knowledge of torah

My Aberrant Theology

There are days.

Really, I don’t know why I respond to Facebook clickbait sometimes.

No, that’s not fair. It’s not “clickbait” as such. The person who posted the statement is honest and forthright. We just happen to disagree, that’s all.

He said:

Q: What do you say when someone protests, “We’re not under the law, we’re under the New Covenant!”
A: I would respond as follows…

Q: When the Scriptures describe the New Covenant, in Jeremiah 31:31-34 (which is also quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12) what is the first thing God says He will do in the fulfilling of the New Covenant?
A: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.”

Q: What is the law that God will write on our hearts as part of the New Covenant?
A: According to Romans 8:1-11 those who walk in the Spirit will submit to God’s Law, so that it “might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” So, we are no longer under the “condemnation” or “curse” or penalty of the law, but we are most certainly still instructed by God’s law. In fact, it is now being written on our hearts, so that we might faithfully walk it out. According to Ephesians 2:8-10 this is why we were saved by grace through faith: that we might walk in “good works” which God, “prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

new heartI happened to mention that Jeremiah 31:31 states only the House of Judah and the House of Israel, and not the Gentiles at all, participate in the New Covenant. Christianity sidesteps this little problem by cherry-picking various New Testament scriptures while ignoring the fact that there’s no linear progression from Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 and those particular passages. In this case Ephesians 2 was invoked.

My response was to point to a two-part series on Ephesians 2, Abraham, and the unique Jewish mission I wrote over 14 months ago, specifically citing the works of Carl Kinbar and Derek Leman.

The response to my response was to have Kinbar and Leman (and by inference, me) accused of “aberrant theologies”.

“The inappropriate emphasis of Jewish or Gentile identity will inevitably result in aberrant theologies.” … as demonstrated by Kinbar and Leman.

Just to be clear, the dictionary definition of “aberrant” is “departing from an accepted standard.” Synonyms include “deviant, deviating, divergent, abnormal, atypical, anomalous, irregular.”

Reminds me of those times when the head Pastor of the church I used to attend stated that he spoke “sound doctrine,” implying that anyone who disagreed with him was teaching “unsound doctrine.”

In other words, “agree with me or you’re wrong.”

Of course, the arguments being used against me are based on Covenant Theology which I’ve already discounted, at least within my own little world view.

This is all my fault. If I’d just learn that people don’t want to discuss, they want you to be “aberrant,” then I’d (hopefully) not engage them, even the nice ones, in such conversations. They never end well. If you’re mainstream, you are always right. That’s one of the reasons I don’t go to their churches. No room for minority opinions. No place for the occasional oddball. The Church is for conformists (of course, most religious institutions require such a thing by definition).

TempleI guess it doesn’t matter if I’m right either. Let them have their victories over the Jewish people and Judaism, over the Torah and the Temple. God will be God no matter what I say or no matter what anyone else says, either.

I just don’t believe God will delete my Jewish wife and children based on a theological technicality that wasn’t even conceived of until after the Gentile Christians threw the Jewish disciples of Yeshua out of their own party sometime in the early second century CE and after.

No, that’s not really what Covenant Theology says…well, not exactly. I just don’t think you have to drag the Jewish people and Jewish praxis into the mud in order to elevate the Messiah. I believe both ascend together. Why would the King of Israel bring down his Israelite subjects, the named members of the covenants with God, in order to elevate a non-covenant people? After all, without those covenant people who are already near to God, how can a non-covenant people be brought nearer to the God of Israel by them and by their King?

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62 thoughts on “My Aberrant Theology”

  1. I’m not sure I understood the provenance of your gray references. Were both the “Q” and the “A” provided by your correspondent, with your own responses as separate entries conveying the points you cited? Of *course* your theology (and mine) is atypical, and thus “aberrant”, from the distorted perspective of mainstream traditional forms of Christianity. *We* haven’t invalidated the Jewishness of the Galilean rabbi who taught Torah perspectives to his Jewish disciples in the land of Israel 20 centuries ago. We’ve recognized and accepted the Jewish particularism inherent in the Tenakh and the apostolic writings, including particularly the halakhic decision of the Jerusalem Council of Rav Yeshua’s emissaries as reported in Acts 15, distinguishing between gentile disciples and Jewish ones. But, at least since the time of the Nicene Council, gentile Christianity has denied this Jewish particularism and distinctiveness to demand instead a universalistic interpretation of the Jewish scriptures that forcibly wrests them away from the Jews whom HaShem called his peculiar treasure, in order to substitute themselves into the place appointed to the Jewish people alone. In doing so, of course, they missed entirely their own distinctive role — though some of them discovered with partial understanding the appropriate “sola gratia” means by which gentile acceptance by HaShem is accomplished apart from any covenant. The question now remains what will convince them that they must revisit old time-honored doctrines and discover how mistranslations and a faulty interpretive matrix of presuppositions have contributed to their distorted development, and that they must begin again with corrections in hand.

  2. Both the Q and the A in the blockquote section were from the same person, asking a hypothetical question, and then answering it. As much as I shouldn’t, I still let it bug me that what seems so self-evident from the Biblical text appears to be such a mystery to most Christians. Then again, I guess that makes me the arrogant one at the party.

  3. I thought he posted that in defense of the “law” compared to how the church commonly sees it as done away with. But I may not be clear on his perspective. I didn’t realize he has a covenant theology view. The beautiful part to all this is that we are all learning. We all don’t have it all right and we don’t have it all wrong either. I learned a new word today “clickbait”. That’s why I’m afraid to bite. I learn a lot from the dialogue though. I appreciate it more though when it happens with mutual respect.

  4. The “law of sin and death” is contrasted with the “law of the spirit,” and given the context, I don’t think they equally mean the Torah. My understanding of covenant theology is that, in part, because Messiah obeyed the Torah mitzvot perfectly, he “fulfilled” all the mitzvot, absolving any Jew who comes to faith in him from having to do so, effectively wiping out Torah observance in Judaism (or any other “ism”) forever.

  5. How I respond:
    1. Quote (or find) the text of the new covenant (95% of evangelicals have no idea).
    2. Do you believe that grace was God’s plan B? Is the God of grace nowhere to be found in what gentiles refer to as the “Old Testament?”
    3. What was the purpose of the Jerusalem council and what was its ruling?
    4. Do you believe that the books of Moses provide the absolute foundation for all of scripture and that the prophets, writings, and NT books are either clarification of or commentary thereon?
    5. What exactly did Yeshua say about the law?

    I love J. Goldingay’s quote: “The New Testament is basically a series of footnotes on the Old, and you don’t make a theology out of footnotes.”

    Now class, go read, “God in Search of Man” by Heschel, and let’s have an intellectual discussion.

  6. Thank you James. It is right on point. I personally fighting this kind ideology for years and often feel totally frustrated and powerless to dialogue with pastors and ordinary believers and what else. It make me so often think that I have it now… and that I want to be left alone in my Jewish world. And whenever any of christian issues may come about I just ready to say “go away…” You very right. They are majority and must be “right”. But in all I wish you and others of our way of thinking all the chutzpach we can get. May Hashem help as to be as we are.

  7. Leonard Peikoff has proposed three essential ways people deal with fact/reality/data in his book The DIM Hypothesis. (I am oversimplifying here, so if you are interested, dive in to the subject.)

    Some people will try to objectively integrate the fact/reality/data into their paradigm (‘I’ = Integrate.)

    Others will take turn the fact/reality/data into an abstraction where it becomes putty in their hands and can be turned on its head (‘M’ = Misintegrate.)

    Still others will completely deny the fact/reality/data (‘D’ = Disintegrate.)

    I think that there may be a lot of wisdom in the Passover Hagaddah reference to the Four Sons. You need to identify which type of ‘son’ you are addressing.

  8. Did you think he was saying things you agreed with… until he responded negatively to what you linked to in response? I didn’t see there was necessarily a problem or conflict until he responded to you. There are wordings in the Bible that have been misinterpreted over the centuries but that nevertheless are still in/from the Bible.

    Or were you disagreeing with him right from the get go? For which I don’t see the “bait” clearly that would have led you to do that. But maybe it’s because of your own previous experiences with him or a larger context of his site or something.

    His believing Yeshua fully kept the law is a better place than (I would say most) others are in (who think he didn’t keep it). Maybe that’s why you thought you could have a conversation.

    [I wouldn’t, btw, want to mention Kinbar and Leman in the same “breath” sts. I’d see a problem there.]

  9. Hi, Marleen — Believing that Rav Yeshua kept the Torah fully is certainly in agreement with the text of the apostolic writings, but accepting that fact may be no more significant than accepting the fact that HaShem is One in the manner cited by Yacov in Jam.2:19 that demons also believe this (for all the good it does them). If one interprets Rav Yeshua’s Torah keeping as meaning that no one else need do so, one actually is making his obedience to be empty and even contrary to the Torah, in addition to denying his own statements about it in Mt.5:17-18, or his instructions to his own Jewish disciples in Mt.23:2-3 to obey the scribes and Pharisees. Consequently, it is not sufficient to focus on a single superficial appearance of agreement to suggest that James’ correspondent was in a doctrinal position any better than that of someone who doesn’t even believe that Rav Yeshua *did* keep Torah.

    As for mentioning Kinbar and Leman in the same breath, one need not consider them of equal quality in all matters merely to note that they are in agreement on the subject at hand, as, of course, are many others even if they are still a marginalized minority.

  10. It’s funny, James. I was just reading Shaul’s letters to Timothy this morning and thought, “We just never seem to get along.”

  11. Just got a heads up from the guy who started this whole thing off. This perspective is based on Promise Theology (Epangelicalism, not a misspelling), not Covenant Theology. Another new one for me. So many theologies rolling around out there.

  12. To be fair, I responded not with that one sentence, but with a reference to an entire, lengthy article (https://literaryjoe.com/2013/07/08/identification-with-messiah-part-1-invitation-to-imitation/), a re-quoting of the conclusion of that article, and then re-emphasized that the inappropriate emphasis of Jewish or Gentile identity will lead to aberrant theologies, in the context of everything I’d said before.

    Also, I did not respond to you via Covenant Theology but via a Promise Theology perspective.

  13. Thanks for that, Nate. Actually, I didn’t cite your original article because TLDR. But since it seems essential to your point, I read it earlier this afternoon.

    That’s not a good time of day for me lately, since thanks to nose surgery, I haven’t been breathing or sleeping well. My brain gets all fuzzy in the afternoons, even with liberal applications of coffee.

    Since your article is really long and contains names, theologies, and doctrines I’m not particularly familiar with (not having been raised a Christian nor having a Bible college education), I feel like I need to restrict myself to two primary topics:

    1: Your definition of “law” which is an essay in and of itself.
    2: Who/what is the “ekklesia” and is “ekklesia” synonymous with “Church?”

    I’ll tackle all that when my brain comes back.

  14. Two questions:

    What is the definition of “law” based on this article by Nate Long?

    Who or What is included in the ekklesia and does ekklesia equate to Church?

    First question. I’ve scoured this rather lengthy essay and the following seems to be as close as a definition to “law” as I’ve been able to discover:

    Now you and I realize when we speak of the law as God’s unchanging standard that love is intrinsic to God’s law. But it may be wise on our part to speak of God’s character as the unchanging standard.

    It goes on from there, but this appears to be the core defining paragraph.

    So “law” is God’s unchanging standard that love is intrinsic to God’s law.

    I don’t think you can use the word you’re attempting to define within the body of the definition.

    Really, I’ve read through this and I know it probably means something I’m just not bright enough to comprehend, but I don’t find a definition to “law” here that I can recognize.

    So, let’s go back to how the ancient Israelites would have understood “law,” or, more accurately, Torah.

    The Torah was the body of commandments given at Sinai that were required of the Israelites to obey in order to be in complience with the Sinai covenant, the covenant between Israel and God (that’s oversimplified, of course…there’s a lot more involved).

    Are these conditions an unchanging standard of behavior for Israel? Yes and no. That’s like asking if the United States Constitution is an unchanging standard of rights for the American people. Yes, with the understanding that with the passage of time, the Constitution has to be amended to address circumstances, technology, etc…that were not foreseen by the founding fathers.

    The same for the Torah. The majority of Jews don’t live in Israel these days and, for the past almost two-thousand years, only a remnant of Jews have lived in Israel. Also, given changes in circumstances, technology, and so forth, how the various mitzvot were applied to Jews have been adapted.

    What does this have to do with non-Jews in Christ (Messiah)? Thereby hangs a tale.

    If, post Jesus’ crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, the Sinai and New Covenants (both of which use the Torah mitzvot as the standard of covenant behavior for Jews) are maintained, then what about we non-Jews who have come alongside Israel through our devotion to Rav Yeshua (Jesus Christ)?

    Acts 15 made it perfectly clear that we non-Jews did not have an obligation to the Torah in the manner of the born (or converted) Jews, and as I’ve said before, there is no direct statement in the Bible anywhere that says pointblank “this is how the Gentiles become covenant members”.

    Christians have been incredibly inventive over the centuries in shoehorning ourselves in while giving (in most cases) the bum’s rush to the Jews out the other side of God’s promises, but the Bibical facts remain that the only reason we non-Jews in Messiah benefit from any of the New Covenant blessings at all (Holy Spirit, future resurrection, promise of life in the world to come) is through God’s grace and mercy.

    Period.

    God’s “law” is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. If the Torah continues to be in force for Jews including Jews in Messiah, why isn’t it in force for the Gentiles? Because of Acts 15 and God’s continued grace and mercy that we non-Jews, who are not obligated by covenant, shouldn’t be compelled to take on board such responsibilities and duties. We were given a minimalist set of mitzvot for the sake of table fellowship with the Jews (again, it’s more involved than this simple statement).

    However, Christianity has been deleting the “law” or “fulfilling” it ever since there were enough Gentile believers to throw the Jewish believers out of their own party, so a redefinition of “law” is absolutely required for Christianity to define itself as within God’s promises.

    Unless, of course, God didn’t actually change His relationship with Israel post-resurrection (like He promised) and that instead, He made provisions for the Gentiles who He all along had intended to include in His Kingdom. an inclusion that does not require Israel to be “demoted” at all.

    But what about the ekklesia? If Jews and Gentiles are in the ekklesia and are supposed to be equal, what does “equal” mean? Is the modern ekklesia the same as the modern Church with its Christian hymns and its crosses on the roof and on every wall, and its Easter, and its Christmas?

    I’m pushng it writing with the tired brain I’ve got right now. I’ll deal with the rest later.

  15. I understand your point, PL. I just didn’t see any anti-law statements. Especially prior to the reaction to the response. And the reaction to the response (as far as what we saw here) is not very descriptive as to reasoning. So I’m just not jumping to conclusions. But, like I said, James might have more information than he’s shared. I’ve never read directly whoever the person is to whom he’s referring.

    Anyway, I agree with the reminders to consider the meaning of Acts 15.
    (I’m just not sure the writer referred to doesn’t do that. I don’t have enough information here.)

  16. So, perhaps I’ve been carried away in the passion of my point, but it is necessary to be clear on this matter. We need to ask, “Who is the Body of Messiah?” And I need to speak carefully and clearly here.

    First, the Body of Christ is all who believe regardless of what era they have or will live in, and regardless of their ethnicity (Gal. 3:6-9). In other words, when it comes to the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:15-16) and the “Church”, these are one and the same; a testifying body of those who have been made new in Messiah (2 Cor. 5:16-17). At least so far as primary identity.

    There is a valid secondary difference, or theological distinction which should be made. For example, while on the macro level the “Israel of God” and the “Church” are the same edah/ekklesia (witnessing body)[16], on the micro level one should accurately distinguish between Israel, the body to whom, “belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises,” and the Church, that portion of Israel (and her descendants) upon whom the Holy Spirit descended with an anointing to expand the household of God beyond Israel after the flesh, to in fact, carry news of God and his promises to every nation.

    from Nate Long’s
    Identification With Messiah – Part 1: Invitation to Imitation

    Remember I said before I’d tackle the concept of “church” and whether we can reasonably understand the Apostolic Scriptural use of “ekklesia” in the same way we commonly use the word “church” today.

    According to Long and his usage of Galatians 6:15-16, the “Israel of God” and “Church” are the same thing. However, digging a little deeper, Long does differentiate “on the micro level” between Israel and Church, since only Israel possesses “the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” while Church is “that portion of Israel (and her descendants) upon whom the Holy Spirit descended with an anointing to expand the household of God beyond Israel after the flesh, to in fact, carry news of God and his promises to every nation.”

    OK, let’s back up a bit. Is ekklesia “Church?”

