Review of “Halachic Authority in the Life of the Messianic Community”

This leads me to conclude that the Jewish religion has preserved the Jewish people in their long wanderings in the desert of the Gentiles. Some will say that it is not Judaism which has preserved the Jewish people, but God’s grace. They should rest assured. God has indeed preserved the Jewish people, and he has done so by securing them in this “ark” that is called the Jewish religion. The Jewish religion therefore constitutes a revelation of God’s grace towards the Jewish people. This religion, which arose from the smoky ruins of the Temple and which people so love to hate, is the primary instrument through which God has preserved the Jewish people. Because of it, there are Jews in the world today.

-Tsvi Sadan
“Halachic Authority in the Life of the Messianic Community”
Messiah Journal
Issue 109/Winter 2012, pp 16-17

When I saw the title, I thought the topic would be more related to the specific differences between halacha in traditional, Orthodox Judaism and a halacha that could be applied to Jewish, and perhaps in some sense, to non-Jewish disciples of the Master in a Messianic framework. However, Sadan’s excellent article, which was originally delivered as a lecture in Israel on September 5, 2008, addresses something else almost entirely: the religion of the Jews who follow the Messiah.

Let me explain.

There is an impression that the Jews, and especially the Jews who were born, raised, and educated within a traditional religious and cultural Jewish framework, who are part of Messianic Judaism and who are disciples of Yeshua (Jesus), “the Maggid of Nataret,” belong to a different sort of “Judaism” than their brothers in what we refer to as “Rabbinic Judaism.” In fact, many Jews and non-Jews in other branches of the “Messianic” movement, as well as those attached to Hebrew Roots groups, tend to view Rabbinic Judaism, what we consider the Reform, Conservative, and especially Orthodox branches of Judaism, to be separate, distinct, and “lesser” forms of “true” Judaism. They seem to believe that the only fully realized Judaism is represented by a Messianic Judaism that follows Jesus while removing any aspect of halacha and tradition that exceeds the “written Torah.” This form of Messianic Judaism, actually rejects Rabbinic Judaism in the vast majority of its content (except for using the model of the modern synagogue service and the use of tallitot, siddurim, and so forth) especially and including Mishnah, Talmud, and Gemara: the so called leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (see Matthew 16:6 and Mark 8:15).

According to Tsvi Sadan, they are dead wrong. Forgive me. What follows is necessarily lengthy.

To understand the meaning of this “leaven,” which scares the daylights out of some people here, I will take just one verse from an abundance of new Testament verses quoted in those inflammatory letters. In Matthew 16 (the word “hypocrites” does not appear in the standard Greek text used today), Yeshua twice calls his disciples to beware of the “leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (vv. 6, 11). These two admonitions follow the miracles and wonders which he had just performed in the sight of thousands of people. When the Pharisees and the Sadducees approach him to test him (v. 1), Yeshua correctly sees this as impudence of the highest order, and responds accordingly: “[Hypocrites,] do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky but cannot discern the sign of the times?” (v. 3). This means that Yeshua is labeling his opponents hypocrites because of their pretense to see one more sign while in fact all they wanted to do is accuse him.

-Sadan, pg 15

He goes on to say point blank that the “leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” is hypocrisy, not the specifics of Second Temple era halacha and tradition. Sadan confirms that there is no dissonance between Messianic Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism or for that matter, the religious concept of Judaism in any form and Rabbinic Judaism. More plainly put, Rabbinic Judaism is the only Judaism, according to Sadan.

So where does that leave the non-Jews who, in some manner or fashion, are attached to the Messianic and Hebrew Roots worlds? Moreover, where does that leave Christians in relation to their Jewish brothers who also honor Yeshua as Messiah and Lord?

Finally, let me make one point with respect to the Christians living in our midst, because probably there is someone who will distort things and claim that the position I have proposed here leads to hated of the Gentiles. Let me say here that I warmly welcome every Christian – on the condition that he or she does not attempt to impose his or her religion on me. I regard very seriously the behavior of some Christians living in Israel who have the gall to malign the Jews living in the state of Israel merely because they refuse to be evangelicals, Lutherans, or Baptists. God-fearers from all nations are welcome to participate in the Jewish service of God as long as they do not speak against Israel, Torah, and Judaism. I do not agree with the attitude that says that in order to achieve unity with our Gentile brethren, we should remain Jews but reject Judaism. I consider this assertion as nothing less than complete and utter foolishness.

