Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why Does Paul Say "Our" Fathers in 1 Corinthians 10:1?





Maimonides was once asked by a proselyte whether it was proper for a proselyte to say "Our fathers" in Jewish liturgy when, in reality, a proselyte is probably not descended from Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov.  You can see Maimonides response HERE.  He thought it was perfectly acceptable for a proselyte to say this.  And on what basis did he feel it was acceptable?  

"Yes, you may say all this in the prescribed order and not change it in the least. In the same way as every Jew by birth says his blessing and prayer, you, too, shall bless and pray alike, whether you are alone or pray in the congregation. The reason for this is, that Abraham our Father taught the people, opened their minds, and revealed to them the true faith and the unity of God; he rejected the idols and abolished their adoration; he brought many children under the wings of the Divine Presence; he gave them counsel and advice, and ordered his sons and the members of his household after him to keep the ways of the Lord forever, as it is written, “For I have known him to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice” (Gen. 18:19)...
...because since you have come under the wings of the Divine Presence and confessed the Lord, no difference exists between you and us, and all miracles done to us have been done as it were to us and to you. Thus is it said in the Book of Isaiah, “Neither let the son of the stranger, that has joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, ‘The Lord has utterly separated me from His people’” (Is. 56:3). There is no difference whatever between you and us. You shall certainly say the blessing, “Who has chosen us,” “Who has given us,” “Who have taken us for Your own” and “Who has separated us”: for the Creator, may He be extolled, has indeed chosen you and separated you from the nations and given you the Torah. For the Torah has been given to us and to the proselytes, as it is said, “One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourns with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord” (Num. 15:15). Know that our fathers, when they came out of Egypt, were mostly idolaters; they had mingled with the pagans in Egypt and imitated their way of life, until the Holy One, may He be blessed, sent Moses our Teacher, the master of all prophets, who separated us from the nations and brought us under the wings of the Divine Presence, us and all proselytes, and gave to all of us one Law," (from Maimonides letter to Obadiah the Proselyte).
 We also see that Paul encouraged non-Jews to identify with G-d's People:
"For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea," (1 Cor. 10:1)
 Maimonides believed that just as the Name is unified so also is the faith unified in that there is "one law" for all those included in His People.  And how did one know he was included in the People of Israel?  According to Maimonides, this inclusion is connected to coming under the "Divine Presence."

So why did Paul include non-Jews into the People by saying "Our" fathers?

Well, in Acts 15 Paul made the case that the non-Jews had come under the Divine Presence:

"The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them," (Acts 15:12)

And in 1 Corinthians 12:
"For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink."
Here's a few more:
"While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied," (Acts 19:1-6) 
"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days," (Joel 2:28-29)
CONCLUSION

Of course Maimonides disagreed with Paul that uncircumcised non-Jews could be included in G-d's People and the rule of One-Law.  But Maimonides only disagreed because he failed to grasp that non-Jewish Believers in Yeshua come under the Divine Presence!  So Maimonides and Paul both agreed to the basic idea that to be joined to HaShem was to be joined to His People (and the One Law).

96 comments:

  1. Why? Obviously to prospectively negate the gentile-bashing that comes from the FFOZUMJC cabal today ;).

    Seriously, Genesis 12:3 is never far from Paul's entire life purpose. If there is not One People, there cannot be One King.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post, I think this is at the heart of the issues. It boils down to a few simple points, are gentiles in the Messiah now party to the covenant, are they now sons of the Kingdom, are they now fellowheirs, are they now considered sons of Abraham, and while many might agree that they are, what they fail to do after that, is to make the logical connections, which entails the responsibility of this inclusion.

    As you stated, Maimonides understood what it meant to be joined to God, and at the same time, would never accept the Apostolic understanding that Gentiles who put their trust in Yeshua are now joined to God, but he would not be the only one, no one in Judaism or in the "circumcision party" were willing to accept this either and today, neither are some within Messianic Judaism, usually writing off these statements in the Apostolic Writings as simply metaphors, having no literal relevance and claiming those who find literal meaning in these statements are in a way advocating another form of replacement theology and trying to steal identity. This is why I have said many times, it is the equivalent to saying that any gentile who becomes a proselyte to Judaism is practicing replacement theology and stealing identity, blurring distinctions, hypocrisy at its finest. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish someone had explained these simple truths to me ten or fifteen years ago... I used to believe the lie: "There's Israel and there's the Gentiles." And this lie confused me so much that I felt that I needed to be Jewish! In hindsight, it's very embarrassing that I could've ever thought that. To my shame, I even almost let a former President of the UMJC talk me into converting under UMJC auspices. Thank G-d for saving me from that!

      Delete
    2. I wish someone had explained these simple truths to me ten or fifteen years ago... I used to believe the lie: "There's Israel and there's the Gentiles." And this lie confused me so much that I felt that I needed to be Jewish! In hindsight, it's very embarrassing that I could've ever thought that. To my shame, I even almost let a former President of the UMJC talk me into converting under UMJC auspices. Thank G-d for saving me from that!

      Exactly, although there is "Israel and the nations", but there is also those who are grafted in and join Israel from the nations. This is where gentiles through faith in Messiah, are considered fellow heirs... considered sons of Abraham... etc. The nations are not considered sons of Abraham or fellow heirs or grafted in or party to the covenant, only those from among the nations who trust in Yeshua are brought in to the fold.

      I knew what you meant, but for the sake of clarification I wanted to make that point. But as you said, they teach a doctrine that makes gentiles not full covenant members unless they go through the proselyte ritual and become Jews, devaluing gentile status within covenant relationship to God...

      Delete
    3. Zion,

      Again, please watch "Paul and Jewish Tradition" on You-Tube, especially minutes 12-22. I included the link in my other response to you.

      Delete
    4. One I get a moment, I will watch it, thank you for the link!

      Delete
  3. The whole divine invitation teaching or Billateral Ecclesiology is just a non sense from the point of view of orthodox doctrine!
    Yes they believe in the Noach covenant [today, but see Tim Hegg's "do the seven go to heaven?"). But there is no way one could be a part of Abraham's covenant - as Paul and BC affirms - without becoming part of Israel. YES Paul disagreed with the established understanding of HOW one would get in the covenant, but he never proposed the non sense those people parade!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It seems to me that Paul answered the question neatly enough.
    • Galatians 3:7 HCSB so understand that those who have faith are Abraham's sons.
    • Galatians 3:29 HCSB And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise.
    • Romans 4:11 HCSB And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him (Abraham) the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also.

    Compare that to what Yeshua said to genetic Jews who failed to obey Hashem’s mitzvoth:
    • John 8:39 HCSB "Our father is Abraham!" they replied. "If you were Abraham's children," Jesus told them, "you would do what Abraham did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cajun, I would like you to expand a little more on Romans 4:11. What is your opinion on this very important text? Did Paul mean to say that Abraham is the father of two groups of believers — of the uncircumcised believers (i.e. the non-Israelites or non-Jews), and of the circumcised believers (i.e. the Israelites, or Jews) — or are these two groups to become one and the same?

      I mean, how should the phrase "that he (Abraham) might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised, &c" be understood? Is it the description of a permanent state of being uncircumcision, or are the uncircumcised to be circumcised too and join the circumcised group, so that in the end all will be circumcized?

      Is this phrase thus perhaps to be understood as: "that he (Abraham) might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not yet circumcised, [but are to receive the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of their faith]; that righteousness might be imputed to them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

      What is your opinion? Are there to remain two groups, according to Romans 4:11, or are these two groups to merge into one?

      Delete
    2. Messianic 613,

      Thank you for clarifying the question!

      The answer to this question really helps clarify the One Law debate and I look forward to any and all responses to this!

      I apologize because I know you didn't ask me, but I, for one, believe that Paul intends permanent un-circumcision, and this is why I follow the Noahide Laws. Not for salvation, but to be obedient to that part of Torah which applies to me as a gentile under the New Covenant.

      Delete
    3. Yeshua’s atonement eliminated the difference between Jew and Gentile,
      • Galatians 3:27-28 HCSB For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (29)
      Paul told us that there is no difference between Jew or Gentile among believers.
      • Galatians 3:27-28 HCSB For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (29)
      Many Gentiles have presumptuously taken that to mean that we are all Gentiles! However, if we carefully consider the very next verse along with the preponderance of the Scriptures, we realize that it is the opposite! We are all God’s people if we have been adopted into His nation. To be a believer is to be a Jew.
      • Galatians 3:29 HCSB And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise.
      We may have once been disparate nations, but no longer. We may have once been foreigners, but no longer. Hashem has taken born Jews and adopted Jews and made of them one sovereign nation (Ephesians 2:11-19).
      Yet wonderful acted also eliminated the difference between the circumcised and the uncircumcised. Circumcision is now maleh and no longer need be a meaningful discussion or a point of debate.
      • Galatians 6:15-16 HCSB For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation. 16 May peace be on all those who follow this standard, and mercy also be on the Israel of God!
      • Romans 2:28-29 HCSB For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. (29) On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart--by the Spirit, not the letter. His praise is not from men but from God.
      I agree that the Noahide laws should apply to the Gentiles but I believe the biblical definition of who are Gentiles is vastly different than what I’m seeing many say. Anyone who by faith embraces Hashem’s mitzvoth and His Messiah, are grafted into the people and have become co-heirs. The Noahide Laws would only apply to those who have not done so yet.

      Delete
    4. Cajun, I would like you to expand a little more on Romans 4:11. What is your opinion on this very important text? Did Paul mean to say that Abraham is the father of two groups of believers — of the uncircumcised believers (i.e. the non-Israelites or non-Jews), and of the circumcised believers (i.e. the Israelites, or Jews) — or are these two groups to become one and the same?

      To me, this is not trying to defend to separate groups, that does not fit the context, and two separate groups exist, simply because there is Israel and the nations, instead it is acknowledging covenant acceptance for both the circumcised and uncircumcised, this is why Paul states that Abraham was in covenant based on his faith, before circumcision, he then also tells us circumcision is the sign of the faith based covenant in the flesh.

