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Re: [XTalk] Jesus, Paul and the law

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... I ll take this further, and argue that Jewish law is too broad a topic. For example, didn t the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes differ among themselves
    Message 1 of 10 , Apr 26, 2011
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      At 07:14 AM 4/26/2011, Gordon Raynal wrote:
      >...I'd argue that such questions
      >as these have to be a part of the mix when things like "Paul was the
      >first person in the Jesus movement to disparage Jewish law."...

      I'll take this further, and argue that "Jewish law" is too broad a
      topic. For example, didn't the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes
      differ among themselves quite a bit as to how much, and which, Jewish
      law should be observed? IIRC, the Sadducees were minimalists (nothing
      but the Law of Moses), the Pharisees took a much broader view, and
      the Essenes had their own special take on exactly what the law
      required. So, for example, some of the "Jewish law" disparaged by
      Jesus was, again IIRC, Pharisaic additions to the law that the
      Sadducees did not recognize. And then there were the Samaritans...

      So I think there are sectarian (intra-Jewish) issues here to deal
      with, as well.

      Bob Schacht
      Northern Arizona University



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    • Ronald Price
      ... Gordon and Bob, In my first posting to this thread I mentioned three aspects of Jewish law: the whole (now rejected by all Christians), circumcision, and
      Message 2 of 10 , Apr 27, 2011
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        On 27/04/2011 05:43, "Bob Schacht" <r_schacht@...> wrote:

        > I'll take this further, and argue that "Jewish law" is too broad a
        > topic. For example, didn't the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes
        > differ among themselves quite a bit as to how much, and which, Jewish
        > law should be observed?
        >
        Gordon and Bob,

        In my first posting to this thread I mentioned three aspects of Jewish law:
        the whole (now rejected by all Christians), circumcision, and food laws.
        Paul had an inconsistent attitude to all three because he wanted to have it
        both ways. Mark¹s Jesus rejected the food laws. As far as I am aware,
        circumcision and (for instance) not eating pork, were characteristics of
        Judaism as a whole.

        Of course Mark, followed by the other synoptics, includes several sabbath
        controversy stories. In some of these it may be more difficult to decide
        whether what was being broken was the law or mere tradition. However this
        seems to me immaterial, as I don¹t see any of them going back to the
        historical Jesus, for very little oral tradition could have survived the
        triple whammy of the destruction of Jerusalem, the geographical spread of
        the Jesus movement, and Paul¹s general lack of interest in the human
        activities of Jesus. These stories must surely all have been created in
        order to further the distinction between Judaism and Christianity at a time
        when the latter was becoming more and more exclusively a religion of
        Gentiles. Thus there is no reliable evidence of Jesus breaking either the
        laws or the traditions of the Jews.

        Ron Price,

        Derbyshire, UK

        http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/


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      • Gordon Raynal
        Bob, Nicely noted! Ron, (see below) ... A point of clarification: what does the whole (now rejected by all Christians) mean? Thanks, Gordon Raynal Inman,
        Message 3 of 10 , Apr 27, 2011
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          Bob,

          Nicely noted!

          Ron,
          (see below)
          On Apr 27, 2011, at 6:40 AM, Ronald Price wrote:

          > On 27/04/2011 05:43, "Bob Schacht" <r_schacht@...> wrote:
          >
          >> I'll take this further, and argue that "Jewish law" is too broad a
          >> topic. For example, didn't the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes
          >> differ among themselves quite a bit as to how much, and which, Jewish
          >> law should be observed?
          >>
          > Gordon and Bob,
          >
          > In my first posting to this thread I mentioned three aspects of
          > Jewish law:
          > the whole (now rejected by all Christians), circumcision, and food
          > laws.
          >
          >

          A point of clarification: what does "the whole" (now rejected by all
          Christians)" mean?
          Thanks,

          Gordon Raynal
          Inman, SC
        • Matson, Mark (Academic)
          ... It strikes me that the central issue is not the Law per se, or not the Law , but rather the audience. The Law (of Moses) was, at least according to
          Message 4 of 10 , Apr 27, 2011
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            Gordon, Ron, Bob:

