Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Constructive Critique of Tim Hegg's Argument

Some musings from today...

I think Tim Hegg damages the effectiveness of his argument quite severely when he uses his analysis of the "ger" in ancient Israel to make a point about the covenantal/legal status of non-Jewish Believers under the New Covenant.  The ger is only relevant for our purposes if it can be shown that the ger was initiated into the Sinaitic Covenant by faith as opposed to circumcision.  But Hegg's analysis is unable to do this as it contains several contradictions.

First, Hegg says throughout his writings that the term "ger" is not a religious term but rather a sociological term:

"…originally the word [ger] was a sociological term [and only] in the rabbinic literature it has become…religious…" (Fellow Heirs) 
"While the word ger always bears a sociological meaning in the Tanakh, there came a time when the sages began to understand it in a religious sense," (It Has Been Said, Vol. 4)
"Kuhn has shown that the meaning of ger and its Greek equivalent, proselutes, moved from its original sociological meaning to a purely religious, technical term in the late Second Temple period.  Whereas originally the terms simply identified a foreigner who had taken up residence in Israel (without being specific about his relationship to Israel's God and Torah), by the 2nd Century BCE the words were being used more and more to denote a convert to Judaism," (Is the Torah Only for Jews?)
But then Hegg contradicts this when he argues that the term can indeed convey a covenantal (and therefore religious) meaning in the Torah:
"When the context makes it clear that the ger has indeed attached himself to the God of Israel, it is often plainly stated that the ger and the native-born have the same privileges and responsibilities as covenant members," (It Has Been Said, Vol 4)
He even acknowledges that the term ger has two completely different usages in the Torah, one religious and the other sociological:
"Leviticus 17:15 begins with 'any person' (v'kol nefesh) and further adds 'whether native or alien' (ba'ezrach uvager), showing that in this text the Torah was considered universal for all within the community of Israel.  In contrast, the Deuteronomy passage allows the torn meat to be given to the 'alien who is in your town (literally, 'gates')' (lager asher bish'arecha), presumably because the alien (in this case) is allowed to eat what is unclean."
To make his point, Hegg would have to reconcile the non-covenantal meaning of "ger" in Deuteronomy 14:21 with passages such as Exodus 12:49 which says that there is one law for both the native and the "ger".  In particular, given the dichotomous meanings of "ger" in Torah, Hegg would have to show that the ger in Exodus 12:49 includes the uncircumcised ger.  

Now, I should mention at this point, that Hegg completely rehabilitates his arguments in all his writings by providing evidence from the Apostolic Writings.  So all I'm really saying with this is that Hegg should emphasize the evidence from the Apostolic Writings more and place less (if any) emphasis on the "ger".  


  1. To make his point, Hegg would have to reconcile the non-covenantal meaning of "ger" in Deuteronomy 14:21 with passages such as Exodus 12:49 which says that there is one law for both the native and the "ger". In particular, given the dichotomous meanings of "ger" in Torah, Hegg would have to show that the ger in Exodus 12:49 includes the uncircumcised ger.

    Technically this dichotomy goes both ways, for those who argue that the 'ger' in Exodus 12 is different from the 'ger' in Deut 14, shows the ambiguity of the term 'Ger' and also the dichotomy it creates. No matter which side of the argument one sits on. We are left, with either saying the Torah contradicts itself, or the term ger, can both represent 'covenanted' gentiles and 'non-covenanted' gentiles, in relation to Israel.

  2. The context of the Torah texts about gerim is limited to strangers in the land. It is anachronistic and contrary to their literal sense to apply these texts to (modern) non-Israelite believers living outside the land, as Hegg does. Jewish communities in diaspora situations had to develop new legislation for the inclusion of interested strangers. Ironically Hegg rejects this legislative development because it introduces "man-made rules" not found in the Torah, while on the other hand he himself stretches the gerim rules found in the Torah by means of an arbitrary re-interpretation intended to cover the situation of present day messianic Gentiles living in Gentile lands. Absurd.

  3. The context of the Torah texts about gerim is limited to strangers in the land.

    That is not accurate, the context of the gerim was applied in the wilderness outside of the land, and it also ended up applying inside the land as well. The other error you are making, is by saying that Israelite outside of the land, is no longer Israel, that is more absurd then the case Hegg presents.

  4. The legislation in Ex. 12:48 is given in term which accvording to their literal interpretation only applies the land. Conceded, however, that at least parts of the legislation for strangers also apply to the wilderness, there is still a huge leap from the wilderness to a diaspora situation. In the wilderness Israel was already a sovereign and free people and for that matter the situation in the wilderness wasn't much different from the situation in the land. But the diaspora was a new experience, which made the Israelites strangers in the lands of others, and which required the development of a considerable amount of new legislation.

  5. Shalom, shalom everyone.
    So, I'd like to offer my thoughts. I believe the Messianic movement is currently doing harm to the Jewish community as well as to the non-Jewish community by promoting the notion that non-Jews have the same responsibility to observe Torah in the manner as Jews are mandated to do. Now to be clear, I am not saying that non-Jews are not to observe Torah. I am saying they are not "mandated" to observe Torah in the same manner or to the extent that Jews are to do so. If, however, a non-Jew wishes to convert then s/he is now under the same mandate as a native born Jew. Paul was against the idea of circumcision to gain salvation. There are many commandments in the Torah. Some for women, some for men, priest, first born, etc. So just because one is Jewish does not mean all the commandments apply to him- or herself. The book of Act does a great job illustrating the early movement of believers. Synagogues were places of worship for Jews and if non-Jews wanted to learn more about the Torah...Moses is read in the synagogue.....However, when believing Jews walked into a synagogue, they did so under a mandate to learn Torah so they would know what was required of them. There is no such mandate for gentiles. Gentiles walk in to learn Torah and just as with Jews, to observe those aspects that apply to them. For instance, there is no mandate for believing non-Jewish males to be circumcised in the flesh. However, there was and still is a mandate for believing Jewish males to be circumcised. If a non-Jew wishes to observe all the commandments in the same manner as one who is born Jewish, then s/he should convert. No problem with that just as long as the conversion is not being done to gain or earn merit for salvation. But know that once conversion takes place, she or he will be responsible for observing a greater portion of the Torah than in his or her previous state as a non-convert. I believe not making this distinction is one of the problems that is plaguing the messianic movement today. Shalom, shalom

  6. Hmmm...where is the requirement for a Jewish woman to be circumcised? LOL...

  7. Thanks, I am fine, just board with the blogosphere...

  8. Dan, I was thinking about you, good to hear from you. Its nice to take a break...

  9. Hey Rocco,

    You did not explain how you think it hurts Jews or gentiles? Also, How is it plaguing the Messianic movement?

  10. Dan,

    I understand. Is there anything you would like to have discussed? Or perhaps you would like to guest blog?

  11. I would agree with the, "sojourn among us," part. I don't believe this is limited to the land, but would be limited to those who choose to serve us, cut our wood and draw our water. It would not cover those who are not in relationship with us; let them do what they please. It also doesn't allow them to come in and dictate to us or teach us, as they seem to be doing.