Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sample Partial Outline Section of Upcoming Acts 15 Paper





So, just to give you an idea of what I'm working on, the following is the outline for upcoming paper that shows how each major Messianic ministry views the three topics within Acts 15.  As you can see, I've only completed the outline sections for Tim Hegg and FFOZ so far.  Yeah, I'm slow.  But here's what I've got so far:



OUTLINE:

INTRODUCTORY NOTE:  There are roughly 3 steps to issue analysis:  (1) recognizing that an issue is created by 2 (or more) opposing propositions and identifying those propositions.  For example, strictly speaking, 15:1 is not an issue statement but rather a proposition statement that represents one half of the issue before the court; (2) understanding that the issue and the resolution of that issue (i.e. the "rule" that one may extract from the case record) are logical corollaries.  In other words, the rule is merely a restatement of the issue question but in answer form; (3) ascertaining whether resolution of the primary issue will affect corollary rights/duties of the parties.  For example, in Acts 15, if the primary issue is formulated as soteriological, a corollary sub-issue might be whether Gentiles are included in Israel or whether Gentiles must abide by the "One Law" precedent set forth in Torah for members of the covenanted People of Israel.  In other words, the presence of corollary issues affects not only the scope of the primary issue, broadening the primary issue with all corollary sub-issues, but it also, based on point #2 listed above, affects the scope of the rule, broadening the primary rule with all corollary sub-rules.  

Tim Hegg:

TOPIC 1:  Issue/Rule Analysis.  Primary Issue [PI] & Corollary Sub-Issues [CSI(s)] and Primary Rule [PR] & Corollary Sub-Rules [CSR(s)]

Introductory note to Hegg’s issue analysisDetermining what Hegg frames as the primary issue is complicated by the fact that he twice states what he believes to be the primary issue but states it differently each time.  In the first instance, he writes, “The ‘issue’ at hand was whether or not someone who was not a Jew could be saved.”  In the second instance, he writes, “The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 was dealing with a specific issue:  was it necessary for Gentiles to become proselytes and thus take on the full weight of the man-made laws of the Sages in order to be accepted within the Jewish community?”  The first instance frames the primary issue as soteriological; the second instance frames the primary issue as a series of corollary issues which, at a surface level, seem to have nothing in common with the first stated issue.  So, for the purposes of this paper, it will be assumed that the first instance contains Hegg’s partial formulation of the primary issue and the second instance contains Hegg’s formulations of the corollary issues.  Therefore, for the purposes of the following outline, Hegg’s statements regarding the primary issue will be synthesized together based on the entire context of his paper in order to help us understand the manner in which Hegg extrapolates rules from Acts 15.

·                     PI:  “The opening verses of Acts 15 give us a clear picture of the core issue around which the Jerusalem Council convened…The ‘issue’ at hand was whether [a non-Jew] could be saved,” by “…[becoming a] proselyte and thus [taking] on the full weight of the man-made laws of the Sages…” and not “…[whether salvation] was gained by works. No one, including the “men from Judea” who were insisting that the Gentiles become proselytes, believed that anyone gained a place in the world to come by a complete keeping of Torah. As I have already noted, the prevailing view was that a place in the world to come was the gracious gift of God to every Israelite.”  Hegg therefore argues that the primary issue was whether Gentiles must be circumcised according to the ritual circumcision of Rabbinic Judaism in order to qualify for the salvation which is the “gracious gift of God to every Israelite.” 
·                     CSI(s):  CSI 1: “To put it another way, how could a Gentile become a covenant member with Israel and share in the blessings of the covenant?  The prevailing belief of the Judaisms in Paul’s day was that only Jews had a place in the world to come since God had made the covenant of blessing with Israel and no other nation.”; CSI 2:  “The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 was dealing with a specific issue:  was it necessary for Gentiles to become proselytes and thus take on the full weight of the man-made laws of the Sages in order to be accepted within the Jewish community?”
·                     PR:  Gentiles are not required to be circumcised according to the ritual circumcision of Rabbinic Judaism and thereby take on the full (unbearable) weight of the man-made laws of the Sages in order to qualify for the salvation that is offered as a gracious gift to every Israelite.
·                     CSR(s):  CSR 1: Gentiles may become covenant members with Israel and share in the blessings of the covenant without undergoing the Rabbinic proselyte ritual of circumcision; CSR 2:  It is not necessary for Gentiles to take on the full weight of the man-made laws of the Sages in order to be accepted within the Jewish community but it is necessary for them to refrain from pagan temple practices in order to be accepted within the Jewish community.