    In a fit of insomnia over two years ago, I wrote this and followed up by writing this, all in order to answer the question: No.

    The term “Church” is anachronistic when applied to Biblical times. The ekklesia of Messiah was that body of Jews and non-Jews who had come to faith in Rav Yeshua as the mediator of the New Covenant, having received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2, 10) and accepted that through Yeshua, the New Covenant promises of God to Israel were assured.

    But that doesn’t make the ekklesia 100% Israel, it only means some members, the Jewish members, also belong to Israel. Gentiles are not Israel, we are the people of the nations who are also called by His Name (Amos 9:12).

    In fact (and this is just my personal opinion), I think it is (unintentionally) disingenuous for NT translators to render the Greek word “ekklesia” as “church,” since modern Christians are going to read their own narrative into the word and context, a narrative which does not fit said context.

    Is Jewish and Gentile identity obliterated in the ekklesia because of Ephesians 2? Most Christians would say yes, and in fact, most Christians would say that Jews in the ekklesia (i.e. “the Church” from their point of view) cease to be Jews in all but DNA, and become Christians. Ironically, most Jews believe this too, which is why a Jew identifying as a Christian or Messianic believer almost assuredly is going to be rejected by family members and friends.

    Which is why Messianic Jewish Rabbis and teachers such as Stuart Dauermann insist that for Messianic Jews, Israel is us, not them.

    But shouldn’t our identity be in Messiah first and not in our ethnic status?

    There’s the problem. It’s not just ethnicity, it’s covenant relationship. All Jews have one with God, whether they want it or not. It’s built in. All Jews in and out of the ekklesia have a covenant relationship with God, starting with Abraham, certainly extending into Sinai, and absolutely continuing in the New Covenant.

    What about the Gentiles in the ekklesia? There’s another problem. We don’t have any. I know, there are some warm and fuzzy passages in the New Testament that say we have some sort of relationship with God and that it’s not dependent on ethnicity, but it’s never spelled out exactly how it ties back in to Jer. 31 and Ezek. 36.

    That’s because it doesn’t. The reason you can’t find the connection is because it doesn’t exist (Well sort of…here’s my model for how I think it works in a nutshell).

    Disappointing, I know, but also exciting. Just think of it. God allows any non-Jew who comes to faith in Him through Rav Yeshua (Jesus Christ) as being able to benefit from some of the blessings of the New Covenant just because of God’s great grace and mercy, not because He is obligated to fulfill His end of a covenant He made with our forefathers.

    We get to live too just because God is that loving.

    Imagine that.

    But what about the Church? Jews have their synagogues, Christians have their churches, and occasionally, modern Messianic believers meet in congregations that offer varying degrees of what we would consider Jewish praxis.

    Is that what God had in mind?

    It’s not what existed early on. At first, the only place for a non-Jewish member of the ekklesia to learn about what Jesus taught was in the synagogue (Acts 15:21). Jesus taught on the Torah and the only place where the Torah was read back then was every Shabbat in the synagogue. The Jews understood Jesus within Jewish context, but the Gentiles would have been clueless. We had to start somewhere.

    Then Paul started establishing Messianic communities in the diaspora, many of them with a majority Gentile membership or just plain totally Gentile. How the praxis in these communities differed from Jewish synagogues of Messiah I have no idea.

    Eventually, Gentile Christianity and what we call Rabbinic Judaism started describing divergent trajectories across history, becoming two totally separate things. Only in the past century or so, and especially within the past several decades have both Jews and Gentiles taken a good hard look at the Bible and tried to understand what the original writers really meant, rather than what both Christian and Jewish traditional exegesis (eisegesis) has told us it means.

    But that’s thrown a monkey wrench into the religious machinery. Who in the heck are we in the ekklesia and, in fact, what is the ekklesia supposed to be?

    A couple of years ago, I wrote The Church When Jesus Returns and When Jesus Returns, Will We Go To Church all to say that when Messiah takes up his throne in Jerusalem, there probably won’t be the modern entity we call “Church”.

    There will be a multinational ekklesia of Jews and non-Jews who come together to bring honor and glory to King Messiah, but the Jews are Israel and the Gentiles are of the nations. They possess two separate covenant relationships with God that are made to “live together” in the community of Messiah (or rather, the Jews have a covenant relationship with God and the Gentiles have God’s grace and mercy to sustain us).

    Our Messianic identity does not override our covenant identity because that’s impossible. Messiah is not separate from the covenants. As a Jew, he’s as much a member of the covenants as any other Jew. As King Messiah, he mediates the conditions of the New Covenant and has allowed an extraordinarily liberal policy as far as Gentile admission is concerned.

    We have a sort of “associate membership” in the ekklesia since we are not named covenant members. We are adopted, grafted in, welcomed by grace alone, beneficiaries of God’s abundant mercy. Equal to Israel in that God loves us, but equality is not uniformity.

    People in a family all belong equally to that family, but their rights, roles, and responsibilities are not the same. As a “grandpa,” my rights, roles, and responsibilities in my family are not the same as my one-year-old granddaughter.

    I’m OK with that and I’m pretty sure she is too.

    Will there be “church” in the Messianic age? I see this going two ways. The first is that Messiah will correct all of our theological and doctrinal “issues” and teach us how we are to live, Jew and Gentile a like. That means all the crosses come down from all the steeples and walls of our churches, and bunches and bunches of other icons and practices go by the wayside.

    Of course that implies that lots and lots of changes will be made in the synagogue as well, which I’m sure makes Jews feel as uncomfortable as Christians will at the suggestion that the cross as a symbol of our faith was not God’s idea.

    But there’s another way to look at it.

    Maybe Messiah will be merciful and realize just how emotionally invested we are in our practices. I could probably start a riot in any church in America if I said Jesus was going to do away with their Christmas and Easter celebrations because they are not commanded or even presupposed in the Bible (only Christian tradition makes it seem as if they are Biblically presupposed).

    But maybe Messiah will see how attached Christians and Jews are to their traditions and will allow, at least that first generation, to hang onto them.

    I’m just guessing of course, but I don’t want to seem too heavy-handed in this.

  17. Let’s simplify things a bit. Does the edah have a call to be a witnessing body? Does the ekklesia have a call to be a witnessing body? Are there Jews and Gentiles present in each of those bodies? The answer to each of those questions is indisputably, “yes.” So the burden of proof is on you to prove that the edah/qahal/ekklesia are not the same “Israel of God/commonwealth of Israel/body of Messiah.” And I will say, all perambulations aside, it cannot be done in a manner that accurately accounts for the entire witness of Scripture.

    That, of course, is speaking, on the “macro” level or in the bigger picture. If one wants to begin detailing the differences between edah and qahal, or between edah and ekklesia, those differentiators are (or potentially are) valid, but they do not negate the truth that God set out to call a people to Himself, who would be saved and transformed by Him, give glory to Him, and witness to His character in the world. Whatever your favorite name for that single body of people who are “in Messiah” is, I’m fine with, but it needs to be acknowledged that while they are a commonwealth (a singly governed entity comprised of multiple ethnicities) they are tasked, ultimately, with a single, common task: to give witness to the nature and glory of God, and since God only has one nature, they must reflect that same nature, so of necessity they will have a common standard: the character of God.

    Once that indisputable fact has been acknowledged, then one can begin appropriately discussing the legitimate variations of place, time, ethnicity, situation that exist within any law code.

  18. The Bible defines Israel as a nation descended from Abraham, and from Isaac, and from Jacob, and from Jacob’s children who are also bound to God by covenant. I sure don’t see why that definition should be modified or eliminated by God’s plan to expand those people He calls to Himself from Israel to the whole world.

    I don’t see why “Israel of God” should necessarily be a euphemism for the multinational ekklesia and set apart from actual, national Israel. It’s like saying “real” Israel is the multinational ekklesia, and national Israel isn’t “real” Israel (which the Church in its various expressions has been doing for nearly twenty centuries).

    As I read Ephesians 2:12-13, we non-Jews are brought near to the commonwealth, not made an integrated part of said-commonwealth. As I recall, the major point of the Acts 15 legal judgment was to determine the legal status of non-Jews operating alongside Jews in Israelite national and worship space. I believe we were granted the status of (more or less) resident aliens within the commonwealth.

    I didn’t say that the ekklesia of Messiah didn’t exist, and I didn’t say it isn’t made up of Jews and non-Jews. I just said that even given an identity in Messiah and a mission to “spread the word,” so to speak, covenants and covenant relationships aren’t eliminated or re-defined based on the existence of the ekklesia. The ekklesia isn’t God’s “plan B.” It was His intent all along, so that “no one would perish.” God’s “plan A” was always designed to be expanded to allow the rest of the world to receive the “salvation from the Jews” (John 4:22).

    Oh, since we’re on the topic, can you clear up what I’m obviously missing about your definition of “law”? Thanks.

  19. It might be (unintentionally) disingenuous for NT translators to render the Greek word “ekklesia” [and I now emphasize my use of “might”]. Actually I think one would have to be not a very good translator per se or not quite so much a translator as a copier or follower to render “church” in the ways that have been done; in other words, disingenuous (as an actual translator so called) yes.Unintentional… no, I don’t think so. When the word as applied to a group of pagans in the original Greek is not translated in the same way, and when the words for synagogue and ekklesia are not consistently translated, but rendered with an intentional slanting of synagogue as negative…

    …of course these “translations”when originally done couldn’t have been unintentional at all. I agree with you, James, that “church” is (at best) anachronistic when referring to the first century specifically and the Bible more generally and the people of God therein.

  20. Also, at the “Part 1” article you both linked to:

    …upon reading Book V, Chapter 24 of Eusebeius’ Ecclesiastical History for the umpteenth time (3 years or so after the first time I read through that primary account of the Quartodeciman Controversy), I finally noticed a phrase that struck me for the first time. Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna had traveled to Italy to meet with Anicetus, the bishop of Rome…

    [I haven’t included the phrase he (Nate) then refers to.]

    One need be careful when reading the dishonest Eusebius.

    But I don’t find Nate to be aiming at anything but honesty. And
    I have no dispute with his characterization of Polycarp (further on
    I think, as beloved). And I don’t think you were wrong, James, to think
    Nate is capable of a conversation. Here are “Part 2” and something else:

    https://literaryjoe.com/2013/07/08/identification-with-messiah-part-2-sanctification-of-the-mundane/
    https://literaryjoe.com/2015/07/28/1048/

  21. EUSEBIUS’ ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

    The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus is the acknowledged history of the Church from the end of the Book of Acts to the Council of Nicea. “A unique work, it remains the most important single source for the history of the Church in those centuries.” 1 Unfortunately, it is a source that is recognized to contain some serious “untruths.”
    Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History was written during the reign of the Emperor Constantine. Constantine is known as the first Christian emperor. The Church had endured centuries of persecution. Constantine decreed an end to it, although it briefly reappeared later, and began to exalt the Church. It was he who convened the Council of Nicea.
    With this dramatic political shift came an equally dramatic theological shift. Eusebius himself played an important role in bringing about that theological shift. “Eusebius’ outlook was conditioned by the new political settlement between the Empire and the Church as well as by his theological upbringing and allegiance to certain views which he inherited from Origen. “In his political philosophy, clearly articulated in Vita Constantini [Life of Constantine] and in Oratio de Laudibus Constantini [Oration in Praise of Constantine], the Emperor was the image of God and the representative of the Almighty. The Emperor acted as the interpreter of the Logos. He imitated the philanthropy of the Son of God. In the gathering of all the bishops with the Emperor Constantine on the day of his tricennalia [30th anniversary of his reign], Eusebius saw the image of the Messianic banquet. “For Eusebius, there was no longer a precise and definite distinction between the Church and the Empire. They appeared to merge into each other. The structure of the Emperor’s earthly government, declares Eusebius, is according to the pattern of the divine original.” 2 What is the divine original that the Emperor and his empire were to reflect? The pivotal issue theologically was the nature of the fulfilled kingdom of God. If the kingdom was to be fulfilled through a personal earthly reign of Jesus the Messiah from Jerusalem, then the Jews were inescapably part of that kingdom, which would follow the repentance of Israel. In that case, God’s faithfulness to the Jews had not expired. The kingdom was still future.
    On the other hand, if Constantine, the emerging Holy Roman Empire, and the State-exalted Church were the kingdom, then there was no need for the Jews. The fulness of the kingdom was in the present. Moreover, if the Jews had no special significance for the fulfilled kingdom of God, then God had no need or plan for them. In that case, the rejection and replacement of the Jews was the means of fulfilling the kingdom. Instead of being natural citizens of the kingdom, whether loyal or disloyal, the Jews became the enemies of the kingdom. If that were the case, then the Church needed to recognize and proclaim it. Eusebius firmly believed, in the fourth century, that the Church was the “new Israel,” replacing the Jews. He firmly believed that there was no distinct future for the Jews in the plan of God. 3 Whenever he discusses the issue of a physical millennium, he treats it as an heretical view. (“Millennium” comes from the Latin mille annum, a thousand years.) Following Origen, Eusebius rejected the normal meaning of the Scriptures that promise restoration to the Jewish people. Or he ignored these Scriptures altogether. (We will examine this in greater detail later.)
    The belief in the restoration of the Jewish people and the establishment in Israel of a millennial kingdom was not an heretical view, as we shall see. It had been the prevailing view. In fact, it had been the established orthodoxy. In the first and second centuries, it was the view that Eusebius chose to champion that the early Church had considered to be heresy.
    In writing any book, an author chooses what to include and what to leave out. In writing history, a faithful historian will make those choices so as to present an accurate picture of the past. Eusebius was intentionally inaccurate. He had his own agenda. “No source might [be] used that contradicted or conflicted with the apostolic tradition as Eusebius conceived it.” 4 Eusebius ignored the sources that showed the apostolic tradition to be different from what he thought it should be. He was intent on creating an apostolic tradition that was different from what the apostles had actually believed and taught.
    “…Eusebius was the product of the Alexandrine school of theology [that of Origen]. To him orthodox tradition was primarily just the tradition preserved at Alexandria, in its entirety and without any contradictions.” 5 “The point of these examples, only two of many, is that they show Eusebius as advocate; it was not his intention, in writing about Constantine or about the Church in general, to provide an impartial account.” 6 “As scholarship became more critical, however, historians began to look at the VC [De Vita Constantini, Eusebius’ Life of Constantine] more and more warily, until ultimately the great nineteenth-century rationalist Jakob Burckhardt angrily dismissed its author as ‘the first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity,’ ‘the most disgusting of all eulogists.’ ” 7
    But Eusebius had a reason for what he did. The image that Eusebius wanted to present, the Church that he wanted to help create, was more important to him than the historical reality. Before he wrote his Ecclesiastical History, he had already completed a six volume defense of Origen. He wanted to convince the Church that Origen was correct. Eusebius maintained that purpose in his Ecclesiastical History.

    FOOTNOTES
    1. H.A. Drake, In Praise of Constantine, A Historical Study and New
    Translation of Eusebius’ Tricennial Orations, Univ. of California Press,
    Berkeley, 1976, P.7
    2. V. Kesich, “Empire-Church Relations and the Third Temptation,” Studia
    Patristica, Vol. IV, Berlin, 1961, Pp.468-469
    3. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, translated by Christian
    Frederick Cruse, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1989, E.g. Bk. of
    Martyrs, Ch.11, P.369
    4. B. Gustafson, “Eusebius’ Principles in handling his Sources, as found in
    his Church History, Books I-VII,” Studia Patristica, op.cit., P.437
    5. ibid., P.441
    6. H.A. Drake, In Praise of Constantine, A Historical Study and New Translation of Eusebius’ Tricennial Orations, op. cit., P.10
    7. ibid., P.8

    The above is by Daniel Gruber.

  22. So is this.

    PAPIAS

    Eusebius happens to reveal, albeit quite reluctantly, that the “new Israel” view which he embraced was not held by the apostles or by those who were instructed by them. One such student of the apostles was Papias who was taught by the Apostle John, by Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8), and by others. He was an associate of Polycarp. In one section, Eusebius says, “At this time, also, Papias was well known as bishop of the church at Hierapolis, a man well killed in all manner of learning, and well acquainted with the Scriptures.” 1

    Throughout the Ecclesiastical History, with one exception, and in the writings of all others who spoke of him, Papias is characterized as a very godly man of exceptional learning, faithful to the teachings of the apostles. The one exception occurs when Eusebius mentions that “he [Papias] says there would be a certain millennium after the resurrection, and that there would be a corporeal reign of Christ on this very earth; which things he appears to have imagined, as if they were authorized by the apostolic narrations, not understanding correctly those matters which they propounded mystically in their representations. For he was very limited in his comprehension, as is evident from his discourses; yet he was the cause why most of the ecclesiastical writers, urging the antiquity of the man, were carried away by a similar opinion; as, for instance, Irenaeus, or any other that adopted such sentiments.” 2

    Several things should be noted about Eusebius’ comments. First, Papias presented the teaching of “a certain millennium after the resurrection, and that there would be a corporeal reign of Christ on this very earth…as if they were authorized by the apostolic narrations…” That is to say that Papias affirmed that the apostles taught that this was so. Papias spent many years learning from John and others of the earliest leaders of the Church. Eusebius gives no support for his assertion that Papias, who was universally acknowledged and praised as faithful to the apostolic teaching, “imagined” such substantial departures from the teaching of the apostles.

