MOST Valuable Beyond Bible hermeneutically: Jewish Background/roots, Greco-Roman Culture, Ponderings of the Church Fathers?

Other
6% (1 vote)
Jewish background/roots
44% (7 votes)
Greco-Roman Culture
0% (0 votes)
Ponderings of Church Fathers
6% (1 vote)
Jewish and Greco (i.e., NT setting)
31% (5 votes)
Roughly equal
13% (2 votes)
Creeds
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 16
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There are 19 Comments

Ed Vasicek's picture

I have noted a variety of view here at SI and everywhere. I perceive that I am among the minority in both fundamental and evangelical camps in viewing the Jewish background of our faith as much more crucial than the ponderings of the Church Fathers.
I frequently quote the Talmud, but only occasionally a church father.

I view Christianity as a form of Judaism, and believe that once the church was in gentile hands, the Jewish perspective was lost and thus some Scriptures became less clear.

I also think too much emphasis has been put on the Roman or Greek world. The Apostles were all Jews, most of them (except Paul) reared in Israel, and Paul was a Pharisee. Whatever their adaptions to their gentile audiences (and understanding Greco-Roman culture comes into play there), the Apostles still perceived things from a JEWISH perspective. Thus, the Jewish perspective is somewhat of a default perspective.

By this poll, I do not man to imply than any of the above are not valuable.

This is a poll about "most."

"The Midrash Detective"

Eric Peterman's picture

Ed,

I appreciate your poll and comments. Actually, I think that in actual practice that far too little attention is paid to backgrounds of any sort (Jewish/Greco-Roman, etc). IMHO there is often heavy emphasis on grammar and the textual and theological contexts (properly so), but with appeal to backgrounds only in "difficult" texts. In other cases background is used to highlight an interesting point, but not used as a fundamental control or gate-keeper of the meaning of the text.

Maybe we're touching here on what is, in my view, a somewhat deficient view of what perspicuity is and is not.

In direct answer to your question, my view is that the Church Fathers are quite useful for understanding historical hermeneutics and what Christianity actually was in their day, and the development of their view of the text (for good or bad), but not very useful for understanding the actual text as authored.

Of course the OT would need to have Jewish background as well as other ANE data (Babylon, Assyria, geography, etc). With regard to the epistles, especially Paul, I think we're dealing with an interface between the Jewish and Greco-Roman backgrounds. I'm thinking particularly of Paul when I say that Paul argues from a Jewish mind-set, to a Greco-Roman mind-set. His theological framework is OT (plus new revelation), but he weaves terms, language, methods of argumentation, cultural cues, etc, that are clearly in the sphere of his readers (Greco-Roman).

I'm not sure I'd use the phrase "Christianity as a form of Judaism". I'll have to think about an alternate description. Hmm.

I do think we've been substantially impoverished by the loss of the Jewish perspective with the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple and the nation in the early '70'sAD. Unfortunately, we're not even actively conscious of what was lost. Antioch harbored a remnant after that, but so much had been lost.

Those are some of my thoughts at the moment.

Keep looking down, Eph 2:6

Charlie's picture

Ed, I know what you're talking about. I grew up going to Friends of Israel Bible studies, getting Israel My Glory magazine, and reading the Talmud (yes, I read the Talmud in high school). Within any historical-grammatical hermeneutic, finding out what people at the time thought is vital.

All that being said, I think the material we have is.... less than useful. Second Temple Judaism was quite a diverse crowd, and we can't assume that Jesus and Christianity is the outgrowth of any of the varieties of STJ. Also, most of our material suffers from severe dating problems. We don't have biblical commentaries from, say, 1000 BC telling us what scribes in the Solomonic period thought about the law. We do have some non-canonical texts and the works of Philo and Josephus, but these are of quite limited value for direct application to Christian theology.

When we get to the Talmud, the situation is even worse. The Talmud was composed 200 AD-500 AD, not during the second temple period. It is not at all clear that there is continuity between "rabinnic Judaism" and "pre-exilic Judaism." It is, from the perspective of the Christian, an entirely different religion than "true Judaism" and whatever continuity exists can be only negative, in that it extrapolates and intensifies the same problems against which Jesus and Paul inveighed.

So, to sum up, I don't believe that there is a "Jewish" way of approaching the Bible. The rabinnic texts that we have are centuries removed from STJ. STJ itself has a number of varities, none of which can be simply declared to be correct. Furthermore, even if there were a demonstrable majority theological opinion in STJ, there is no guarantee that it is continuous with pre-exilic Judaism. Reading the Bible through the eyes of the Talmud is no more reliable than reading it through Pseudo-Dionysius.