-Sadan pp. 24-25

Laying TefillinSadan continues to strongly make his point for another page and a half, and most assuredly all of it, as I imagine these brief quotes have done, will certainly bring forth the ire of many non-Jews and some Jews in the aforementioned “Messianic” and Hebrew Roots movements, who indeed believe that the Jews who worship the Messiah must abandon Judaism in order to be “completed Jews” (as if a Jew who worships in the manner of his fathers is somehow incomplete).

Sadan’s article does bring up one very interesting point: do Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians belong to two separate and unrelated religions? I have no idea what Sadan thinks, but as far as I can gather from his article, the response seems to be “yes and no.”

It’s “yes” in the sense that everything that Judaism is, including the 613 commandments of the Torah and the entire body of Talmudic judgments, rulings, and traditions, apply only to a Jewish population. Judaism’s ethnic and cultural aspects are completely intertwined with Judaism as a “religion,” so you cannot remove the traditions, without removing what it is that defines a Jew. I’ve said all this before and Sadan’s article does nothing to change my mind.

It’s “no” in the sense that, in spite of the differences in our covenant obligations to God, we share One God and One Messiah, and we are all His creations. We are different branches, but grafted into the same tree. We are Jew and Gentile, but we have equal access to God. We are co-citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven and we all inherit a life in the world to come. And we will all sit at the same table at the feast of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 8:11).

I do want to take exception to one statement in the article where it appears Sadan refers to we Christians as “God-fearers”.

God-fearers from all nations are welcome to participate in the Jewish service of God as long as they do not speak against Israel, Torah, and Judaism.

I don’t believe that Christians who have accepted the Messianic covenant upon themselves (as it applies to the nations) are equivalent to the ancient God-fearers or the modern Noahides. God-fearers were non-Jews who came out of pagan worship to recognize the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the One, true, and unique God of the Universe. They quietly worshiped among the Jews in their synagogues and I imagine the God-fearers humbly populating the Court of the Gentiles in Herod’s Temple, listening with awe to the songs of the Priests, and urgently desiring to bring their own sacrifices before the King.

But they had no covenant relationship with God at all. There was adoration and worship, but no access (unless they chose to convert to Judaism). Jesus, the Messiah, appeared in the world and changed all that. He allowed the nations to come close to God, to be adopted, and to be called sons and daughters of the Most High, through the blood of “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29). I certainly hope that Sadan hasn’t chosen to “demote” those of us who come along side him as co-members of the Messianic covenant.

If you’re not familiar with some of the related concepts Mark Kinzer describes in his book Postmissionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People, you may find Sadan’s article shocking and even completely alien to how you’ve imagined Jews being attached to Jesus as their own Messiah. If you are familiar with Kinzer’s book, some of you may still be outraged at what Sadan writes and vehemently disagree with his propositions and his ardent passion in defending his own Judaism.

This issue of Messiah Journal couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Last night, I was having a conversation with Judah Gabriel Himango on his Facebook page about the Shabbat and what the coming of Jesus changed in the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds. Judah suggested that because of Jesus, Jews should abandon the traditional Jewish synagogue model of worship and adopt a Shabbat service more along the lines of what’s recorded in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. Here are some of his comments:

Messiah’s arrival was of such great impact, such that the way we live our lives and the way our congregations are modeled must be in light of his coming. Lives and religious services modeled on the understanding that Messiah hasn’t come would be to live as if he never arrived in the first place. The Messianic movement, including the Messianic Judaism subset, should not merely be emulators of Judaism.

How about the stuff in Corinthians 14 for starters? Shouldn’t those things be in Messianic services?

And how about the Psalms, where music and instruments are used to praise the Lord? Shouldn’t those things be in services, both Jewish and Messianic?

I believe people — Jews and gentiles — should change their lives around to what Messiah commanded and what his disciples taught in the Scriptures.

If our lives and our services look exactly like those before Messiah, it’s as if his arrival never happened.

Needless to say, I disagreed.