      Consider Judaism would have never accepted this, according to Judaism, the only way one could call Abraham their father or to share in Abraham's covenant, was either by being born a descendant or by proselytism and that being based on circumcision. Paul was iterating the covenant based on faith, not circumcision, and that circumcision was a seal of an already existing covenant relationship.

      This was an issue of how one enters covenant, which was in direct opposition to what we see in Acts 15:1 and in Galatians. Paul was iterating that the uncircumcised can be part of the Abrahamic covenant without circumcision, and be considered sons of Abraham, which is a conflict with the Judaism of his day.

      Now, whether or not Gentiles would be circumcised later, is not the context and neither is it discussed here in Romans 4, the context revolves around covenant inclusion. Of course this cannot be the end all, because with covenant inclusion, comes responsibility. If the natural born sons can be cutoff, so can the adopted/grafted in, if gentiles cannot be cut off, then that would mean gentiles are not responsible to the covenant.

      Delete
    5. To anonymous, you said:

      Not for salvation, but to be obedient to that part of Torah which applies to me as a gentile under the New Covenant.

      The problem with this statement, is that the New Covenant, has the Mosaic Law being written on the heart, not the laws given to Noah.

      Also you said "you believe Paul is against gentile circumcision", what lead you to this perspective?

      Delete
    6. Zion,

      I agree that the New Covenant includes the Mosaic law written on the heart. But on whose heart? It seems clear to me that if one reads Jeremiah 31:31 in context and in light of the entire chapter, this promise is to ethnic/national Judah and Israel.

      Again, while we both agree that gentiles are grafted in to Israel and become one in the New Covenant, we disagree as to the nature of the obligations gentiles have in this covenant.

      Remember, Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation, but he was not Jewish. Abraham was not an Israelite, he was a Hebrew, a gentile and in fact, a ben Noach. He did not keep Shomer Shabbos, he was not obligatged in the dietary Laws etc.
      (Its late so I won't do so tonight but I am happy to source the above from the proper Jewish sources.) So I see no reason to think that gentiles are obligated in these things.

      In Romamans 2, when Paul says that those who are without Law "do by nature those things required of the Law demonstrating that the Law is written on their hearts", I don't think he means kosher laws and circumcision.

      I think he means the righteous requirements:

      No Idolatry
      No Blasphemy
      No Sexual Immorality
      No Murder
      No Theft
      No Cruelty (to creatures)
      Do Pursue Justice


      Delete
    7. Just in case...

      There is no reason for anyone to correct me on the "No cruelty" law. I consider myself a relative "expert" on the Laws of eiver min hachai!

      :-)

      Delete
    8. Zion,

      As far as why I think Paul is against gentile circumcision...

      Show me anywhere where Paul says the following:

      "Circumcision and the Mosaic Law won't save you brother gentile, but...

      now that you are saved brother gentile, you must be circumcised and follow Moses.

      That's all he would have had to say to clear up any confusion. But he doesn't... ever.

      We can debate all day long about what Paul is saying, his exegesis of Genesis, the relation of all this to the New Covenant etc. But at best, in my humble opinion, Paul is very unclear.

      And I think the better understanding of Paul's intent is that which is summed up by Dr. Nanos per the videos of him I've watched, as we've discussed. And of course the arguments I've already been making.

      :)

      Delete
    9. To Anonymous,

      I agree that the New Covenant includes the Mosaic law written on the heart. But on whose heart? It seems clear to me that if one reads Jeremiah 31:31 in context and in light of the entire chapter, this promise is to ethnic/national Judah and Israel.

      Again, while we both agree that gentiles are grafted in to Israel and become one in the New Covenant, we disagree as to the nature of the obligations gentiles have in this covenant.


      You are contradicting yourself, you can't say the the New Covenant party is to ethnic Israel and thus conclude that the Mosaic is only for ethnic Israel, and then claim you are party to the Covenant, that is a contradicting conclusion. If we follow your reasoning consistently, you are not party to the New Covenant because you are not ethnic Israel. But lets go further, you actually offer no reason to how you come to the conclusion you have concerning what you are to observe as a gentile, you only offer an assumption based on a lack of evidence, which is a logical fallacy.

      Delete
    10. As far as why I think Paul is against gentile circumcision...

      Show me anywhere where Paul says the following:

      "Circumcision and the Mosaic Law won't save you brother gentile, but...

      now that you are saved brother gentile, you must be circumcised and follow Moses.

      That's all he would have had to say to clear up any confusion. But he doesn't... ever.


      This is similar to your logical fallacy above, I could easily say the opposite, why didn't the Apostles, not just Paul, say very clearly, "gentiles only need to keep the Laws of Noah", case closed...

      The logical fallacy is: Evidence of Absence

      Delete
  5. Anonymous,

    Then why did Paul circumcised Timothy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because Timothy's mother was Jewish. This makes Timothy Jewish in accordance with Jewish Law. So as an ethnic Jew he would need to be circumcised to be in obedience.



      Delete
    2. Paul circumcising Timothy (Acts 16:3) but not Titus (Galatians 2:3-5) clearly demonstrates that circumcision is maleh. However something that is maleh isn’t necessarily assur. Circumcision, like mikveh, remains a voluntary choice. Paul had Timothy get circumcised, not due to “Christian” pressure to become more Jewish, but in order to better accomplish his missionary work, much as Hudson Taylor dressed in Chinese clothing and grew a queue in order to better witness to the Chinese people.
      I use maleh in the sense of (Strong’s #4390) “to fill, or be full; to be fulfilled.” Mahleh has both an adjectival and a verbal sense. It is the verb that means “fill” or “fill up,” as well as “fulfill”. In our congregation we also use it to refer to those laws and regulations that have been fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18) and no longer are required though not necessarily forbidden. There are at least six broad categories that are presently maleh, circumcision being one of them.

      Delete
    3. Timothy had a Jewish mother and had been taught the Old Covenant his whole life (2 Timothy 3:15. Titus was a Greek who’d been raised as such. For Titus to be compelled to circumcise (which was what was desired by the false believers) would have been to associate accepting the Messiah with outward works of the flesh and so Paul refused “so that the truth of the Gospel would remain”. For Timothy, to get circumcised (his father must have objected) would not have threatened the nature of the Gospel because it was well within the bounds of his culture and no one was DEMANDING it of him to demonstrate the validity of his conversion. The brothers already “spoke highly of him”.

      Delete
  6. Anonymous,

    you are not making any sense. If Timothy was a Jew, then why was he already circumcised?

    Also the Mishnah states that Jewish lineage could be only determined in marriages that are ruled valid. Intermarriage could not have been ruled valid in 1st Century halacha, therefore the offspring of such a marriage would not be considered Jewish.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dan,

      I'm not sure what you mean by "already circumcised". I do not think he was circumcised eight days after his birth nor at any time until Paul did so.

      Though Timothy's mother was Jewish, presumably his gentile father did not have it done.

      I am going to check with some of my Rabbinic friends regarding the Mishnah source you mentioned and I'll get back with you on that.

      Either way though, comparing Acts 16 with Galatians 2 indicates to me at that Paul was willing to circumcise Timothy because his mother was Jewish, whereas Paul vehemently opposed this for Titus, who was 100 percent gentile.



      Delete
    2. Anonymous,sorry, I meant "why was he not already circumcised.'

      Delete
    3. Dan,

      I am still looking into the Mishnah you gave, but here is what I have so far:

      Mishna, Kiddushin 3:13 says:

      "Any union which is a valid marriage and there is no prohibition, the child follows the father, namely: a female Cohen/Levite/Israelite marries a male Cohen/Levite/Israelite ... "

      "Any union in which there would be no valid marriage between her or any Jewish man, the child follows her [the mother], namely: the child of a slave woman or non-Jewish woman."

      So the Mishnah is basically saying that if the mother is non-Jewish, the child is not Jewish.

      It appears to intend the converse as well, namely that if the mother is Jewish so is the child...

      So it seems that it is precisely because the marriage is invalid that the child's status is determined by the status of the mother.

      That said, there apparently was an opinion very early which held that both parents must be Jewish for the child to be Jewish, but it was a minority opinion and I'm still looking for the source.

      So honestly, at this point, based on the above, I see no reason to call into question Timothy's status as a Jew and therefore I maintain my contention that he was indeed Jewish and this is why Paul circumcised him.

      Though again, I don't think it matters simply because Acts 16 goes to the trouble to tell us that Timothy's mother was Jewish and appears to be the reason Paul circumcised him anyway.

      Interestingly enough, Rabbi Akiva held that the child born of such a union was a Mamzer, but that opinion is not held today.

      The Rambam decided it definitively for Orthodox Jews today stating clearly in Prohibited Relations 15:4:

      "This is the rule: When one parent is a slave or not Jewish, whether male or female, the child follows the mother, and we pay no attention to [the halachic status] of the father."

      I'll keep looking. I find searching these things both interesting and enlightening in my quest to get a clearer glimpse of the historical context of these issues.

      Chag Semeach!

      Delete
    4. If he was Jewish, then why was Timothy not circumcised on the 8th day?

      Peter recommended an article by Shay Cohen, did you read it?

      Delete
  7. I want to be clear that I do not hold to supercessionism, the idea that the Church supersedes or replaces Israel. We are clearly told that all believers are grafted into the holy nation of Israel (Romans 11:17-24).
    I feel that there is much discussion out there in Messianic circles that creates and artificial division between believing Hebrews and believing Gentiles. I think that the only division in the world that the Father sees within this context is “those who submit” (Israel) and “those who rebel” (Gentiles).
    I hold that there is one Godhead, one holy Israel (Galatians 6:16), one baptism (Ephesians 4:5), and one King administering one Royal Law (Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 30:6; Matthew 19:19; 22:37-40; Mark 12:30-31, 33; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:13; James 2:8; 1 John 3:18) for all who believe and submit to His rule.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The interpretation of Paul is notoriously difficult, and one of the reasons is that Paul almost always writes in a polemical context. In his letters we find indications which seem to support as well as which seem to restrain or discourage Gentile Torah observance.