By the way, many of the major theological doctors of the late medieval Church, the Reformation, and post-Reformation orthodoxy were brilliant rabinnic scholars, but all of them were skeptical about the actual "theological" help they could get from those sources. If you want someone who's really basing his theology off of STJ, go look up NT Wright and his comments on 4QMMT.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Ed Vasicek's picture

Charlie wrote:
Ed, I know what you're talking about. I grew up going to Friends of Israel Bible studies, getting Israel My Glory magazine, and reading the Talmud (yes, I read the Talmud in high school). Within any historical-grammatical hermeneutic, finding out what people at the time thought is vital.

When we get to the Talmud, the situation is even worse. The Talmud was composed 200 AD-500 AD, not during the second temple period. It is not at all clear that there is continuity between "rabinnic Judaism" and "pre-exilic Judaism." It is, from the perspective of the Christian, an entirely different religion than "true Judaism" and whatever continuity exists can be only negative, in that it extrapolates and intensifies the same problems against which Jesus and Paul inveighed.

I understand that the New Perspective guys are off, but I think they are off because they are simply ignoring the clarity of Isaiah 53 and Romans 4:4-5.

But do you not believe that Jesus' teachings often agreed with those of Hillel? Or do you doubt that any of Hillel's teachings have significantly been preserved?

I would argue that the oral trail of memorization by disciplined disciples is a very good source of transmission. Obviously, not as good as written -- but still, you have to admit, the Jewish ethic of memorizing and passing down among disciples and rabbis was beyond mere hearsay.

"The Midrash Detective"

Charlie's picture

Ed, whatever the success of oral transmission, it is ultimately irrelevant for theology, though more relevant for exegesis. The Talmud comes from a time after the destruction of the temple and the beginning of a new diaspora. Judaism had to be significantly modified to fit those realities. The rabbis did not just repeat, they invented, just like the scholastics of the Middle Ages. Jewish exegesis takes some strange turns in the Middle Ages, so why not earlier?

So here's the point:

There is no way to determine the amount of continuity between the Talmud and 2TJ.

Whatever continuity does exist is only relevant to one set of religious interpretation in 2TJ (the Pharisaical).

Even if we could perfectly reconstruct what everyone in 2TJ believed, it would still be largely irrelevant for theology (though not exegesis), because it is impossible to prove continuity between 2TJ and previous eras of Hebrew history. Indeed, one gets the impression from the NT that the predominant religious structure of 2TJ was a bit "off," much like how a Protestant might regard the 12th century Church theology.

Furthermore, only on naturalistic assumptions can one make the case that Christianity owes anything to reigning 2TJ thought patterns. I believe that Christ's teachings were generally at odds with 2TJ. If they had understood the OT, they would have recognized Christ, but by and large they did not. So, I find it foolish to look for a "Jewish" way of reading Scripture when Jews have been terribly unsuccessful at interpreting Scripture. It is useful to consult rabbis and other sources in order to understand the culture of the period and some of the references in Scripture, but really, I don't think that 2TJ understood much more of what went on in Leviticus than we do.

I would recommend the same stance toward Judaism that I take toward Platonism or existentialism. It's a bunch of people who don't have Christ and thus don't have the Holy Spirit needed to interpret the Bible, so they mostly get it wrong. Along the way, there is some truth, and we can use it. I'll take Augustine over Rashi any day.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Ed Vasicek's picture

Now Charlie, I don't think you really are thinking what it sounds like you are saying.

Charlie said:

Quote:
Ed, whatever the success of oral transmission, it is ultimately irrelevant for theology, though more relevant for exegesis.

Most good theology comes from exegesis. Improve exegesis, and you improve theology. If not so, then Sola Scriptura is a farse.
You know that.

Quote:
I'll take Augustine over Rashi any day.

Rashi, yes, I agree. I'll take Augustine over him. But we are talking about Hillel and Shammai and the Ethics of the Fathers and the issues that were debated in the first century. Jesus never addressed Augustine's thoughts, nor were the apostles schooled in Augustine.

Quote:
I would recommend the same stance toward Judaism that I take toward Platonism or existentialism. It's a bunch of people who don't have Christ and thus don't have the Holy Spirit needed to interpret the Bible, so they mostly get it wrong. Along the way, there is some truth, and we can use it. I'll take Augustine over Rashi any day.