    Second, although Eusebius elsewhere praises Papias for his virtue and learning, here he demeans him as deceived and dull. The only “evidence” that Eusebius has for this derogatory characterization is that Papias believed in a millennial reign of Messiah on the earth. In contradiction to his praises elsewhere, Eusebius demeans Papias here because he wants to undermine such belief.

    There is ample evidence in support of the great spiritual understanding of Papias. Among other faithful endeavors which he performed, Papias is credited with having written the Gospel of John at the dictation of the Apostle. The Gospel of John is certainly not an un-spiritual document.

    Third, Eusebius admits that “most of the ecclesiastical writers, urging the antiquity of the man, were carried away by a similar opinion.” Therefore, according to Eusebius, most of the ecclesiastical writers believed “that there would be a corporeal reign of Christ on this very earth.” Eusebius asserts, without any supporting evidence, that the only reason they believed it was “the antiquity” of Papias. During the time of Papias, and before, there were some who held to a variety of different doctrinal errors. “Most of the ecclesiastical writers” were not lead astray by the “antiquity” of these false teachers. Nor were they lead astray by the antiquity of Papias. It was not in Papias’ antiquity alone that these believers trusted. Papias lived a consistent life of proven service to the Lord, His apostles, and His Church. That is why most of the ecclesiastical writers trusted his transmission of the apostolic teaching. Eusebius did also, except in this one instance.

    1. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, translated by Christian

    Frederick Cruse, op. cit., Bk.3, Ch.36, P.120

    2. ibid., Bk.3, Ch.39, P.126

  23. I know this is very long, but I’m including it because Nate said he was reading about Quartodecimans:

    THE PASSOVER CONTROVERSY

    One issue that stands out in the reversal of the teaching of the apostolos/ambassadors whom Yeshua appointed is the Passover controversy. It was settled at the Council of Nicea. To this day, almost all the Church follows the clearly erroneous decree which came forth from that council.

    There were two main issues for the Council of Nicea. The first concerned the heretical writings of Arius and his followers. “But there was another subject which occasioned considerable uneasiness in the Church, viz. the difference which arose among the orientals [those of the East, i.e. those who were not part of the western Roman Empire] with respect to the proper day of keeping Easter, some celebrating that festival in the manner of the Jews, and others following the custom of Christians throughout the rest of the world… The emperor, therefore, finding that the quiet of the Church was not a little disturbed by these two evils [the Passover controversy and the Arian heresy], assembled (by the advice of some of the prelates, according to Rufinus,) a general council, inviting, by letter, all the bishops to meet at Nice, in Bithynia, and furnishing them with a means of conveyance. In consequence, a great number of them, not less than three hundred and eighteen, arrived from various cities and territories, attended by a vast concourse of the inferior clergy. Daily and ample provision was made by Constantine for the support and accommodation of this numerous body.” 1
    When they assembled, Constantine greeted them with an admonition against
    disunity: “It was, my dear friends, my most cherished wish, that I might one
    day enjoy the sight of this convention. Having been indulged in this desire,
    I return thanks to God, the ruler of all, who, in addition to innumerable
    other favors, has granted me this greatest of all blessings, to see you
    assembled together, and united in your minds. May no malignant foe disturb
    in future our public happiness. After the complete subversion, by the help
    of God our preserver, of the tyranny of those, who warred against the Most
    High, let no malevolent demon again expose the divine law, in any other
    manner, to slander and detraction. An internal sedition in the Church is, in
    my apprehension, more dangerous and formidable than any war, in which I can
    be engaged; nor do foreign concerns, however unfortunate, affect my mind with
    so sensible a grief as this unhappy affair…and hoping that by my
    interference, a remedy might be applied to the evil, I sent for you all,
    without delay.” 2
    Constantine had united the Empire. Now he intended to deliver “the Church” as
    well from “internal sedition.” Unity was the order of the day.
    How did the Passover controversy arise? Yeshua had observed Passover on the
    fourteenth of Nisan because that is its Biblical date. He observed all the
    Levitical holy days on the days when God had decreed and designed them to be
    observed. The ambassadors of the Lord and his first-century followers did much the same.
    “At first the Christian Passover was celebrated at the same time as the
    Jewish, this simultaneous observance was preserving the Jewish ritual in the
    Christian festival, and strengthening the bonds between Christianity and
    Judaism. The date must be changed. In some quarters the Church attempted to
    restrict the celebration to a single day, 14 Nisan; elsewhere – and this
    became the prevailing custom – she made Holy Week the week in which fell 14
    Nisan (the day when the Jewish feast began), and removed the festival, which
    had already changed its character, to the Sunday following Holy Week. In all
    these cases there was dependance on the Jewish calendar, a ‘humiliating
    subjection’ to the Synagogue which irked the Church.
    “Besides changing their dates, the Church also gave to the Jewish festivals,
    which she adopted, a purpose different from that which they had for the Jews.
    [Thus] Sunday commemorates the resurrection of the Lord, the victory over
    the Jews.” 3
    Sometime in the second century, some of the churches in the west, among the
    Gentiles, began to celebrate Passover/Easter so that their commemoration of
    the Lord’s resurrection would always take place on a Sunday regardless of the
    Biblical calendar. Towards the end of the second century, these western
    churches, led by the bishops of Rome, Caesarea, and Jerusalem (where there
    were no longer Jewish “bishops),” began to agitate for all the churches to keep
    the Passover on their fixed Sunday, rather than on the fourteenth of Nisan.
    They also were accustomed to using the Roman calendar, rather than the
    Biblical calendar.
    Eusebius says, “There was a considerable discussion raised about this time,
    in consequence of a difference of opinion respecting the observance of the
    paschal season. The churches of all Asia, guided by a remoter tradition,
    supposed that they ought to keep the fourteenth day of the moon for the
    festival of the Savior’s passover, in which day the Jews were commanded to
    kill the paschal lamb… But as it was not the custom to celebrate it in this
    manner in the churches throughout the rest of the world… there were synods
    and convocations of the bishops on this question… There is an epistle extant
    even now, of those who were assembled at the time; among whom presided
    Theophilus, bishop of the church in Cesarea, and Narcissus, bishop of
    Jerusalem. There is another epistle extant on the same question, bearing the
    name of Victor [the bishop of Rome]…” 4
    “The bishops, however, of Asia, persevering in observing the custom handed
    down to them from their fathers, were headed by Polycrates. He, indeed, had
    also set forth the tradition handed down to them, in a letter which he
    addressed to Victor and the church of Rome.
    ” ‘We,’ said he, ‘therefore, observe the genuine day; neither adding thereto
    nor taking therefrom. For in Asia great lights have fallen asleep, which
    shall rise again in the day of the Lord’s appearing, in which he will come
    with glory from heaven, and will raise up all the saints; Philip, one of the
    twelve apostles, who sleeps in Hierapolis, and his two aged virgin daughters.
    His other daughter, also, who having lived under the influence of the Holy
    Ghost, now likewise rests in Ephesus. Moreover, John, who rested upon the
    bosom of our Lord; who also was a priest, and bore the sacerdotal plate, both
    a martyr and teacher. He is buried in Ephesus; also Polycarp of Smyrna, both
    bishop and martyr. Thraseas, also, bishop and martyr of Eumenia, who is
    buried at Smyrna. Why should I mention…
    ” ‘All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the
    gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. Moreover,
    I, Polycrates, who am the least of all of you, according to the tradition of
    my relatives, some of whom I have followed. For there were seven, my
    relatives bishops, and I am the eighth; and my relatives always observed the
    day when the people (i.e. the Jews) threw away the leaven. I, therefore,
    brethren, am now sixty-five years in the Lord, who having conferred with the
    brethren throughout the world, and having studied the whole of the sacred
    Scriptures, am not at all alarmed at those things with which I am threatened,
    to intimidate me. For they who are greater than I, have said, “We ought to
    obey God rather than men.”‘
    “…Upon this, Victor, the bishop of the church of Rome, forthwith
    endeavoured to cut off the churches of all Asia, together with the
    neighboring churches, as heterodox, from the common unity. And he publishes
    abroad by letters, and proclaims, that all the brethren there are wholly
    excommunicated.”5
    There were others, like Irenaeus, who “with much severity” exhorted Victor to
    withdraw his decree. About 180 C. E., Irenaeus wrote a book “Against Heresies,“ to safeguard the faith delivered by the ambassadors. It became a standard for judging different teachings.

    Irenaeus reminded Victor of what had happened about
    fifty years earlier. Anicetus, the bishop of Rome at that time, had tried to
    persuade Polycarp. “For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to
    observe it, because he had always observed it with John the disciple of our
    Lord, and the rest of the apostles, with whom he associated…”6 In another
    section, Eusebius says this about Polycarp: “He always taught what he had
    learned from the apostles, what the church had handed down, and what is the
    only true doctrine.” 7
    Apparently Victor withdrew his decree, but the controversy was not resolved.
    It was merely muted for a time. The church at Rome continued to press for
    its own supremacy. Jerusalem had already been physically destroyed, but it
    still had to be destroyed as a spiritual competitor.
    The issue, in a
    slightly altered form, was finally settled by the Council of Nicea in 325
    C.E..
    There it was decided that all the “churches” should celebrate the Passover, or
    actually Easter, on the ecclesiastically chosen Sunday rather than the
    Biblical date. All the “churches” were thus informed. The Emperor Constantine
    sent his personal exhortation to all the “churches” concerning the decision of
    the Council.
    What the Emperor said had great weight. After all, Constantine was the one
    who had ended the persecution of the churches. He was the founder of the
    holy Roman Empire. He openly, personally professed the “Christian” faith. He
    had convened the council. The “churches,” therefore, were more than willing to
    hear whatever he had to say to them.
    What he had to say to them is a clear presentation of the sentiment and
    theology that ruled in the Council of Nicea. It expresses what then became
    the nearly universal sentiment and theology of the Church. So, though the
    letter is long, it is quite worthwhile to look at the complete text of the
    Emperor’s personal exhortation to all the “churches”. It was a major force in
    changing the nature of the Church and of subsequent Western and world
    history. There are some very significant elements in it.
    “Constantine, august, to the Churches.
    “Having experienced, in the flourishing state of public affairs, the
    greatness of the divine goodness I thought it especially incumbent on me to
    endeavor that the happy multitudes of the Catholic [i.e. universal] Church
    should preserve one faith, be united in unfeigned love, and harmoniously join
    in their devotions to Almighty God. But this could not otherwise be effected
    in a firm and solid manner, than by an examination, for this purpose, of
    whatever pertains to our most holy religion, by all the bishops, or the
    greater part of them at least, assembled together. Having therefore convened
    as many as possible, I myself being present, and, as it were, one of you,
    (nor do I deny that I exceedingly rejoice in being your fellow-servant,)
    every thing was examined, until a unanimous sentiment, pleasing to God, who
    sees all things, was brought to light; so that no pretence was left for
    dissension or controversy respecting the faith.
    “When the question arose concerning the most holy day of Easter, it was
    decreed by common consent to be expedient, that this festival should be
    celebrated on the same day by all, in every place. For what can be more
    beautiful, what more venerable and becoming, than that this festival, from
    which we receive the hope of immortality, should be suitably observed by all
    in one and the same order, and by a certain rule. And truly, in the first
    place, it seemed to every one a most unworthy thing that we should follow the
    custom of the Jews in the celebration of this most holy solemnity, who,
    polluted wretches! having stained their hands with a nefarious crime, are
    justly blinded in their minds.
    “It is fit, therefore, that, rejecting the practice of this people, we should
    perpetuate to all future ages the celebration of this rite, in a more
    legitimate order, which we have kept from the first day of our Lord’s passion
    even to the present times. Let us then have nothing in common with the most
    hostile rabble of the Jews. We have received another method from the
    Saviour. A more lawful and proper course is open to our most holy religion.
    In pursuing this course with a unanimous consent, let us withdraw ourselves,
    my much honored brethren, from that most odious fellowship.
    “It is indeed in the highest degree preposterous, that they should
    superciliously vaunt themselves, that truly without their instruction, we
    cannot properly observe this rite. For what can they rightly understand,
    who, after the tragical death of our Lord, being deluded and darkened in
    their minds, are carried away by an unrestrained impulse wherever their
    inborn madness may impel them. Hence therefore it is, that, even in this
    particular, they do not perceive the truth, so that continually wandering in
    the grossest error, instead of duly reforming their calculation, they
    commemorate the passover twice in the same [Roman] year. Why then should we
    follow those who are acknowledged to labor under a grievous error? for we
    will never tolerate the keeping of a double passover in one year.
    “But if what I have said should not be thought sufficient, it belongs to your
    ready discernment, both by diligence and prayer, to use every means, that the
    purity of your minds may not be affected by a conformity in any thing with
    the customs of the vilest of mankind. Besides, it should be considered that
    any dissension in a business of such importance, and in a religious
    institution of so great solemnity, would be highly criminal. For the Saviour
    has bequeathed us one festal day of our liberation, that is, the day of his
    most holy passion; and it was his pleasure that his Church should be one; the
    members of which, although dispersed in many and various places, are yet
    nourished by the same spirit, that is by the will of God.
    “Let the sagacity of your holiness only consider, how painful and indecorous
    it must be, for some to be experiencing the rigors of abstinence, and others
    to be unbending their minds in convivial enjoyment on the same day; and after
    Easter, for some to be indulging in feasting and relaxation, while others are
    occupied in the observance of the prescribed fasts. Wherefore, that a
    suitable reformation should take place in this respect, and that one rule
    should be followed, is the will of divine providence, as all, I think, must
    perceive.
    “As it is necessary that this fault should be so amended that we may have
    nothing in common with the usage of these parricides and murderers of our
    Lord; and as that order is most convenient which is observed by all the
    churches of the West, as well as those of the southern and northern parts of
    the world, and also by some in the East, it was judged therefore to be most
    equitable and proper, and I pledged myself that this arrangement should meet
    your approbation, viz. that the custom which prevails with one consent in the
    city of Rome, and throughout all Italy, Africa and Egypt, in Spain, Gaul,
    Britain, Lybia, the whole of Greece, the diocese of Asia, Pontus and Cilicia,
    would be gladly embraced by your prudence, considering that not only the
    greatest number of churches exist in the places which have been already
    mentioned, but also that it is most religious and equitable that all should
    wish what the strictest reason seems to require, and to have no fellowship
    with the perjury of the Jews.
    “And, to sum up the whole in a few words, it was agreeable to the common
    judgment of all, that the most holy feast of Easter should be celebrated on
    one and the same day. Nor is it becoming, that in so sacred an observance
    there should be any diversity; and it is better to follow that decision, in
    which all participation in the sin and error of others is avoided.
    “This being the case, receive with cheerfulness the heavenly and truly divine
    command. For whatever is transacted in the holy councils of the bishops, is
    to be referred to the divine will. Wherefore, having announced to our
    beloved brethren what has been already written, it is your duty to receive
    and establish the arguments already stated, and the observance of the most
    holy day; that when I shall come into your beloved presence, so long desired
    by me, I may be able to celebrate, with you, on one and the same day, the
    holy festival, and that in all things I may rejoice with you; seeing that the
    cruelty of the devil is taken away by divine power, through my
    instrumentality, and that your faith, your peace and concord is everywhere
    flourishing.
    “May God preserve you, my beloved brethren.” 8