    The difficulty here concentrates on circumcision. Paul could be 'saved' as pro Gentile Torah observance if he somewhere would make an explicit distinction between circumcision as a rite of conversion and circumcision according to the Torah and the Abrahamic covenant. But he never makes such a distinction.

    And there is something else here which is particularly pressing, since circumcision is one of the commandments for the the penalty for non-observance is karet, being cut off from one's people, which of cours implies being cut off from the covenant community and thus from the covenant itself. Now in his Galatian letter Paul uses this argument of karet in a complete opposite direction. He threatens them who get circumcised, and those who instigate the Galatians to receive circumcision, with the punishment of being cut off! This line of reasoning must have provoked the pro-circumcision faction to anger against Paul.

    If one considers this conflict from a traditional Jewish perspective, one would only expect that believing Pharisees were concerned about the new Gentile believers. If these Pharisees were convinced by Paul and the other Apostles that these Gentiles had become covenant members, then they must have thought that their circumcision was not only expedient, but acutely necessary to assure their salvation. For, as I said, if the penalty for non-observance is exclusion from the covenant, these Pharisees must have viewed the Galatians as in danger of being cut off from the New Covenant made by Messiah.

    Their pressure for conversion should perhaps be considered in this perspective. Since they could perceive Gentile circumcision only in the context of conversion, they must have come to the conclusion that conversion of these Gentiles was necessary for the very same reasons by which Paul held conversion for anathema.

    But since in Paul's writings we find the same identification of Gentile circumcision with conversion, the problem seems to be insoluble. Either the Gentiles are to become Torah observant, but in that case one runs into a conflict with Paul as soon as the subject of circumcision is touched; or else they are not to become circumcised, but then the project of Gentile Torah observance is seriously crippled.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Messianic613,

      Well said and another excellent clarification of the issues!

      I agree that Paul is ambiguous.

      So I have to ask you, at the end of the day, what is your position on the issue of Paul's intention for gentiles regarding both circumcision and keeping Torah of Moses?

      Also, what method of practice (I'm assuming your non-Jewish) do you employ?

      In other words, in relation to circumcision, Torah and mitzvos, what is your orthodoxy and what is your orthopraxy?

      Delete
    2. Messianic 613, would you be willing to send me an email address to which I could send a brief statement on what I refer to as the maleh filters? I think it would help clarify "Paul's insoluble problem." A third option could be that we should generally be Torah observant with a few notable exceptions (including circumcision for conversion). If you're willing, send me an email address at pastorpauley@gmail.com

      Delete
    3. Messianic613,

      Their pressure for conversion should perhaps be considered in this perspective. Since they could perceive Gentile circumcision only in the context of conversion, they must have come to the conclusion that conversion of these Gentiles was necessary for the very same reasons by which Paul held conversion for anathema.

      Exactly, if gentiles were not considered to be in covenant, and also not considered to now be part of the existing Jewish communities, there would have never been a threat or conflict of interest... this is an obvious red flag. If gentiles were simply God-fearers, then there would have never been a conflict, God-fearers were normal in that period and time. Paul claiming gentiles are now considered sons of Abraham, because of their Faith in Messiah, runs in contradiction to the Judaism at his time and still today. So I will state it again, if gentiles are not responsible to the covenant and not responsible to the Torah, none of the arguments we see in the Apostolic Writings would have ever happened, no need, nothing would have changed.

      Those who ignore this conflict, fail to properly understand Paul.

      Delete
    4. Zion, thanks for formulating the difficulty in a complementary manner. The ambiguity in Paul — or I would prefer to say the ambiguity we hit upon in the interpretation of Paul — seems to me exactly captured in the two ways we formulated it. Here we meet an enormous inner tension, of which we don't know, at present, whether this tension does indeed belong to Paul's vision or perhaps is the product of our reception and interpretation. In any case, it is extremely difficult to have Paul fit the One Law perspective without friction; as it is not less difficult to have him fit any other perspective.

      This state of affairs doesn't take away that I do still consider the One Law option as the most promising option for the interpretation of Paul — and the entire NT. The reason is that, as far as I know, any other vision seems to cause endless complications as soon as it is worked out in a detailed manner. I need not to remind anyone here of the absurdities of the Divine Invitation perspective. And no one who really desires a clear and unified vision on how to serve HaShem and follow of Master Yeshua is really interested in the syncretism involved in the traditional Christian position. Neither is it possible to be content with the poverty and emptiness of a Noachide lifestyle, which doesn't correspond to the rich spiritual heritage we have found in the Messiah of Israel.

      Nevertheless, all these systematic inconveniences and incompatibilities are in and of themselves insufficient to assure us of the One Law position, especially as soon as exegesis of Paul's letters is involved.

      I guess that one of the reasons why the One Law position hasn't gained much respectability among scholars Church groups that are not inimical to the idea of Torah observance, is this nagging difficulty about circumcision. It cannot be solved simply by making a distinction between the Abrahamic and the proselyte circumcision. Even Tim Hegg, who is very creative in using this distinction as an instrument to solve perceived tension in Paul, has to take recourse to an additional hypothesis of post-ponement here. I don't say this as a reproach to Hegg and his pioneering work, which I very much appreciate, but his solution runs into problems and is not completely satisfactory. When traditional Christians who are attracted to Messianic Judaism and the idea of Torah observance, come to realize the complexity and trickiness of the circumcision-problem they are taken aback, and, under the impression that they ran into a swamp, they see no other option than to return to the Church.

      My answer to Anonymous' question is contained in what I said above. I know of no better lifestyle for Christians than Torah observance. But my position on this is more based on general theological and philosophical reasons than on deductions from the NT. I always have found the orthodox Jewish argument that Christianity is a self-secularizing religion and that Torah observance remains relevant as long as this world stands, very convincing.

      As to my personal observance, as a Gentile I have refrained from taking the irrreversible step of circumcision, both out of fear of committing a serious error, and because to my knowledge there's no congregation here which performs Gentile circumcisions.

      In matters of halachah I'm generally orthodox and follow orthodox practice. I position is to only deviate from orthodox halachah when it is in clear and positive conflict with Scripture.

      Cajun, I'll send you an email address. Shalom, and joyous and refreshing days of Sukkot to you all.

      Delete
    5. Messianic613,

      While we do not always see eye to eye, I do appreciate your perspective... have a blessed Sukkot as well!

      Delete
    6. Messianic613,

      Thank you for your answer.

      Please forgive, me but I assume that when you say "halacha" and "generally orthodox" you mean that you essentially live like an Orthodox Jew.

      What then is your opinion on Orthodox halacha as it pertains to the Noahide Laws?

      Let me clarify by way of example. I study and follow, as carefully as I can with G-d's help, the seven Laws with Orthodox Rabbis using the actual sources (Mishnah/Gemerah, Rambam etc.)

      But in addition to these seven Laws, I do take on additional mitzvoth that are permissible to me as a non-Jew. Examples include a form of kosher, a limited way of honoring Shabbos/the seventh day, the festivals etc. So I live very "Jewishly" for lack of a better way to put it, but I do so in a manner that falls under the halachic umbrella itself.

      Any thought on this?

      Is this an area of interest for you?

      Chag Semeach!



      Delete
    7. As to my personal observance, as a Gentile I have refrained from taking the irrreversible step of circumcision, both out of fear of committing a serious error, and because to my knowledge there's no congregation here which performs Gentile circumcisions.

      I meant to ask you about this... Do believe that the error would be in reference to circumcision in general or do you think the error would be concerning the proselyte ritual?

      If you believe this is referring to the ritual of the proselyte, do you think that the ritual is in opposition to the Gospel message?

      I know you believe the proselyte ritual to be a legitimate custom found in scripture, so it makes me wonder if you think the scriptures are opposed on these points?

      Just interested how you address these points. :D

      Delete
    8. Let me first say that it is clear to me that Paul taught that all Jews — whether they be believers in Yeshua or not — should circumcise their sons and obey all the Torah. I also have not find a general problem with the proselyte ritual in Paul's writings. By this I mean that we have no general statement of Paul that he considered proselytes as a kind of fake-Jews. In the Acts of the Apostles prostelytes are mentioned and Paul never makes a problem about them.

      The only context in which Paul seems to make a problem of proselytism is in his texts on circumcision of messianic Gentiles. Now part of these texts is what they are exactly about? Are they about (messianic) Gentile circumcision in general, or are they about proselyte circumcision? Or, more fundamentally, is this distinction known at all by Paul? Did Paul think about Gentile circumcision without the context of the proselyte ritual as a possibility at all? Or would it perhaps be halachic nonsense to him? The texts are silent on this, and the question is thus how to exegetically legitimate the import of this distinction.

      According to both possibilities — Paul making this distinction or not — the result is that at least the proselyte ritual is excluded for messianic Gentiles. The only context in which Gentile circumcision would be permitted is that which relies on the supposition that Paul indeed made the distinction between the two types of circumcision. I would consider this a too small and far too speculative basis for any messianic practice in this matter.

      In addition I would say that I think that in particular Tim Hegg's solution is unsatisfactory and anachronistic, although I don't exclude a priori that his solution can be improved. Hegg thinks that Rabbinic Judaism is anachronistically reading the later religious proselyte into the 'Gerim'-texts of the Torah. And from a grammatical-historical viewpoint he is right here of course. But at the same time he commits another, not less blatant anachronism by declaring that the 'One Law'-texts to be applicable outside the Land and in diaspora situations. What is more anachronistic: to develop a proselyte procedure for the diaspora situation or to declare to Gentile participants of a messianic congregation in the US that they are strangers who attach themselves to Israel according to for example Lev. 24:22: "Ye shall have one manner of law, as well as for the stranger, as for one of your own country". For who is the stranger in the country after all? The Jew who lives in the US or the US Gentile Christian? Texts like these are only appicable to the Land of Israel and cannot be applied to diaspora situations.

