Tuesday, July 31, 2012

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).

ON TO THE QUESTION:

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

6 comments:

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

    Covenanted, as evidenced in Paul's words about gentiles who turn to God through Messiah: "Remember that at that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Messiah."

    Paul contrasts the gentile pre- and post-Messiah states, and in doing so, implies that gentiles are no longer foreigners to the covenants.

    Therefore, gentiles in Messiah are something more than the ger foreigners which the Torah speaks of, and by all means removed from the pagan nations spoken of in the Torah.

    Flip side of all this: if we're talking 1st century proselytes, Acts 15 suggests the Jewish apostles did not consider conversion to Judaism a requirement for gentiles in Messiah.

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  2. Re: "Flip side of all this: if we're talking 1st century proselytes, Acts 15 suggests the Jewish apostles did not consider conversion to Judaism a requirement for gentiles in Messiah."

    Do you think that the apostles intended for the gentile converts (Acts 15:3) to learn and follow Torah? Or do you see a differentiation in Torah commands between Jewish and non-Jewish Believers?

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  3. "Do you think that the apostles intended for the gentile converts (Acts 15:3) to learn and follow Torah? Or do you see a differentiation in Torah commands between Jewish and non-Jewish Believers?"

    Obviously (is it not in this case?) a differentiation, if Acts 15 does indeed, as Judah noted, point to conversion to Judaism not being required of the Gentiles.

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    1. If the Gentile believers are covenant members and on the same or similar footing as proselytes, then they are not required to convert since proselytes are not required to convert. The Gentile believers have converted already, in and through Messiah. They don't need to convert twice.

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  4. Things are seldom "obvious" Gene when you're dealing with terms such as "conversion" which can mean several different things. For example, Acts 15:3 says that the gentiles had been "converted." So the question is not whether they converted but rather how they converted and to which religious system did they convert.

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    1. Agreed, the question is what is a valid conversion and has always been... How does one convert, what requirements does God have for covenant relationship...

      Per your question, like you said, gentiles cannot own land until the Millennium, on the other hand, that still leaves a huge amount of Torah that should be followed, ranging from the festivals to food limitation, to sacrifices in the Temple, etc. The gap is much smaller than people claim.

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