The RabbiLet me make clear that I like Judah and I’m not angry or upset with him. I’m not picking on him or singling Judah out, but rather, I’m using his words to illustrate what many other disciples of Jesus believe and want to see actually occur. I must disagree with his desire to replace Jewish worship with how he interprets one small portion of the New Testament, as well as with the general suggestion among Christians, that Messianic Jews should remain (somehow) Jews but flush Judaism down the nearest toilet, tossing Rabbis and Talmud under a speeding bus. While I have questions about how Sadan sees Christians vs. God-fearers, I agree with him in most if not all of the rest of his points. I can’t see the Gentiles in the church and in “Messianism” and Hebrew Roots as having any right whatsoever to re-define Judaism in their own image. Of course, they say that it’s not they who are doing the re-defining, but Jesus instead, but I disagree. We’ve seen that there are an abundant number of paths one can take to interpret the New Testament, including doing away with the Law (and the Jews) and replacing it with the Grace of Christ (and the Gentile Christians), and I disagree with that as well (see my article in MJ 109 “Origins of Supersessionism in the Church” for more).

In previous blog posts and blog comments, I’ve tried to make arguments that present many of the same ideas as expressed in Tsvi Sadan’s “Halachic Authority in the Life of the Messianic Community,” but I lack his insights and perspectives as a Jew and frankly, his wonderful talent in writing. Whether you end up agreeing with him or not, I believe that reading this illuminating work will open your eyes to a new and different way of seeing the Jew in relationship to his Messiah within the time-honored and God-granted context of Judaism.

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24 thoughts on “Review of “Halachic Authority in the Life of the Messianic Community””

  1. >> “I must disagree with Judah’s desire to replace Jewish worship”

    I would disagree too! :-) I said nothing about replacing.

    I said our services should not merely be emulations of Judaism’s services. You agreed, and even suggested Messianic adaptations. My response was, how about adaptations such as the ones in found in 1 Corintians 14? Or the Psalms?

    Paul talks about our congregations having prophesy, edifying one another in the Lord, praying in the spirit, speaking words of the Lord to one another, and yes, even tongues. And by no means did Paul say, “Hey, these things are just for the gentiles.”

    These things are Scriptural. And they aren’t present in Judaism’s services.

    Or what about the Tenakh commandments to praise God with instruments and music?

    Those things, too, are Scriptural. And they aren’t present in Judaism’s services.

    They ought to be.

    That’s why Messianic services must not be merely emulations of Judaism’s services. They can’t be. Messiah arrived, he gave his spirit with us. We’ll fashion our lives and our services around his rulings. We’ll base our services off his rulings, and those of his disciples, first. Emulation of Judaism can’t be the primary goal of the Messianic movement nor of the Messianic Judaism subset.

  2. “I said our services should not merely be emulations of Judaism’s services. You agreed, and even suggested Messianic adaptations. My response was, how about adaptations such as the ones in found in 1 Corintians 14? Or the Psalms?”

    As long as you consider the use of the 1 Corinthians 14 model to be a voluntary adaptation, I don’t have a problem with it. I was reading what you had said on Facebook (and text-only conversations are rife with misunderstanding) that it was a *requirement* in any congregation that considered itself Messianic. I mean, most churches don’t have all of those exact elements in their worship services, so apparently traditional Christianity doesn’t see Paul’s model as a mandatory commandment.

    However, if a Jewish congregation authentically honors and gives praise to Jesus as Messiah and also chooses to follow the traditional Jewish synagogue model of worship, prayer, and study, does that take anything away from Jesus or from other people (like you) who choose to worship differently? I’m sure no one has a “perfect” worship model and that there is room for adjustment or improvement in anyone’s church, synagogue, or other house of worship. What makes the Jewish worship model unique is that being tied to the traditions, it is part of the overarching definition of what it is to be a religious Jew and links all such congregations and all such Jews together in a common theme and purpose in relation to each other and God.

    Rabbi Gordis makes this very point in his book God Was Not In The Fire (an excellent book which I highly recommend, by the way). This is especially important as no other people group/religion has suffered such condemnation, persecution, or been brought to the brink of extinction (and yet survived) like the Jewish people. As Sadan points out very effectively, without Rabbinic Judaism, there would be no Jews, Messianic or otherwise.