      To me the development of a proselyte ritual in Judaism was a historical necessity in the diaspora situation. But to declare the 'stranger-in-the-Land'-texts to be applicable to Gentile Christians is based on an a-historical, wooden exegetical approach, rooted in the "Scripture Sola" principle of Calvinism. Judaism avoided this wooden approach by its sense of tradition and its development of a flexible halachic technical apparatus in order to deal with later problems.

      Delete
    9. "In the Acts of the Apostles prostelytes are mentioned and Paul never makes a problem about them. "

      Why were they called proselytes and not Jews?

      Delete
    10. "Proselyte" is simply a short-hand for "Jewish proselyte", "proselyte Jew" or "proselyte Israelite". In any case, it is clear that proselytes had Jewish status and G-d-fearers had not. Proselyte graves of that time are always found in Jewish cemeteries, while there not a single example of a G-d-fearer buried there.

      This status of proselytes is a simple matter of historical fact which isn't contested in the Apostolic Writings.

      Delete
    11. Messianic613,

      Thank you for your opinion, but you did not answer my question...

      I specifically am asking you, do you think the proselyte ritual is in opposition to the Gospel, or as you would read it, do you think "circumcision" is against the Gospel?

      Delete
    12. Messianic613,

      Thank you for your opinion, but you did not answer my question...

      I specifically am asking you, do you think the proselyte ritual is in opposition to the Gospel, or as you would read it, do you think "circumcision" is against the Gospel?

      Delete
    13. I thought it was clear that I cannot answer that question. I don't know whether the proselyte ritual is in opposition to the Gospel — per se and absolutely. The proselyte problem is simply part of the larger circumcision problem.

      Delete
    14. I thought it was clear that I cannot answer that question. I don't know whether the proselyte ritual is in opposition to the Gospel — per se and absolutely. The proselyte problem is simply part of the larger circumcision problem.

      You don't know? So you believe it is possible the Gospel and the Torah are at odds with each other? How do you hold any consistency with scripture with this type of question?

      Delete
    15. This is not a question of the Gospel and the Torah being at odds with each other. This is simply a question about whether proselyte conversion or/and circumcision apply to Gentile believers in Messiah.

      Delete
    16. This is not a question of the Gospel and the Torah being at odds with each other. This is simply a question about whether proselyte conversion or/and circumcision apply to Gentile believers in Messiah.

      You are failing to see the contradiction, let me try another way... Paul pits "circumcision" for gentiles, as opposed to Christ in Gal 5. If the Torah teaches gentiles can be circumcised and brought into Israel, and Paul is saying that "circumcision" is against the Message of Christ, then we have a catch-22.

      You are saying that proselyte conversion applied to gentiles before Yeshua, but now in Yeshua it does not apply, yet even further is that if a gentile were to keep the proselyte conversion ritual, they are in opposition to God, pitting Torah and Gospel at odds.

      How do you deal with this contradiction?

      Delete
    17. A possible way of dealing with this contradiction is to take Paul as the halachic scholar he was. What would such a scholar say when he heard about a covenant position in and through Messiah as a reality through faith alone? He would say that such a position would be something entirely outside the halachic universe.

      Halachic-technically the Gentile believers hadn’t changed their status in any perceptible sense. Their participation in the Abrahamic covenant was exclusively based on faith. For the halachah this faith was irrelevant, for the halachah doesn’t deal with faith. It only deals with tangible realities, such as whether a person is man or woman, of Gentile or Jewish descent, Kohen, Levite, Israelite, mamzer, slave, &c.

      This would mean that Paul worked within the framework of the possibilities provided by the categorizations of the halachah of his time and placed the Gentile believers in the category of sympathizers or G-d fearers. G-d fearers in general were a very loose category, with hardly any formal rules. Messianic G-d fearers, however, were a far better defined and regulated category, through the injunctions of the Apostolic Decree.

      Dependent on how Acts ch. XV and the Apostolic Decree are interpreted, this option doesn’t per se exclude Torah observance, or even an apostolic obligation to it, provided that the border of ‘circumcision’ isn’t crossed and the Gentiles indeed remain Gentiles whose attachment to Israel is only and exclusively based on faith, not on halachic inclusion.

      Another possible way of dealing with this contradiction would be by accepting the speculative distinction between two kinds of Gentile circumcision we discussed above, i.e. proselyte circumcision and circumcision according to the Written Torah. We have no indication that Paul accepted this distinction, but we can introduce it on our own initiative, as an attempt to save Paul from contradicting the Torah.

      According to this option we have to assume that according to the faction of the circumcisers, the Galatians were not yet included in the covenant, since they intended to make proselytes of them, according to their Gospel. But then the question arises why this should be done. What was the urgency? If the Galatians weren’t covenant members but simply Gentile G-d fearers, why should they become circumcised at all? As I said, it seems to me that the general perception of the time was that Gentiles could inherit a portion of the World to Come without the requirement of becoming proselytes.

      This option has the disadvantage that according to it we are forced to admit that Paul, after he had more or less successfully got rid of the circumcisers’ faction, now would face the embarrassing task of explaining to the Galatians that they indeed were under the obligation to get circumcised, this time not to become covenant members, but to avoid being cut off from the covenant membership they already enjoyed.

      Delete
    18. I'm sorry but part of my text was lost in posting. I'll try again. Please ignore the text right above.

      Delete
    19. Part I
      Your catch-22 is the starting-point of many historical efforts to reconcile Paul and the Torah, even in traditional Christian contexts. Dealing with contradictions is part of the process of interpretation, as is evident from many talmudic discussions. I’ll try to give a few options for dealing with this particular one.

      My general position is that proselyte conversion is still valid, even in our days. Although it is not permitted for Gentile believers in Yeshua, this fact doesn’t limit its legal validity. From my point of view the discussion on the subject of conversion is thus not about the validity of the proselyte procedure but only about its permissibility for believers.

      In the Epistle to the Galatians Paul denies circumcision to Gentile believers, because according to him it implies another Gospel, contrary to that of Yeshua. It is not easy to discover the exact contents of that contrary Gospel, since we only have one side of the argument.

      I find it hard to believe that this Gospel of the circumcizers was the message that Gentiles in general had to become proselytes in order to obtain a portion in the World to Come. Hegg says that this was the Pharisaic theology of the day, formulated in the adage: “All Israel will be saved”. But to make his point Hegg has to interpret this adage as if it said: “Only Israelites will be saved”.

      My doubt here is based on the fact of the existence of a large class of Gentile G-d fearers in NT times. Nowhere in the NT do we see that these G-d fearers were considered by anyone as eternally lost unless they became proselytes.

      It seems more probable to me, therefore, that the circumcisers in Galatians were typically focused on Gentile Messianics, and that they were fellow believers. Their position seems to have been that Gentile believers in Messiah Yeshua must receive circumcision in order not to be cut off from the covenant they were already made part of by their faith.

      Paul doesn’t deny that the Gentile believers are offspring of Abraham and covenant members by faith. He confirms this as their position in Messiah. Yet he denies them circumcision.

      Delete
    20. Part II
      A possible way of dealing with this contradiction is to take Paul as the halachic scholar he was. What would such a scholar say when he heard about a covenant position in and through Messiah as a reality through faith alone? He would say that such a position would be something entirely outside the halachic universe.

      Halachic-technically the Gentile believers hadn’t changed their status in any perceptible sense. Their participation in the Abrahamic covenant was exclusively based on faith. For the halachah this faith was irrelevant, for the halachah doesn’t deal with faith. It only deals with tangible realities, such as whether a person is man or woman, of Gentile or Jewish descent, Kohen, Levite, Israelite, mamzer, slave, &c.

      This would mean that Paul worked within the framework of the possibilities provided by the categorizations of the halachah of his time and placed the Gentile believers in the category of sympathizers or G-d fearers. G-d fearers in general were a very loose category, with hardly any formal rules. Messianic G-d fearers, however, were a far better defined and regulated category, through the injunctions of the Apostolic Decree.

      Dependent on how Acts ch. XV and the Apostolic Decree are interpreted, this option doesn’t per se exclude Torah observance, or even an apostolic obligation to it, provided that the border of ‘circumcision’ isn’t crossed and the Gentiles indeed remain Gentiles whose attachment to Israel is only and exclusively based on faith, not on halachic inclusion.

      Another possible way of dealing with this contradiction would be by accepting the speculative distinction between two kinds of Gentile circumcision we discussed above, i.e. proselyte circumcision and circumcision according to the Written Torah. We have no indication that Paul accepted this distinction, but we can introduce it on our own initiative, as an attempt to save Paul from contradicting the Torah.

      According to this option we have to assume that according to the faction of the circumcisers, the Galatians were not yet included in the covenant, since they intended to make proselytes of them, according to their Gospel. But then the question arises why this should be done. What was the urgency? If the Galatians weren’t covenant members but simply Gentile G-d fearers, why should they become circumcised at all? As I said, it seems to me that the general perception of the time was that Gentiles could inherit a portion of the World to Come without the requirement of becoming proselytes.

      This option has the disadvantage that according to it we are forced to admit that Paul, after he had more or less successfully got rid of the circumcisers’ faction, now would face the embarrassing task of explaining to the Galatians that they indeed were under the obligation to get circumcised, this time not to become covenant members, but to avoid being cut off from the covenant membership they already enjoyed.

      Delete
    21. This would mean that Paul worked within the framework of the possibilities provided by the categorizations of the halachah of his time and placed the Gentile believers in the category of sympathizers or G-d fearers. G-d fearers in general were a very loose category, with hardly any formal rules. Messianic G-d fearers, however, were a far better defined and regulated category, through the injunctions of the Apostolic Decree.

      The problem with saying gentiles in Messiah were considered God-fearers, fails to answer why the dilemma. There was nothing new about a God-fearer, why all the fuss? Clearly there was a difference.

      Delete
    22. My general position is that proselyte conversion is still valid, even in our days. Although it is not permitted for Gentile believers in Yeshua, this fact doesn’t limit its legal validity. From my point of view the discussion on the subject of conversion is thus not about the validity of the proselyte procedure but only about its permissibility for believers.

      Thus you are saying the Torah changed, at least in regards to the Gospel... this is inconsistent.