TOPIC 2:  Peter’s Argument Before the Council

Tim Hegg

·                     Relevance of Peter’s Argument to the Issue(s) and Rule(s):
·                     Relevance of “Yoke” to the Issue(s) and Rule(s):  Hegg interprets the unbearable “yoke” as referring to the heavy burdens of Rabbinic halachah—man-made additions to the Torah that at a minimum proved to be unbearably burdensome and oftentimes resulted in negating the written Torah.  This poses an interpretive question:  how much of Rabbinic halachah does Hegg believe constitutes the “unbearable yoke”?  Is it merely the halachah regarding conversion?  Or is it, more broadly, the entirety of Rabbinic halachah?   If we understood Hegg’s position more clearly then we would better understand what Hegg believes to be the full scope of the primary rule of Acts 15.  For example, if it is merely the specific halachah of circumcision that poses the unbearable yoke then the resulting rule would allow Gentiles to view Rabbinic halachah as an advisory authority (even if not a mandatory authority).  However, if it is the entirety of Rabbinic halachah that poses the unbearable yoke then the resulting rule would essentially prevent Gentiles from attributing even the slightest usefulness to Rabbinic halachah.

TOPIC 3:  James’ Speech

Tim Hegg

·                     Relevance of Inclusionary Prophetic References to Issue(s) and Rule(s) (e.g. Gezerah Shavah of Inclusionary Prophetic Passages; “People for His Name”; “Tent of David”):
·                     Relevance of Fourfold Decree to Issue(s) and Rule(s):  The rationale behind the Fourfold Decree could not have been the Noahide Laws since when these are not even to be found in the Mishnaic period but were only formulated centuries later during a period of Jewish history in which anti-Gentile sentiment abounded.  Furthermore, to promote a second way of life would run counter to the precedent set forth in Torah that there is to be One Law for the community—One Law for Israel and the Gentiles who dwell with her.  Nor could the rationale behind the Fourfold Decree have been to provide a set of ethical sub-categories as these four do not provide sufficient summarization.  Rather, the rationale was that these Rabbinic fences formed a single category—that of pagan temple rituals, each item well known as evidenced by the use of the article (“the”) before each item in the fourfold list.  The Council believed that these prohibitions on pagan temple rituals would promote social inclusion by helping the Gentiles to be mindful of Jewish sensibilities regarding the defiling potential of such practices.
     Thus, Hegg sees the Fourfold Decree as addressing the corollary issue #2 regarding how the Gentiles are to be accepted into the Jewish community (i.e. the corollary issue of social inclusion).  Therefore, in our issue analysis section, corollary rule #2 states:  “It is not necessary for Gentiles to take on the full weight of the man-made laws of the Sages in order to be accepted within the Jewish community but it is necessary for them to refrain from pagan temple practices in order to be accepted within the Jewish community.”
·                     Relevance of Dicta in 15:21 to Issue(s) and Rule(s)


First Fruits of Zion:

TOPIC 1:  Issue/Rule Analysis.  Primary Issue [PI] & Corollary Sub-Issues [CSI(s)] and Primary Rule [PR] & Corollary Sub-Rules [CSR(s)]