            >(responding to all, but particularly this in Ron's first post:

            >(3) If Jesus had rejected the Jewish law in whole or in part, it is difficult to see why Paul was so ambivalent about both the law as a whole and about specific laws >pertaining to circumcision and food. Dale Allison puts it this way in a comment on Mt 11:13: ³... If Jesus himself had set aside the law, the heated debates on the topic in >the primitive community are hard to fathom.² (Matthew, II, 257)

            It strikes me that the central issue is not "the Law" per se, or "not the Law", but rather the audience. The Law (of Moses) was, at least according to Paul, a particular feature of Judaism. It was God's gift to Jews, and was incumbent on them as part of the covenant. I am not sure that Paul ever moved away from this position. But for Gentiles to whom he now preached and who were his primary audience, the Law is not necessary. It is not an entry-way into this new covenant, hence the pitched arguments over circumcision. Circumcision is symbolic for the whole law... a synecdoche if you will. Gentiles only need faith in Jesus to enter the new covenant.

            So if the law is not a required entry point into the new covenant, does it have any value? Well, instructional at most. And here I think the distinctions between "moral law" and "ceremonial law" might be useful, but never as actual legal dictates for Gentiles.

            But did Paul reject the law for Jews? Or, to put it another way, does the new covenant completely supplant the old covenant for Jews (are they mutually exclusive?). I don't think Paul thought so. I think he remained an law-observant Jew.

            Ron, I think you're right on Jesus. He seemed to have operated fully as affirming the Law. What might be interpreted as "breaking law" is usually interpreting it in a quite rabbinic fashion.




            Mark A. Matson
            Academic Dean
            Milligan College
            423-461-8720
            http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm
          • Ronald Price
            ... Gordon, I meant that Christians rejected the whole Jewish system of laws based on the Torah, where ³whole² has its normal dictionary definition. Of
            Message 5 of 10 , Apr 27, 2011
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              On 27/04/2011 12:05, "Gordon Raynal" <scudi1@...> wrote:

              > A point of clarification: what does "the whole" (now rejected by all
              > Christians)" mean?
              >
              Gordon,

              I meant that Christians rejected the whole Jewish system of laws based on
              the Torah, where ³whole² has its normal dictionary definition.

              Of course the Christian bible includes the Torah, but in practice it is the
              New Testament which is used as the yardstick for Christian behaviour, and
              even there Christians usually focus on general guidelines such as Œdo to
              others what you want people to do to you¹ rather than detailed rules or
              ³laws².

              Ron Price,

              Derbyshire, UK

              http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Bob Schacht
              ... Well, I don t know what the practice is in your Christian church (assuming that you belong to one), but in the Episcopal church (and Anglican), the Ten
              Message 6 of 10 , Apr 27, 2011
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                At 08:54 AM 4/27/2011, Ronald Price wrote:
                >On 27/04/2011 12:05, "Gordon Raynal" <scudi1@...> wrote:
                >
                > > A point of clarification: what does "the whole" (now rejected by all
                > > Christians)" mean?
                > >
                >Gordon,
                >
                >I meant that Christians rejected the whole Jewish system of laws based on
                >the Torah, where ³whole² has its normal dictionary definition.
                >
                >Of course the Christian bible includes the Torah, but in practice it is the
                >New Testament which is used as the yardstick for Christian behaviour, and
                >even there Christians usually focus on general guidelines such as Œdo to
                >others what you want people to do to you¹ rather than detailed rules or
                >³laws².

                Well, I don't know what the practice is in your
                Christian church (assuming that you belong to
                one), but in the Episcopal church (and Anglican),
                the Ten Commandments are included in the Book of
                Common Prayer and are occasionally included in
                communal worship, especially in penitential seasons.
                Furthermore, here in the States we've had a bit
                of controversy with some evangelical Christians
                who want the Ten Commandments to be publicly
                displayed (e.g.,
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Moore). Contrary
                to your portrayal, I don't think the Ten
                Commandments are a dead letter in the Christian
                Church-- either now, or in the First Century of our era.