    Oh, no problem with the botched italics tag. I made it all better. ;-)

  3. That you wish the Scripture-breathed guidance for modeling our services to be merely voluntary reveals where your heart is.

    This isn’t even about services, though. This is about the things of the Spirit — evidence of the Spirit. These things are not present at all in Judaism. Where is prophecy? Where is praying in the Spirit? Praise to the Lord with music and instruments? Where is edification of one another through words of knowledge? These things are all spoken about by the disciples as evidence of the Spirit, spoken of by the apostles as things that should be in our congregations, things Paul “desired for every one of you.”

    And you want it to be voluntary.

    Worse, you want Messianic Judaism’s services — which are currently all over the board — to be void of those things and simply be Judaism emulators.

    What a white flag.

    It’s going to take some bold leaders within Messianic Judaism to stand a righteous stand against this lethargy and retreat from Scripture.

    *pre-emptive snarky comment: ‘oh Judah, you crazy, crazy Pentacostal…’

  4. Oh good grief, Judah. You’re taking this way over the top.

    First of all, have you ever been to a church or “Messianic” service that resembled what Paul is describing in 1 Corinthians 14? I haven’t. I’ve never been in a service where somebody just popped up and started speaking in “tongues” (I’ve heard of churches where that sort of thing is supposed to happen on a regular basis, though). How about prophesy? When is the last time you heard God say to you, “Judah, tell the congregation this is what the Lord says?” And what is “praying in the spirit” as opposed to praying any other way? How do you know that when a Jew prays, it is not “in the spirit?”

    You are interpreting Paul’s words as general instructions for both the Jewish synagogues and the Gentile “churches” (so to speak) regarding a mandatory order of service. That would assume that the audience for this letter is both Jews and Gentiles who are disciples of the Master and who have no idea how they should go about a worship service. Let’s think about that.

    Would Paul have said to the (Messianic) synagogues that they had to toss out all of the elements of a traditional First Century synagogue service and replace them with the exact model we see in 1 Corinthians 14 because they were now Messianic? I wonder if perhaps some or much of that wasn’t already happening in the synagogues back then. I have no way of knowing because I don’t have access to an “order of service” for synagogues in the day of Paul. Maybe they were somewhat less formal than synagogue services today (although I’ve been to some pretty informal synagogues).

    My interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14 is that Paul’s primary audience were the Gentiles who had just recently come out of pagan worship. They really would be entirely clueless on how to run a worship service, especially if they weren’t part of a mixed Jewish/Gentile congregation and worshiping in a synagogue setting. If the Gentiles had gotten together for worship, they may have had no idea how to go about it and Paul was instructing them in this manner. It’s not that the Jews would have been prohibited from following Paul’s suggestions (not everything Paul writes in his letters is necessarily a command), but they already knew how to worship God based on a lifetime of experience and the traditional pattern of worship they had from their fathers (I know tradition can be an “issue” with you).

    You said previously that “our services should not merely be emulations of Judaism’s services,” which seems to suggest that you don’t mind if some of the traditional elements of a Jewish synagogue service remain as long as all of the material from 1 Corinthians 14 is added in. However, your current comment seems to indicate that indeed, you do want to replace the modern synagogue model (for Messianic Jewish groups, that is) with the 1 Corinthians 14 model, since you appear to believe that it is an absolute commandment from God and that Paul’s audience *must* have been both Jews and Gentiles who desperately needed to understand how to hold a worship service (even though the Jews had been worshiping God in one manner or another for thousands of years).

    Did I mention that I recently wrote an article about supersessionism in the church for Messiah Journal and that it’s one in a series? You might want to follow that series, since what you are suggesting is a clear model of “replacement theology” aimed at replacing Jewish practice with a your interpretation of one chapter in the NT. Also, since this blog is actually a review of Tsvi Sadan’s article for Messiah Journal 109, you might want to read what he wrote in full. As I recall, he was pretty adamant about Christians not trying to remake Judaism and Jews into their own image.

    “Worse, you want Messianic Judaism’s services — which are currently all over the board — to be void of those things and simply be Judaism emulators.”