    In this letter, Constantine officially established an anti-Judaic foundation
    for the doctrine and practice of the Church, and declared that contempt for
    the Jews, and separation from them, is the only proper Christian attitude.
    “…it seemed to every one a most unworthy thing that we should follow the
    custom of the Jews in the celebration of this most holy solemnity, who,
    polluted wretches! having stained their hands with a nefarious crime, are
    justly blinded in their minds. It is fit, therefore, that, rejecting the
    practice of this people, we should perpetuate to all future ages the
    celebration of this rite, in a more legitimate order…. Let us then have
    nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews…
    “In pursuing this course with a unanimous consent, let us withdraw
    ourselves…from that most odious fellowship.
    “Why then should we follow those who are acknowledged to labor under a
    grievous error? …But if what I have said should not be thought sufficient,
    it belongs to your ready discernment, both by diligence and prayer, that the
    purity of your minds may not be affected by a conformity in any thing with
    the customs of the vilest of mankind…
    “As it is necessary that this fault should be so amended that we may have
    nothing in common with the usage of these parricides and murderers of our
    Lord…
    “it is most religious and equitable that all should wish what the strictest
    reason seems to require, and to have no fellowship with the perjury of the
    Jews…”
    Constantine attributed this anti-Judaic foundation to Jesus — “We have received
    another method from the Saviour. A more lawful and proper course is open to
    our most holy religion.” — and commands, with all the authority of the
    Emperor, that the entire Church accept and promote such attitudes, doctrine,
    and practice, since whatever the bishops decide in council is the will of
    God. He threatens that any dissent from these views must be considered
    highly criminal.
    “…every thing was examined, until a unanimous sentiment, pleasing to God,
    who sees all things, was brought to light; so that no pretence was left for
    dissension or controversy respecting the faith…
    “…Besides, it should be considered that any dissension in a business of
    such importance, and in a religious institution of so great solemnity, would
    be highly criminal.
    “…and as that order is most convenient which is observed by all the
    churches of the West…receive with cheerfulness the heavenly and truly
    divine command. For whatever is transacted in the holy councils of the
    bishops, is to be referred to the divine will.
    “Wherefore, having announced to our beloved brethren what has been already
    written, it is your duty to receive and establish the arguments already
    stated, and the observance of the most holy day; that when I shall come into
    your beloved presence, so long desired by me, I may be able to celebrate,
    with you, on one and the same day, the holy festival, and that in all things
    I may rejoice with you; seeing that the cruelty of the devil is taken away by
    divine power, through my instrumentality…”
    All of this was written so that no “Christian” would celebrate Passover on the
    Biblically ordained day of the 14th of Nisan. (Eusebius apparently provided
    the new calendar for determining the day to be celebrated.) This is not an
    insignificant letter.
    The most revealing question to ask is, “When did God give such authority over
    the Church to Constantine?” It is a question that was not really articulated
    at that time nor in most of the sixteen and a half centuries since.
    The relationship between the Church and the State which began under Constantine was seen
    as the greatest blessing of God. There was an end to what had seemed like
    endless persecution. But with that end of persecution and the beginning of a
    new alliance came great compromises which removed “the Church” from its foundation and have distorted its nature to this day.
    At the conclusion of the Council of Nicea, Constantine held a banquet which
    vividly demonstrated what had happened to the Church of the One despised and
    rejected of men. At the banquet, Eusebius greatly praised the Emperor before
    the assembled leaders of the Church.
    Eusebius himself describes the proceedings: “…No one of the bishops was
    absent from the imperial banquet, which was more admirably conducted than can
    possibly be described. The guards and soldiers, disposed in a circle, were
    stationed at the entrance of the palace with drawn swords. The men of God
    passed through the midst of them without fear, and went into the most private
    apartments of the royal edifice. Some of them were then admitted to the
    table of the emperor, and others took the places assigned to them on either
    side. It was a lively image of the kingdom of Christ, and appeared more like
    a dream than a reality.” 9
    Eusebius is somewhat misleading. It is true that some of the Church leaders
    were brought into close relationship to the emperor, his private apartments,
    and his table — in time, such privileges became a measure of religious
    success — but it is highly doubtful that all the men of God walked through
    the circle of guards and soldiers without fear. The emperor intended the
    drawn swords to teach a lesson.
    In fact, Eusebius was more than misleading on issues related to the emperor or to the Jews. “As scholarship became more critical, however, historians began to look at the VC [De Vita Constantini, Eusebius’ Life of Constantine] more and more warily, until ultimately the great nineteenth- century rationalist Jakob Burckhardt angrily dismissed its author as ‘the first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity,’ ‘the most disgusting of all eulogists.’” 10

    On the Passover controversy, the Council of Nicea had chosen an anti-Biblical
    course and demanded conformity to it. The swords were a way of indicating
    the necessity of conforming to the official decree.
    “St. Athanasius remarks a difference of language, in pronouncing on this
    subject [the Passover], from that which was used in reference to the faith
    [the Arian controversy]. With respect to the latter it is said, ‘this is the
    catholic faith, we believe,’ &c., in order to show that it was no new
    determination, but an apostolic tradition. Accordingly, no date is given to
    this decision, neither the day nor the year being mentioned. But with regard
    to Easter, it is said, ‘we have resolved as follows,’ in order to show that
    all were expected to obey….But not withstanding the decision of the council
    there were some quartodecimans [from the Latin for 14th], as they were
    termed, who remained pertinaciously attached to the celebration of Easter on
    the fourteenth of the moon, and among others the Audeans, schismatics of
    Mesopotamia. They found fault with the council, reproachfully remarking,
    that this was the first time that the ancient tradition, through complaisance
    for Constantine, had been departed from.” 11
    In convening the council, Constantine had already declared that whoever would
    disturb the unity of the Church was a “malignant foe” motivated by a
    “malevolent demon,” exposing God’s law to “slander and detraction.” He had
    already declared that, “an internal sedition in the Church is, in my
    apprehension, more dangerous and formidable than any war, in which I can be
    engaged…and hoping that by my interference, a remedy might be applied to
    the evil, I sent for you all, without delay.”
    Constantine had achieved political victory by the
    sword, professing it to be in the name of the Lord. He was not about to trade in his weapons. He intended to use what
    had brought him victory in the Empire to achieve victory in the Church.
    “He [Constantine] published also another letter, or more properly an edict,
    directed to the bishops and people, condemning Arius and his writings…that
    if any book written by Arius shall be found, it shall be committed to the
    flames, that no monument of his corrupt doctrine may descend to future ages.
    He declares that whoever shall be convicted of having concealed any book
    composed by Arius, instead of burning it, shall suffer death immediately
    after his apprehension…At the same time, Arius and the two prelates who
    adhered the most obstinately to his party, Secundus and Theonas, were
    banished by the emperor.” 12
    From that point on, Church doctrine was to be enforced by the sword of the
    State. Those who would not conform were to be exiled or put to death. The
    books of heretics — those who taught what was contrary to the accepted
    teaching — were to be burned and exterminated from the earth. After all, as
    Constantine had written, “no pretence was left for dissension or controversy
    respecting the faith.”
    This “Church” was not the community of Yeshua, but rather the consort of
    Constantine. It was not the bride of Messiah, but something
    wedded to Caesar.
    The light within turned to darkness. Instead of being a means of salvation, “the Church”
    became a means of destruction. It poisoned the waters of eternal
    life, turning them into an everflowing fountain of death. Through the
    centuries, the Constantinian Church has sought and brought the death of
    millions and millions of people throughout the world. Many of them have been
    Jewish.
    Yeshua had warned His followers, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them;
    and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But not so
    with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest,
    and the leader as the servant.” (Lk.22:25-26) Constantine presented himself
    as the Benefactor of the Church, having ended the persecution, and he therefore
    expected the Church to conform to his will. The prophetic voice of the
    Lord vis a vis the State was silenced, and, instead, a hierarchical structure was
    imposed upon the Church.
    That Constantine should reign over the earth for God was seen as a high
    spiritual truth. That Yeshua, the King of kings, should reign over all the
    earth from Jerusalem was derided as carnal and unspiritual.
    Under Constantine, Eusebius wrote a history of “the Church” that pointedly
    eliminated any positive reference to the restoration of Israel and the
    earthly reign of Jesus. The only place that remained for the Jews in the
    plan and purpose of God was to serve as the earthly, temporal representation
    of the eternal misery and condemnation that awaited all who were outside the
    Church.
    The Church was now officially Contra Judaeos and Adversus Judaeos — set
    against and in opposition to the Jews. Thus was established the
    anti-Judaic foundation on which both doctrine and practice were then built.
    The historical and theological eradication of the Jews prepared the way for
    the “lawful” attempts to physically eradicate them.
    The “holy councils” to which Constantine referred produced a new “divine
    will.” The Church itself replaced the power of God with the might of the
    Roman Empire. The Church became its own kingdom. That which had been
    persecuted for so long by “the cruelty of the devil,” was soon to become the
    persecutor.
    At that time, it seems that there was no one to contest such a decision in
    the Holy Roman Empire. Gone were the days of the prophets and apostles/ambassadors of the Lord.
    Gone were men like Polycarp and Polycrates, who were willing to tell the
    religious authorities in the Church, as Peter and John had told the religious
    authorities in the Sanhedrin, “We must obey God, rather than men.”
    The Church was then officially built upon a different foundation, with a significantly different doctrine and
    way of establishing doctrine. As Constantine wrote “to the Catholic
    Church of Alexandria,” “For what was approved by 300 bishops can only be
    considered as the pleasure of God, especially as the Holy Spirit, dwelling in
    the minds of so many and such worthy men, has clearly shown the divine will.” 13
    God’s Truth was to be determined by Church councils, and not by the Word
    of God. Consequently, the teaching which was a blasphemous heresy to Justin
    Martyr became the new, unchallengeable orthodoxy. 14
    It is remarkable that this change was made over such a clear, but seemingly
    insignificant issue as when Passover should be observed. The
    Bible sets the date for Passover as the fourteenth of Nisan. That is when
    Yeshua celebrated the Passover. His ambassadors and followers did the same.
    Paul, who was Yeshua’s ambassador to the Gentiles, observed the Biblical
    dates. The book of Acts records, simply in passing, that Passover (Acts
    20:7), Shavuos/Pentecost (Acts 20:16), and Yom Kippur/the Day of Atonement
    (Acts 27:9) were fixed, significant dates for Paul. The community built by the
    ambassadors knew when Passover was. From the Council of Nicea on, the Church
    over which Constantine presided would no longer observe the Biblical date,
    because it was too Jewish.
    The Bible itself was too Jewish. The doctrines of men, on the other hand,
    could be whatever men wanted them to be.
    As a final note on the Council of Nicea, Canon VII speaks of the Bishop of
    Aelia. “Aelia” is the name that the Roman Emperor Hadrian had given to
    Jerusalem after the end of the Bar Kokhba rebellion.
    “Canon VII: Since custom and ancient tradition require that the bishop of
    Aelia be held in veneration, let him have the next degree of honor to the
    metropolitan [the bishop of Caesarea], without prejudice to the appropriate
    authority of the latter.” 15 Jerusalem had her name taken away, and she was
    placed in subjection to the church that had embraced Origen.
    Constantine and Eusebius institutionalized many serious errors. They made
    changes that were to plunge the Church and the world into a literal thousand
    years of darkness. They laid a different foundation than Yeshua and his
    ambassadors had laid. A new era in the history of those who claimed to be his followers had begun.
    “Eusebius tells the story in The Last Days of Constantine. ‘All these
    edifices the emperor consecrated with the desire of perpetuating the memory
    of the Apostles of our Saviour before all men. He had, however, another
    object in erecting this building (i.e., the Church of the Apostles at
    Constantinople): an object at first unknown, but which afterwards became
    evident to all. He had, in fact, made a choice of this spot in the prospect
    of his own death, anticipating with extraordinary fervour of faith that his
    body would share their title with the Apostles themselves, and that he should
    thus even after death become the subject, with them, of the devotions which
    should be performed to their honour in this place, and for this reason he
    bade men assemble for worship there at the altar which he placed in the
    midst. He accordingly caused twelve coffins to be set up in this church,
    like sacred pillars in honour and memory of the apostolic band, in the centre
    of which his own was placed, having six of theirs on either side of it.
    Thus, as I said, he had provided with prudent foresight an honourable
    resting-place for his body after death, and, having long before secretly
    formed this resolution, he now consecrated this church to the Apostles,
    believing that this tribute to their memory would be of no small advantage to
    his own soul. Nor did God disappoint him of that which he so ardently
    expected and desired.'” 16
    “Planning the Church of the Apostles, Constantine had dreamed of resting
    there forever in the midst of the Twelve, not merely one of them, but a
    symbol of, if not a substitute for, their Leader. During the months of the
    church’s construction, his agents had been busy in Palestine collecting
    alleged relics [i.e. bones] of the apostles and their companions, to be laid
    up in the church with his body, awaiting the general resurrection.”17
    “The project was started but not completed. However, an official search was
    made for the locations of the bodies of the Apostles, and this official
    search was possibly the precipitating cause for the inventory which was made
    for the Apostolic remains or relics. After this time there arose the
    practice of the veneration of relics.” 18
    Constantine sought bones and buildings as the focus of worship. Worship that
    focused on a building naturally “neglected the weightier provisions of the
    law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.” Those are indispensable parts of
    the worship that God seeks. In the new order, worship gained a form, an
    appearance, without life, light, or service.
    Yeshua had said, “those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth.” It
    was not the building, but the people. It was not the city, but the Spirit.
    Constantine built buildings which were called churches, and people who did
    not know the Lord began to fill them. They “went to church,” but they did not
    seek to “be disciples of the King of the Jews.”
    Rome was to become the new “holy city,” geographically defining and
    confining worship. In many ways, Constantine laid the foundation for what became known as “the
    Church”. To this day, the Church bears his image. That is what he
    intended.
    Paul had warned the Gentile believers in Rome, “Don’t be arrogant towards the
    natural branches. Don’t be ignorant of God’s faithfulness to the Jewish
    people.” There were three things that especially characterize the theology
    and practice of the Constantinian church, the church built on an anti-Judaic
    foundation: 1. Arrogance towards the Jews; 2. Ignorance of God’s plan for
    Israel and the transformation of the world; and 3. A leadership that has
    acted as lord and not as servant.

    FOOTNOTES
    1. “A Historical View of the Council of Nicea,” Isaac Boyle, The
    Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, translated by Christian
    Frederick Cruse, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1989, Pp.9-10 of section
    following the ecclesiastical history
    2. ibid., P.16, quoting Theodoret, I.7
    3. Les Juifs dan l’empire romain I, Paris 1914, P.308ff, quoted in “A Note on
    the Quartodecimans,” C.W. Dugmore, Studia Patristica, Vol.IV, Berlin, 1961,
    P.412
    4. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, op. cit., Bk. 5, Ch. 23,
    P.207
    5. ibid., Bk.5, Ch.24, Pp.208-209
    6. ibid., Bk. 5, Ch. 24, Pp.210-211
    7. ibid., Bk.4 , Ch.14, P.141
    8. ibid., Pp.51-54, following the ecclesiastical history.
    9. ibid., “A Historical View of the Council of Nicea,” Isaac Boyle, P.27
    10. H.A. Drake, In Praise of Constantine, A Historical Study and New Translation of Eusebius’ Tricennial Orations, op. cit., P. 8
    11. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, op. cit., “A Historical View of the Council of Nicea,” Isaac Boyle, Pp. 22-23
    12. ibid., P.26
    13. ibid., P.51, following the ecclesiastical history.
    14. “For even if you yourselves have ever met with some so-called Christians, who yet do not acknowledge this, but even dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob… But I, and all other entirely orthodox Christians, know that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, and also a thousand years in a Jerusalem built up and adorned and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah, and all the rest, acknowledge.” Justin Martyr, The Dialogue with Trypho, translated by A. Lukyn Williams, S.P.C.K., London, 1930, P.169, Sec. 80.1-5
    15. ibid., P. 56, following the ecclesiastical history.
    16. J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius, P. 395, quoted in The Search for the Twelve
    Apostles, William Steuart McBirnie, Tyndale House, Wheaton, IL., 1977, P. 19
    17. John Holland Smith, Constantine the Great, Pp. 301-302, quoted in The
    Search for the Twelve Apostles, William Steuart McBirnie, Pp. 19-20
    18. The Search for the Twelve Apostles, P. 20

    [I added the boldface.]

  24. I’d like to return to the three terms that Nate cited, which were: edah, qahal, and ekklesia. The first two are Hebrew, and the third is Greek, and I’d like to clarify their actual meanings as distinct from Nate’s suggested interpretations.

    Let me begin with the Greek term “ekklesia”, which means “called out”, and refers to those who have been summoned or selected. It has resonances with the notion of chosen-ness, but then it begs the question of what purpose are they chosen to fulfill or for what have they been summoned. It had uses in Greek society to refer to groups of public officials, as well as other cases to the general populace summoned to a public gathering — thus its meaning was a reference to all those called away from other activities for the purpose of hearing a public announcement or for some other public function.

