Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just Sent an Email to My Old Reform Rabbi

I was blessed to spend many wonderful years in a small town Reform synagogue and learn from a terrific Rabbi--it seems like a lifetime ago.  Oh, what a teacher he was (and still is)!  On erev Shabbat we would sing songs and he would play his guitar and the spirit of Shabbat would permeate the entire place---it was a beautiful thing.  Perhaps I'll do a video sometime and sing a song for you, dear reader.  I'm actually trying to teach my three year old daughter to sing with me.  I want to sing a duet of "Ma Yafe Hayom" with her.  I love that song so much.  It brings peace to my heart whenever I sing it.

Anyway, what prompted me to email my old rabbi was that he once sang this old Yiddish tune for Sukkot.  I'm trying to get the lyrics for you.  I can't find it online at all if you can believe that!  It's called Moshe Rabbeinu.  As I was telling the rabbi, it's the song that (I believe) brought me and my wife together.  You see I was playing it on the piano at a certain Messianic shul and my wife was outside the sanctuary doors listening.  And so we discovered more about each other's love for music.

So I'm hoping that the rabbi will remember that song.  It's so beautiful and so authentically Yiddish.  When I play it in my head I sometimes improvise it a bit because if I have one complaint it's that the song is too short.

I don't suppose anyone out there has heard this song before?  If so, message me through the Contact tab at the top of the screen.

The One-Law Evidence Summary is Now Fully Updated

See previous post.  Hope that helps someone out there.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Updated Summary of One-Law Evidence


Here are my current thoughts on One-Law evidences.

COVENANTAL:


The New Covenant is the Sinaitic Covenant, a covenant defining the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 31:36).  Gentiles are members of the New Covenant via Yeshua's blood (1 Cor. 11:25; Eph 2).

LEXICOLOGICAL:


"Church" or "Kahal"?  The Greek text of NT uses the term ekklesia which has been translated as "church" and has come to be known as an entity distinct from Israel.  In reality, ekklesia is the word for kahal (see LXX and Acts 7:38), a term denoting Israel.  The kahal is, incidentally, a federal entity subject to the rule of law (Dt. 9:10; 10:4; 18:16; 5:22).  In short, there is no such thing as "Church" but there is only Israel.  

Epistrepho.  Peter uses this term interchangeably with "immersion" (Acts 2:38 and 3:19) which shows that Peter saw Cornelius' immersion as a rite of initiation into the Israelite religion (Acts 10,11) and also that Luke and James saw the "conversion" of the gentiles (Acts 15:3, 19) in the same way.  Furthermore, when we note the historical context (e.g. evidence from Colossians that gentiles followed Torah), epistrepho indicates a turn from paganism toward Judaism.  Here's some scholarly quotes:


" [tois apo ton ethnon epistrephousin epi ton theon] [those among the Gentiles who are turning to God] could be said by a Jew of Gentile converts to Judaism; to a Jewish Christian the Christian conversion of Gentiles must have had to a considerable extent the same appearance.  Gentiles were turning from whatever heathen gods they had previously worshipped to the God of the OT, the God of the Jews.  It was this fact that gave strength to the requirement that they should behave like converts to Judaism, that is, should be circumcised and thereafter keep the Law.  [epistrephousin--which is teshuvah or turning] could be used to describe what was required of Jews (3.19). [Acts 3:19 says "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord"]" pg. 728 of A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles by C.K. Barrett

The term...(epistrophe) refers to a change of thinking, a 'turn' in orientation, and so a conversion; this is the noun form of the verb...(epistrepho, turn).  It is the only place the noun is used in the NT, although the verb is frequent in Acts (3:19; 9:35, 40; 11:21; 14:15; 15:19, 36; 16:18; 26:18, 20; 28:27)." pg. 495 of  Acts: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament by Darrell L. Bock

Paroikos.  Tanak (LXX) differentiates between gentiles who were included in the covenant and gentiles who were excluded from the covenant.  The LXX term for gentiles who were excluded from the covenant is paroikos.  In Ephesians 2, Paul says the gentiles are no longer "paroikos."  Thus, Paul contrasts "politeia" (citizenship) and "paroikos" (non-citizenship).

Politeia.  Ephesians 2 says that, via Yeshua's blood, the Gentiles are no longer excluded from citizenship (politeia) in Israel.  In short, this passage says that Gentile Believers belong to Israel.  Messianic Exclusionists try to argue that "politeia" here refers to "commonwealth".  However, this argument is refuted by (1) how the term "politeia" is used in the New Testament (see Acts 22:28); (2) by lexicology (see Cohen below); (3) by the context of Ephesians 2 (see Hoehner below).

In the New Testament, the term "politeia" refers to "citizenship" (Acts 22:28).  

“JUDAISM AS POLITEIA…The Greek word politeia means in the first instance ‘citizenship,’ the quality of being a citizen (a polites). By extension the word also refers to the institutions and conventions within which a citizen exercises his citizenship. In the latter sense the word is often translated as ‘constitution’ but in many texts the translation ‘law of the land’ or ‘way of life’ would be better. The politeia of an individual is his citizenship; the politeia of a state is its way of doing things.
     The Judaeans too had their own way of life, given to them by their lawgiver Moses. Hecataeus is the first (ca. 300 B.C.E.) Greek writer to describe Moses and his ‘constitution,’ and his description is the first of many. Upon his conquest of Judaea in 200 B.C.E. Antiochus III decreed: ‘Let all those from this nation conduct their way of life (politeia) in accordance with their ancestral laws.’ The decree is the first official document extant that demonstrates that the ancestral laws of the Judaeans–that is, the laws of the Torah–constituted the law of the land. Both Philo and Josephus explicitly label Judaism a politeia and speak of outsiders who become insiders by adopting the politeia of the Judaeans. In a passage cited above, Josephus remarks that Hyrcanus had altered the way of life (politeia) of the Idumaeans to make it conform to the customs and laws of the Judaeans.
If the ancestral laws of the Judaeans constituted their politeia, then the Judaeans themselves, not only in Judaea but even in the diaspora, will have been politai or ‘citizens.’ ….Judaeans are ‘citizens,’ and Jewishness is their citizenship.” pg. 125

“Besides, in reality there was no commonwealth of Israel functioning as an independent state in Paul’s day. Rather it was part of the commonwealth or political state of Rome…What [the Greeks] sought was the citizenship of Israel because of the special privileges God bestowed on her. Up to this time, some Gentiles were admitted into Judaism as proselytes, but as a whole, Gentiles were excluded and thus alienated from the citizenship of Israel," (Harold Hoehner).