    You are very good at putting words in my mouth, however I wasn’t talking about what I “want”. I have no desire regarding how Jewish people run their worship services. You seem to have all that desire in yourself. You also seem absolutely sure that your personal interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14 is the only one that is valid. How can you be so sure when many NT scholars continue to study Paul’s writings and try to understand his intent within the context of that point in history and culture?

    Oh, if the 1 Corinthians 14 model of worship is so absolute for you, have you told your wife yet (citing verses 34-35) that she has to keep her mouth shut when attending services and only ask any questions about the service afterwards on the drive home?

    If you and the leaders of your congregation have a model of worship based on 1 Corinthians 14 and you believe this is the *only* valid model for worship, more power to you. But as far as I know, most Christian churches (certainly the ones I’ve attended), don’t have a model that works this way. I’ve never seen anyone jump up in the middle of the Pastor’s message and speaking in tongues or abruptly deliver a prophetic message from God during Bible study. If you want to be critical of all worship services that don’t follow the 1 Corinthians 14 model to the “T”, then why stop at just Messianic services that use the synagogue model? You should probably go after the majority of church services around the world that have different traditions.

  5. This series of comments is one of the very few instances where I’ve seen James riled up.

    “Did I mention that I recently wrote an article about supersessionism in the church for Messiah Journal and that it’s one in a series? You might want to follow that series, since what you are suggesting is a clear model of “replacement theology” aimed at replacing Jewish practice with a your interpretation of one chapter in the NT. ”

    James, precisely. Deep-seated supersessionist and superiority [of Charismatic Evangelical practice over Jewish practice] mindset is at the very core of what Judah is advocating here. What makes it so sad is that he and others with similar views vehemently deny this to be the case.

  6. James,

    as a Jewish person, it is just appalling for me to see you drink the kool-ade of a bunch of Gentiles (FFOZ) who decided to teach the Jews how to be Jews. It is just shameful. No wonder the UMJC wants to get rid of the Gentiles in their midst. It is OK for Sadan to pontificate, but you guys need to take it easy and mind your own business.

  7. “as a Jewish person, it is just appalling for me to see you drink the kool-ade of a bunch of Gentiles” “you guys need to take it easy and mind your own business.”

    Dan, it’s appalling to me how anti-Gentile you actually are.

  8. @Gene (and @Judah): I probably shouldn’t have gotten so “snarky”, but I’m deep in investigating the historical and modern impact of supersessionism on the church, so I’m kind of sensitive to the subject. Also, having freshly read Sadan’s article, I can see how the cart has been put before the horse, so to speak, in Gentile Christians re-writing the history of the Jewish Messiah and how Jews are supposed to relate to him.

    @Dan: You said, “but you guys need to take it easy and mind your own business.” Well, I do try to mind my own business as far as how other congregations choose to run their worship services. I am certainly not telling you or Judah how your congregations should worship God and honor the Messiah. As far as I can tell, Judah is trying to use 1 Corinthians 14 to tell Jewish congregations who honor the Messiah how they should run their worship services. If you’re suggesting that we mind our own business in that regard, then I suggest that the door swings both ways.

  9. Gene,

    Usually you accused me of being the opposite, what gives? Too much Vodka lately?

    I am not anti-Gentile, I am anti-hypocrisy. Wannabe Jews who are enamored by rabbinic halacha and Kaballah who think that that is the most important things for a believer to learn…..

  10. Dan, are you saying that you’d be willing to give up the traditional Torah readings during your Shabbat services. Does 1 Corinthians 14 forbid them?

  11. James,

    Are you willing to give up 1 Cor. 14 for the sake of Aliah L’Torah? You see, two can play the Game. Let alone that as a non-Jews you and the FFOZ guys are not allowed to come up an read….Boaz and his wife are not welcome at Ahavat Zion congregation…..

  12. I’m not playing games, Dan. It’s a serious question. If 1 Cor. 14 is the only valid model for acceptable worship of Jesus and it must be followed rigidly, then the vast majority of believing congregations are in error.

    I don’t have Aliah L’Torah or observe 1 Cor. 14 because I am not currently affiliated with any congregation. I don’t know how this line of debate has gotten so far off the trail. Either you adhere solely to the 1 Cor. 14 model of worship and, on that basis, you demand that all other believing congregations (Christian and Jewish) do likewise, or you admit that you do not and thus, the pattern we see in 1 Cor. 14 is not set in stone.