                Bob Schacht
                Northern Arizona University
                So that hardly sounds like a rejection of the "whole" of Jewish law.

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Ronald Price
                ... Bob, O.K., what I wrote was an over-simplification. You can tell I have never been a member of the Anglican Church! Nevertheless I think there is an
                Message 7 of 10 , Apr 27, 2011
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                  On 27/04/2011 17:35, "Bob Schacht" <r_schacht@...> wrote:

                  > Well, I don't know what the practice is in your
                  > Christian church (assuming that you belong to
                  > one), but in the Episcopal church (and Anglican),
                  > the Ten Commandments are included in the Book of
                  > Common Prayer and are occasionally included in
                  > communal worship, especially in penitential seasons.
                  > Furthermore, here in the States we've had a bit
                  > of controversy with some evangelical Christians
                  > who want the Ten Commandments to be publicly
                  > displayed (e.g.,
                  > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Moore). Contrary
                  > to your portrayal, I don't think the Ten
                  > Commandments are a dead letter in the Christian
                  > Church-- either now, or in the First Century of our era. .....
                  >
                  > So that hardly sounds like a rejection of the "whole" of Jewish law.

                  Bob,

                  O.K., what I wrote was an over-simplification. You can tell I have never
                  been a member of the Anglican Church!

                  Nevertheless I think there is an important distinction between Jewish
                  acceptance of the ten commandments because they form part of the Torah, and
                  any Christian acceptance of them. The latter cannot be simply because they
                  are in the bible, for in that case Christians would not eat pork and
                  circumcision would be obligatory on religious grounds. So presumably their
                  attraction for some parts of the Church must be because they are perceived
                  to reflect Christian values as reflected in the New Testament.

                  Ron Price,

                  Derbyshire, UK

                  http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Gordon Raynal
                  Hi Ron, Thanks for your reply to me. I ll just respond off of Bob s note, so see below: ... This takes us away from Bible and into the world of Christian
                  Message 8 of 10 , Apr 27, 2011
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                    Hi Ron,

                    Thanks for your reply to me. I'll just respond off of Bob's note, so
                    see below:
                    On Apr 27, 2011, at 2:24 PM, Ronald Price wrote:

                    > On 27/04/2011 17:35, "Bob Schacht" <r_schacht@...> wrote:
                    >
                    >> Well, I don't know what the practice is in your
                    >> Christian church (assuming that you belong to
                    >> one), but in the Episcopal church (and Anglican),
                    >> the Ten Commandments are included in the Book of
                    >> Common Prayer and are occasionally included in
                    >> communal worship, especially in penitential seasons.
                    >> Furthermore, here in the States we've had a bit
                    >> of controversy with some evangelical Christians
                    >> who want the Ten Commandments to be publicly
                    >> displayed (e.g.,
                    >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Moore). Contrary
                    >> to your portrayal, I don't think the Ten
                    >> Commandments are a dead letter in the Christian
                    >> Church-- either now, or in the First Century of our era. .....
                    >>
                    >> So that hardly sounds like a rejection of the "whole" of Jewish law.
                    >
                    > Bob,
                    >
                    > O.K., what I wrote was an over-simplification. You can tell I have
                    > never
                    > been a member of the Anglican Church!
                    >
                    > Nevertheless I think there is an important distinction between Jewish
                    > acceptance of the ten commandments because they form part of the
                    > Torah, and
                    > any Christian acceptance of them. The latter cannot be simply
                    > because they
                    > are in the bible, for in that case Christians would not eat pork and
                    > circumcision would be obligatory on religious grounds. So presumably
                    > their
                    > attraction for some parts of the Church must be because they are
                    > perceived
                    > to reflect Christian values as reflected in the New Testament.
                    >
                    > Ron Price,
                    >
                    This takes us away from Bible and into the world of Christian theology
                    and ethics, but your summation even here is still an
                    oversimplification. The relationship between "grace and law" is an
                    issue all across the Christian theological heritage and it is quite
                    complex. That said, take a look sometimes at the Westminster Larger
                    Catechism and the section on the place and understanding of the
                    Decalogue.

                    Gordon Raynal
                    Inman, SC
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