LUKAN:


There are two things that Christians and Messianic Exclusionists need to understand about Acts 15.

(1) the nature of the dispute.  Christians and Exclusionists have traditionally argued that the Antiochian dispute involved the question whether Gentiles should keep Sinaitic Torah.  However, applying scientific legal analysis to Acts 15 what we discover is that the issue is stated in verse 1 and intimated by Peter's argument before the Council:

the dispute arose because some men were teaching works-based salvation in contradistinction to grace-based salvation and this is what "troubled" the minds of the Gentiles in Antioch.  

We see v. 1 indicating the false notion that circumcision (i.e. works) offered salvation and we see Peter arguing that the Gentiles are saved by grace.  Lastly, we see James accepting Peter's argument.  And note that James accepted Peter's assertion that G-d had made of the Gentiles a people for His name, which is a covenantal reference.  This further corroborates that the dispute revolved around covenantal membership (covenant and soteriology being correlative concepts).

[For more on this point, consider:  Paul had to confront that same "troubling" message in Galatians 5:10.  The same Greek word occurs in both Gal. 5 and Acts 15.  And both passages are confronting the false teaching of works-based justification (Acts 15:1; Gal. 5:4).  Also notice that both Acts 15 and Galatians 5 refer to a "yoke" which is defined by Paul as the false doctrine that you can be justified by works of the law (Gal. 5:4) and which is defined by Peter (the Apostle) as works-based justification in contradistinction to grace-based justification:  "10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:10-11)].


(2) the fourfold Decree and enigmatic Dicta of v. 21.  Christians interpret the fourfold Decree as some sort of truncated law for Gentiles;  Messianic Exclusionists interpret the fourfold Decree as either recapitulation of Levitical law (a position which was thoroughly refuted by Savelle) or as promulgation of proto-Noahidic law (which Savelle argues goes against the Sinaitic Law context throughout the chapter especially v. 21).  

The reality is that the fourfold decree relates to pollutions associated with cultic idolatry and that v. 21 relates to the second-stage process of conversion, that of learning the Torah.  That the fourfold decree relates only to cultic idolatry is confirmed by a growing number of Christian scholars.  That the fourfold decree and Jamesian dicta of v. 21 relate to an ancient form of Judaic conversion is attested by Tchernowitz and Novak.  It is also corroborated by Maimonides and from certain texts of the Tanak itself.


POLITICAL SCIENCE:


Rights/Duties Correlation and Institutional Rights.  The New Testament describes a socio-religious institution which is frequently translated as "church" but in fact carries several important denotations.  On one level, the Assembly of Believers in Yeshua [the Assembly] is a social institution.  When Israel was a functioning covenantal polity, there was no distinction between religious rights and civil rights.  However, with Israel's loss of self-autonomy eventually created a distinction between religious law and secular/civil law.  A consequence of this political bifurcation was legal bifurcation (i.e. religious law was no longer totally integrated with civil law).  A covenantal right no longer implied an actual legal right in the nation of Israel.

This helps explain the historical context of passages like Ephesians 2.  Paul knew that the Gentiles would be outcasts as far as the nation of Israel was concerned.  Nevertheless, Paul believed that the Gentiles had rights as citizens in Israel.  The bifurcation of religious and civil rights explains this apparent contradiction.  Paul believed that Gentiles had covenantal rights.

Yet we know that rights and duties are correlative.  There is no such thing as a right without a corresponding duty.  Rights and duties are about social reciprocity (Novak).  This, incidentally, is the reason that Reformers in the Protestant tradition were so found of rooting rights in the duties of the Decalogue.  But if Gentiles have covenantal rights then what is the covenantal source of those rights?  

It turns out that the Protestant Reformers were on to something.  They understood that the origin of a right is found in a duty.  So then our question becomes:  what is the source of law that binds Gentiles in the New Covenant?  To what law are they duty-bound?

This we may deduce from the process of elimination.  We know that natural law is out because natural law contains only negatively-framed laws (do not murder, etc) and Gentiles are commanded not only negatively-framed laws but also positive laws (love G-d, etc).  

Thus, we know that the source of law for Gentiles in the New Covenant contains positive laws.  Once again, the process of elimination tells us that the command to love G-d must be given through Divine revelation.  We know that this command to love G-d is not apparent from nature alone.  Therefore, Sinaitic Law becomes the obvious source of law.  This is corroborated by the fact that the New Covenant IS the Sinaitic Covenant and contains the same laws.  


PAULINE:


Paul taught that Gentile converts forfeited their Gentile-ness:

"Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led ," (1 Cor. 12:2);
"17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness," (Eph. 4:17-24).

Paul believed that New Covenant members, whether circumcised or uncircumcised, were both required to follow Sinaitic Torah:

"1 Cor. 7:19 "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts" (1 Cor. 7:19).

Paul gave the unqualified instruction for Gentile Believers to put into practice all of Paul's religious practices:

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice" (Phillipians 4:9)

Paul told Timothy without qualification to use the Hebrew Scripture as a way of instructing righteousness to the Gentiles:

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," (2 Tim. 3:16)

Paul encouraged the Gentile Believers at Colossae to continue practicing Judaism.  He told the Gentile Believers in that congregation to keep Shabbat, festivals, and food laws even despite the harsh judgment they were receiving from ascetic and gnostic Gentiles at Colossae:

"Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day" (Colossians 2:16).