    Dan said: Boaz and his wife are not welcome at Ahavat Zion congregation…..

    Tomorrow’s “morning meditation” will be about how “iron and sharpen iron” but without one piece of iron deliberately attacking another. I hope you’ll read it.

    Peace.

  13. James,

    Judah did not advocate adhering solely to 1 Cor. 14 mode of worship. He just point to the lack of it within Judaism, and the emphsis you all give to the rabbinic style of worship.

  14. Sorry Dan, but it certainly reads as if Judah (and he’ll have to come here to speak for himself since I hate putting words in his mouth) intended to replace current Rabbinic-based synagogue service elements with the order and content of the 1 Cor. 14 service.

    I don’t think that the traditional synagogue service is the only way to worship God, but I do think that congregations, both Jewish and Christian, should feel free to create or adapt their services to fit the needs of their communities in worship. If it’s “wrong” for Jews to worship in the traditional synagogue model, what about megachurches where the “sanctuary” doubles as a dance floor, basketball court, and gymnasium? I’ve heard of a big church in Texas (this was years ago) who worked with McDonald’s to have a McDonald’s restaurant incorporated as part of the church building so busy families could grab a quick and easy lunch right after Sunday services.

    Hardly 1 Cor. 14 compliant. Should we “bust their chops,” too?

    If a church doesn’t have people who prophesy, are they wrong? If a church doesn’t have people who speak in tongues, are they wrong? If women talk in church rather than waiting until they get home to ask their husbands what’s going on, are they wrong?

  15. James,

    You are reading your agenda in what Judah wrote. He specifically asked where are the things of the Spirit within Judaism, he never spoke of replacing anything. And you still use the term “rabbinic-based” as if it were “God based.” Next thing you are going to tell us that Kaballah is of the spirit, because FFOZ said so…..

  16. I’d really prefer we didn’t have a conversation about Judah that Judah isn’t a part of. You can represent your own perspective and I can respond to you on that basis, Dan.

    As far as your “issues” with FFOZ, I don’t mind that you disagree with their position, but you really need to stop blaming them for everything that runs counter to One Law. Really, I can think for myself. Thanks.

    If you want to run your congregation in a particular manner, fine. I have no objections on any level. If a Jewish Messianic congregation wants to model their services on traditional synagogue worship, why do you care? Sure, you can disagree with how they do business, but why does it bother you so much? Also, you haven’t responded to any of my queries regarding how Christian churches hold services that lack 1 Cor. 14 elements. Is it only Jewish synagogues not following 1 Cor. 14 that bother you but not any other types of religious groups?

  17. I’m sorry you think that of me, Dan. I assure you that’s not my intent, but I can’t control how you choose to read my words.

  18. I appreciate James’ review. Over all he understood me well (the point with God fearers is only semantic). I followed the arguments presented by Judah. In essence he insists that Jews who follow Jesus should create their own religion (which I assume should look pretty much like that of Judah). The entire thrust of my article speaks against it. Judah’s approach is not new. In fact, this is what Messianic Jews do today – they develop their own religion, mostly along the line of Evangelicalism. Here in Israel we have a saying “don’t be right. Be wise.” For the sake of argument, assuming the Judah is right, present day reality is that Messianic Jews assimilate themselves to oblivion which means that if it will be up to them, the Jewish people will disappear from the face of the earth. So to advocate for a literal interpretation of Paul’s structure of a church, an approach that at best only reflects the reader’s desire, is to ask for the annihilation of the Jewish people. With such approach is there any wonder why Jews think of the gospel as bad news?

  19. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Tsvi. I agree that one of the effects of some “Messianic Jewish” congregations is that they actually promote assimilation of Jews into Christianity rather than establish and maintain a Judaism that honors the Messiah. I don’t think the Gospel has ever been bad news, but I do think that traditional supersesionist Christian interpretation of it has been devistating toward Jews and Judaism. When a form of supersessionism occurs within groups that call themselves “Messianic Judaism” (though those groups may contain few if any Jewish people), it makes it much more difficult for Jews to discover the Messiah within their context.