    Now, in Hebrew, the “qahal” is a congregation, a group that is gathered together. Specifically it is used to refer to the body of the people of Israel, particularly when gathered together for some purpose, but sometimes in a more general fashion. It differs from the Greek notion above by not including any specific sense of purpose for being gathered.

    The Hebrew term “edah”, on the other hand, does contain an implicit suggestion of purpose, in its root “ed” which means witness, testimony, or attestation. Colloquially, it refers to a “community”, but usually one that has some identifying characteristics. In the case of Israel, it refers to the community that attests to its allegiance to the Torah covenant.

    Given these different meanings and linguistic purposes, I would challenge any facile attempt to use them as equivalents, and certainly the Hebrew terms have no direct relation to the apostolic usage of the Greek “ekklesia”. One *might* find in the Septuagint translation some correlation in specific cases, but I have not tried to find them as yet. Nor do I recall any passage where gentiles are part of the same “edah” as Jews. I can, perhaps, think of a passage that may use “edah” to refer to a particular army or band of gentiles that had devised evil intentions against Israel. If needed, I could look these up; but I think that my point can be demonstrated without specific proof-texts. There is nothing about the nature of “ekklesia” that implies the purpose of attestation that is implicit in the Hebrew “edah”; and the members of an ekklesia are not required to be uniform. In fact, the apostolic ekklesia consists of two sub-groups consisting of Jews and of non-Jews, each of which has differing responsibilities vis-à-vis the Torah per the Acts 15 deliberations. There continues to exist a distinction between the responsibilities of these two segments of the apostolic ekklesia, hence a difference in their “witness”. Those of the nations who are called to pursue the purposes of HaShem (i.e., those “called by His Name”) remain members of the nations (i.e., gentiles); they do not become part of the “Israel of God” (meaning godly Israel). They remain wild branches grafted onto the cultivated tree of faith, absorbing nourishment alongside the naturally-faithful native branches. Both wild and native branches may share a common task of glorifying the gardener HaShem by means of their fruit, but that does not mean that they share all tasks in common, or that they pursue even common ones by the same means or methods.

  25. Thanks. I could tell by Nate’s usage that the words weren’t meant to be equivalent in meaning, but I’ve been talking about specific populations. The ekklesia, which is the body of called out ones by Messiah, and it’s component populations, the Gentiles of the nations called by His Name, and the Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua.

  26. Proclaim Liberty, check out Ex 12:6, Ex 35:1, Deut 9:10, Num 20:8, & Prov 5:14, then compare to the LXX. While there are 200+ instances we might use to the same purpose, just these 5 will suffice to confirm the accuracy of my utilization as being consistent with that of the TNK & NT (including instances of mixed company).

    To note that they are used interchangeably is not to deny that they also have specific connotations and are at times used distinctly (as I noted previously). The distinctions between edah and qahal, however, are not kept consistent in the TNK’s utilization; their semantic domains might be mapped like a venn diagram.

  27. @James, I don’t attempt to define “law” in that article. I do describe God’s law as being synonymous with His character, and as being an unchanging standard: in a macro-sense. The principles of God’s law are eternal (and universal), as is His character; the case laws or applications of His enduring character/law may change relevant to the time, place, or other variables of situation.

    Perhaps it would help if I gave a test case.

    The command regarding tassels of Num 15:38 and Deut 22:12 ought to instruct all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile. The question of how it ought to instruct may depend upon on one’s ethnicity, time or place.

    I would assert, for example, that a Jewish man (or woman, potentially) wearing a tallit kitan or using a tallit gadol with tzitzit attached is a valid keeping of this command, and that a Gentile doing so may be a valid keeping of this command.

    I would also posit that a Gentile wearing culturally-developed tzitzit on one’s belt loops is a valid manner of honoring the command, but not a literal fulfillment (or keeping). All things considered, I would also suggest it is likely not the most well-advised manner of honoring this instruction due to reasons of potential misunderstanding, misapplication, and offense.

    Nevertheless, we see from the text that God considered it important for His people and we might observe that the principle behind this case law related to remembrance, identity, and witness. Furthermore, that the keeping of the command assisted the Israelites in the practice of walking in godliness, and promoted a sense of belonging and community. Could anyone argue that today’s Gentile believers don’t also need this?! Additional reflection may yield a more advantageous and multiple-commandment-balancing approach to honoring this instruction.

    I am, therefore, seeking an application of the command regarding tassels that is: 1) consistent with God’s original intent, 2) consistent with the significance of the command in the milieu of the original implementation, 3) inoffensive to as many parties as possible, 4) consistent with a professional image (be in the world but not of the world), and 5) feasible for wide-scale adoption across the people of God in the United States (our milieu).

    Historically speaking, it is of great interest to note that at the time when God gave this commandment, everyone wore tassels on their garments–Israelite and non-Israelite. The fringe functioned as one’s signature (pressing the fringe into clay in the same manner as signet rings came to be used), as a sign of your prestige, and were a method of identification or sign of belonging (to a class, family, or tribe). The Israelites’ fringes were to be a distinctive application of a normative cultural expectation.

    If one were to argue that wearing tassels on one’s belt loops is a direct fulfillment of the command and that this is necessary, I would ask, “Where is the parapet around your roof?”

    Given that 1) specifically knotted tzitzit have become an ethnic identity marker for the Jewish people, 2) that unless I wear a cornered garment I cannot literally fulfill this commandment anyway, and 3) that the command was given in the context of a distinctive application of a cultural norm, I think it is beyond well-advised to practice the command in a manner that does not potentially lay a stumbling block in the path of my brother the Jew (Messianic or otherwise), or the misinformed Gentile Christian, who perceives it as coming back under the law.

    Perhaps we should entertain ideas like embroidering 4 white and one blue line on the sleeves of my shirts. Imagine if every man in a congregation wore shirts with the “tzitzit logo” on the edges/wings (canaphim, c.f. Malachi 4:2 & Numbers 15:38) of their sleeves! Think of the identity power, and the community-belonging power of this! Invest that practice with the significance of fulfilling Deut 6:8 and one is keeping the commandment in a way that is faithful to God’s intent while also conscious of the commands, “You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD” (Lev 19:14), and “Build up, build up, prepare the way, Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people” (Is 57:14).

    Think about it: our culture is familiar with all football jerseys being the same and yet having distinct identification markings, both in color and logo. Logos have become ubiquitous on a variety of culturally normative clothing styles. To put a distinct arrangement of white and blue threads/lines on the sleeves of a shirt (sleeves being the closest thing to “wings/corners” we have on contemporary clothing) references the contemporary familiarity with the most recently common observance of the command (rabbinically-defined tzitzit, tied in the prescribed number of knots), honors the commandment, offends no one, and yet retains the reminding, identifying, community-building power of the original command in its Bronze Age context.

    How shall today’s believing Laplander apply this command? I don’t know, but they ought to be asking that question. And the eventual result will be a culturally diverse, yet commandment-honoring keeping of God’s law that testifies both to the “house of prayer for all nations” reality of God’s people, but also to the coalescing power and identity-giving nature of being “imitators of God therefore like dearly beloved children.”

  28. Hi, Nate — I will not have opportunity to examine your references and compare LXX phrasing before Shabbat overtakes me here in the Judean hills outside Jerusalem, but I will try to do so next week. Allow me to ask, meanwhile, whatever suggested to you that the commandments to Israel regarding tzitzit “ought to instruct all who believe, Jew or [g]entile”?

    Note that I modified the phrase that I quoted from your last reply to James, because “Jew” is a proper noun and requires a capital in English while “gentile” is a generic term of reference that should not be capitalized. Further, nothing in the referenced text regarding tzitzit suggests that it should apply to anyone other than Jews throughout their generations. Indeed, there is occasionally a question about whether it applies even to Jewish women, and there are good reasons to argue that it does not. Consequently, for a non-Jewish man to seek to infer for himself some meaning from what HaShem required only of Jewish men is a stretch into a remote level of abstraction. I do not say that such an abstraction is an altogether worthless endeavor, but non-Jews who attempt to ape Jewish praxis literally may be accused of a kind of theft. The object of that theft is the peculiarity or “s’gula” that HaShem ascribed to His chosen covenanted Jewish family.

    However, you suggested something different, along the lines of an abstraction, which was a symbolic embroidery on shirt-sleeve cuffs. As an interesting aside: I have read of something similar being practiced by Hellenistic Jews in the neighborhood of 20 centuries ago, in place of actual tzitzit of the sort that have been preserved by Jews unto the present day. Nonetheless, the question remains about what benefit a non-Jew might hope to obtain from abstracting the instruction that was given to Jews. Let us rule out any mistaken motivation to usurp the distinctive assignment given to Jews, and examine the question from the perspective of a well-meaning non-Jewish disciple of Rav Yeshua who has received the circular published by the Jerusalem Council, whose text is reported in Acts 15:23-29, and has taken the accompanying advice of Acts 15:21 to attend synagogue each Shabbat in order to learn the principles of Torah (as taught there from the scribal or Pharisean perspective acclaimed by Rav Yeshua in Mt.23:2-3). Such a disciple understands that only a very few principles of Torah are actually deemed binding upon him as a non-Jew, therefore if he is to benefit somehow from what he learns in synagogue, it must be that some portion of it must be somehow analyzed to abstract generalizable behavior that ought to apply to all of humankind regardless of any specific behaviors enjoined upon Jews. For some commandments, it can be simply obvious how they may be applied at least within the confines of a believing community. Much of the content of Rav Shaul’s letters invokes precisely such applications of Torah principles to their recipients’ non-Jewish contexts. For other instructions, a non-Jewish application may be much more subtle, or there may not exist any proper analogue of certain specific instructions to Jews that may be developed for non-Jews. Some things were meant solely to keep Jews distinct from all other families of earth. Such aspects of Torah will continue to do so until the present regime of heaven and earth come to an end as envisioned in Yohanan’s vision in Rev.21. Our hypothetical non-Jewish disciple will recognize this also, and satisfy his desire to serve HaShem in accordance with his allotted portion as a non-Jew. Is.56 offers reassurance that this will not be at all undervalued in HaShem’s sight.

    Now I must depart, soon to welcome the Shabbat.
    שבת שלום

  29. Nate said:

    I don’t attempt to define “law” in that article. I do describe God’s law as being synonymous with His character, and as being an unchanging standard: in a macro-sense. The principles of God’s law are eternal (and universal), as is His character; the case laws or applications of His enduring character/law may change relevant to the time, place, or other variables of situation.

    That’s a relief. I thought I’d lost my mind not being able to find a definition for “law,” which seemed to be a requirement for your article to be able to express a complete thought.

    Anyway, PL beat me to the punch as far as my response regarding what seems to be an expression of “One Law,” or as Tim Hegg and his colleagues sometimes put it, “One Torah.”

    I considered wheeling out links to every blog post I’ve ever written refuting One Law such as Introduction to Messianic Judaism: The Silo Invasion, or even just stating my case from the point of view of promoting peace between Gentile and Jew (I capitalized “Gentile” and apologizes to PL, because in this context, I’m discussing two different populations relative to their covenant relationship – or lack thereof – with God) by my refraining from all Jewish praxis.

    Back in the day, I also subscribed to the One Law approach (long, long time ago), but in my case, it was a matter of assumption. I fell in with a One Law group and took it for granted that everything they taught was correct (I was what “the Church” calls a “baby Christian” at the time).

    Anyway, long story short, as the years passed, I started questioning the assumption, especially as my understanding of the Bible became more sophisticated, and concluded, as PL put it, that the Acts 15 edict did not require non-Jews in the body of Messiah to imitate Jewish praxis, but only to comply with a sub-set of the mitzvot (this is actually more complicated than I’m stating here but a full explanation would take up a lot of space).

    The single most important thing that helped me clarify my perspective was my wife.

    When we were married 33 years ago, neither of us were religious. I knew she was Jewish because she had a Jewish mother, but she wasn’t raised in an ethnically or religious Jewish home, so it had zero affect on our relationship.

    At some point, we both became religious (long, long story) with her (eventually) becoming more traditionally Jewish, while I became (for lack of a better term) Messianic (although from her perspective, I’m a Christian).

    Out of five siblings, she’s the only one to pursue and embrace being Jewish, having established ties with both our little combined Reform/Conservative shul and the Chabad Rabbi and Rabbitzin.

    In watching her develop her identity and communal relationships as a Jew, it became abundantly clear that she was born into a highly specific covenant relationship with Hashem. True, she doesn’t live out that relationship anywhere near perfectly, but as she once told me, she doesn’t need my permission to be Jewish.

    I realized what a farce it was for me, as a Gentile, to don a tallit gadol and lay tefillin to pray, since these acts were within the purview of the Jewish people, not the Goyim.

    That, plus (as I’ve already mentioned), we Gentiles have no formal covenant relationship with God and certainly we have no right whatsoever to assume a position within the Sinai or even the New Covenant such that would allow us to wear tzitzit (let alone think that by doing so we were actually fulfilling the mitzvot), for example.

    This is the one thing about my life that I can’t adequately communicate to someone who isn’t intermarried. Oh sure, there are plenty of intermarried couples in the Hebrew Roots and Messianic movements, but usually those couples share a common theology. In the case of my wife and I, we do not (and don’t even get her started on the Apostle Paul).

    Even if I somehow believed that One Law was Biblically sustainable, I would still refuse to bulldoze my way into my spouse’s Jewish life by mimicking Jewish praxis. She wouldn’t say a word of course, but I know she would find it insulting.

    So both for the sake of Biblical/Covenant accuracy and for peace in the home, I cannot support a One Law position.

    That said, the mitzvot police aren’t going to break down your door to see if you’re lighting candles on Erev Shabbat or to check under your shirt to determine if you’re wearing a tallit katan, so what you do in the privacy of your own worship is up to you.

    There are plenty of people who disagree over religious practices, so I’m not particularly concerned about what other folks are doing or not doing out there. I can only tell you what I believe, what I do, and why. Your mileage may vary.

    On an ironic side note, believing non-Jews can fulfill the mitzvah of wearing tzitzit would actually be the more “aberrant theology,” since it deviates significantly from both Jewish and Christian mainstream belief.

  30. Thank you, James, for relaying your personal experience so transparently. Pro.Lib., you write with great clarity of expression.

    If I am not instructed to aim at a target then, by definition, I cannot be convicted of missing it. The position outlined so frequently on this blog, thus eviscerates the very heart of the Gospel itself, claiming in effect, that the Gospel applies only to Jews, for if the Law of God does not instruct me in righteousness, it cannot convict me of sin.

  31. I think the Apostolic Scriptures are pretty clear that the Gospels, that is, the good news of Moshiach, is good news first to the Jews and than also to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16). I suppose we could go round and round on the topic, but without a clear understanding of the covenants and how God’s graciousness has allowed even the Gentiles to be redeemed, though not formally covenant members, we are going to continually reach an impasse. Everything about our praxis hinges on one’s covenant standing. The righteousness of a Gentile does not depend upon wearing or failing to wear tzitzit. That said, and as I’ve already mentioned, what you choose to do is your business. Just remember, there are many, many righteous Gentiles in churches who will never don a tallit who nevertheless, are living lives holy to God and honoring Messiah.

  32. God does have laws for Gentiles in the Torah: those given to Noah. Violating those would be sin for a Gentile.

    If you are a resident alien in the Land of Israel, there is a subset of the Torah that applies to you. Violating those would also be a sin for a Gentile.

    The problem with these kinds of discussions occur when we take something pretty concrete and turn it into a spiritual abstraction in which we find a way to effectively negate the literal.

  33. “I think the Apostolic Scriptures are pretty clear that the Gospels, that is, the good news of Moshiach, is good news first to the Jews and than also to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16).”

    Amen (hopefully I’m permitted to use that Hebrew word; I’m not sure if having been brought near includes the utilization of Jewish words in my inheritance as someone in Messiah or not).

    “redeemed but not formally covenant members” WOW! If that doesn’t reveal the reality that your position relegates Gentiles to a second-class status, I don’t know what does.

    “The righteousness of a Gentile does not depend upon wearing or failing to wear tzitzit…. there are many, many righteous Gentiles in churches who will never don a tallit who nevertheless, are living lives holy to God and honoring Messiah.”

    Agreed. Praise God that their righteousness depends not upon their own practice, but upon Messiah’s! Would, however, that they had a theology and a praxis that enabled them to embrace a coherent position against the plethora of evils in this world, rather than such a woefully inconsistent reading and diminished praxis.

  34. @Steve: Acts 15 is deceptive in its simplicity. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes. I wish we could have gotten the full text of the legal hearing rather than just Luke’s summary of it.