Paul assumed that the Gentiles were well-acquainted with observances such as Passover:

"7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth," (1 Cor. 5:7-8).
Paul, most importantly, taught that the Gentiles were citizens in Israel via Yeshua's blood:


"11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ," (Eph 2:11-13, NIV version)

PETRINE:


In Acts 15, Peter argues that the Gentile converts belong to a People called by His Name (derived from the LXX of Amos 9:11-12).  Scripture tells us that Israel is called by His Name:

Isaiah 63:19, “We are yours from of old; but you have not ruled over them, they have not been called by your name.”

However, Peter is much more explicit in his epistle to the Gentiles.  In 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter explains that the Gentiles have become part of Israel:

{2:9} But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: {2:10} Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
In the end, however, the only way to know that Peter is claiming that the Gentile converts are included in Israel is to understand that there is but one national covenant in Scripture:  the Sinaitic Covenant (which is renewed via Yeshua, the New Covenant).  All of Peter's semantic clues point us inexorably to the Sinaitic covenant.

PROPHETICAL:


The Prophets say that foreigners and entire Gentile societies (e.g. "the nations") will "join" themselves to the L-rd.  The key here is found in Isaiah 56 which equates "joining" to the L-rd with the Sinaitic covenant--the national covenant of Israel (note that Shabbat is an exclusive sign of the Sinaitic covenant).  Thus, the Prophetic eschatological message is that entire Gentile societies will be grafted into the Sinaitic covenant.  Here is a small sampling of those passages:

Zechariah
{2:11} And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.
{8:22} Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. {8:23} Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days [it shall come to pass,] that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard [that] God [is] with you. 
Micah:
{4:1} But in the last days it shall come to pass, [that] the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. {4:2} And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 
Isaiah:
{2:1} The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. {2:2} And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. {2:3} And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. {2:4} And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. {2:5} O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

SECONDARY HISTORICAL SOURCES:


There is solid historical evidence that large numbers 2nd-Century Gentile Believers were simultaneously uncircumcised and Torah-observant.  We will now examine the evidence from Chrysostom and Ignatius:

Chrysostom:

"In 386, while still a presbyter at Antioch, in western Syria, Chrysostom interrupted his addresses against the Arians and began a series of eight sermons directed against Judaizing Christians in the city.  The timing of these sermons is of interest in that they are addressed not to the Christian calendar but rather to the Jewish festivals (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkoth) of the autumn season.  The reason for this unusual proceeding, as Chrysostom himself plainly reveals, is that numerous Christians in the city were accustomed to celebrate these festivals with the Jews.  John hoped to dissuade them from doing so.
 The immediate audience of the homilies, it should be noted, is neither the Christian Judaizers nor the Jews themselves but members of Chrysostom's own congregation.  His announced aim is to combat their complacency regarding the Judaizers.  With dire threats of perdition, he urges his listeners to seek them out in their homes and to dissuade them from their foolish ways.  But if loyal Christians are the audience of the sermons, the Judaizers are the targets of his wrath and the Jews its victims.  His method is to turn the tables on these Judaizers, by likening the synagogue to a theater or a brothel rather than a place of power (I. 2-3).  Better to die of illness, which he calls a martyr's death, than to make use of Jewish charms and spells (VIII. 5-8).
 Throughout the homilies, but especially in the first and last, his language is intemperate.  At one or two points in the first homily he appears to pause, as if members of the audience had expressed dismay at his words, in order to justify his choice of words.  'I know that some will condemn me for daring to say that the synagogue is no different from the theater....' (I. 2).  But he will not be deterred.  The Jews have degenerated to the level of dogs.  They are drunkards and gluttons.  They beat their servants.  They are ignorant of God.  Their festivals are worthless and were proclaimed as such by the biblical prophets.  Their synagogues are the dwelling places of demons.  'If our way is true, as it is, theirs is fraudulent.   I am not speaking of the Scriptures.  Far from it.  For they lead me to Christ.  I am speaking of their present impurity and madness' (I. 6).  And by way of summing up:  'What more can I say?  Rapacity, greed, betrayal of the poor, thefts, keeping of taverns.  The whole day would not suffice to tell of these things' (I. 7).
 What were the activities of these Judaizers that so outraged the eloquent presbyter?  They attend the Jewish festivals and join in their fasts.  They undergo circumcision.  They observe the Sabbath.  They honor the synagogue as a holy site.  They make use of Jewish charms and spells as cures for diseases.  They sleep in the synagogue at Daphne, a suburb of the city, for the purpose of receiving dream-revelations.  In Chrysostom's own words, they 'have high regard for the Jews and think that their present way of life is holy' (I. 3).  Furthermore, the 'sickness' was not limited to a few.  On numerous occasions Chrysostom speaks of them as many (polloi) and at one point warns his listeners not to announce the full number lest the reputation of the church suffer damage. ...While he does not advocate the use of force against the Jews, he is not opposed to it as a means of recovering a fellow Christian from the fellowship of 'the Christ killers' (I. 4).  At another point he admits that he has come to lust for combat against the Jews (VI. I)."