·                      PI:  Must Gentiles be circumcised in order to be saved? 
·                      CSI(s): CSI 1: Are uncircumcised Gentile Believers under full obligation to the Torah of Moses?; CSI 2:  Is ritual circumcision what creates the full obligation to the Torah of Moses and membership in the covenant realm of Israel?  CSI 3:  Are uncircumcised Gentile Believers to be included in the covenant realm of Israel in which legal obligation to Torah attaches?; CSI 4:  Are uncircumcised Gentile Believers to be included in the Commonwealth realm of Israel in which legal obligation to Torah does not attach?
·                      PR:  Gentiles do not need to be circumcised in order to be saved.
·                      CSR(s):  CSR 1:  Uncircumcised Gentile Believers are not under the full (unbearable) obligation to the Torah of Moses; CSR2:  Ritual circumcision is what creates the full (unbearable) obligation to the Torah of Moses and membership in the covenant realm of Israel; CSR 3:  Uncircumcised Gentile Believers are excluded from the covenant realm of Israel in which membership confers full (unbearable) obligation of the Torah of Moses; CSR 4:  Uncircumcised Gentile Believers, however, are included in the Commonwealth realm of Israel in which membership does not confer the full (unbearable) obligation of the Torah of Moses.

TOPIC 2:  Peter’s Argument Before the Council

First Fruits of Zion

·                     Relevance of Peter’s Argument to the Issue(s) and Rule(s):
·                     Relevance of “Yoke” to the Issue(s) and Rule(s):   “After much debate [in Acts 15], the apostles declared that the Gentile disciples do not need to convert to Judaism and thus should not be bound to the full yoke of the Torah…,” Toby Janicki, God-Fearers.  “The term ‘yoke’ is a common Jewish idiom for one’s obligation to the whole Torah….In Acts 15, the apostles left the question of Gentile relationship to Torah unanswered.  They did not burden the Gentiles with the whole yoke of the Torah—a ‘yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear’ (Acts 15:10)…,” Boaz Michael & D. Thomas Lancaster, “‘One Law’ and the Messianic Gentile”, Messiah Journal 101. 
     By interpreting the “yoke” as referring to the full “Torah of Moses,” FFOZ characterizes Torah as a Way of Life that should be avoided since it is “unbearable.”  The Torah, in FFOZ’s analysis, is part of the problem.

TOPIC 3:  James’ Speech

First Fruits of Zion

·                     Relevance of Inclusionary Prophetic References to Issue(s) and Rule(s) (e.g. Gezerah Shavah of Inclusionary Prophetic Passages; “People for His Name”; “Tent of David”):
·                      
First Fruits of Zion, on the one hand, acknowledge that the terms “People for His Name” and “Tent of David” implied a certain level of inclusion but they qualify it as a political, non-covenantal type of inclusion.  They interpret the Prophets as foretelling of a Messianic Era in which the Davidic King (Yeshua) rules over vassal states that exist within the Commonwealth realm of Israel but outside of the covenant realm of Israel.  They analogize these Gentile vassal states to Edom during the Davidic monarchy, a state which they argue was included in the Commonwealth of the Davidic Kingdom but excluded from the covenant.

·                     Relevance of Fourfold Decree to Issue(s) and Rule(s)

     FFOZ interprets that Fourfold Decree as an early formulation of the “Noahide Laws” which are intended to “baseline for ethical, moral conduct.”  Additionally, FFOZ interprets the Fourfold Decree as a formulation based on rules for “strangers who sojourn [amongst Israel]” from Leviticus 17-18.  Both interpretations yield the same exegetical result:  the Gentiles must have a more manageable list of commandments (e.g. Noahide, Leviticus 17-18) because the full list would prove to be an unbearable “yoke.” 


·                     Relevance of Dicta in 15:21 to Issue(s) and Rule(s):  “[Based on Acts 15:21] Gentile believers were already meeting in the synagogue every Sabbath where they would hear further instruction in the Torah…However, James did not make learning Torah in the synagogue or taking on additional observances a prerequisite for the Gentiles, nor did he submit that advice to the Gentiles.  The matter about hearing Moses in the synagogues was not included in the letter that the apostles sent out to the believing communities.”

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