  20. @ Eugene

    You’re doing a fair old job of representing your perspective. Just wondered if you’d please say something about a very different perspective to your own on the concept of fulfilment – separately presented by Dr Schiffman and Nathan Ha Goy – and also respond to my related question included below please?

    Dr Schiffman, January 30, 2012 at 6:27 am
    “Fulfillment” theology seems to be a replacement of what used to be called promise theology. The stress on fulfillment takes the meaning of Ple’re’o to mean completed rather than to have filled up. THe former stresses finished, where as the latter stressed expanded the meaning. You might rephrase it to be over and done with theology. The other thing that is problematic, is the quoting of scripture as your point. Scripture is scripture, but quoting a verse in or out of context says what the scripture says, but doesn’t tell us what you think it means. If you are going to quote scripture you have not achieved your goal until you tell us what YOU think it means. What you think it means is actually what you are basing your agument upon, so just say what you think it means or you have proven nothing.

    Nathan Ha Goy, January 31, 2012 at 8:22 pm
    To “fulfill the Torah” is to give a teaching which explains it. To “destroy the Torah” is to give a teaching which confuses it. So, yes, Yeshua “fulfilled the Torah”.

    Here’s a question from me, concerning your reference to Matthew 19:1-19 made February 2, 2012 at 4:35 pm as a response to Steve.

    If I understand you correctly, I think that you are using this text to support the argument that the Law of Christ somehow now replaces the Law of Moses and in so far as it goes, this conclusion is logical given your premise. However, there is a very different interpretation of the fulfilment concept and consequently the Matthew 19 text which is at least equally logical when the assumption is that the term fulfil in the Biblical text is used in the sense of making clearer, filling up and thus deepening our understanding and permissible interpretations and implementations of the Biblical text. Please let me try to explain.

    “The Sabbath was made for man not the man for the Sabbath”. (Mark 2:27) 1

    Considering the Matthew 19 text, what I think Jesus is actually doing here is quite similar to what we see Him doing in John 8 i.e. in the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. He’s acknowledging what the Law of Moses says and simply doing what Jews and Christians have been doing with the Biblical text ever since, interpreting and applying the living word to a specific real life situation.

    Yes the Law of Moses should be interpreted literally where possible and yet thinking of the John 8 text, it is quite telling that that it has rarely been the practice of Jews to stone a woman caught in adultery – does anyone actually know of a single recorded incidence – and not least because Gods attribute of mercy working through a people attuned to Him and His ways more often than not far outweighs His attribute of Justice and strict adherence to what it actually says in the Biblical text.

    Notice in the Matthew 19 text that Jesus actually says that it was Moses that gave this permission so that they could divorce their wives because he knew the stubbornness of their hearts. What I think that He is telling us here is that the Law of Moses at least on this point reflects the needs of man’s heart more than the heart of God. This said, just because He gave it doesn’t mean that we are to implement it exactly as it is written. After all, we should be acting in quite an unmerciful way if we did. So why give it? My thought is that the law is meant to fulfil quite a different role here. Let me try to explain.

    I remember being in a school at a time when boys were regularly caned on their backsides for transgressing certain school rules like talking during meals or fighting in the school yard – quite a wide-range of misdemeanours. Yes the rules where very strict and yet they were also very clear. Significantly two things happened. Firstly, very few of the boys knowing the penalty actually broke the rules and thus received the cane, because the expectant penalty encouraged them not to transgress any of the rules. Secondly and significantly, very very few of the masters actually used the cane when the rules said that they should have done. Rather, they usually just used a slipper (i.e. a soft sneaker), a harsh word or even a word to the wise instead. It’s worth remarking that the school context was 1960′s – 1970′s England where the cultural context was still largely Christian and a goodly portion of the school masters were Christians of some kind.

    Considerations of this kind in mind and concerning your reference to Matthew 19:1-19 made February 2, 2012 at 4:35 pm as a response to Steve, do you see how fulfilment in the sense of making clearer, filling up and thus deepening our understanding and permissible interpretations and implementations is logical and indeed may indeed be applicable here?

    1 Potentially, the Law/Torah was made for man not the man for the Law/Torah.

    Every blessing,
    - Andrew

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