Ignatius:

pg. 127 "IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH...Turning from the Didascalia, dated between 200 and 250, and the sources of the Pseudo-Clementines, reaching perhaps as early as 200, to Ignatius, we arrive at Antioch in the first decade of the second century.  In our discussion of John Chrysostom we have already discovered disputes at Antioch regarding Christians and the observance of the Mosaic commandments.  With Ignatius we encounter once again a protest by an ecclesiastical leader against the observance of Jewish practices in that city by persons who regarded themselves as Christians. To be sure, the letters of Ignatius bear only indirectly on the city of Antioch.  They were written during Ignatius's forced journey toward martyrdom in Rome, and they address issues which he encountered in Christian communities along the way.  The tone of several passages suggests that Ignatius was genuinely surprised by the Judaizers whom he encountered on his journey.  In view of what we know about the previous and subsequent history of Christianity in Antioch, however, it seems unlikely that Ignatius was completely unfamiliar with the phenomenon of Christian Judaizers.  Perhaps what surprised him was the discovery that they were not limited to Antioch! Two of Ignatius's letters contain clear references to Judaizers.  In Magnesians his warning 'not to be led astray by strange doctrines or old tales which are without benefit (8.1)' is directed at those who had been living according to some form of Judaism.  The contrast between the Sabbath and the Lord's Day in 9.1 may point to Sabbath observances.  Finally in 10.3 he completes the picture, though adding no new information, by expostulating that 'it is foolish to talk of Jesus Christ and to Judaize.'
 In his letter to the Philadelphians, he says the following:
 'If anyone should undertake to interpret Judaism to you, do not listen to him.  For it is better to hear of Christianity from a man who has been circumcised than to hear of Judaism from someone who is uncircumcised.' [6.1]
 Ignatius's words are not altogether unambiguous, but the situation appears to involve an effort on the part of Gentile converts to Judaism, or perhaps Gentile Judaizers, to suggest that the two faiths be regarded as complements rather than opposites.  Unfortunately, nothing further is said about those who were 'interpreting Judaism' except that they were not born Jews."

MISCELLANEOUS SECONDARY HISTORICAL SOURCES:


Paul intended his Gentile audience to read his epistles in a Messianic (i.e. pro-Judaic) congregations:

"Christian antipathy toward Jews and Judaism began when Christian Hellenistic Jewish texts, such as the letters of Paul and the Gospels, began to circulate among total outsiders, that is, among Gentiles without any connection to the synagogue and without any attachment to Jewish traditions of practice and interpretation.  At that point, the intra-Jewish polemics preserved in these texts began to be understood as condemnations of Judaism tout court."Paula Fredriksen's "The Birth of Christianity and the Origins of Christian Anti-Judaism"

AND:

"How did Christian anti-Judaism happen?  Gentiles interpreted the intra-Jewish disputes of the earliest Christian movement as the condemnation of all Judaism by those parties to the dispute with whom these Gentiles now identified.  When did this happen?  Toward the turn of the first century through the first half of the second, when warring Gentile Christian intellectuals staked out their territory and systematized their convictions into theologies.  When, then, does Christianity begin?  It is twice-born, once in the mid-second century, and again after Constantine, in the fourth.  And in that second birth especially, orthodox Christian anti-Judaism increased in range and in intensity...  The answer to a fourth, and more important question, I leave to you:  What, knowing this history, is today's Christian to do?"Paula Fredriksen's "The Birth of Christianity and the Origins of Christian Anti-Judaism"


Baptism was an initiatory rite of Israel from ancient times:

"[Mishnah Pesachim] 8:8 has been cited as evidence that immersion of proselytes was already practiced in the late first century B.C.E., even before the destruction [of the Temple]:  'If a proselyte converted on the day before Passover, the House of Shammai says:  He immerses and eats his paschal offering in the evening.  But the House of Hillel says:  One who departs from (his) foreskin is (as impure) as one who departs from a grave." (Lawrence Schiffman)

During the mid-first-century, there was no Christianity, only a Messianic sect of Judaism:

 "...there was no single "Gentile Christianity" in the mid-first century and scholars should discontinue its use so that they do not perpetuate this misunderstanding. The Christ-movement at this stage was a variant form of Judaism, existing within the synagogue community and Jewish sacred space, with local differentiations recognized." pg. 8 of "Gentile Christianity" and the Study of Christian Origins:  A Response to Terence L. Donaldson Focusing on Gentile Self-Identification

By the end of the first-century, Gentiles separated themselves from Messianic Judaism:

"The first Christians constituted a small group within Judaism.  Jesus had devoted his own ministry to Jews (Matt. 15:24), and his followers were Jews.  At an early date the apostles began to admit Gentiles to the movement, but the Christians remained a basically Jewish group for a few decades.  The new movement separated itself from its parent in the course of the first one hundred or so years of its existence.  There is no one point that marks the 'divorce,' and so we must be vague about dates, but by the end of the first century many (probably most) Christian groups considered themselves not to be Jewish.  By the end of the second century relatively few Christians would have identified themselves as Jews.  Christianity became a predominantly Gentile religion." [Sanders in an essay entitled "Reflections on Anti-Judaism in the New Testament and in Christianity"]

During the Patristic period of Christianity, the leaders of the Gentile Separatist movement (Christianity) formulated an anti-Jewish theology:

"By the end of the third century, the primary motifs of the Adversos Judaeos tradition, or theological anti-Jewishness, were firmly implanted in church Christology.  They laid the foundation for the Christian view of Jews and Judaism for centuries to come.  Indeed, it was the church leadership in the patristic period that actually formulated such a theology of contempt," (Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein).

RABBINIC SOURCES:


The Rabbis provided for the possibility of an Inclusionist eschatological vision:

Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael [the classic compilation of Tannaitic midrash], Tractate Bahodesh, Exodus 19:

"They encamped in the wilderness.  The Torah was given in public, openly in a free place.  For had the Torah been given in the land of Israel, the Israelites could have said to the nations of the world:  You have no share in it.  But now that it was given in the wilderness publicly and openly in a place that is free for all, everyone wishing to accept it could come and accept it."

The Rabbis interpreted One-Law passages in the Tanak as promulgating egalitarianism.  Rashi, the foremost interpreter of Jewish Law, said of Exodus 12:49  the following:

"49.  one law.  Not only with respect to the eating of the paschal lamb is the stranger equal to the native Israelite, but also in the duty to observe all other commandments [Rashi]."  pg. 399 of Soncino Chumash (edited by A. Cohen). 

Yeshua Sent Seventy Disciples (Luke 10) to Seventy Nations (Genesis 10) For Whom the Torah Was Written in Seventy Languages

Yeshua sends out 70 disciples in Luke chapter 10.  And there are 70 grandsons of Noah corresponding to the 70 nations (LINK).