Judaism is our roots; we are grafted into the stock of Israel. Salvation is of the Jews, Jesus said. If you want to trash Judaism after the first century, that is one thing; but Judaism IS our spiritual background. I see a BIG difference between Judaism and Platonism. If you think about it, a Jew would not bow to an image, worship and pray to Mary, or believe a wafer is turned into the body and blood of Christ. Yet, if there were any regenerate Roman Catholics during the Middle Ages, they did all these blasphemous things while unregenerate Jews did not. I'm sorry, but the Holy Spirit is no guarantor that those He indwells are spiritually perceptive in all areas. They understand Christ as Savior, and they have more potential in certain areas, that I'll give you. But I know some pretty far-out (clearly born-again) Christians.

If you divide mankind into the lost and saved, then the non-Messianic Jews are in the lost category. But when it comes to knowledge of the Scriptures, the ancient Jews easily surpassed modern Christians. Easily. And, when you get to people like Hillel, who is to say he was not regenerate under the Old Covenant?

"The Midrash Detective"

Anne Sokol's picture

i voted jewish culture, but maybe i should've voted jewish and greco.

the more i live in another culture, the more i see how statements and approaches and issues are so culturally bound. I could give a thousand examples. it does make me wonder about how we read the Bible. like, we're in this adoption process, and the first place we went, we were supposed to have a preparation training. The lady talked to us and cancelled the ENTIRE TRAINING for us because she saw that we had an American view of adoption. Another example, a few yrs ago I offered to adopt an unsaved friend's baby b/c she was considering an abortion. What????!!! did i think they would SELL their baby? i wanted to BUY the baby? It was scandelous. it's another culture.

but then i think, why would God make it that way--like hard to understand. it's not that easy to find out stuff about jewish culture in some ways, to grasp how they thought. i've lived IN ukrainian culture for 7 yrs and breakthroughs of seeing thru their eyes still come.

but it'd probably add a lot more understanding. like i'm reading hebrews now, and it really is just so puzzling sometimes. like he "endured the cross, despising the shame." What shame? the human shame of a criminal death? the spiritual shame of bearing our sins? and the book is full of stuff like that that i can't figger out. and the Bible must be full of stuff like that, you know?

Joseph's picture

I didn't vote because I didn't see multiple options. The creeds are central for interpreting, specifically the Nicene Creed, as it represents a kind of masterly summation of the rule of faith that Irenaeus (he called it the canon of truth) argued distinguished all true Christians from heretics.

Historical context is also relevant; I don't fully agree with either Ed or Charlie on this.

It's not "naturalistic" to assume the historical and cultural location of early Christianity shaped it; it's gnostic to not assume that because it entails a form of thought that denies history and culture as inescapable aspects of being created; the Scriptures, like Jesus Christ, are no exception to this. That's the scandal of particularity that hits everyone from Celsus to Kant right between the eyes.

Jesus was raised in a specific intellectual, historical, and cultural, like any other person, and that shaped him. To the extent we can better understand that context, that's a good thing. However, I am, like Charlie, a bit skeptical about how applicable a lot of the data is. Some experts who are Christians need to know that data, and sift through it, but it's simply inaccessible to most people and often harmful, like any area of scholarship, for those who don't have proper background, training, and thus perspective to weight and interpret it. I trust N.T. Wright to at least know the significance of STJ and its texts; I don't trust Rob Bell or myself to know that. So, I'll read people like Wright, Gathercole, and Bauckham, but I won't pretend my reading a few of those STJ texts is as valuable to me as a Christian as reading the fathers of the church. The cry "ad fontes" does not apply to STJ the way it does to source texts in theology.

Charlie's picture

Ed, I'd like to clarify why I made a difference between exegesis and theology. I think that better knowledge of a historical period helps to shed light on obscure passages; it helps us understand the import of Jesus' and the NT author's words in their culture. It helps us in a number of ways. However, our knowledge of 2TJ does not give us a grid through which to interpret theology. I don't stick on my "Jewish eyes" to read the Bible. I am opposed to making the thoughts of 2TJ a template or filter through which I determine theology.