      Paul doesn’t deny that the Gentile believers are offspring of Abraham and covenant members by faith. He confirms this as their position in Messiah. Yet he denies them circumcision.

      This is why considering Gentiles God-fearers in this context fails, because Paul considers these gentiles sons of Abraham, which God-fearers, clearly were not considered. Thus the issue is deeper. Whether or not it was for securing a place in the world to come, we clearly see in Gal 5, and issue concerning justification, which I don't see you dealing with.

      Delete
    23. Halachic-technically the Gentile believers hadn’t changed their status in any perceptible sense. Their participation in the Abrahamic covenant was exclusively based on faith. For the halachah this faith was irrelevant, for the halachah doesn’t deal with faith. It only deals with tangible realities, such as whether a person is man or woman, of Gentile or Jewish descent, Kohen, Levite, Israelite, mamzer, slave, &c.

      The Apostles argued that the gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit was proof of acceptance.

      Delete
    24. Please read the first two paragraphs of Part II, where I say that halachically they hadn't changed status. Their G-d fearer status was thus only their status from a halachic perspective. Yet, since they were believers in Messiah, they were covenant members by faith, but this fact couldn't be dealt with by the halachah since the halachah isn't about faith but only about tangible categories.

      Delete
    25. Please read the first two paragraphs of Part II, where I say that halachically they hadn't changed status. Their G-d fearer status was thus only their status from a halachic perspective. Yet, since they were believers in Messiah, they were covenant members by faith, but this fact couldn't be dealt with by the halachah since the halachah isn't about faith but only about tangible categories.

      But what is the conflict with Judaism then? If halachically they were simply considered God-fearers, what is the problem? I know what you wrote, but you leave it blank, I am asking you, what the issue is?

      Clearly the Apostles considered gentiles as covenant members and their proof was the receiving of the Holy Spirit just as they did.

      A God-fearer could not be considered a son of Abraham, halachically speaking, yet these believers were being considered sons of Abraham, how does that fit in your understanding?

      Delete
    26. As I said, I only mentioned the two options I gave above as possible ways out of the Pauline problem concerning circumcision. I acknowledge that each of these may create new problems of its own. What I’m trying to do is only tentative. The first option can be summarized as Torah observance without circumcision; the second as full Torah observance, including circumcision, but still without halachic conversion. The first option thus doesn’t distinguish between Gentile circumcision and conversion; the second does.

      According to my first option the Gentile believers must indeed be G-d fearers qua halachic status. Yet they are covenant members on a supernatural level, through faith and the receiving of the Ruach HaKodesh. But this covenant membership didn’t change their former halachic status as Gentile G-d fearers.

      Accordingly, these believers were sons of Abraham by faith only. Now what is the faith of a Gentile according to the halachah? It is nothing. It simply has no legal effects. It doesn’t change the Gentile into an Israelite. It doesn’t include the Gentile in Israel in any way whatsoever. This faith is simply a Gentile thing and it involves no legal changes.

      So halachically speaking these Gentile believers were G-d fearers and nothing more. Paul, however, treated them as full covenant members, because of their faith. And this caused problems for Judaism. The idea of this option is that Paul said that despite their uncircumcised and non-proselyte status these believers were nonetheless covenant members. The difference with the proselytes was that these new covenant members had entered in by a new way. Their entrance was Messiah Yeshua. In him they were circumcised and thus included in Israel, with a spiritual circumcision — a spiritual giyyur so to say — which didn’t require any addition, since the Ruach HaKodesh had sealed them as valid covenant members.

      According to this reconstruction of Paul’s line of thought, these believers should remain uncircumcised. They should keep their uncircumcised status as a sign of this new entrance by Messiah alone, by faith alone. Yet in this uncircumcised state they are fully equal to the Jewish covenant members and are expected to develop a Torah obedient lifestyle. Even intermarriage with them is not a problem.

      This of course was unacceptable to the Pharisees. If Paul insisted that these Gentile had been made covenant by another means, hitherto unknown, then this fact must have full halachic consequences in their eyes. And thus they demanded circumcision. This was the essential conflict according to this option.

      Delete
    27. Thank you for clarifying your position, I don't agree, but I wanted to hear your conclusion.

      Accordingly, these believers were sons of Abraham by faith only. Now what is the faith of a Gentile according to the halachah? It is nothing. It simply has no legal effects. It doesn’t change the Gentile into an Israelite. It doesn’t include the Gentile in Israel in any way whatsoever. This faith is simply a Gentile thing and it involves no legal changes.

      Right, the issue was halachah, which would include the proselyte ritual. Paul considered gentiles, as now part of Israel, because of their faith, grafted in, considered sons of Abraham, part of the commonwealth of Israel, party to the covenants of promise... by their faith, not by any works of law... etc. And in Paul considering this, he is opposed to the Halachah in this case, not the Law or the Gospel...

      Delete
    28. I don’t think you got my point. The resulting conflict, according to this option or reconstruction, was certainly about (the interpretation of) the Written Torah. Since Paul taught that the Gentile believers had entered in by a new door, without circumcision, and were made covenant members solely by their faith in Yeshua, not by any halachic procedure, the conclusion the believers among the Pharisees must have drawn is that the males among them should be circumcised.

      The reason is obvious. Paul taught that these Gentiles were covenant members and were expected to lead a Torah obedient lifestyle in Messiah. Paul treated them as equals. He even permitted intermarriage “in Messiah”. Such tangible effects must be dealt with in a halachic manner the Pharisees must have thought. They could accept G-d fearers without problems, but not G-d fearers claiming to be covenant members, with equal rights and obligations, while yet being and remaining uncircumcised. That was the problem.

      Their reasoning thus must have been that if this new way of faith indeed conferred covenant membership in a supernatural manner, and if this was confirmed from Heaven by the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh, then the consequence must be that these Gentiles were also to be halachically included in Israel and that their males must be circumcised. And there they found Paul opposing this, with his doctrine that the Gentiles were complete in Messiah and that any additional circumcision — whether interpreted as proselyte conversion or as Israelite circumcision — was superfluous and in conflict with their completed status in Messiah. The Pharisees could never accept this. They must have held that the Gentile males were still under the obligation of circumcision according to Gen. ch. XVII.

      Delete
    29. I don’t think you got my point. The resulting conflict, according to this option or reconstruction, was certainly about (the interpretation of) the Written Torah. Since Paul taught that the Gentile believers had entered in by a new door, without circumcision, and were made covenant members solely by their faith in Yeshua, not by any halachic procedure, the conclusion the believers among the Pharisees must have drawn is that the males among them should be circumcised.

      When Paul uses Abraham as the example of covenant relationship, I don't see that as a 'new' way, the issue was not a new way other than what was before, instead Abraham was the example for entrance, Abraham entered covenant with God despite circumcision and so do these Gentiles, I will agree though that in Messiah brought it further than the simply understanding of faith inclusion, we were to be counted through Messiah. From my perspective, the "circumcision party" was not simply asking gentiles to be circumcised, they were claiming, the gentiles could not have entered without the proselyte conversion, thus a debate of halachah... this is the issue concerning justification, debating whether or not gentiles should be circumcised after their inclusion, does not fit the context, which revolves around justification, not obedience.

      The reason is obvious. Paul taught that these Gentiles were covenant members and were expected to lead a Torah obedient lifestyle in Messiah. Paul treated them as equals. He even permitted intermarriage “in Messiah”. Such tangible effects must be dealt with in a halachic manner the Pharisees must have thought. They could accept G-d fearers without problems, but not G-d fearers claiming to be covenant members, with equal rights and obligations, while yet being and remaining uncircumcised. That was the problem.

      How does this address the justification issues? It sounds nice, and if there were no arguments of justification, I would most likely agree, but this does not suffice when dealing with justification in Messiah vs Works of Law argument we see in Galatians. If it is not an argument concerning halachah, then we have to conclude that the Gospel and the Torah are now at odds, concerning gentile covenant relationship.

      The Pharisees could never accept this. They must have held that the Gentile males were still under the obligation of circumcision according to Gen. ch. XVII.

      In my opinion, your view has to assume that the Pharisees were fine with gentiles being in covenant, they just wanted them to keep the halachic procedure, however, I don't see them accepting the position of gentile inclusion at all. In Acts 15:1, we see gentiles being troubled, saying they are not actually in covenant unless they go through the circumcision ritual, thus the argument of the "circumcision party" is not because they are now in covenant, but instead they simply are not in covenant, unless they do the halachic procedure.

      So to simplify, how does your argument deal with the justification issues in Paul's arguments?

      Delete
    30. I'm not sure that I have exactly grasped what you mean in this context with the arguments of justification, so please correct me if I'm on a wrong track.

      Being justified before G-d is essentially the same as having a portion in the World to Come or having the Ruach HaKodesh. And it is obvious that the entrance into this state can be by faith only. But if this state of being justified entails membership of the New Covenant in Messiah's blood, and if this New Covenant is the Renewal of the Sinai Covenant through the fulfilment of the promises in the context of the Abrahamic Covenant, then the resulting obligation of circumcision seems even more severe than in the situation before the arrival of Messiah. For if the penalty is karet, then this penalty for a believer would not only signify exclusion from the temporal covenant community of this earthly life, but exclusion from the New Covenant and thus the loss of eternal salvation.

      This would imply that from an absolute viewpoint — making abstraction from the time-factor and from the distinction between initial and ultimate salvation — bodily circumcision for male covenant members is necessary for entering the World to Come, and thus a salvation issue.

      Related to the complex of problems we have gone through, I have a question on which I would like to hear your opinion. This Sukkot I have re-read some sections of Tim Hegg's book "The Letter Writer", and I was struck by the following problem:

      On pp. 107-109 Hegg deals with the category of G-d fearers and summarizes their traditional position as follows:

      "[...] considering all the evidence, the Gentile who were sympathetic to the Synagogue and even worshiped there but did not undergo a proselyte conversion were known as "G-d fearers". They most likely existed as a well-defined group within the Jewish community. [...] Rome took a low view of those who were charged with double loyalties. It may have been more prudent to remain in a kind of "in-between" status rather than making a full declaration of conversion." (108-109).