Also, the Torah at Sinai, according to Jewish tradition, was written in 70 languages:

"The word of God was pronounced on Mount Sinai in seventy languages (Shab. 88a; Ex. R. v.; comp. Acts ii. 5). The Torah was written in seventy languages in order that the nations should not be able to plead ignorance as their excuse for rejecting it (Tosef., Soṭah, viii.). Among the seventy languages the most noble is Hebrew, for in it was pronounced the creative word of God (Gen. R. xviii., xxxi.; Yalḳ., Gen. 52). The Jewish law required that every member of the Sanhedrin should have sufficient knowledge of the seventy languages to be able to do without an interpreter (Sanh. 17a; comp. Meg. 73b; Men. 65a)."  (Jewish Encyclopedia)

SOCIAL SCIENCE:


The social science of assimilation tells us something very important about the ecclesiological vision of the Messianic movement.  If Messianic Judaism is the host culture, it will either remain dominant or it will disappear (through the process of assimilation).  Social science informs us that if Messianic Judaism remains the dominant host culture then it will cause all other competing cultures to disappear (through the process of assimilation).  The mechanics of this social process have been outlined by Cooley (Social Organization), Gordon (Assimilation in American Life), and Andersen and Taylor (Sociology) and represent a consensus view in modern social science.  My innovation was to apply what they wrote to Messianic Judaism.

Calling All Pastors: The Post Every Christian Pastor Should Read


Have you ever wondered what a typical Messianic Believer thinks of your sermons?

Here is a constructive, respectful post by Judah Himango that shows the sorts of things that go through our minds when you preach against the Sinaitic Torah:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK




Discussion Question: Why Did Peter Hasten to Baptize Cornelius but Held Off From Circumcising Him?


This is just something to discuss and consider:

We're supposed to obey each mitzvah as soon as possible because it says "I hurried and did not delay to fulfill Your commandments" (Psalm 119:60).  Yet, while Peter immersed Cornelius immediately and without delay, Peter refrained from circumcising Cornelius.  Why?  We know that Paul expressed reservations (to put it mildly) about Gentiles going through ritual conversion and placing themselves under non-Messianic Rabbinic authority...but we have no indication that Peter shared this reservation, do we?  Would anyone care to venture a guess?  (don't be shy, I'll stay out of the discussion unless someone asks)

Blog Archive Now Available (and a question for any techies out there)

On the right hand side of the page, just below the section entitled "Most Popular Posts", you will now find a blog archive.  So it's there if you need it.

Also, does anyone know how to save a back-up of a blog?  I was thinking of updating the comments system but I'd like to save a back-up before I do that...

Updated Overview of One-Law Evidence

Later this morning I'm hoping to have a few moments to compile an updated summary of One-Law evidence.  Stay tuned...

Israel Takes Out Top Iranian General

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Prayer Request

So later this week I'm going to church because they're doing a special, one-night-only study of Passover.  The UMJC will undoubtedly be there as well.  Perhaps you can pray that things go smoothly.  So far we've managed to remain civil.  The church is sort of...neutral ground.

On a side note, make sure to purchase your matzah early.  Sometimes it's difficult to procure if you wait till the last minute.  Passover starts March 25th.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Why You Really Must Purchase McKee's "The New Testament Validates Torah"

LINK

I'm currently reading through McKee's book The New Testament Validates Torah and I had to stop because I'm so excited about it.  I had to tell you--today, right now--that you need to purchase a copy for your home library.

Has G-d called you to learn about the Jewish Roots of the Faith?  Do you ever feel like you're alone in this new journey?

G-D HAS SENT MESSENGERS TO HELP YOU!!!

I've encountered angels in my life.  As in, literal angels.  One warned my father not to let me get too close to the train tracks--this was when I was younger.  I only saw him from a distance.  Another time was in the middle of a parking lot when I was talking to a homeless man and I prayed for a witness--and out of nowhere an African American man appeared and confirmed to the gentleman everything I'd been telling him.  Other times, angels appear to my family.  My grandmother tells this wonderful story...well, I'm getting sidetracked.  Back to McKee!

G-d sends men to our movement (e.g. Cajun, Hegg, the guys from Psalm 119 ministries, Botkin, etc, etc) and they are sent for your benefit.

McKee is one of those.

Reading his book I see that he is gifted and that this gift is intended for the Assembly of Believers.  He's diplomatic, passionate, down-to-earth.  He knows how to unpack complex subjects and walk you through a progression of concepts.  In short:

He tells Christians everything they need to know to begin their journey!

Yes, I know times are tight and you must be careful with money.  But think of the things we spend money on that we don't need!  Take a year (if you need to) and save up that money from the things you don't really need (soda for example) and spend it on this (although, you can always get the book in eBook format or Kindle format for $9.99).  Once again, here is that link:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

UPDATE:

One more thing!  When you're done reading the book, consider donating it to your local church.  Ask the pastor to read it!  Perhaps you have been called for such a time as this to be G-d's instrument in reaching out to the Christian community and stirring up the last great awakening of our time!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Singing Hine Ma Tov the Other Day

A question:

What would happen if the One-Law leaders had a meeting with the UMJC?

It would be interesting wouldn't it?  A chance for both sides to voice their grievances.  Ah, but I'm dreaming!  We have opposing goals... 

I'll tell ya, the thing that irks me most about the Exclusionists--more than the exclusionism itself--is the fact that they don't preach the Gospel.  My wife attended UMJC longer than almost anyone in the organization and she can attest to this as well.  So why then do I even want to seek reconciliation with such a group? 

I keep thinking about the song Hine Ma Tov (LINK).  My wife had this cd of the Russian Messianic group New Jerusalem and they were singing it.  As my wife and I sang it together, I couldn't help but long for an end to the hostilities.  But how can it end when they are the ones calling for segregation of Jews and Gentiles?  They explicitly do not want such unity.  They want "distinctive callings" and "separate institutions" for Jews and Gentiles. 

