify as a "sign" in any sense of the word. In order to be a sign, it must be something different, something perceptible, something distinct from the status quo and therefore it is completely unreasonable to interpret Ott in such a contrived way.

Ott's "question" is clearly not whether a significant, large-scale conversion will take place in the future, but the extent and nature of it. The issue of "morally universal" raises a legitimate point that has been acknowledged by Forrest, Michael and myself regarding the fact that God never negates man's free will, and as such, this "mass conversion" of "All Israel" would include only those Jews who were willing to embrace the special graces given for their conversion at that time. No one is forced against their will to believe.

Another major witness for a future conversion of the Jews to Christ comes in the form of a statement concerning the Jews which was circulated at the First Vatican Council by the brother priests Augustin and Joseph Lémann. As Fr. Denis Fahey relates:

The two Fathers Lémann, converts from Judaism, drew up a Postulatum to obtain from the Vatican Council in 1870 an appeal full of mercy to the Jewish nation. They secured the signatures of 510 bishops, and all the bishops present at the Council would have willingly signed, only that the Fathers Lémann wished to leave the honour of the greatest number of signatures to the Postulatum for Papal Infallibility. (Fr. Denis Fahey, The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation, chapter 7).

Fr. Fahey goes on to note that:

When the Fathers Lémann were petitioning the Bishops, assembled in Rome for the Vatican Council, for their signatures to the Postulatum Pro Hebræis, many of their Lordships smilingly put the objection that “to work for the conversion of the Jews was to bring on the end of the world.” (ibid.)

As Michael Forrest has pointed out, it is highly significant that the Council Fathers very clearly equated this future Jewish conversion with the end times, marking it as a special future event:

These citations are particularly interesting as Fahey is perceived by many to have had strong negative leanings in regard to Jews. Yet even he believed that it was “certain”, that the Jewish people would eventually undergo an unusual conversion to Christ in the future. Bob has publicly acknowledged reading Fahey’s work and has drawn from him in previous writings, yet he departs from Fahey in this, opting for a more negative interpretation. . . . [The “B” is of special import for the reference to the fathers of Vatican I, many of whom reportedly expressed a reluctance to sign Postulatum Pro Hebræis precisely because “to work for the conversion of the Jews was to bring on the end of the world.” As such, clearly, the idea of an unusual conversion of the Jews in the future was well known to them as well as the eschatological implications of it. (RSATJ:5)

Here is the full text of the Postulatum which was signed by so many of the bishops at Vatican I. While I will concede that this is not a formal act of the Magisterium, it witnesses clearly to the form of the Faith held by the vast majority of the Council Fathers responsible for the promulgation of the dogma of Papal Infallibility. As such, it forms a powerful witness:

The undersigned Fathers of the Council humbly yet urgently beseechingly pray that the Holy Ecumenical Council of the Vatican deign to come to the aid of the unfortunate nation of Israel with an entirely paternal invitation; that is, that it express the wish that, finally exhausted by a wait no less futile than long, the Israelites hasten to recognize the Messiah, our Savior Jesus Christ, truly promised to Abraham and announced by Moses; thus completing and crowning, not changing, the Mosaic religion.

On one hand, the undersigned Fathers have the very firm confidence that the holy Council will have compassion on the Israelites, because they are always very dear to God on account of their fathers, and because it is from them that the Christ was born according to the flesh.

On the other hand, the same Fathers share the sweet and intimate hope that this ardent desire of tenderness and honor will be, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, well received by many of the sons of Abraham, because the obstacles which have held them back until now appear to be disappearing more and more, the ancient wall of separation now having fallen.

Would that they then speedily acclaim the Christ, saying “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed be He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Would that they hurl themselves into the arms of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, even now their sister according to the flesh, who wishes likewise to be their mother according to grace as she is ours! (cited in Schoeman, Salvation, pp. 34ff.)

This witness is echoed in our own day by the man of whom Bob said:

[H]e is one of the best theologians with which the Church has been blessed. He understands the issues and he seeks for solutions based on both his theological prowess and the tradition of the Church. He is the most balanced theologian I know of in the midst of the controversy since Vatican II. . . . The Cardinal really knows his Bible, and I am proud to have him as Pope Benedict XVI. (Question 45, Q&A, Jan 2007)

Cardinal Ratzinger asserts his own belief in this future conversion:

It is quite obvious that the Jews have something to do with God and that God has not abandoned them. And that is how the New Testament sees it, too. Paul says to us in the Letter to the Romans: In the end all of Israel will be brought home. (Ratzinger, God and the World [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2000], pp. 148-150; cited at LumenGentleman)

In this section I have established that all attempts by Bob Sungenis to downplay and dismiss the witness of Fathers, Doctors, Popes, and Catholic bishops to a future significant conversion of the Jews have been unsuccessful. The attempt can only be made by employing distinctively non-Catholic modes of argumentation and by suppressing a large body of evidence. Since the belief continues to be supported by such a weighty array of witnesses, it is perfectly legitimate for Schoeman to use this belief as a major plank in his exploration of God's continuing dealings with the Jewish people in the time between our Lord's first and second Comings.

And again we are forced to ask, Why? One may be forgiven for seriously wondering if the very idea of so many Jews joining us in Christ is repugnant to Sungenis. Is this perhaps a variation on the theme of the prodigal son? Is this simply sibling jealousy? There is significant evidence to suggest that this may be precisely the case. For why would anyone, let alone a Catholic apologist, be driven to go to such lengths to discredit the belief backed up by Fathers, Doctors, and Popes that a large group of people will experience a miraculous conversion?

Since Bob cannot legitimately negate the weighty witness of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes, and important modern commentators who are arrayed against him, his only option is to take a different tack. He seeks to take refuge in modern exegetical techniques which, he claims, will undermine or at least call into question the solid mass of Catholic witness down through the centuries.

Does this sound familiar? It ought to. It is a thoroughly modernist argument, but one that Bob has been forced into because the most thoroughly Catholic arguments and approaches will not accomplish his goal.

In my next section, I will show that even here, in his supposed area of greatest expertise, he has made some of the most egregious errors of all, misstating his case, employing still more double standards, ignoring many crucial exegetical details, and running smack into a massive scholarly consensus arrayed solidly against him.