      If this description is correct, it is very difficult to understand what he says on p 256, that "when men from Judea taught that "unless you are circumcised (undergo the ritual of a proselyte) according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved", they were simply applying the standard theology of their day.

      If the Pharisees taught that only Israelites have a portion in the World to Come, then what sense did the class of G-d fearers make, since according to Pharisaic theology they were all eternally lost anyway, no matter how pious they were?

      Do you see the problem? And what's your perspective on it?

      Delete
    31. Being justified before G-d is essentially the same as having a portion in the World to Come or having the Ruach HaKodesh. And it is obvious that the entrance into this state can be by faith only. But if this state of being justified entails membership of the New Covenant in Messiah's blood, and if this New Covenant is the Renewal of the Sinai Covenant through the fulfilment of the promises in the context of the Abrahamic Covenant, then the resulting obligation of circumcision seems even more severe than in the situation before the arrival of Messiah. For if the penalty is karet, then this penalty for a believer would not only signify exclusion from the temporal covenant community of this earthly life, but exclusion from the New Covenant and thus the loss of eternal salvation.

      This would imply that from an absolute viewpoint — making abstraction from the time-factor and from the distinction between initial and ultimate salvation — bodily circumcision for male covenant members is necessary for entering the World to Come, and thus a salvation issue.


      You still are not answering my question, Paul is dealing with something that the "circumcision party" is teaching, which is conflicting with justification... your arguments do not address this dilemma.

      Now on to what you said, lets look at it from the opposite, if one can be justified despite any relationship to the covenants and anything related to Israel, then we can conclude that Israel is worthless concerning those who come to faith in Messiah, their role is of no purpose to those in the Messiah.

      Concerning circumcision, it is not as easy as saying it is karet, multiple times in scripture we see people not circumcised, and neither put to death or cut off, how do we deal with these? You don't deal with them at all. Calling them an exception is not dealing with it either, how can we make sense of your argument concerning circumcision and the native born of Israel not being circumcised for 40+ years? How about when Israel is exiled from the land, why they are not cut off for keeping all the commandments that are required or else they will be cut off? When Israel cannot sacrifice, how can they be forgiven? Circumcision was required in order to eat the Passover lamb, which neither Jew or Gentile can do today. Is everyone cut off? These are all questions that revolve around grace, and God has always had a place for this, if I were to take your argument seriously, all of Israel should be cut off, no exceptions, none of Israel should be in covenant with God today, according to your argument.

      Paul speaks on how there is a spiritual identity found in the circumcision of the heart, this does not replace a literal circumcising of the flesh, but we cannot ignore that this is playing a part in the plan.

      Delete
    32. On pp. 107-109 Hegg deals with the category of G-d fearers and summarizes their traditional position as follows:

      "[...] considering all the evidence, the Gentile who were sympathetic to the Synagogue and even worshiped there but did not undergo a proselyte conversion were known as "G-d fearers". They most likely existed as a well-defined group within the Jewish community. [...] Rome took a low view of those who were charged with double loyalties. It may have been more prudent to remain in a kind of "in-between" status rather than making a full declaration of conversion." (108-109).

      If this description is correct, it is very difficult to understand what he says on p 256, that "when men from Judea taught that "unless you are circumcised (undergo the ritual of a proselyte) according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved", they were simply applying the standard theology of their day.

      If the Pharisees taught that only Israelites have a portion in the World to Come, then what sense did the class of G-d fearers make, since according to Pharisaic theology they were all eternally lost anyway, no matter how pious they were?

      Do you see the problem? And what's your perspective on it?


      I cannot answer for Tim Hegg, so you should probably email him... I have never even met the guy, though I enjoy and agree with his work.

      But from how I understand it, the reference is in regard to covenant inclusion, which assured one of salvation. While a God-fearer could not be sure of salvation, especially when some God-fearers were loyal to various gods, not just the God of Israel.

      But a better question to ask would be, if these gentiles in Messiah were simply considered God-fearers, why the question in the first place? This was normal in the time, if Jews believed gentiles could be saved by being God-fearers, why say they need to go through the proselyte ritual? :P The point is, these gentiles were not God-fearers, they were something more, and thus the debate that came forth. This is an issue over covenant inclusion, not an issue of God-fearers.

      So the argument is more over, how one enters covenant, by a work of the flesh or by act of faith? In Acts 15, the conclusion is faith and for Paul the same conclusion in Galatians and Romans 4.

      So there is this connection between covenant relationship and justification, going hand in hand.

      Delete
  9. Zion,

    You stated:

    "You are contradicting yourself, you can't say the New Covenant party is to ethnic Israel and thus conclude that the Mosaic is only for ethnic Israel, and then claim you are party to the Covenant, that is a contradicting conclusion."

    I don't think that is what I am saying and I don't think I am being illogical. Here is another shot at what I am saying:

    The New Covenant is described most specifically by Jeremiah in chapter 31 and secondarily by Ezekiel in chapter 36.

    First the context of both is that this promised New Covenant is to ethnic Judah Israel.

    Second, it cannot be ignored that these descriptions of the New Covenant are tied to the fact that it will be kept in the land of Israel.

    This is especially evident in Ezekiel. The whole point of the New Covenant in this context then is the establishment of Judah and Israel, as a NATION, in the LAND of ISRAEL, being empowered by G-d's Spirit to keep His Laws etc.

    So what about the Nations?

    This was the big question in the first century debate amongst the believers. It makes total sense that some of the believing Jews would think that to be part of this New Covenant, you would need to be circumcised and keep Moses, otherwise, what is the purpose of the gentiles getting the Spirit in the first place?

    Paul/the council disagreed. I argue, and I readily admit that I am doing a lot of reading between the lines here, that the point of virtually all Paul's arguments is that the promise of the New Covenant came to Abraham when he was a Hebrew and a ben Noach. Because that is what he was when the promise was given.

    Now, think about it, non-Jews have broken their (Noahide) covenant as well. It is not illogical at all to think that if non-Jews are engrafted in to the promised New Covenant of Israel, which is the empowering, heart-changing work of the Spirit, that the Laws written on the heart of gentiles, hearken back to the Covenant Abraham was under when the New Covenant promise was made...the Noahide Covenant.

    In other words, as far as I am concerned, Galatians and Romans are making the point that The New Covenant is a new heart and a new spirit and the receiving of the Ruach Hakodesh which enables mankind to keep the Laws of the Covenants they were in but broke.

    I know you won't agree with the above. But for me it is the best way to reconcile Galatians, Romans, with Acts 15/21, not to mention the statements of Jesus in Matthew etc.

    Chag Semeach Zion!



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous,

      The New Covenant has the Law being written on the participants hearts, there is no mention of two laws. In fact, your argument would be equivalent to saying, you joined the Mosaic Covenant, yet you are not responsible to the Mosaic Law, I can't see any validity to your claims... Just a lot of assumptions. Of course as we all know, we all have to choose what we want to believe, I just don't find your argument convincing.

      I argue, and I readily admit that I am doing a lot of reading between the lines here, that the point of virtually all Paul's arguments is that the promise of the New Covenant came to Abraham when he was a Hebrew and a ben Noach. Because that is what he was when the promise was given.

      I agree, I only see a lot of reading between the lines... :P

      No point in rehashing at this point. Thank you for the discussion!

      Thank you, should I wish you Chag Semeach, assuming correctly that you do not keep Sukkot, as you follow the Noahide Laws?

      Delete
    2. Zion,

      I am going to cut and paste a part of a comment that I made to Messianic613 just a moment ago:

      "...Let me clarify by way of example. I study and follow, as carefully as I can with G-d's help, the seven Laws with Orthodox Rabbis using the actual sources (Mishnah/Gemerah, Rambam etc.)

      But in addition to these seven Laws, I do take on additional mitzvoth that are permissible to me as a non-Jew. Examples include a form of kosher, a limited way of honoring Shabbos/the seventh day, the festivals etc. So I live very "Jewishly" for lack of a better way to put it, but I do so in a manner that falls under the halachic umbrella itself."

      So there you go, I do take on additional mitvot, quite a few actually, but I do not feel obligated to under "either" Covenant.

      Who knows maybe my (G-d willing) changed heart wants to do those Mitzvot after all!

      :)-

      Zion, I truly enjoy these discussions. Many, many blessings to you and yours!

      Delete
    3. Zion,

      I just realized that, although I implied it, I didn't get to the point...

      Yes I do celebrate Sukkot. Funny actually, I live in an apartment which doesn't allow the building of outside structures on their property so I actually build a sukkah in my dining room!

      Of course its completely "un-kosher" in terms of halacha but its a lot of fun and tunes me in to what the Chag represents.

      I guess the additional mitzvoth I take on function for me as a set of spiritual disciplines.



      Delete
    4. But in addition to these seven Laws, I do take on additional mitzvoth that are permissible to me as a non-Jew. Examples include a form of kosher, a limited way of honoring Shabbos/the seventh day, the festivals etc. So I live very "Jewishly" for lack of a better way to put it, but I do so in a manner that falls under the halachic umbrella itself."

      Thank you for clarifying where you are coming from...

      Who knows maybe my (G-d willing) changed heart wants to do those Mitzvot after all!

      :)-


      Now that's what I am talking about! :P

      Zion, I truly enjoy these discussions. Many, many blessings to you and yours!

      Same to you!

      Delete
  10. "The difficulty here concentrates on circumcision. Paul could be 'saved' as pro Gentile Torah observance if he somewhere would make an explicit distinction between circumcision as a rite of conversion and circumcision according to the Torah and the Abrahamic covenant. But he never makes such a distinction."

    This is an argument from silence. Does not prove anything.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "The difficulty here concentrates on circumcision. Paul could be 'saved' as pro Gentile Torah observance if he somewhere would make an explicit distinction between circumcision as a rite of conversion and circumcision according to the Torah and the Abrahamic covenant. But he never makes such a distinction."