It would indeed be pleasing if brothers could dwell TOGETHER in unity...and that includes the adopted brothers from among the Gentiles! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2 Stages of Conversion and 2 Reasons for the Mitzvot: Applying the Jewish Concepts of Ta'amei ha-Mitzvot and Teshuvah Gemurah to the Jerusalem Council Decision of Acts 15




THE TWO REASONS FOR THE MITZVOT

According to Rambam, there are two reasons for the mitzvot (ta'amei ha'mitzvot):

(1) "The first intention of the Law, Maimonides argues, is to bring its readers to 'reject' idolatry..."  [Josef Stern];

(2) "...in [part III of Rambam's Guide to the Perplexed] all the commandments are reduced to one uniform purpose:  to 'train' man to 'turn wholly toward God' (III:51:620) and fear Him," [Josef Stern]

How in the world does Torah bring its readers to reject idolatry?  The answer is that there are, in fact, logical reasons for following the chukim:

"...even all the [chukim] will show to all the nations that they have been given with wisdom and understanding.  Now if there is a thing for which no reason is known and that does not either procure something useful or ward off something harmful, why should one say of one who believes in it or practices it that he is wise and understanding and of great worth?  And why should the religious communities think it a wonder?" [Rambam, The Guide, Section III, Chapter 31]

In other words, Deuteronomy 4:6 explains that the Gentiles will one day understand the rational benefits of following Sinaitic Torah, that it helps them avoid the harm of paganism and enjoy the benefits of knowing how to "turn" to G-d.

THE TWO STAGES OF CONVERSION

The first stage of conversion is teshuvah gemurah:

"Now, the distinguishing feature of repentance for a sin, and the symbolic content of a sin offering, is 'one's being divested of it' (III:36:540); that is, the person entirely ceases to perform the sin. 'Complete' (or perhaps, 'completed') repentance [teshuvah gemurah], Maimonides explains in the Mishneh Torah, obtains when the individual finds himself in the identical circumstances in which he had sinned with the ability to sin, but he separates [peirash] himself and does not sin 'because of his repentance.'" pg. 126 of Problems and Parables of Law by Josef Stern

The second stage is when this attitude of complete teshuvah yields performance of the commandments:

"...How, by immersing oneself, does one affect the 'intentions of his heart'?--Maimonides answers that there is in fact no direct connection between the two.  It is not through immersion that one achieves purity.  Rather, a first intention of the Law is to inculcate within people humility and obedient fear of God; for only these attitudes lead to performance of the commandments--the primary sense of 'sanctification' [qedushah] and 'purity' [taharah] (III:33:533)--and to avoidance of transgression of the commandments--the primary sense of 'uncleanness [tum'ah]' (III:47:595)." pg. 62 of Problems and Parables of Law by Josef Stern

So how does renunciation of idolatry and studying the Torah of Moses have to do with Acts 15?  Everything!  Just read for yourself:

19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

Here, we see James equate "turning" with (1) renunciation of idolatry (and its pollutions) and (2) the process of learning Torah.  

As I've mentioned in other posts, this interpretation of Acts 15 is corroborated by Jewish scholars:

"In other words, for the later rabbis circumcision followed by immersion and the full acceptance of the commandments of the Torah was both the terminus a quo and the termus ad quem for conversion.  Conversion for them was an event.  During the Biblical period, on the other hand, according to Tchernowitz, the terminus a quo of the process of absorption into Judaism was the renunciation of idolatry followed, sometimes several generations later, by circumcision, the terminus ad quem." [The Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism by David Novak]





Weissman's Review of David Rudolph's New Book (Introduction to Messianic Judaism)

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Dangers of Trying to Prove G-d's Existence

Ever tried to convince a skeptic that G-d exists?  Such a conversation is likely to proceed as follows:

Theist:  We know that G-d exists because of the design of the universe.  Design implies designer.  Therefore, that Designer is G-d.

Atheist:  But can you rule out that the designer wasn't just a process of unguided, natural selection?

Theist:  Umm... Well, how about the astronomical improbability that even the simplest self-replicating single-cell organism spontaneously came into existence--doesn't that prove to you that G-d must've created that first life on earth?

Atheist:  Improbable means that it will certainly occur given enough time.

YOU GET THE PICTURE

There is no way to "prove" the existence of G-d.  Yes, I'm familiar with Acquinas' arguments.  St. Anselm.  I've read the modern guys too.  My brother gave me Plantinga's "Where the Conflict Really Lies."  No one has presented an unassailable argument for the existence of G-d. 

But, you say, the heavens and earth declare the glory of HaShem?  Yes, they do.  But do they, by themselves, prove His existence?  Or could it be that G-d imparts the gift of faith to whom He will? 

Am I suggesting that reason can never support faith?  Not at all.  There are instances when science and logic will support faith.  But you will never build a stable faith upon mere reason. 

Our G-d, the Hidden G-d, doesn't make it that easy for us. 

We'll talk more about this later... I have to run.

The Spam Issue

An unfortunate side affect of this blogs increasing popularity has been an increase in spam attacks.  Recently I was away from the computer for several days and, while Blogger filtered out most of the attacks, several were successful.  I deleted one a moment ago that was particularly bad (and thanks to the individual who notified me of it by email). 

This is an unfortunate business.  I'm not sure what is the best solution...  If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to pass them along.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Social Dynamics of One Law: Understanding the Interplay of Primary Groups, Intimacy Needs, and Total Assimilation

So a sociologist named Cooley developed the idea in sociology of primary and secondary groups.  I'll explain these concepts and then I'll explain how they relate to One-Law.

A primary group is "characterized by intimate face-to-face association and cooperation" (Cooley, Social Organization).  "The result of intimate association, psychologically, is a certain fusion of individualities in a common whole..."

So which groups are primary and which secondary?

"The true distinction between primary and secondary groups is in how intimate the group members feel about one another and how dependent they are on the group for sustenance and identity." (Sociology, Andersen and Taylor).