Joseph, I think had I explained myself more fully, we would be in agreement, or at least closer. Intellectual historians employ the phrase "the available believable." Naturalistic historians must explain every new idea in history on the basis of the "available believable" of the time, because humans are the only thinking things. So there is a dialectical or evolutionary process at work. Christianity, on the other hand, recognizes that while there is truth to this framework, there is also divine intervention in history. God comes from heaven and radically changes the available believable. He did that with the call of Abraham; he did it more clearly in the Exodus; he did it supremely in the incarnation. So I do not think that the teachings of Jesus can be explained on the basis of his available believable. He is a divine intervention changing the course of intellectual history; all revelation is. The historical-critical method alone is inadequate to deal with divinity.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Ed Vasicek's picture

Charlie wrote:
Ed, I'd like to clarify why I made a difference between exegesis and theology. I think that better knowledge of a historical period helps to shed light on obscure passages; it helps us understand the import of Jesus' and the NT author's words in their culture. It helps us in a number of ways. However, our knowledge of 2TJ does not give us a grid through which to interpret theology. I don't stick on my "Jewish eyes" to read the Bible. I am opposed to making the thoughts of 2TJ a template or filter through which I determine theology.

Joseph, I think had I explained myself more fully, we would be in agreement, or at least closer. Intellectual historians employ the phrase "the available believable." Naturalistic historians must explain every new idea in history on the basis of the "available believable" of the time, because humans are the only thinking things. So there is a dialectical or evolutionary process at work. Christianity, on the other hand, recognizes that while there is truth to this framework, there is also divine intervention in history. God comes from heaven and radically changes the available believable. He did that with the call of Abraham; he did it more clearly in the Exodus; he did it supremely in the incarnation. So I do not think that the teachings of Jesus can be explained on the basis of his available believable. He is a divine intervention changing the course of intellectual history; all revelation is. The historical-critical method alone is inadequate to deal with divinity.

Charlie, as per usual, your points are well taken. I have seen the type of abuse you are mentioning to Joseph, as though Jesus taught nothing new or radical. But, on the other hand, I don't know if it is right to relegate 2TJ to merely illuminating obscure passages that do not affect much that matters.

When it comes to soteriology, for example, the word of Jesus have often been misinterpreted because of a lack of STJ understanding. When Jesus speaks of discipleship, for example, it is often equated with conversion. The same might be said of discipleship and sanctification. Those, Charlie, are theological issues. Maybe not to you. I think we have managed to embrace correct views on soteriology, but we have horribly strained our interpretation of certain verses (often replacing interpretation with application) to do so. Others have, instead, corrupted their understanding of salvation. Here is just a brief case in point:

We learn from the Rabbis in the Talmud that the rabbis at the time of Jesus looked upon the relationship of Elijah and Elisha as the model for discipleship. Just knowing that alerts us to a passage that has always been there. In I Kings 19, Elijah asks Elisha to follow him. Elisha wants to say "Goodbye" to his family, but Elijah gives him the cold shoulder. So Elijah stops plowing, slaughters the oxen who were pulling the plow, and serves the cooked meat to all those in the vicinity. Then Elisha leaves all to follow Elijah. Understanding the rabbis used this as a paradigm for discipleship adds a new dimension to Jesus' teachings, about putting your hand to the plow and not looking back, selling what you have and giving it to the poor, or even Jesus' response to the man who wanted to first bury his father. Jesus was talking about what those who wanted to travel with Him as disciples had to do at that particular stage of their lives. Like Elisha, they had to forsake all, for a while.

Just knowing the process of Jewish discipleship and that hundreds of rabbis were roaming the holy land with their schools of disciples helps the interpreter (and theologian) make a distinction between a phase of discipleship and a life of the same.

Unless the synoptics (in particular) do not affect your theology, I dont' think it is quite right to say STJ does not affect theology.

"The Midrash Detective"

Anne Sokol's picture

i have been thunking about this more. and i think ed has a point. sometimes i see so clearly how ukrainians have whole different "logical" ways of thinking and "logical" factors that I would not consider until i understand this culture more.

and i think this must have a lot to do with lines of reasoning, examples used, etc, in the Biblical writings that we are puzzled by or ignore at first blush. and why we latch onto certain verses that seem to carry a universal principle we CAN understand.

sorry to keep using Hebrews as an example, but it's so relevant to this discussion. Ch 4 with the sabbath rest, and then the verses about the word:

Hebrews 4:11-12 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

like, what on earth is the logical connection between those two topics? i've never heard vs 12 being used in this context, whatever it means. just vs 12 being used alone.

weird huh?

Ed Vasicek's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:

Hebrews 4:11-12 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

like, what on earth is the logical connection between those two topics? i've never heard vs 12 being used in this context, whatever it means. just vs 12 being used alone.

weird huh?