    @Nate: I thought I made this point clear. I even posted links to my article The Non-Covenant Relationship With God which crystalizes my position. It’s really not a bad place to be. We are saved not because God “has to” according to covenant, but because He wants to and offers us salvation through grace and mercy alone.

    Several years ago, once I realized that there was no such thing as a “Jesus Covenant,” that is, a covenant God made specifically with non-Jews whereby Jesus brings us into a covenant relationship with God, I became really depressed for a long time. If you read the Bible objectively, there is no connection whatsoever between the New Covenant statements in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 and the various statements in the New Testament that (somehow) include the non-Jews in the redemptive plan of God.

    No smoking gun. No connect the dots. It’s easy to see how God plans to redeem Israel. The rest of the world, not so much. Christianity has used ample amounts of metaphorical and allegorical glue and masking tape to cobble together connections that don’t actually exist. Do you see my problem with the last almost two-thousand years of Christian theology?

    It took months for me to figure it out. In the end, I summarized my model here.

    We were always part of God’s plan for the world’s redemption, but that plan starts with Israel and works its way out from the inside. This doesn’t make us second-class citizens as such. The closest analogy is that the various countries of the world will be vassel nations to Israel and to her King Messiah in the coming Kingdom.

    That makes us different with fewer responsibilities, not lesser.

    I know it’s kind of a blow. After all, churches all over the world keep teaching Christians that “the Church” (Big C) is at the top of the heap, so to speak. But my understanding of the Bible is that Israel is and always has been central to God’s plan, and indeed, Israel’s first born son, King Messiah, is instrumental in not only Israel’s redemption, but the redemption of the nations. Every knee shall bow.

  35. Yeah, it’s not that you haven’t linked to a variety of places and explained at length, it’s that I completely and totally reject the premise asserted: “…that Rav Yeshua’s gentile disciples don’t actually participate in any covenant whatsoever” as failing to align with the message of Scripture, and failing to logically cohere.

  36. Burden of proof is on you, Nate. I’ve looked and looked and as far as I can tell, the connection is absent. Show me where I missed how Gentiles are direct objects of a covenant where we are not named.

  37. Well, hello there irony! It’s always an unexpected pleasure. You disagree with 2000 years of Bible readers and Bible writers (meaning the apostles), but the burden of proof is on me.

    I believe Gentile Christians should figure out a wise way to honor the commandment regarding tassels; the burden of proof is on me. You believe Gentile Christians have no covenantal relationship with God; the burden of proof is on you.

    Nevertheless, I’m interested in trying to help, so as occasion permits I will attempt to probe this with you.

    To help me understand, what do you believe the “mystery of the gospel” referenced in the New Testament was/is?

  38. I realize that nearly 2,000 years of post-apostolic Gentile Christian tradition has turned interpretation and the original drive of the “church fathers” to separate themselves from anything Jewish into what seems to be fact, but I’m not the only one with this opinion.

    Rather than engage in a fruitless back and forth, it might be easier for you to simply listen to this lecture series on the New Covenant. I discovered it after I came to my current understanding, but it mirrors my thinking pretty well. Sorry if all this seems contentious, but if we don’t question our assumptions about what the Bible actually says, we’re going to miss out on quite a lot.

    I even did a multi-part review of these sermons starting here.

  39. Alright, let me take another go at this. My one-year-old granddaughter didn’t allow me a lot of time to respond to you before but she’s napping now so I can take more time consider your query.

    First off, yes, I disagree with most/all post-apostolic Gentile Christian authorities about their interpretation of the Bible relative to Israel and the meaning of the New Covenant. To some degree, you must too if you believe non-Jewish disciples of Jesus have an obligation to “fulfill” the mitzvah of the tzitzit.

    I know that makes me sound incredibly arrogant. After all, I’m not a scholar or a Bible teacher, or theologian or anything. What makes me think I’m right and almost twenty centuries of Christian tradition is wrong?

    No matter how much a person knows, if the basic premise of their knowledge is flawed, whatever follows will be flawed as well.

    The early Jewish movement once known as “The Way” wasn’t going to remain Jewish forever. When non-Jews started to outnumber the Jews and for a variety of other reasons, they initiated a rather ugly divorce (I’m basing this on Zetterholm’s work, “The Formation of Christianity in Antioch: A Social-Scientific Approach to the Separation between Judaism and Christianity”) which required that the Gentiles completely refactor the traditionally Jewish meaning of the Bible including the Gospel, such that in order for anyone, especially a Jew, to worship the Jewish Messiah King, they had to abandon Jewish praxis and Judaism and convert to Gentile Christianity. You can imagine how little I think of Biblical allegory which was created to serve this purpose.

    No matter what church I go to or which Pastor’s sermon I listen to, their understanding of the Gospel is based on a switch from being Good News for the Jews and only through the Jews, good news for the world, to Good News for the Church, and only through the Church, good news for everyone else, including the Jews.

    If I want to understand the “mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 3), what is that mystery? To my way of thinking, the mystery is the one faced in the first few verses of Acts 15, how can the Gentiles be saved without converting to Judaism? That is, how can the Gentiles be made part of the New Covenant unless they are named members (House of Judah, House of Israel) of said-covenant? The question is a legitimate one, which is why Paul and his opponents traveled up to Jerusalem and petitioned James and the Council of Elders to hold a legal hearing to determine the status of Gentiles in a Jewish religious movement (See John W. Mauck’s book “Paul on Trial: The Book of Acts as a Defense of Christianity”).

    In every other branch of ancient Judaism, such as the Pharisees, Gentiles could worship as God-fearers, which did not give them covenant status, or they could convert and gain covenant status by formally becoming part of Israel.

    But Paul believed (it was his point in the letter to the Galatians) that Gentiles didn’t need to convert and take on the Torah mitzvoth in order to be reconciled to God. Certainly Peter was a witness to this (Acts 10) in that he saw Cornelius and his entire (Gentile) household receive the Spirit while remaining Gentiles. But how was this possible? How was it possible that non-Jews could benefit from the blessings of a covenant they could never be a part of?

    That’s the mystery. The answer, and I’ve said this before, is that it was always God’s intent to save the whole world through Israel and specifically through King Messiah, the mediator of the New Covenant. Only grace and mercy allow the Gentiles to benefit from the New Covenant without being formal members. God is so loving (most people don’t get this) that He allows us to do this through our devotion to King Messiah, and not requiring that we convert to Judaism and take on board all of the Torah commandments.

    Today, we take it for granted that non-Jews can become Christians, but if you read the accounts of Jews witnessing Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit, they are absolutely amazed. It never occurred to the apostles that such a thing was even possible. Initially, Paul was the only one, as Jesus’ emissary to the Goyim, to believe this to be true. I even wrote a bit about this in The Truncated Gospel. The mystery is how amazing it is for we Gentiles to also be able to receive the Holy Spirit, the promise of the resurrection, and reconciliation to the God of Israel.

    Imagine the light bulb that lit up over my head when I realized that what I had been taught in church about the Bible wasn’t what the Bible actually said. It’s what makes me such a “bad influence” in church, which is one of the reasons I don’t go anymore. It’s no wonder I make Christians mad at me all the time online. It’s the reason I should never have commented to what you posted on Facebook.

  40. ORIGEN’S SYSTEM OF INTERPRETATION

    Origen’s work is dated around the beginning of the third century. There were others before Origen who interpreted the Scriptures in an allegorical way, but Origen is credited with being the father of the allegorical method of interpretation. The reason for that is that Origen, in a comprehensive system, made allegory the only way to truly understand the Scriptures.

    In Origen’s system of interpretation, he often denied the ordinary sense of the text, and replaced it with allegories which he made up. These allegories then became the real meaning of the text. There was no way to challenge the allegories on the basis of the text, since what the text actually said was no longer what it meant. It was, therefore, no longer necessary that the allegory actually come from the text, because it was the allegory that was authoritative. The theology which the allegory illustrated was imposed upon the text.

    In this allegorical system, when the text said, “Israel,” it meant “the
    Church” and not the Jews, so long as the promise or comment was good. If the promise or comment was not good, then “Israel” still meant “the Jews,” and not “the Church.” His theology determined how the text was to be understood, rather than the text determining what should be understood and believed.

    Philip Schaff, the noted 19th century church historian said that, “Origen was the greatest scholar of his age”. 1 Though he was very sympathetic towards Origen, Schaff noted that, “he can by no means be called orthodox, either in the Catholic or in the Protestant sense. His leaning to idealism, his predilection for Plato, and his noble effort to reconcile Christianity with reason, and to commend it even to educated heathens and Gnostics, led him into many grand and fascinating errors.” 2
    Yet, in Schaff’s opinion, “Origen’s greatest service was in exegesis. He is the father of the critical investigation of Scripture, and his commentaries are still useful to scholars for their suggestiveness….His great defect is the neglect of the grammatical and historical sense and his constant desire to find a hidden mystic meaning. He even goes further in this direction than the Gnostics, who everywhere saw transcendental, unfathomable mysteries. His hermeneutical principle assumes a threefold sense – somatic, psychic, and pneumatic; or literal, moral, and spiritual. His allegorical interpretation is ingenious, but often runs far away from the text and degenerates into the merest caprice; while at times it gives way to the opposite extreme of a carnal literalism, by which he justifies his ascetic extravagance.” 3

    His system of interpretation produced great errors. For some of the doctrines which he believed and taught, Origen was considered by many to be an heretic. During his lifetime, he was excommunicated by two church councils held in Alexandria in 231 and 232 A.D. After his death as well, his views were officially condemned by some in the Church as heretical. Today there is no question that some of his teachings would be considered heretical enough to place him outside the believing Church. Nevertheless, “Most of the Greek fathers of the third and fourth centuries stood more or less under the influence of the spirit and the works of Origen, without adopting all his peculiar speculative views. The most distinguished among his disciples are Gregory Thaumaturgus, Dionysius of Alexandria, surnamed the Great, Heraclas, Hieracas, Pamphilus; in a wider sense also Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa and other eminent divines of the Nicene age.” 4

    Though these men of the third- and fourth-century Church did not accept all the teachings which Origen’s system of interpretation generated, they did accept the system itself. With only the sparse historical information that we have available, we are still able to trace the transmission of that system. It is Origen’s system of interpretation that produces the anti-Judaic “New Israel” theology where the Church replaces the Jews in the plan and purpose of God.
    “…[I]n his youthful zeal for ascetic holiness, he [Origen] even committed the act of self-emasculation, partly to fulfil literally the mysterious words of Christ, in Matt. 19:12, for the sake of the kingdom of God, partly to secure himself against all temptation and calumny which might arise from his intercourse with many female catechumens. By this inconsiderate and misdirected heroism, which he himself repented in his riper years, he incapacitated himself, according to the canons of the church, for the clerical office. Nevertheless, a long time afterwards, in 228, he was ordained presbyter by two friendly bishops, Alexander of Jerusalem, and Theoctistus of Caesarea in Palestine, who had, even before this, on a former visit of his, invited him while a layman, to teach publicly in their churches, and to expound the Scriptures to their people.” 5
    Origen and his writings were well received in the Roman province of “Palestine,” especially in Caesarea. Though it was a violation of the existing canons of the Church, Origen was ordained a presbyter there. The churches there did not accept his ex-communication. This attitude of the churches in the Roman province of “Palestine” is understandable in an historical sense. Almost all the Jews in Judea and Samaria had either died in the Bar Kokhba Rebellion of 132-135 A.D., or had been carried off into slavery by the victorious Romans. Before the gospel was preached to Gentiles, there were [Jews…] “throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria.” (Acts 9:31)
    From the end of the Bar Kokhba Rebellion on, all Jews were forbidden to even enter the precincts of Jerusalem. The city itself had been destroyed and renamed Aelia, in honor of the divine nature of Aelia Hadrianus, i.e. the Emperor Hadrian (who destroyed Jerusalem) as the Roman god Jupiter. Up until that time, the bishops of Jerusalem had all been Jewish. If there were bishops in Caesarea before that time, they also would have almost certainly been Jewish.
    The Roman Empire had destroyed or removed the Jewish bishops and [synagogues]. They were replaced [due to the Roman Empire with] Gentile[s]. The Gentile bishops and churches naturally began to think of themselves as having replaced the Jews. In his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Justin, who was from Samaria, had expressed the belief that the destruction of Jerusalem and all the suffering that attended the unsuccessful Bar Kokhba Rebellion was a judgment of God for the failure to believe in Jesus. A large theological step was then taken from that view to the teaching that God had cast off the Jews, and had replaced them with the Gentile Church. There are obvious natural reasons why such a teaching would appeal to the Gentile bishops and churches in “Palestine.”

    Origen’s system of interpretation provided a way for overcoming the scriptural obstacles to such teaching.