So the test for determining whether a group is primary or secondary is examining which need it serves:

"Primary and secondary groups serve different needs.  Primary groups give people intimacy, companionship, and emotional support.  These human desires are termed expressive needs (also called socio-emotional needs)," (ibid).

According to Andersen and Taylor then, a local religious group is a primary group.

Now recall from the previous post that Gordon (a leading sociologist) said that once a person joins a primary group the inexorable process of total assimilation follows:

"Once structural assimilation has occurred, either simultaneously with or subsequent to acculturation, all of the other types of assimilation will naturally follow," (Gordon).

WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ONE-LAW???

If we look at the template given in the New Testament for mixed congregations (this is another post in itself) then, applying what we've learned about sociology and primary group membership leading to total assimilation of the host culture, the vision of the New Testament is for Jews and Gentiles to assimilate completely into a pro-Judaic culture.

But I've gotta run.  We'll talk more about this later.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The 7 Stages of Assimilation [Gordon]


One-Law Ecclesiology

I'm looking forward to this book!  CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Judah's Review of Tent of David

I hope everyone who hasn't already read Judah's review of Tent of David will check it out:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bringing Up Girls

Being that I'm a tough guy, I didn't cry last night when my wife told me a touching story from the book "Bringing Up Girls" by Dr. Dobson (but it was a close call).  He tells this story about when his three-year-old daughter was trying to wave at him as he was heading off to work and she had started to cry because he didn't see her:

"One day when she was three, she and her mother came to the front yard to wave at me as I drove away.  I had already backed out of the drive-way, however, and didn't see them standing there.  Danae recalls that she sobbed in disappointment.  But when I was a long block away, I happened to catch a glimpse of my little family in my rearview mirror.  They were still frantically waving good-bye.  As I was going around the corner, I put my arm out the window and waved in return..."

And here's the kicker:

"...Even after all these years, Danae remembers the excitement she felt at that moment when her dadddy saw her and returned her wave." pgs. 3-4 of Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson




Monday, February 11, 2013

The Battle Line of One-Law: James' Fourfold Decree in Acts 15

It makes me sick to read how FFOZ has brainwashed James (the blogger) into thinking that the fourfold decree in Acts 15 defines a separate religious praxis for Gentiles [LINK].

James depends on D. Thomas Lancaster's (FFOZ) interpretation that the fourfold decree derives from Leviticus 17-18, an interpretation that scholars have proven is untenable:


"Leviticus 17-18 as the source....However, this view too has some problems.  First, the alleged correspondences are not as close as they might appear.  Neither the phrase [alisgematon ton eidolon] from Acts 15:20 nor the clarifying term [eidolothuton] is used in the Septuagint of Leviticus 17:8 (or elsewhere in Lev. 17-18).  The suggested correlation to 'things strangled' [pniktos] in 17:13 is tenuous since the Leviticus passage actually talks about draining the blood of hunted game.  One wonders whether this association would be made if one were not looking for a connection to the prohibitions.  Likewise, although 18:6-23 does refer to various kinds of prohibited sexual activities, the term [porneia] is not used in the Septuagint.  As Wedderburn notes, 'the only straightforward link between Lev 17-18 and the Decree is the latter's prohibition of blood, the eating of which is forbidden in Lev 17:10-11." [A Reexamination of the Prohibitions in Acts 15 by Charles H. Savelle]

Likewise, another scholar says:

"All [provisions of the fourfold decree] refer or allude to activities that take place in temples...Furthermore, the issue is not just where one might find one or another of the four elements of the decree in isolation, but in what social setting one might find them together.  Here the answer is again likely to be in a temple, not in a home, and in particular at a temple feast." [The Acts of the Apostles:  A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary]

Likewise, another scholar says:

" 'Idol sacrifice' (eidolothuton -- 15:29; 21:25) means meat eaten in a pagan temple in connection with a religious ceremony, 'or at least in temple precincts where the god's power and presence were thought to abide.'  The other word used for this first term is 'pollutions of idols' (alisgemata ton eidolon -- 15:20), and the root alisgein consistently refers to food or drink in usage of the period (for example in the LXX of Dan. 1:8)." [Proselytes and Pressure Cookers:  The Meaning and Application of Acts 15:20 by John Proctor]


In reality, the fourfold decree was merely the ancient Israeli starting point--terminus a quo-- for conversion (i.e. the renunciation of pagan temple practices):

"In other words, for the later rabbis circumcision followed by immersion and the full acceptance of the commandments of the Torah was both the terminus a quo and the termus ad quem for conversion.  Conversion for them was an event.  During the Biblical period, on the other hand, according to Tchernowitz, the terminus a quo of the process of absorption into Judaism was the renunciation of idolatry followed, sometimes several generations later, by circumcision, the terminus ad quem." [The Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism by David Novak]

James (the Apostle) wanted Gentiles to (1) abandon polluting pagan practices and (2) begin attending synagogue to learn the Torah of Moses (i.e. Sinaitic Covenantal Law):

Acts 15:21 "For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."

The most preposterous thing of all is that James (the blogger) thinks that the Gentiles would've been relieved by a decision that gave them a separate Torah to follow.  But is this what Scripture says?  Let's look at something which I think is interesting:

Notice that the letter from James (the Apostle) refers to a false message that "troubled" the Gentiles.  Paul had to confront that same "troubling" message in Galatians 5:10.  The same Greek word occurs in both passages.  And both passages are confronting the false teaching of works-based justification (Acts 15:1; Gal. 5:4).  Also notice that both Acts 15 and Galatians 5 refer to a "yoke" which is defined by Paul as the false doctrine that you can be justified by works of the law (Gal. 5:4) and which is defined by Peter (the Apostle) as works-based justification in contradistinction to grace-based justification:

"10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:10-11)



I rest my case.  : )

Intriguing Suggestion by Paula Fredriksen About the Intended Locus of Paul's Readership



Discussion Question

I would like for someone to explain something to me.  If G-d requires repentance before He'll forgive someone, should we also require repentance before we forgive?  And that word--forgiveness-we throw it around so much.  What does it really mean?  Is forgiveness the same as conflict-resolution?  If so, what if the offender refuses conflict resolution process---does that by definition exclude the possibility of forgiveness.