The connection is possibly this: the "example of unbelief" is found time and time again in the Scriptures. As we read them, the Word exposes our inner motives and thoughts. It's more of a bridge. They didn't believe in Numbers. As we read Numbers-- and Scripture -- God uses His Word to cut through the nonsense of our unbelief or insincerity.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jerry Shugart's picture

Eric Peterman wrote:
I'm not sure I'd use the phrase "Christianity as a form of Judaism". I'll have to think about an alternate description. Hmm.

How about this?

Christianity is Judaism fulfilled.

All of the "types" under Judaism were mere pictures or illustrations of the "antitypes," and the antitypes are the realities of Christianity.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Jerry Shugart wrote:
Eric Peterman wrote:
I'm not sure I'd use the phrase "Christianity as a form of Judaism". I'll have to think about an alternate description. Hmm.

How about this?

Christianity is Judaism fulfilled.

All of the "types" under Judaism were mere pictures or illustrations of the "antitypes," and the antitypes are the realities of Christianity.

"Fulfilled" does not necessarily mean that what was fulfilled is discarded.

Quote:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

It is true that Jesus completes, but, as He said, He did not come to destroy the Law (as some claim He did). To "fulfill" can be an idiom for "to properly interpret and expand."

"The Midrash Detective"

Jerry Shugart's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:

"Fulfilled" does not necessarily mean that what was fulfilled is discarded.

Yes, but the author of Hebrews told those who received his letter that the Law was but a shadow or type and what need does one have with the shadow when they have the real thing? Therefore he tells them to leave the camp of Judaism (Heb.13:13).
Quote:
It is true that Jesus completes, but, as He said, He did not come to destroy the Law (as some claim He did). To "fulfill" can be an idiom for "to properly interpret and expand."

According to Paul the nation of Israel has been temporarily set aside and therefore the Law (Mosaic Covenant) has also been temporarily set aside (Gal.3:24-25; Col.2:14). That does not mean that Christians are to live a lawless life (1 Thess.4:1-7).

Ed Vasicek's picture

Jerry Shugart wrote:
Ed Vasicek wrote:

"Fulfilled" does not necessarily mean that what was fulfilled is discarded.

Yes, but the author of Hebrews told those who received his letter that the Law was but a shadow or type and what need does one have with the shadow when they have the real thing? Therefore he tells them to leave the camp of Judaism (Heb.13:13).
Quote:
It is true that Jesus completes, but, as He said, He did not come to destroy the Law (as some claim He did). To "fulfill" can be an idiom for "to properly interpret and expand."

According to Paul the nation of Israel has been temporarily set aside and therefore the Law (Mosaic Covenant) has also been temporarily set aside (Gal.3:24-25; Col.2:14). That does not mean that Christians are to live a lawless life (1 Thess.4:1-7).

Good thoughts, but I would like to suggest a few fine points. The Hebrews text does not say that the Law was ONLY a shadow. It was a shadow of the (better) things to come, but that does not mean it served no other purpose. For example, it is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. And the law is good if one uses it lawfully, Paul says in I Tim. 1. Hebrews is narrowing the discussion to only one aspect of the Law (relating to God on the basis of Law instead of by faith in Jesus Christ). He is showing the superiority of Jesus to non-Messianic Judaism.

I don't know that the Law was ever technically "set aside," but that would get us into some deep discussion! The Law never was given to gentiles in the first place, but the Covenant of Noah (Genesis 9) was and is.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jerry Shugart's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:

I don't know that the Law was ever technically "set aside," but that would get us into some deep discussion! The Law never was given to gentiles in the first place, but the Covenant of Noah (Genesis 9) was and is.

it is evident that the Law has been set aside for all those who are Israelites "according to the flesh."

Paul compares the Law to a schoolmaster and then says to his fellow Jews that "we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Gal.3:25).

The Law could not be practiced apart from Judaism and all of the things connected with Judaism, such as the tabernacle or the temple. The author of Hebrews tells the Jewish believer to "go forth...outside the camp" of Judaism (Heb.13:13). The Mosiac Covenant cannot be in practice today due to the fact that the essentials of that covenant (i.e. the ark of the covenant) no longer exist.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Jerry Shugart wrote:
Paul compares the Law to a schoolmaster and then says to his fellow Jews that "we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Gal.3:25).