    This is an argument from silence. Does not prove anything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But the burden of proof is on the side of those who accept such a distinction. It is they who silently accept this distinction. You are completely turning things on their head. It is not an argument from silence when one doesn't make a distinction which isn't explicitly in the texts. It is an argument from silence to do so!

      Delete
  12. By circumcising Timothy Paul made this distiction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First, it is not uncontested that Timothy was a Gentile. Shaye D. Cohen made an important contribution to this discussion, however, in his article "Was Timothy Jewish" (JBL 105/2 (1986) 251-268) and let us — for the sake of the argument — assume that he is correct. In that case the text of Acts 16:3 demands further explanation. For it said there by Luke that Paul circumcised Timothy "because of the Jews in that vicinity". Now, what this reason exactly means is open to further questioning, but, as Cohen says, "the phrase "because of the Jews in that vicinity" implies that, were it not for them, Paul would have left Timothy uncircumcised." (254)

      The question which naturally arises here is why the Jews in that region were interested in the circumcision of a Gentile lad. It seems to me that there can only be one reason why they were, namely that this circumcision was part of the conversion procedure and that Timothy thus was made a Jewish proselyte.

      So it seems to me that Timothy's circumcision doesn't provide us with the required distinction. The Jewish communities to all probability either regarded him as a proselyte — or, just in case they considered him to be Jewish by birth because of his mother, they regarded him now as a Jew in good standing because his uncircumcised status was corrected by Paul.

      Delete
    2. Dan,

      "By circumcising Timothy, Paul makes this distinction."

      Once, again, you are ignoring the fact that Acts specifically mentions that Timothy's mother was Jewish. This is a clarifying statement, so that precisely the wrong ideas is not presented. Namely that everyone that born gentiles who enter the community are supposed to be.

      Secondly, approximately 8-10 years passed between the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, and Paul's return to Jerusalem in Acts 21 (From Blue Letter Bible Study/based off timeline in Paul's letters/descriptions of his travels with events in Acts.)

      If circumcision is for gentiles, why repeat the same info from Acts 15, in Acts 21 which is 8-10 years later?

      In other words, by repeating the same requirements for Gentiles at least 8 years after the council, it seems unlikely that circumcision/Moses for Gentiles was obligatory later on.

      In fact, if circumcision/Moses was necessary for Gentiles after they come into the Covenant... "down the road" so to speak... wouldn't this be good place to mention it?

      By reiterating the same four prohibitions related to Idolatry/pagan practices many years later, it seems that these were the only ritually-oriented regulations that they were obligatory.

      Delete
    3. Sorry, last sentence in first paragraph was supposed to say...Namely, that born gentiles who enter the community are supposed to be circumcised.

      In other words the specific mention of timothy's mother being Jewish is the reason why Paul circumcised him. Not for gentile inclusion...

      Delete
  13. "as Cohen says, "the phrase "because of the Jews in that vicinity" implies that, were it not for them, Paul would have left Timothy uncircumcised." (254)"

    The problem is that no one asked Timothy, at least of what we know. Did Timothy wanted to become a Jew or did he wanted to adhere to the Abrahamic covenant?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That it is not mentioned in the text of Acts that Timothy was asked about his circumcision is, I think, a minor problem. Paul wanted Timothy as his fellow-worker, so we must assume that he asked Timothy, although this isn't mentioned either. So I guess that the circumcision was simply part of the complete deal If Timothy had been unwilling to get circumcised, Paul wouldn't have made him his fellow-worker.

      I acknowledge, however, that the interpretation of Timothy's circumcision as a proselyte conversion is at odds with the teachings of Paul in his Epistles. It thus seems more probable that he was considered as a Jew of defective descent. This would also account for the mentioning of his mother's Jewishness. If Timothy according to first century halachah was a Gentile, it wouldn't have made sense to say that his mother was Jewish, since this fact would be irrelevant. In that case the only relevant fact was that his father was a Greek.

      So, if we suppose Cohen to be correct in asserting that Timothy was a Gentile, the question why the Jews of Derbe and Lystra were interested in his circumcision has still to be answered. The simplest possible answer here is that they interpreted this circumcision as a conversion to Judaism. For they wouldn't have known of any other possible reason for the circumcision of a Gentile.

      Delete
    2. "So I guess that the circumcision was simply part of the complete deal If Timothy had been unwilling to get circumcised, Paul wouldn't have made him his fellow-worker. "

      And this is exactly why I believe, as Hegg write in his book "The Letter Writer," that "Paul was convinced of Timothy's genuine understanding of justification by faith alone, so much so that receiving circumcision was permissible as a Torah observant act without any sense of gaining status with God?" (P.114).

      "In that case the only relevant fact was that his father was a Greek."

      And that he was not circumcised.

      "The simplest possible answer here is that they interpreted this circumcision as a conversion to Judaism. "

      It does not mean that Paul interpret it as such.

      Delete
    3. So why was his mother's Jewish status mentioned at all?

      I don't see how the doctrine of justification by faith has anything to do with Timothy's circumcision. Besides, it would be contrary to the Torah to make the performance of such an important mitzvah dependent on the person's genuine spiritual understanding. Such an approach leads to a complete subjectivation of the commandments.

      I believe Hegg is in error here. Notice how he changes the vocabulary and speaks of receiving circumcision as "permissible". What has permission to do with it? The only point to decide here is whether it is an obligation or not. "Obligation" is the word to be used here, not "permission".

      It is also misleading to lay such great stress, as Hegg does, on not gaining any status with G-d by fulfilling the commandment of circumcision. The punishment for not fulfilling it is karet. So fulfilling it when it is applicable has at least the effect of preventing the person from this punishment. And thus the general effect of fulfilling the commandments which carry this punishment is that it keeps a person within the safe context of the covenant. It thus has the function of maintaining the covenant status of that person.

      Delete
  14. "In other words, by repeating the same requirements for Gentiles at least 8 years after the council, it seems unlikely that circumcision/Moses for Gentiles was obligatory later on."

    That is not the point. We are not discussing the obligatory of circumcision for Gentiles. we are discussing the two different distinction messianic 613 mentioned.

    "By reiterating the same four prohibitions related to Idolatry/pagan practices many years later, it seems that these were the only ritually-oriented regulations that they were obligatory.

    I don't understand what you are saying, since we all agree that the ritual of a proselyte is not obligatory?

    ReplyDelete
  15. "In other words the specific mention of timothy's mother being Jewish is the reason why Paul circumcised him. Not for gentile inclusion..."

    We do not know that. Since maternal inclusion is a rabbinical halacha, not biblical.

    ReplyDelete
  16. ""Proselyte" is simply a short-hand for "Jewish proselyte", "proselyte Jew" or "proselyte Israelite". In any case, it is clear that proselytes had Jewish status and G-d-fearers had not. Proselyte graves of that time are always found in Jewish cemeteries, while there not a single example of a G-d-fearer buried there.

    This status of proselytes is a simple matter of historical fact which isn't contested in the Apostolic Writings."

    If they went through the ritual, then they should have been called Jews, not proselytes. The fact that they have been called proselyte points to an ethnic distinction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If they went through the ritual, then they should have been called Jews, not proselytes. The fact that they have been called proselyte points to an ethnic distinction.

      Exactly... the same way in the Torah, if a sojourner became a "Jew". Then there would be no point in making distinctions concerning sojourners...

      Delete
    2. It is simply not true, that if they went through the ritual, they would be called Jews without any mentioning of their proselyte status. This is not even true in today's Orthodox Judaism, which so stresses the covenantal equality of the born Jew and the proselyte. Nevertheless there are specific laws for proselytes. For example that he is not permitted to marry a priestly woman, and that he has a specifc place in the sequence of the order of the Aliyot at the Torah Reading. And there are regulations for other obligations, for example concerning his natural parents, &c.

      Thus, for many legal aspects of Jewish life, the proselyte Jew has to be known as having proselyte status. He is not a born Jew, he is a Jew by choice, which is a distinct possibility with some distinct legal features.

      Delete
    3. I would like to add that it is a contortion of its sense to interpret the Torah's statement that there is one law for the stranger and the home-born as implying that it is impossible for a stranger to become an Israelite, since otherwise he wouldn't still be called a strenger.

      The purpose of this Torah statement is simply to warn against discrimination of those of foreign descent. We all know that discrimination can happen, even if persons have equal legal status or have acquired their new nationality. They are still known as strangers because they are known to be of foreign descent. The Torah warns against this and that is the sense of this statement. It has nothing to do with the question whether a foreigner can become an Israelite or not.

      Delete
    4. The purpose of this Torah statement is simply to warn against discrimination of those of foreign descent. We all know that discrimination can happen, even if persons have equal legal status or have acquired their new nationality. They are still known as strangers because they are known to be of foreign descent. The Torah warns against this and that is the sense of this statement. It has nothing to do with the question whether a foreigner can become an Israelite or not.

      This contradicts what you stated above, you said the distinction remains because there are a few laws different for a stranger, which means the stranger cannot be an native born or even consider a native born, because these commandments could not be maintained if the distinction was lost. A stranger could not own land, another important distinction. Saying they were completely equal is not staying true to the scriptures.

      Delete
    5. This is not a contradiction at all. Just as I said, there can be Israelites by birth and there can be Israelites by choice. That there are some specific laws for the Israelite by choice is to protect him, because of his feeble status within the covenant community.

      It is instead Hegg's contorted position on Jewish identity which leads to the grossest absurdities. According to this position a person who is a direct descendant from a forefather convert in let's say the XIth century is not an Israelite but a kind of fake-Jew. And thus all the proselytes and their direct descendants in Orthodox Judaism are fake-Jews. They are Gentiles who don't have any covenantal status. Yet if such a fake-Jew joins a messianic congregation he is celebrated as the token-Jew. For who cares about his descent, which is irrelevant "in Messiah" anyway.

      Hegg's criterion of Jewishness makes it completely impossible to decide in any context who is a Jew. For to apply his criterion one has to ensure that a person's forefathers go back, in an unbroken chain, to the Patriarch Jacob. Nobody is able to do that in these days. This criterion is halachically unworkable, as are so many ideas of Messianics.

