Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Messianic Acrobatics: Question #6

On a recent post (and it'd have to be since this is like day 2 of actual blogging for me), Judah stated:

"You'll find Messianic Jewish folks on the web doing Scriptural acrobats to say "Commonwealth of Israel" is something besides Israel."

Judah is referring to how main line Messianics (I suppose as distinguished with independent Messianics) try to get around Ephesians 2 where it says that the gentiles have become citizens [politeia] in Israel.

On on post by Derek Leman (http://www.derekleman.com/musings/2012/01/06/answering-peter/), Derek finally agreed that politeia means "citizen" but he tried to do some damage control:

"Peter argues that in Ephesians 2:12, the phrase often translated “commonwealth of Israel” should be “citizenship of Israel.” I agree. But does this make non-Jews in Messiah Israelites? As I argue in my response, “citizen” in a Roman imperial context makes one equal in privilege but does not make one a Roman — and neither does being a “citizen” of Israel make one an Israelite..."

The rebuttal is that Ephesians 2 is not about how citizenship operated in the client states of ancient Rome but rather about the covenantal privileges associated with citizenship in Israel and the fact that Torah only gives these covenantal privileges to those gerim who are equated with ezrach (citizens).  Thus, the underlying concept is Hebraic rather than Roman.

On a recent post by Gene Shlomovich, Gene tried (initially) to argue that politeia was a vague term and could've been rendered as "state":

"The ancient Greek word Politeia (πολιτεία) can mean a ‘government,’ ‘state, nation, country,’. It can also mean “conduct”, “behavior”, “adventures,” or even a single “town.” It could also mean “administration”. It is also translated as a “Republic” (e.g. Plato). KJV translates the word as “freedom”, while most English Bible translations use the word “commonwealth”. NIV is one of the very few translations that uses the word “citizenship”.

I offered a lexical evidence rebuttal but Gene deleted that comment on the basis of it being "snobbish" or something like that.  So later I made this rebuttal:

"I defy anyone to not be frustrated with Gene for his comment that politeia doesn’t mean citizenship, anyone who knows that the latin analogue to politeia is civitas which literally means “citizenry” and denotes the contractual duties/rights of citizens as a group. This is basic history. Not to mention the context of Eph 2. If Gene renders politeia as “state” then he must render sumpolites absurdly as “fellow states” rather than fellow citizens. Not to mention as well that Paul shows us in Acts 22:28 that he knows politeia means citizen because Paul has a conversation with a commander and employs the term with that sense."


Considering the lexical evidence, historical evidence, contextual evidence, etc, what do you make of Ephesians 2?

Two Types of Gentiles: Question #5

Question #5

The Torah (as opposed to Rabbinic writings) says that there are two types of gentiles:  covenanted and uncovenanted.  This idea is derived from looking at the MS (Masoretic Text) and the LXX (Septuagint).  The hebrew word for a landless sojourner was "ger."  No gerim were allowed to own land (at least not until eschaton: Eze 47).  But the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible used TWO different words for ger.  Why?  Because if it was a religious context the translators wanted to capture that by using the word "proselyte" and if it was a non-religious context the translators wanted to capture that by using the word "paroikos".  The passages of Torah that say "One law for native [ezrach] and sojourner [proselyte]" evidence that the covenanted ger possessed some rights of citizenship (but not all--they still couldn't own land).


Did the writers of the New Testament consider the gentiles to be covenanted (proselytes) or non-covenanted?

A little controversy never hurt anyone...

So Judah and Gene suggested some spice...so here goes.

Question #4

A remnant is "what remains of any entity after most of it is used or destroyed" (McComiskey).  In the Scripture, the remnant is what remains of the entity of Israel, sometimes specifically referring to the remains of the House of Israel (as opposed to the House of Judah).

Christians have noted that James, in Acts 15, applies such remnant passages to the gentiles:

"...he cites Amos as the scriptural basis for his position.  The quote is in fact a conflation of Amos 9 and other texts, such as Jeremiah 12:16 and Zechariah 2:11..."  Are Christians the 'Aliens Who Live in Your Midst'? Torah and the Origins of Christian Ethics in Acts 10-15 by John Perry

 "James's point is not just about this one passage from Amos; rather; this passage reflects what the prophets teach in general, or what the book of the Prophets as a whole teaches.  Other texts could be noted (Zech. 2:11; 8:22; Isa. 2:2; 45:20-23; Hos. 3:4-5; Jer. 12:15-16)." Acts:  Baker Exegetical Commentary by Darrell L. Bock

This is weird, right?  Why was James associating these remnant passages to the gentiles as though the gentiles were the remnant of the House of Israel?  But it gets weirder...

Both Peter and Paul seem to apply to gentiles the Hosea prophecy that promised the restoration of the all but destroyed House of Israel:

1 Peter 2:9
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Romans 9:23-26
23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea:
   “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
   and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”
 26 and,
   “In the very place where it was said to them,
   ‘You are not my people,’
   there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”


Why were these apostles (James, Peter, Paul) applying to gentiles passages that promised the restoration of the House of Israel?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Question #3

Baptism symbolically initiated Jews into the New Covenant.  This is seen in Acts 2 when it says "41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."  This was the inaugural New Covenant Shavuot which was foretold by Jeremiah.  This was when Torat Moshe would be inscribed in the heart.


Why was Peter surprised that an uncircumcised man (Acts 10, Cornelius) could be immersed in water, that uncircumcised men could in fact be initiated into the New Covenant, when Yeshua had 
said that the disciples were to immerse everyone?  Shouldn't this have been obvious for Peter?  Why had he been so hesitant to follow a clear command of Yeshua?  
Question #2

Yes, I have many questions that I'll ask.  Here's my next question:

In Acts 15, Peter gave an argument.  If an argument consists of premises and a conclusion, how then would you outline Peter's argument?


Welcome to my blog.  The format here is that I will ask some questions.  If you're interested in the topic then respond and maybe we'll talk some Torah.  I look forward to chatting with you.

QUESTION #1 for 7/30/12

If you read James' quote in Acts 15, you'll notice that he quotes from the Septuagint of Amos 9 but that it doesn't fully correspond to the Septuagint.  Modern scholars suggest that James was making a gezerah shavah and conflating multiple prophecies with the single Amos 9 prophecy.  Among the passages to which James cites are the following:

Amos 9

Hosea 3

Ezekiel 37

Zechariah 8


Why did he quote these particular passages?