The Law could not be practiced apart from Judaism and all of the things connected with Judaism, such as the tabernacle or the temple. The author of Hebrews tells the Jewish believer to "go forth...outside the camp" of Judaism (Heb.13:13). The Mosiac Covenant cannot be in practice today due to the fact that the essentials of that covenant (i.e. the ark of the covenant) no longer exist.

When you get into matter like the Law, I think you have to qualify discussion with, "there is a sense that..."

It is true that the Law includes the Tabernacle/Temple rules. But, then again, there is another sense in which the Law of God is written on our hearts and a sense in which the Law convicts people of sin.

The Law is our (i.e., the Messianic Jews who were in Galatia) schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, and we (actually, they) no longer need the Law in a salvic sense. Some have principlized this to refer to all believers, but the Mosaic Law, at least, was not given to gentiles.

Part of the reason they no longer need the Law is that we now have the Spirit and thus fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law (Romans 8:4)

Quote:
n order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit

The Law has many purposes, as, for example, in giving us wisdom and doctrine:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 reads:

Quote:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Please note that the "all" refers not only to being God-breathed, but all is useful for teaching. Failure to study and apply the Law in some way means a spiritual deficiency. If you want to be thoroughly equipped, you need ALL Scripture. I am not saying we relate to God on the basis of Law, but I would argue that much NT teaching is extrapolated from the Law, and that there is value is returning to the source.

Note that the early Jewish believers continued to observe the Law (not for justification), and that the early gentile believers seemingly (this is interpretation, so I could be wrong) attended the synagogue as God-fearing gentiles to study the Law (and thus did not need Law teaching in church meetings):

Acts 15:19-21

Quote:
"It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."

Please also note that the Jerusalem council was about not requiring gentiles to observe the Law -- AS JEWISH BELIEVERS WERE. It was about whether a gentile could become a Christian without first becoming a Jew, NOT about whether a Jewish believer had to become a gentile believer. In time, the church turned the tables and demanded Jewish believers become gentile believers. It was assumed that Jewish believers would observe the Law, otherwise the Jerusalem council makes no sense. Why would Jewish believers expect gentile believers to observe the Law if even the Jewish believers were not?

Also note this ruling form the Apostles in Acts 21:

Quote:
20When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."

I personally believe that Jewish believers were free to (but not constrained) observe the Law, and that most or all chose to do so. But it was the nature of the observance (to identify with Israel rather than works righteousness) that made this consistent with the New Covenant.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jerry Shugart's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:
It is true that the Law includes the Tabernacle/Temple rules. But, then again, there is another sense in which the Law of God is written on our hearts and a sense in which the Law convicts people of sin.

The idea of the law of God written in the heart is in regard to one's inner knowledge of what is right and what is wrong (of which the conscience bears witness). The idea of the law written in our heart is not in reference to the Ten Commandments which were an integral part of the Mosaic Covenant. Are we to look at the Ten Commandments and think that we are sinful because we do not keep the Sabbath?
Quote:
The Law is our (i.e., the Messianic Jews who were in Galatia) schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, and we (actually, they) no longer need the Law in a salvic sense. Some have principlized this to refer to all believers, but the Mosaic Law, at least, was not given to gentiles.

If I read you right you are saying that the Jews of the past who did live at the time when Mosaic Covenant was in force needed "the Law in a salvic sense"? In what sense was that true?
Quote:
It was assumed that Jewish believers would observe the Law, otherwise the Jerusalem council makes no sense. Why would Jewish believers expect gentile believers to observe the Law if even the Jewish believers were not?

I believe that the Jewish believers who formed the Jerusalem church continued to keep the Law during the Acts period because they were never told to cease from keeping the law.
Quote:
I personally believe that Jewish believers were free to (but not constrained) observe the Law, and that most or all chose to do so. But it was the nature of the observance (to identify with Israel rather than works righteousness) that made this consistent with the New Covenant.

The Apostle Peter referred to the Law as being a "yoke" which neither the fathers nor his contemporaries were able to bear (Acts 15:10).

By the time he wrote his first epistle (which occured after the Acts period had ended) the Jews were said to be "free," and the reference is evidently in regard to being free from the Law:

"As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God" (1 Pet.2:16).

Peter's words there practically mirror Paul's words that are also in regard to being free from the Law:

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Gal.5:1).

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another"(Gal.5:13).

This teaching is the opposite of being identified with Israel (as is the commandment to leave the camp of Judaism) and has nothing to do with Israel's promised New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31.