    Origen taught that some scriptures are to be understood only allegorically, some are to be understood only literally, and some are to be understood both allegorically and literally. While that appears on the surface to be an acceptable approach to the Scriptures, there are several serious problems that it causes. One example from Origen’s work will make them evident. The children of Israel were in the wilderness shortly after God had redeemed them out of Egypt. The Bible says that, “Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. And Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady
    until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” (Ex.17:9-13)
    It is obvious that there is no natural, causal relationship between the height of the hands of Moses and the military success of Israel. So it is logical to conclude that the supernatural intervention of God on behalf of Israel is meant to teach a lesson. The text invites the reader to find and learn that lesson which goes beyond the primary meaning of the text. The Talmud says, “[It is written] and it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand that Israel prevailed, etc. Now did the hands of Moses wage war or crush the enemy? Not so; only the text signifies that so long as Israel turns their thoughts above and subjected their hearts to their Father in heaven they prevailed, but otherwise they fell. The same lesson may be taught thus. [It is written], Make thee a fiery serpent and set it up on a pole, and it shall come to pass that everyone that is bitten, when he seeth it, shall live. Now did the serpent kill or did the serpent keep alive? No; [what it indicates is that] when Israel turned their thoughts above and subjected their hearts to their Father in heaven, they were healed, but otherwise they pined away.” 6 Different first- and second-century rabbis gave slightly different non-literal interpretations to this same text, referring the raised arms of Moses to Israel’s doing the will of God and keeping the Law.
    There is much evidence that Origen was familiar with the rabbinic writings, and even these particular interpretations. Eusebius says, “so great was the research which Origen applied in the investigation of the holy Scriptures, that he also studied the Hebrew language; and those original works written in the Hebrew and in the hands of the Jews, he procured as his own. He also investigated the editions [translations/Targums] of others, who, besides the seventy [the Septuagint], had published translations of the Scriptures, and some different from the well-known translations of Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion…” 7
    “A clear illustration of the way in which Origen seizes on a Jewish interpretation of a biblical passage and adapts it to suit the new dispensation is his handling of Moses’ upraised arms during the battle with Amalek….The usual Christian interpretation of Moses’ arms is to see in them a symbol of the Cross. Origen is attracted by the Jewish interpretation, but he cannot resist twisting it slightly so as to read as a condemnation of the Synagogue…. Origen comments, ” ‘If our actions are elevated and do not rest on the ground, Amalek is defeated…Thus if the people keeps the law, it raises up Moses’ arms and the adversary is defeated; if it does not keep the law; Amalek is strengthened….I think that by this figure Moses also represents the two peoples, showing that one is the people of the Gentiles, which raises Moses’ arms and extends them, that is to say elevates what Moses wrote and establishes its understanding on a high level and thereby conquers, while the other is the people which, because it does not raise Moses’ arms or lift them off the ground, and does not consider that there is anything deep or subtle in him, is conquered by its enemies and laid low.’ “It is no exaggeration to say that, for Origen, the whole of the debate between the Church and the Synagogue can be reduced to the one question of the interpretation of scripture….The difference between Judaism and Christianity is that Christians perceive the mysteries which are only hinted at in the Bible, whereas Jews are only capable of a strictly literal reading of the text. (It may be thought remarkable that Origen, of all people, who was well acquainted with Jewish exegesis in all its aspects, should have perpetuated this myth of ‘Jewish literalism’, but perpetuate it he certainly does.)” 8
    The Bible itself makes it clear that it contains signs and symbols, types and foreshadows, metaphors and parables, visions, dreams, and mysteries, as well as spiritual lessons that transcend the description of a particular incident. Paul speaks of some of the events that happened to Israel in the Exodus and after it. He tells New Covenant believers, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1Co.10:11) He reminds Timothy that “All Scripture is inspired by God [lit. ‘God-breathed’] and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2Tim.3:16-17) In order for what happened to someone else to have meaning for us, there must be a transcendent lesson. The lesson, however, can only be learned from understanding what actually happened, not by ignoring or altering the reality to fit what we already have chosen to believe.
    Unfortunately, Origen chose to ignore or alter reality to make it fit with his beliefs. In his theological battle against those in the Church who held to the plain meaning of the text, Origen decided to portray them as disgraceful “Jews” who were rejecting the Lord.
    Though Origen knew that God had given the New Covenant Scriptures to the world through Jewish men, he wrote that it is “the people of the Gentiles, which raises Moses’ arms and extends them, that is to say elevates what Moses wrote and establishes its understanding on a high level…” He was referring to the New Covenant Scriptures as that elevation of the writings of Moses, but the reality that it was all written or dictated by Jews did not fit with the point that he wanted to make. So he distorted the reality. Anyone who did not accept his allegorical system of interpretation was nothing more than “a Jew,” and really did not belong in the Church. Origen maintained, “If anyone wishes to hear and understand these words literally he ought to gather with the Jews rather than with the Christians. But if he wishes to be a Christian and a disciple of Paul, let him hear Paul saying that ‘the Law is spiritual’ [and] declaring that these words are ‘allegorical’ when the Law speaks of Abraham and his wife and sons.” 9 The rabbis did not hold to a strictly literal method of understanding Scripture, far from it. Origen knew that. But the reality did not support his beliefs, so he distorted the reality rather than change his beliefs.
    This is a major problem with allegorical and mystical interpretation. How can anyone test the truth of a particular allegorical or mystical interpretation? What makes it true? Is there any way to delineate what is acceptable and what is not? Whose allegorical or mystical interpretation is right or authoritative? Does it
    even matter if the facts are actually quite different than the interpreter claims?
    The Scriptures present themselves as the standard of Truth by which all else, including interpretation, is to be judged. Yet the very manner of an allegorical and mystical system of interpretation, by denying the plain sense and meaning of the text, makes that standard useless. The “real” meaning of the Scriptures is no longer in what they actually say. “For Origen, the standard itself became invisible to all but ‘the perfect man’ (ho teleios, perhaps ‘the initiate’) [who] can attain to an understanding of the spiritual law.” 10
    How does one know which scriptures are to be understood which way? If, for example, the basic prophecies concerning the first coming of the Messiah were literally fulfilled, then why should we expect the prophecies concerning His second coming to have only mystical fulfillment? The literal fulfillment of prophecy is of tremendous significance to the gospel. Without the literal fulfillment of prophecy, there is no gospel.
    Even the genealogies in Matthew and Luke are essential to the gospel. To the allegorist, what could be more “carnal” than a literal understanding of Jewish genealogies? But those genealogies establish the legal right of Jesus to the throne of David. His physical descent from David was essential to God’s plan of redemption for the world.
    Origen’s teachings arise from, and demand, an anti-Judaic outlook. He disinherited the Jews and set the Church in their place. Those scriptures that promised judgment on Israel (or the Jews, or Jacob, etc.) were still to be understood in their literal sense. But those scriptures that promised blessing on Israel (or the Jews, or Jacob, etc.) were henceforth only to be understood as referring to the Church. That made the churches in “Palestine” the sole geographical heirs of the gospel, worthy of special reverence. Origen was invited to teach there, despite the dissension which his teachings aroused elsewhere. He was made a presbyter there, despite the canons of the Church. His teachings were carefully recorded and kept there.
    From there, his teachings spread to other parts of the Church. “Gregory, surnamed Thaumaturgus, ‘the wonder-worker,’ was converted from heathenism in his youth by Origen at Caesarea, in Palestine, spent eight years in his society, and then, after a season of contemplative retreat, labored as bishop of Neo-Caesarea in Pontus from 244 to 270 with extraordinary success.”11 “Pamphilus, a great admirer of Origen, a presbyter and theological teacher at Caesarea in Palestine, and a martyr of the persecution of Maximinus (309), was not an author himself, but one of the most liberal and efficient promoters of Christian learning. He did invaluable service to future generations by founding a theological school and collecting a large library, from which his pupil and friend Eusebius (hence called ‘Eusebius Pampili’), Jerome, and many others, drew or increased their useful information. Without that library the church history of Eusebius would be far less instructive than it is now. Pamphilus transcribed with his own hand useful books, among others the Septuagint from the Hexapla of Origen. He aided poor students and distributed the Scriptures. While in prison, he wrote a defense of Origen, which was completed by Eusebius in six books, but only the first remains in the Latin version of Rufinus, whom Jerome charges with wilful alterations. It is addressed to the confessors who were condemned to the mines of Palestine, to assure them of the orthodoxy of Origen from his own writings, especially on the trinity and the person of Christ.” 12
    The views of Origen had been declared to be heretical, but, led by Pamphilus, the churches in “Palestine” established a theological school and library dedicated to establishing Origen’s views as the true orthodoxy throughout the entire Church. Pamphilus taught Eusebius, and Eusebius wholeheartedly gave himself to the task of defending the views of Origen. Eusebius did that explicitly in the six volume defense of Origen which he completed, but he also did it in his Ecclesiastical History. Origen’s heresy was to triumph in the fourth century at the Council of Nicea through Eusebius, Constantine, and those who followed them. “The letters from the emperor cited in the Vita Constantini, one of which must date even before Nicea, show both the closeness of the relationship that had grown up between the two men and also Constantine’s acceptance of the role which Eusebius had cast for him.” 13 Before we take a look at that Council and its decisions, we need to first examine the pivotal theological issue – the nature of the fulfilled kingdom of God.

    FOOTNOTES
    1. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol.II, Ante-Nicene
    Christianity, A.D. 100-325, Charles Scribner’s Sons, NY, 1883, P.790
    2. ibid., P.791
    3. P.792
    4. P.797
    5. P.788
    6. Maurice Simon, translator, “Rosh Hashanah III.5,” in The Babylonian
    Talmud, ed. Isadore Epstein, The Soncino Press, London, 1938, Pp.133-134
    7. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, Bk.6, Ch.16, Pp.235-236
    8. N.R.M. De Lange, Origen and the Jews, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge,
    1976, P.82, n.59
    9. Ronald E. Heine, translator, Origen, Homilies on Genesis and Exodus, in
    The Fathers of the Church, Vol.71, Catholic University Press, Washington,
    D.C., 1982, Homily VI, Pp.121-122
    10. De Lange, op. cit., P.83, n.65
    11. Schaff, op. cit., P.797
    12. ibid., P.807
    13. W.H.C. Frend, “Church and State: Perspective and Problems in the
    Patristic Era,” Studia Patristica, Vol.XVII, Part One, Pergamon Press,
    Oxford, 1982, P.40

    {Others here (at least in the case of James) don’t seem to be familiar with Dan Gruber, Nate, but he wrote what I’ve been quoting [with someone else as an editor or not I don’t know one way or the other] in the 1990s. [I changed “Jewish churches” to “[Jews…]” and then “churches” to “[synagogues]” (and know from a newer book that Gruber would no longer use the word church in those contexts, which is not to say I corrected throughout* or was authorised to make any corrections officially… and I made two other changes right after those). I agree with James’ take on the mystery [not necessarily all details in the articles at the links, which I don’t recall].}

    * Church is questionable as to use throughout but has more sense (so to speak) to it in the run up to rejection of Israel per se/Jews.

  41. Shavua tov, Nate — Allow me to suggest why the burden of proof is upon you, as James stated it. The Sinai covenant of the Torah was clearly made only with Jews and never levied upon anyone else. It included instructions to Jewish magistrates that they must dispense justice fairly to non-Jewish sojourners among the Jewish community equally as to Jews, not favoring Jews over non-Jews but rather respecting the human rights of strangers and foreigners. The “new covenant” that is deemed to have been given emphasis and realization by Rav Yeshua and his disciples is defined in only one place, which is Jer.31:31. Some of its stipulations are referenced also in Ezek.36, but the phrase “new covenant” only appears in Jeremiah. It is clearly a covenant made only with the houses of Israel and Judah, which at that time were distinct political entities encompassing the 12 tribes of Israel. No other nations or ethnicities were within its purview. The surviving Jews of the northern Kingdom of Israel were reunited with the Jews of the southern Kingdom of Judah during the century following the Assyrian decimation of the northern kingdom, and exiled together into Babylon as Judeans. When they returned from exile they were again one people known as Judeans or Jews. Thus the covenant described by Jeremiah applies only to Jews. When Rav Yeshua invoked the phrase at his last meal with his disciples, he was referencing that same covenant to a solely Jewish group. Only decades later did the question arise about whether gentiles also might benefit, and how that could be accomplished. Rav Yeshua himself had stated that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, consequently the Jerusalem Council of his emissaries had to determine whether individual gentiles would be required to convert to Judaism in order to accomplish this benefit. Kefa’s prior vision of a heavenly sheet contributed to the decision that gentile “cleansing” was not dependent upon their conversion to Judaism, but at no time was there any suggestion that these cleansed gentiles had become incorporated into the Jewish covenant, despite the prophetic recognition that the nations would be blessed in Avraham’s “seed” (both singular and plural).

    Consequently, given clear and unequivocal scriptural statements of the solely Jewish application of the Torah covenant, either in its original form or its “new” one, you must show where any scriptural writer stipulates otherwise. However, I should caution you that if the Jerusalem Council members had known of any such scriptures, they could have not exempted gentile disciples from legal responsibility to obey the entire Torah, as they did in Acts 15. Rav Shaul notes this responsibility, for all who become circumcised (thus entering the covenant), in Gal.5:3.

  42. OK, Nate — here is my comparison of relevant word usage in the LXX and the Hebrew text:

    In Ex.12:6 LXX offers “sunagoges” for “qahal” in the Hebrew text (and the Passover context eliminates any uncircumcised or “mixed” company).

    In Ex.35:1 LXX offers “sunagogen huios Israel” in LXX for “edat bnei Yisrael” in the Hebrew text (clearly no mixed company).

    In Deut.9:10 LXX offers “ekklesias” for “qahal” in the Hebrew text, but the Hebrew text is not referring to the people but rather to the gathering (and verse 5 rules out reference to any mixed company).

    In Num.20:8 LXX offers “sunagogen” for “ha-edah” in the Hebrew text (but no mention of mixed company).

    In Prov.5:14 LXX offers “ekklesias” and “sunagoges” for “qahal” and “edah” (respectively) in the Hebrew text (but no mixed company).

    These verses do not demonstrate any interchangeability between the terms under discussion, though their semantic domains certainly overlap (else we wouldn’t be discussing them at all). Each term has meaning and purpose; and the “ekklesias” choice of the LXX translators in Deut.9:10 is interesting, because of its use as a gerund. Nonetheless, these verses do not support the assertion you were offering.

  43. I see from your response that you’re choosing to view the evidence through preconceived lenses. I won’t be engaging further given the need to prioritize my available time. (P.S. If you are a contractor in/near Jerusalem, I read nothing but praise of your work and demeanor.)

  44. To append my previous comment, I do not have the luxury of spending a lot of time on this conversation, and since I have actually had coffee with James, in my book that raises the priority of conversation with him. So I will only be responding to his comments on the topic. Nothing against the relevancy of your thoughts, but I can’t spread the breadth of my engagement to cover multiple responses without becoming irresponsible. I hope you will forgive my focus, as no offense is intended.

  45. Marleen said:

    Origen’s work is dated around the beginning of the third century. There were others before Origen who interpreted the Scriptures in an allegorical way, but Origen is credited with being the father of the allegorical method of interpretation. The reason for that is that Origen, in a comprehensive system, made allegory the only way to truly understand the Scriptures.

    I realize that church history is highly involved and complex which makes it difficult to take on as a whole, but my basic premise is as the Gentiles found it necessary to separate from their Jewish teachers and mentors, they also needed a new interpretation of scripture, one that emphasized the Gentile Church and minimized and eliminated the significance of the Jewish people, Judaism, and Israel in the Biblical narrative. Allegory was a major method of doing this, and while I’m sure the early Gentile theologians disagreed with each other somewhat, they would have had to share the common goal of “Gentilizing” the Bible in order to manufacture a new meaning for themselves, one that made the Gentiles the significant party in all of God’s promises.

    I have often thought that this was going to happen no matter what, since a majority body of non-Jews would find it difficult to accept that their salvation comes, not from their own significance relative to the covenants, but through the significance Israel has in her covenant relationship with God.

    It’s only after nearly twenty centuries that a small but growing body of Jews and Gentiles are going all the way back to the scriptures, setting aside (as best we can as biased human beings) the traditions of the Christian elders, and rediscovering who we really are in the body of Messiah.

    It’s a shock for many, and most won’t be able to accept it. In Messianic days, it won’t be a matter of choice, but for the present, we are given liberty to explore.

  46. Some of the big names in what I quoted earlier were gentiles who kept defending freedom (rather than gentile takeover). But a gentile takeover as propaganda and politics pushed on the masses, with the help of enforcers and weapons, did take hold. Bigger names yet — (along with Origen) Eusebius and Constantine, etc.

    The views of Origen had been declared to be heretical, but, led by Pamphilus, the churches in “Palestine” established a theological school and library dedicated to establishing Origen’s views as the true orthodoxy throughout the entire Church. Pamphilus taught Eusebius, and Eusebius wholeheartedly gave himself to the task of defending the views of Origen. Eusebius did that explicitly in the six volume defense of Origen which he completed, but he also did it in his Ecclesiastical History. Origen’s heresy was to triumph in the fourth century at the Council of Nicea through Eusebius, Constantine, and those who followed them. “The letters from the emperor cited in the Vita Constantini, one of which must date even before Nicea, show both the closeness of the relationship that had grown up between the two men and also Constantine’s acceptance of the role which Eusebius had cast for him.” 8 ….

    FOOTNOTES
    …..

    8. W.H.C. Frend, “Church and State: Perspective and Problems in the

    Patristic Era,” Studia Patristica, Vol.XVII, Part One, Pergamon Press,

    Oxford, 1982, P.40

  47. Sorry. I should have said I wrote that first paragraph.

    The second one is me quoting Gruber again.
    (You can see he quoted someone too.)

    I added the boldface (again).

  48. @Nate — I don’t understand your question about me as a “contractor”. I do live near Jerusalem, and I serve as a “cantor” to lead synagogue services. As for reading “through preconceived lenses”, don’t we all? My lenses are Jewish and historical, as were those of the writers of the texts you cited, and they were polished by linguistic experience with Hebrew and Greek — one of which I speak fluently while the other I decode academically. Thus I assert that they are among the most accurate and unclouded lenses that can be found for viewing the material under consideration.

    I’m not sure what might have invoked your doubt about my lenses, unless it has some relation to the question of whatever happened to the so-called “mixed multitude” that left Egypt with the Israelites and the definition of to whom the term applied. I seem to recall that James wrote an essay on this topic and posted it to his blog some while ago. Since you’ve expressed a desire to limit the participants to whom you devote time to reply, of whom James is primary, perhaps you would read *his* view.

  49. @Nate: To be fair and as PL says, we all come to the Biblical text with biases. No one has total and complete unfiltered access to scripture. Most believers counter that statement with “The Holy Spirit,” meaning that the Spirit rightly interprets scripture for them.

    My question is always, “Why does the Spirit only ‘rightly’ interpret scripture for a single individual or denomination and not for all believers?”

    I think the answer is that human free will (yes, we have it) will always get in the way of what God is trying to tell us. When God inspired each of the writers of the Bible, I don’t believe he overrode their free will, native languages, personalities, politics, and viewpoints. This is why the Biblical text represents so many different styles and genres of writing. In order for human beings to be able to “own” the Bible, so to speak, we had to have a part of creating it and not just be robots or dictating machines. The Bible is as much a human (Jewish) document as a Holy one.

    But that means understanding what we’re reading while being separated from the original writers by thousands of years, language, culture, ethnicity, and so on, is quite a bit more of a challenge than the average person sitting in the pew on Sunday might believe.

    I know you are intelligent, well-educated, and well-read, and yet if most or all of what you’ve studied were written by people who had a vested interest in removing the centrality of the Jewish people, Judaism, and Israel from God’s covenant promises, principally the Sinai and New Covenants, and replacing Israel with the Church in any sense, then you may not be able to read past your biases to see the intent of the human Biblical authors and of God.

    I don’t say that I’m smarter, better educated, or any of that. I’m not. My one advantage is that I didn’t grow up in the Church and don’t have a principle emotional and intellectual investment in letting nearly 2,000 years of post-apostolic Christian tradition tell me what I’m reading (well, my other advantage is being married to a Jewish wife and watching her journey of self-discovery).

