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."
ON TO THE QUESTION:
Considering the lexical evidence, historical evidence, contextual evidence, etc, what do you make of Ephesians 2?
Posted by Peter at 3:40 PM