      The problem with Hegg is on the one hand that he doesn't recognize the authority of the Jewish people itself in deciding who belongs to it. His problem on the other hand is the conceptual confusion of introducing nominal distinctions without any relevant impact. On the one hand he wants to stress the complete equality of Jew and stranger in Messiah, on the other hand he emphasizes that the stranger never becomes an Israelite. What sense does it make to introduce such non-distinguishing distinctions or distinguishing non-distinctions?

      Suppose, for example. that there existed a One Law community, dating from the XVIth century, as an after-effect of the Reformation. About half of the original members wereJewish, half of them Gentile according to traditional standards. Suppose further that they freely intermarried and didn't care much for keeping records of Jewish identity. since, in a One Law context, this wouldn't be relevant.

      Who of the present day descendants of that community would be Jews nowadays? Obviously, this cannot be found out. For practical reasons, they are all a third race "Messianics" or "Messianic Israelites" or whatever name you want to give them. So the whole distinction Hegg wants to uphold, at least verbally, evaporates if community life is organized according to his theological perspective.

      In reality, the state of affairs is even more confusing. For new members, and in a practical context, a One Law community simply accepts the traditional distinction between Jews and Gentiles. They are thus dependent on this distinction without acknowledging it.

      Delete
    6. "It is instead Hegg's contorted position on Jewish identity which leads to the grossest absurdities. According to this position a person who is a direct descendant from a forefather convert in let's say the XIth century is not an Israelite but a kind of fake-Jew. And thus all the proselytes and their direct descendants in Orthodox Judaism are fake-Jews. They are Gentiles who don't have any covenantal status. Yet if such a fake-Jew joins a messianic congregation he is celebrated as the token-Jew. For who cares about his descent, which is irrelevant "in Messiah" anyway."

      This is just stupid. One can't even make this stuff up. You very well know that Hegg is teaching equality between Gentiles and Jews within the covenant community. But he does not believe, as I do, that one strok of the knife makes someone Jewish.

      "Hegg's criterion of Jewishness makes it completely impossible to decide in any context who is a Jew."

      Yes, he does. He calls them "native-born," just like the Scriptures do.

      "For to apply his criterion one has to ensure that a person's forefathers go back, in an unbroken chain, to the Patriarch Jacob. Nobody is able to do that in these days. This criterion is halachically unworkable, as are so many ideas of Messianics. "

      You really don't get it, do you? This is precisely why OL teaches equality between Gentiles and Jews under the covenant. Yes, I, who identifies himself as a Jew cannot trace my ancestors all the way back, that is precisely why ethnicity should not count, because if by a chance Russ Resnik's marred by gentiles many centuries ago, then how can he contend for the unique calling for Jews? Did you hear about King David?

      "The problem with Hegg is on the one hand that he doesn't recognize the authority of the Jewish people itself in deciding who belongs to it."

      Yes, he does. He is just saying that it is not scriptural. And that is why the Orthodox conversion in Israel is so screwed up.

      "on the other hand he emphasizes that the stranger never becomes an Israelite. What sense does it make to introduce such non-distinguishing distinctions or distinguishing non-distinctions?"

      That is because that under Messiah there is no Jew or Gentile. I thought you knew this...

      "Who of the present day descendants of that community would be Jews nowadays? "

      this is nonsense...You can say the same thing about a jewish Orthodox community in the 6th Century, no?

      Delete
    7. If etnicity doesn't matter, then born Jews are not under the Abrahamic and Sinai Covenants by their birth. But they are. So ethnicity does matter. There is a chosen bloodline and a chosen nation. Jews are not under the temporal stipulations of the Covenant because they believe anything but simply because they are born as Jews.

      If the distinction between Jews and strangers is so completely irrelevant as you say it to be, and you concede, by your final sentence, that nobody can know the difference, then this equals saying that the community is homogeneously Israelite. Whether they be of Gentile or (traditionally conceived) Jewish ancestry, in the course of history all these distinctions evaporate into nothingness. After a certain number of generations all are Israelites.

      Thus while Hegg rejects changing individual Gentiles into Israelites by means of a giyyur, yet in communites organized by his principles, Gentiles are changed into Israelites in a generational way, through intermarriage. What's the essential difference here? In the end all are Israelites and could be called Jews for that reason.

      Hegg admits that Jews have covenantal responsibilities by their birth and thus admits that they are covenant members by birth, although he shows some strange ambiguities in this matter. He even uses this fact to distinguish Jews from strangers who dwell with Israel. The Jews are defined as homeborn and the strangers as not home-born, but added, by being engrafted.

      Now, if this is true, then all the offspring of Gentile Christians are Jews. They are home-born, since they are born from parents which are already in the covenant. This is especially conspicuous from the fact that male children of Gentile believers should be circumcised on the 8th day, according to Hegg. So they must have been born into the covenant.

      Delete
  17. " For example that he is not permitted to marry a priestly woman"

    What the heck is a "priestly woman?" Where did you get it from?

    "and that he has a specifc place in the sequence of the order of the Aliyot at the Torah Reading. "

    Maybe in your synagogue, not in the many, many I attended. What? do they ask at the front door if one is a proselyte or not?

    "And there are regulations for other obligations, for example concerning his natural parents, &c. "

    Concerning his natural parent, what? That they are not Jews?, that they are not proselytes? we know that.

    "Thus, for many legal aspects of Jewish life, the proselyte Jew has to be known as having proselyte status. He is not a born Jew, he is a Jew by choice, which is a distinct possibility with some distinct legal features."

    This is just false. Not even worth an answer. at least be honest when you try to further your agenda....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A priestly woman is a woman who is from the Kohanim. This rule was made in order to prevent a convert to become the father of a High Priest.

      A proselyte is prevented from accepting the inheritance of his natural parents, but is obligated, to a certain extent, to assist them in their old age. All this is regulated in detail, including the financial aspects, in rabbinic law.

      You may doubt as much as what I said, but it is simply rabbinic law. I thought you knew these things.

      Delete
    2. "A priestly woman is a woman who is from the Kohanim. This rule was made in order to prevent a convert to become the father of a High Priest."

      And how do we know today who is a Kohen and who is not? By they saying so?

      But we are not discussing rabbinical law, do we?

      Delete
    3. Although there is some uncertainty about who is a Kohen nowadays — due to the destruction of the records of the Second Temple — this uncertainty is safely kept within the Jewish framework. There's no Gentile or proselyte problem here. But Hegg practically erases Jewish identity by changing the halachah which determines who is a Jews. To me this is a wooden approach, based on the Protestant premise of "Sola Scriptura". I find it difficult to understand such an impractical mindset, which comes with rules that cannot be applied. No Rabbi would ever invent such a rule. What sense does it make to have the purest of principles for theoretically finding out who is Jewish, only to discover that, if applied, these principles tell us that there exist no Jews?

      It is a vital interest for the Jewish community that they have the practical means of deciding whether a person is Jewish or not, and this means is the halachah. It may be that the criteria of Jewishness have changed throughout history and that matrilineal descent as a principle has superseded an earlier principle of patrilineal descent. Essentially, these changes don't matter. The Jewish nation by means of its authorities determine who is Jewish according to the criteria of the halachah. No nation has to accept that foreigners determine who belong to it.

      Delete
    4. But you see, the none OL Messianic change the rules to fit THEIR agenda. Messianic Judaism UMJC style are opting for Paternal decent,since most of their leaders are not halachicaly Jews. Their mother are not Jewish. So according to the "Jewish nation" they don't belong...

      Delete
  18. Back to Timothy's circumcision.

    The LXX adds to its translation of Gen. 17:14 the clause: ON THE EIGHT DAY. The book of Jubilees 15:14 also states ON THE EIGHT DAY. Luke, in the books of Luke and Acts also is careful to insert this clause ( Lk. 1:59; 2:21; Acts 7:8).

    It seems that the prevailing halacha in 1st Century Judaism was that if one who was not circumcised in the 8th day was not considered Jewish. According to this, Timothy could not have been considered a Jew.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Here's a look at Acts 16:1-5, line by line, asking some questions and making some comments:

     "1.Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek."

    So, first, why does the author of Acts make a point to mention that Timothy's mother was Jewish, but that his father was a Greek?

    "2 The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. "

    Timothy has a good reputation...

    "3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek."

    So first, Paul circumcised Timothy because of the Jews in the area, were these believing Jews? Non believing Jews or both?

    "...for they all knew that his father was a Greek."

    What does this clause have to do with Paul circumcising Timothy? Is it perhaps because being that his mother was Jewish, but his father was not, it was likely that he wasn't circumcised on the eighth day but the Jews would believe he should be? Does Paul agree with them?

    Compare with Galatians 2, where Titus was “not compelled to be circumcised even though he was a Greek.... “ why in an almost identical situation, does Paul not insist that Titus be circumcised?

    " 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. "

    The importance of vs. four can't be overlooked...notice they are delivering the decisions of the apostles and elders who are" in Jerusalem." Given that this journey is right after the Jerusalem Council mentioned in Acts 15, isn't it likely that this includes the letter to gentiles about the four prohibitions?

    So Paul circumcises Timothy because his mother is Jewish and his father is Greek... AND the Jews in the area know this...AND Paul does this right before going on a trip to visit churches/groups which are likely made up of both Jews and gentiles...AND where he is likely relaying to them the instructions that they (gentiles) do NOT need to be circumcised or obey Moses, at least for salvation...

    Look, this is hermeneutics 101, basic exegesis renders that Paul circumcises Timothy because his mother was Jewish, yet due to his Greek father, and this was known by Jews in Timothy's community, he had not been circumcised in accordance with the Law. So Paul does so.

    Titus on the other hand is fully Greek and Paul does not compel him to be circumcised. Therefore, whatever Paul's motive is, the reason for Paul's circumcision of Timothy was because Timothy's mother was Jewish, but had not been circumcised when he was 8 days old due to his Greek Father and this was indeed a problem for the Jews that Paul felt "compelled" to solve..

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous,

    You did not address my points.

    ReplyDelete