    I’m serious when I tell you that it came as quite a shock when I realized there’s no textual bridge between the New Covenant language in Jer. 31 and Ez. 36 and the Apostolic Writings. Jesus may have said “This is the (new) covenant established in my blood” (Matt. 26:28, Luke 22:20), but how does that connect back to Jeremiah and Ezekiel, which doesn’t mention Messiah at all? There are big, big gaps between the New Covenant language written by the prophets and what we read in the Bible.

    The connection between Israel and the Covenants of God are mere child’s play to establish in the text, but trying to find out how the non-Jews are involved is like a treasure hunt where we must follow the most arcane of clues, all of which could easily lead us to dead ends or erroneous conclusions.

    I believe the only way to read the Bible as a single, overarching narrative of God’s plan of redemption for Israel, and through Israel, the world, is to stop shifting from plan A to plan B somewhere in the beginning of the book of Acts. We need to peel the onion of our interpretive history all the way back to the beginning, before nascent Gentile Christianity took hold, and understand what the Torah, Prophets, Writings, and Apostolic Scriptures would have meant to their original Jewish writers and audience.

    Only then will we begin to approach a more (in my opinion) Biblically accurate understanding of the place of non-Jews within the Jewish movement of “The Way”.

  50. {Anyway, to backtrack, I still don’t see how the Q/A section was a red flag, and no one has tried to explain that. But we now seem to have input that James and Nate know each other in person? Had coffee? So I’m thinking the piece of information that was lacking was that James knows Nate is not a Jewish person. That would explain what was going on with James. But someone else here can go through this same conversation (agreeing) about how Jews and gentiles are so different in responsibility and gentiles shouldn’t wear blue fringe and so on, yet later say gentiles should be doing what the law/Torah says. So, it’s not like things are so very clear amongst those who post. And what Nate seemed to have been getting at was that the New Covenant is NOT something that involves abrogating Torah. Or law (granted, he then didn’t want to define law… so that was that). Which raises a question, now that I remember all the parts at once. If law is not defined, Nate’s indicated reason for needing the law isn’t met. [By which I’m not saying I agree with that reason to think the Law matters.]}

  51. OK, Marleen, color me confused. You say “someone else … [can agree that] Jews and gentiles are so different … yet later say gentiles should be doing what the law/Torah says”. I’m not sure to whom you’re referring, but maybe part of the confusion is trying to equate the notions of law and Torah. We think of “law” as something legally binding, and “instruction” (Torah) as something that may be merely advisory although it could also be backed by force. [“Do what you’re told, or else…!”] The biblical Torah contains both laws and instructions (along with precedents and rulings or commandments). However, while Jews are legally obligated by covenant to conform with all of it, Rav Yeshua’s gentile disciples are not so obligated and are expected only to allow its principles to guide or advise their behavior. The specific example of tzitzit represents a “specific performance” indicative of Jewish identity and allegiance to the covenant, therefore it is not an appropriate “statement” or demonstration for non-Jews to enact. However, one may abstract from it a general principle that allegiance to HaShem and awareness of His principles is a positive value. Thus we can see a difference in approach to the Torah between Jews and non-Jews. Nate’s challenge, as for other non-Jews, is that, without the specific guidance of generations of Jewish culture and custom that constrain Jews, non-Jews lack any “laws” that help them to translate scriptural principles into appropriate action. Thus he is free to invent creative suggestions like embroidering his shirt-sleeves, or merely to commit his heart to the study and application of HaShem’s principles.

  52. I can’t recall how Nate and I became Facebook friends, but it was before he moved to Idaho. I’ve had coffee with him once. He and I have a mutual friend (my every other Sunday coffee companion). Nate stopped by on one of those Sundays months ago, but we really don’t know each other very well.

    No, Nate isn’t Jewish and I’m not sure how anyone would get the impression he was. Not sure what all that “explains” about what’s “going on” with me.

  53. James, I’m just saying that I hadn’t seen any obvious problem with what Nate had said in the Q/A quotation area. As I think I put forth earlier on too. But I might not have been clear enough then to ring a bell of recollection now… as I say I didn’t presume he was Jewish or not Jewish, just straight up didn’t see what was wrong with his Q/A.

    As we all know, the Bible wordings he referenced have been taken more than one way over the centuries, so disagreements could come out along the way as a conversation would go forward (and did). But the only thing I can come up with as I try to sort out what grated the wrong way from the outset — and led to you (seemingly) feeling a draw to offer correction (on Facebook, and I can’t comment directly on whatever was there as I haven’t read there) — is that the words New Covenant were coming out of “his mouth” in relation to not being under the law [in a rhetorical response to most Christians*]. And I guess he’s not supposed to say “we” or “us” in that regard when he’s not Jewish.

    * From some of what he subsequently said, it appears [I could be wrong] he doesn’t think it represents most Christians but does represent some. Something he’s heard enough to think to respond to or discuss it. (I happen to think it’s most Christians. Be that as it may.)

    This isn’t meant to be a criticism of you.

    I’m trying to observe.

    If you put your exasperation out here for us to see, what’s going to happen is people are going to see. Some will try to observe. Others will jump to conclusions without trying. Some will never say anything except that you’re right. And so on and so forth.

    I think, on the larger topic surrounding your reaction to Nate (not your reaction but the larger topic itself), most people (even leader types, which I know you don’t claim to be) are sort of nebulous with regard to the need to speak of law because it’s in the Bible. Generally, there aren’t definitions; mostly only vague implications and statements… but usually connecting an importance to heaven and hell and on and on. The stakes are built up, but the communication is difficult.

    I think a very important starting point in any grappling with the matter is agreeing that Yeshua did indeed keep the law (and not just Roman law as to someone coming to get him if he looked at Caesar crooked+). Kept the actual law at that, not a tweaked Christian version that varies from person to person (nor a displacing Catholic version).

    + I’m minimizing here with a single visual so as to not to “talk” on and on. Yet I think Roman law intersected with or meddled in Israel’s law (in Israel and beyond). For example probably redefining when circumcision was required or what circumcision could do for you.

    Another common Christian approach is to say law shouldn’t be an issue before one becomes a Christian, but that it matters after. [The pastor at the church you were going to was preaching so after you left, which I know you don’t know from your telling us you stopped paying any attention after you left.] This promotes the idea there’s nothing worthwhile in what anyone does until they are Christian. [I don’t mean to counter with a notion Bible law should be implemented across the board, but that people can appreciate truth and learn meaningfully while not Christian (plus, we know people need not end up Christian). National Bible law wouldn’t be a “counter” besides, when many who say what people do is worthless still pull out the stops for national Christian legalism as if America (or other places they go after when they can’t get their way here) is the center of God’s world.] What that “law” should be varies (if judging by what these people do in real life counts as an indicator) from trying to legislate and/or privately enforce something kinda religiony to trying to portray “love” as weirdly simplistic (usually favoring what whoever has more strength, power, visibility or aggression, or money wants). Sometimes to distorted combinations of the two.

    By the way, just as a matter of wording, doesn’t it seem acceptable to say subjects of the Messiah are under the New Covenant (as an indicator of being blessed because of it) even if not in it?
    {I’m not trying to argue it is okay if it somehow isn’t.
    For instance, PL might know something about the words.}

    Sorry if I’m still not clear. Hard to know what’s enough to say and what’s too much to say. What to repeat (or not) from previous conversations, what to repeat (or reword) from the current conversation.

  54. I should clarify one more thing. I mentioned “Nate’s indicated reason for needing the law” — that it “isn’t met” (I said) without definition. I think he may have indicated two reasons but called upon one of them when reacting to the idea not everyone has some relationship to the Law as understood to be the Old Testament (sorry for these unsettling semantics, it’s the way church people usually talk — and that’s what we’re discussing). The one, the reason I was referring to in that quote of myself thinking of what he said, was/is a standard by which everyone finds out objectively (the theory or received, from somewhere, theology goes) that they are a sinner — which is determined to be needed for “evangelization” — you know, getting people into Christianity). [His other reason is “good works.” ]

    As I said, I wasn’t agreeing with the one reason, simply sharing that I don’t think that reason can work without definition of law. [I actually don’t think it stands anyway, in working terms. My faith in Yeshua started before I would have been found in violation of of any law/s (or rules or whatever we want to call them); before ever even thinking of how to violate or of some difficulty in not violating, not relevant to my faith in some sense of conversion. So faith isn’t dependent on that. But that is what some people respond to.]

    This posting might also not be clear enough, as I’m not fully restating everything I’ve said before for full context all in one comment, and I’m not going into boring details of my own life.

  55. To be honest, even as a Catholic, I really don’t have a problem with saying that everybody can be saved, but Jews have a unique role. Why should I? God gave the Jews a unique role in the Old Testament; and from what I’ve seen it never disappeared.

  56. So now I’ve searched W. C. Kaiser (Jr.) And found, among other links (whereas the above link was the only one found on the other search), this: http://www.walterckaiserjr.com/women.html

    From this link [italics in the original have been lost in copying, so I recommend going to the link — also because I didn’t copy the whole thing and the beginning is worth reading too]:
    …..
    Now, there is nothing pejorative about the translation “helper”, for the same word is used for God, but it is also variously translated as “strength”, as in “He is your shield and helper [=strength] (‘ēzer)” in Deuteronomy 33:29; 33:26.

    But R. David Freedman[v] has argued quite convincingly that our Hebrew Word ‘ēzer is a combination of two older Hebrew/Canaanite roots, one ‘-z-r, meaning “to rescue, to save,” and the other, ģ-z-r, meaning “to be strong,” to use their verbal forms for the moment. The difference between the two is in the first Hebrew letter that is today somewhat silent in pronunciation and coming where the letter “o” comes in the English alphabet. The initial Ancient Hebrew letter for Ghayyin, or ģhayyin, fell together in the Hebrew alphabet and was represented by the one sign ע, or ‘ayyin. However, we do know that both letters were originally pronounced separately, for their sounds are preserved in the “g” sound still preserved in English today, as in such place names as Gaza or Gomorrah, both of which are now spelled in Hebrew with the same letter, ‘ayyin. Ugartitic, a Canaanite tongue, which shares about sixty percent of its vocabulary with Hebrew, did distinguish between the ģhayyin and the ‘ayyin in its alphabet of thirty letters, as it represents the language around 1500 to 1200 B.C. It seems that somewhere around 1500 B.C. the two phonemes merged into one grapheme and, thus, the two roots merged into one. Moreover, the Hebrew word ‘ēzer appears twenty-one times in the Old Testament, often in parallelism with words denoting “strength” or “power”, thereby suggesting that two individual words were still being represented under the common single spelling. Therefore, I believe it is best to translate Genesis 2:18 as “I will make [the woman] a power [or strength] corresponding to the man”.

    The proof for this rendering seems to be indicated in 1 Corinthians 11:10, where Paul argued, “For this reason, a woman ought to have power [or authority] on her head.” Everywhere Paul uses the Greek word exousia in 1 Corinthians it means “authority”, or “power”. Moreover, never is it used in the passive sense, but only in the active sense (1Cor. 7:37; 8:9; 9:4,5). But in one of the weirdest twists in translation history, this one word was rendered “a veil, a symbol of authority” on her head!! But, Katharine C. Bushnell showed in early years of the twentieth century, the substitution of “veil” for “power” goes all the way back to the Gnostic Alexandrian teacher known as Valentinus, who founded a sect named after himself sometime between A.D. 140 and his death on Cyprus in A.D. 160. His native tongue was Coptic, and, in Coptic, the word for “power” and the word for “veil” bore a close resemblance in sound and in print: ouershishi, meaning “power, authority”, and ouershoun, meaning “veil”. Both Clement and Origen also came from Alexandria, Egypt, so they too made the same mistake, possibly off the same Coptic type of manuscripts or influence of Valentinus in that city of Alexandria.

    This debacle continues right down to our own day. For example, the NIV insists on saying “the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head” (emphasis ours). Even though the unwarranted word “veil” has dropped out, the expanded “sign of authority” for exousia remains!

    But let the word stand as it should and the question arises: where did Paul find that “power” or “authority” was placed on the head of woman? In Genesis 2:18-that’s where!!

    So, rather than saying a woman is to be a “helper corresponding to the man,” instead, the text teaches that the woman has been given “authority”, “Strength”, or “power” that is “equal to [man’s].” The full Hebrew expression is ‘ēzer kĕnegdÔ. If later Hebrew is of any help here, this second Hebrew word, often translated as “corresponding to him”, is used in later Hebrew as meaning “equal to him”. Surely, that would assuage Adam’s loneliness.

    That line of reasoning would also be borne out in Genesis 2:23, where Adam says to Eve, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man”. This idiomatic expression points to family propinquity, one’s own close relative, or, in effect, “my equal”.

    Finally, woman was never meant to be a “helpmate”, no matter which force is given to this word ‘ēzer. The Old English “meet” or “suitable to” slipped to a new English word, “mate”. But what God had intended was to make her a “power” or “strength,” who would in every respect “correspond to” the man, that is to be “his equal”.

    [I, Marleen, added the boldface.]

  57. Pardon me, Marleen, but I’m suffering a sense of non-sequitur here. Why are you injecting Kaiser’s insights, into the meaning of ” ‘ezer k’negdo” or “exousia”, into the current discussion? What connection are you perceiving or pursuing?

    As for the notion of women wearing distinctive headgear, the orthodox Jewish requirement for a scarf or a wig is not derived from any Greek source that could have confused or elided somehow the words for “veil” and “power”. The notion of women displaying on their heads a sign of their acceptance of authority might be traced back to the events reported in Genesis shortly after the creation of the archetypical woman as an “ezer k’negdo” that indicated a need for hierarchy and protection from spiritual depredation, regardless of how comparable to the archetypical man she was intended to be initially. And Rav Shaul was most likely referring to customs that well-predated any Valentinian confusion or synthesis of similar words that was seen in Alexandria a century later. Interestingly, the orthodox requirement for men to wear a kippa is also as a symbolic submission to higher authority.

  58. I thought the fellow who was brought up at the beginning was a matter of discussion and maybe curiosity. He had said some things and James was reacting. Maybe there is no curiosity and he was a foil.

  59. Hermeneutics of Promise Theology
    The Eschatological Hermeneutics Of “Epangelicalism”: Promise Theology
    Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., M.A. (now Ph.D.)
    (then) Associate Professor in Old Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois

    Amongst Biblical scholars, no question has begged more insistently for an answer than the problem of the Christian interpretation of the O.T. No other issue seems to get closer to the heart of the problem than the concept of prophecy and the Old and New Testament allusions to specified fulfillments, for “whether modern scholars like it or not, prediction was the way the New Testament writers themselves related the testaments … “

    Evangelicals have not doubted, at least in theory, that there is a unity to be found between the testaments and that verbal prediction of the future was one of the ways this unity evidenced itself. This admission immediately scandalizes a large segment of Biblical scholarship which feels that the Claus Westermann collection of Essays on O.T. Hermeneutics (Richmond, 1963) has effectively said “no” to that type of intra-testamental and inter-testamental correspondence; rather the relationships are now to be sought on a level of a typological correspondence; between the events of history (not the words) of the two testaments.

    Evangelical scholarship, while acknowledging O.T. revelation to be a revelation in a person and in historical events, also has found a Biblical claim to revelation on the verbal level. This increases the complexity of the answer to the problem of the amount, and kind of continuity/discontinuity between the Old and New Testament. The questions come quickly: What parts of the text are to be jettisoned and on what bases? What about Israel and the Church? Does our Lord have two peoples or one at a time in the history of redemption? Certainly there is growth and progress in the unfolding of revelation since Hebrews uses the comparative word “better” and Jeremiah and Hebrews talk about a “new covenant.” Wherein, then, lies the continuity? In a covenant? In a system of redemption? Or are there distinguishable and conditional economies laid out in stages of testing and failure? What of the mass of O.T. predictions made to Israel and reflected in such N.T. passages as Romans 9–11? Does the Church fulfill them? Interrupt them? Or partially continue them? …

    Download the entire paper here.

    [Okay, the format didn’t turn out the same, especially with the heading, but this is the text from which I got Kaiser’s name. As I said, I did a search (on epangelicalism). I have no attachment. I didn’t download the paper, and I’m concerned (so to speak, not that it portends to be tremendously different from concerns I already have with church) with the listed questions. Looking around online, though, it seems like it’s not a very little thing. At the next link I gave, you can learn more about him (if you don’t know him at all).]

    On the topic of Jewish headcoverings/headgear, I would see that as developing separately from the look at wording and mistranslation. Obviously, “the New Testament” was translated into and through many languages. And often poorly.

    {I do happen to know, as another matter, that not all Jewish garb originated with what Jewish people wanted to wear. Living in fairly hostile places, they were told to stand out.}

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