Monday, February 11, 2013

The Battle Line of One-Law: James' Fourfold Decree in Acts 15

It makes me sick to read how FFOZ has brainwashed James (the blogger) into thinking that the fourfold decree in Acts 15 defines a separate religious praxis for Gentiles [LINK].

James depends on D. Thomas Lancaster's (FFOZ) interpretation that the fourfold decree derives from Leviticus 17-18, an interpretation that scholars have proven is untenable:


"Leviticus 17-18 as the source....However, this view too has some problems.  First, the alleged correspondences are not as close as they might appear.  Neither the phrase [alisgematon ton eidolon] from Acts 15:20 nor the clarifying term [eidolothuton] is used in the Septuagint of Leviticus 17:8 (or elsewhere in Lev. 17-18).  The suggested correlation to 'things strangled' [pniktos] in 17:13 is tenuous since the Leviticus passage actually talks about draining the blood of hunted game.  One wonders whether this association would be made if one were not looking for a connection to the prohibitions.  Likewise, although 18:6-23 does refer to various kinds of prohibited sexual activities, the term [porneia] is not used in the Septuagint.  As Wedderburn notes, 'the only straightforward link between Lev 17-18 and the Decree is the latter's prohibition of blood, the eating of which is forbidden in Lev 17:10-11." [A Reexamination of the Prohibitions in Acts 15 by Charles H. Savelle]

Likewise, another scholar says:

"All [provisions of the fourfold decree] refer or allude to activities that take place in temples...Furthermore, the issue is not just where one might find one or another of the four elements of the decree in isolation, but in what social setting one might find them together.  Here the answer is again likely to be in a temple, not in a home, and in particular at a temple feast." [The Acts of the Apostles:  A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary]

Likewise, another scholar says:

" 'Idol sacrifice' (eidolothuton -- 15:29; 21:25) means meat eaten in a pagan temple in connection with a religious ceremony, 'or at least in temple precincts where the god's power and presence were thought to abide.'  The other word used for this first term is 'pollutions of idols' (alisgemata ton eidolon -- 15:20), and the root alisgein consistently refers to food or drink in usage of the period (for example in the LXX of Dan. 1:8)." [Proselytes and Pressure Cookers:  The Meaning and Application of Acts 15:20 by John Proctor]


In reality, the fourfold decree was merely the ancient Israeli starting point--terminus a quo-- for conversion (i.e. the renunciation of pagan temple practices):

"In other words, for the later rabbis circumcision followed by immersion and the full acceptance of the commandments of the Torah was both the terminus a quo and the termus ad quem for conversion.  Conversion for them was an event.  During the Biblical period, on the other hand, according to Tchernowitz, the terminus a quo of the process of absorption into Judaism was the renunciation of idolatry followed, sometimes several generations later, by circumcision, the terminus ad quem." [The Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism by David Novak]

James (the Apostle) wanted Gentiles to (1) abandon polluting pagan practices and (2) begin attending synagogue to learn the Torah of Moses (i.e. Sinaitic Covenantal Law):

Acts 15:21 "For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."

The most preposterous thing of all is that James (the blogger) thinks that the Gentiles would've been relieved by a decision that gave them a separate Torah to follow.  But is this what Scripture says?  Let's look at something which I think is interesting:

Notice that the letter from James (the Apostle) refers to a false message that "troubled" the Gentiles.  Paul had to confront that same "troubling" message in Galatians 5:10.  The same Greek word occurs in both passages.  And both passages are confronting the false teaching of works-based justification (Acts 15:1; Gal. 5:4).  Also notice that both Acts 15 and Galatians 5 refer to a "yoke" which is defined by Paul as the false doctrine that you can be justified by works of the law (Gal. 5:4) and which is defined by Peter (the Apostle) as works-based justification in contradistinction to grace-based justification:

"10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:10-11)



I rest my case.  : )

9 comments:

  1. "By the time of Jesus, this clan affiliation basis was too lost, and thus the rationale for the status of Ger as it was originally applied no longer was valid. A Gentile in the days of Jesus or later, who wanted to join the community of Israel, in most cases, would convert to Judaism, since becoming a Ger was not an option." -James (the blogger)

    Since when does God's people not following the Torah make it something that is no longer valid? I think this is a key point! The layers of disobedience and layers of man's attempts to "solve" these problems should make us stop and think. What makes me sad is how man's "solutions" become normative and then people declare them as God ordained...

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    1. Well said, this is a red flashing light... It always starts with the devaluation of God's word. Devalue the primary source, in order to give more weight and credit to a secondary source. It is bad scholarship and a shame.

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  2. James and I have been going at this for a bit. The thought that 1st century Jews would have believed that converts were exempt from something as important as the Sabbath -- and that Acts 15 is somehow indicative of this -- really stretches the imagination...

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  3. My goal is to enter the Kingdom of G-d, to be born again from above, to become lawful when the King writes his commanded copy of the Torah, not on a scroll, but on my heart and inward parts.

    I find it interesting that Israel, for the most part, does not keep the commandments, but some object to those gentiles who DO want to keep the Torah.

    (We don't want it, but you can't have it.) hmmm?

    I don't see how keeping the Torah causes Israel not to assimilate seeing they don't keep it. Surely there is more to it?

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  4. In other words, for the later rabbis circumcision followed by immersion and the full acceptance of the commandments of the Torah was both the terminus a quo and the termus ad quem for conversion. Conversion for them was an event. During the Biblical period, on the other hand, according to Tchernowitz, the terminus a quo of the process of absorption into Judaism was the renunciation of idolatry followed, sometimes several generations later, by circumcision, the terminus ad quem." [The Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism by David Novak]


    --> It makes very much sense like that. Good work !

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  5. It happened again today. James closed his latest blog post to comments because, like Jack Nicholson used to say: THEY CANNOT HANDEL THE TRUTH.....

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  6. Well, I got deleted again, praise the L-ord. I was really very polite when I pointed out that if the Torah goes forth out of Zion....who does it go to? I asked why G-d would punish the nations for not coming up to Jerusalem for Sukkot if they are not obligated. I asked if "the commandments were given to Israel, but not to Gentiles, am I invited to honor my mother and father, but not obligated?

    Someone does not like Gentiles keeping the commandments because, and I paraphrase, "it would diminish the uniqueness of Israel. I wonder when the Torah goes forth out of Zion, will it also diminish the uniqueness of Israel at that time?

    Something is so very wrong when men want other men to break the commandments so they can be "unique".

    Steven

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    1. Steven, I think this is something we can finally agree on, sad isn't it.

      Paul said that "what matters is the keeping of God's commandments" many of them believe what matters is upholding appearances and identity over commandments.

      For them, it is more important to look a certain way than to act and live a certain way.

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  7. "Steven, I think this is something we can finally agree on, sad isn't it. "

    Yes, as you say it is very sad, not that we agree, but the other thing. I'm going away from blogging so much because I have to focus on my work. Blessings to you and everyone here! Shalom

    Steven

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