Someone explain this to me.

2 Ways The United States Hurts Israel (With Examples)



Friday, February 8, 2013

Presuppositions and Reality Distortion

We take a lot for granted when we communicate.  We presuppose that our terms are accurate.  But when we use an inaccurate term (e.g. "the Church") that doesn't refer to anything (due to ambiguity) then we have a "presuppositional failure", a referent that fails to refer.  I supppose you might call it a false referent.  So then we say that a sentence laden with false referents will necessarily lack truth value.  In short, if your presupposition is false then your conclusion will probably be false. 

Our friend Vanhoff wrote a superb article (I love the Torah Resource Institute!!!) that reviewed statements made in Boaz Michael's recent book.  One such statement reads:

"...Judaism does not want or need Gentiles taking on Jewish identity or becoming Jewish..."

Can you spot the false presuppositions?

There are quite a few in that one sentence.  A glaring one is the false presupposition that Judaism is a singular, anthropomorphic entity.  Yet another would be that the writer of that sentence knows what the entity Judaism needs and wants.

So I say to my brothers and sisters in the Inclusionist Camp:  set a higher standard.  Eliminate ambiguous language.  Use precise referents.  Let Truth reign in every word that we communicate. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Peter

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Marriage "Licenses" and America's Anti-Miscegenation Laws


Gentile Impurities and Ezra's Ban on Intermarriage


Onkelos


Interpreting "One Law" Passages: Rashi vs. Derek Leman

Derek is hilarious.  He cries out "Why do people cite these [One Law] verses repeatedly without any seeming awareness of the context?"

And then Derek expounds that the One Law passages do not apply to every command but only that of the immediate context in each occurrence (e.g. "offering of sacrifices" and "this matter [of Pesach]").  LINK

Well, Rashi, the foremost interpreter of Jewish Law (you're gonna love this) has this to say:

"49.  one law.  Not only with respect to the eating of the paschal lamb is the stranger equal to the native Israelite, but also in the duty to observe all other commandments [Rashi]."  pg. 399 of Soncino Chumash (edited by A. Cohen).


How is Jewish Prayer Different than Christian Prayer?

Well, I'm glad you asked.  I've written a little outline to help explain the distinctiveness of Jewish prayer:


Here's an overview of Jewish prayer:


HAARETZ REPORTS THAT IRAN HAS GONE NUCLEAR!

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Summation of the Competing Claims of Classical Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism

So here's the core theological differences (three of them) between Classical Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism:


Talmud Calls Yeshua a Liar

So the Talmud quotes a third-century "Sage" who, indirectly, calls Yeshua a liar:

"R. Abbahu said:  'If a man says to you:  'I am God'--he is a liar;  (if he says) 'I am the son of man'--in the end people will laugh at him; (if he says) 'I will go up to heaven'--he says, but shall not perform'. (y. Taan. 2:65b)" [as quoted from The Separation of Early Christianity from Judaism by Dacy]

Compare that with what Yeshua said in John 8:

John 8:58-59  "58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds."



So when Derek Leman and Boaz Michael and the UMJC and the MJRC tell you that you're a heretic for rejecting rabbinic authority and that even the conversations of rabbinic sages are "Torah", you tell them that you're going to follow Yeshua rather than the rabbinic sages.




Monday, February 4, 2013

Why Did the Apostles Quote from the Septuagint Rather than the "Superior" Masoretic Text?

I had a conversation with an anti-missionary once on this blog.  He attempted to discredit the writers of the New Testament who quoted from the Septuagint.  I asked him to cite evidence for his claim that the Septuagint was inaccurate (specifically with regard to the virgin birth passage).

He had no evidence.

Wanna know why?

THE OLDEST MANUSCRIPTS FOR THE SEPTUAGINT ARE ROUGHLY ONE THOUSAND YEARS OLDER THAN THE OLDEST MANUSCRIPTS FOR THE MASORETIC TEXT.

Here's the dating for the MT:

"These manuscripts, the earliest of which dates only to the ninth century, were produced by the Masoretes..." pg. 147 of Invitation to the Septuagint by Jobes and Silva

Here's the earliest dating for the LXX:

"Among important biblical texts in Greek, the two earliest documents deserve special notice.  Papyrus Fouad 266, dated to ca. 100 B.C.E., contains small portions of Deuteronomy that have great significance for the reconstruction of the text.  Even earlier by perhaps half a century  is Papyrus Rylands 458 (Rahlfs 957), which contains about twenty scattered verses from Deuteronomy 23-28...the Dead Sea Scrolls...All of these documents are dated to the first century of our era or earlier." pg. 59 of Invitation to the Septuagint by Jobes and Silva.

Also, it's important to keep in mind WHY ancient Jews respected the Septuagint:  IT WAS APPROVED BY THE SANHEDRIN AND WAS THUS AN OFFICIAL AND BINDING DOCUMENT.

[This is demonstrated by Philo, the Talmud, and, most importantly, the Letter of Aristeas]

So don't let any anti-missionaries give you a hard time.  The Septuagint is a well-attested and much-respected translation of its parent Hebrew text (which, by the way, was a proto-Masoretic Text).  Philo, for example, considered the translators of the LXX to be prophets (see Greenspoon's essay entitled "The Septuagint").

Hope this helps,

Peter


Friday, February 1, 2013

An Ancient Jewish Tradition on the Trinity

I'm beginning to think that prior to the "official rabbinic theology" of the Talmud, there was an ancient tradition in support of the Trinity.  For example, Daniel Boyarin wrote an essay entitled "Logos, a Jewish Word" that offers evidence from Philo as well as the Targumic tradition that suggests there was a godhead consisting of at least a "Father" and a "Logos."  Here's what Boyarin has to say: