Paul, Torah, and Gospel (Law Comparison)

Statement of Jesus

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)

A few things can be gleamed from this little passage:

(a) The Law will not be abolished – but it stands to be fulfilled

(b) Jesus also did not come to break/annul these commandments

Paul Statements

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:24-25)

“But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:6)

Is Paul saying the Law is fulfilled? Is Paul saying the Law is no longer needed? Questions do abound.

Paul Plays Semantics with the Torah

(1) Gal 3:16 “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.

Gen 12:7 “The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land”

Paul does not speak of Jesus as inheriting the land nor of the gentile Galatians as about to possess Jerusalem real estate” (Levine pg. 79 – The Misunderstood Jew)

(2) Gal 3:17 “the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise”

He insists, for example, that of the Gentiles in Galatia agree to circumcision, then it follows they should practice the entire Law…Abraham was circumcised, but the biblical text does not state that he followed Mosaic Law (as Paul also notes in his appeal to the 490 years between Abraham and Moses)” (Levine pg. 80 – The Misunderstood Jew)

(3) Gal 3:24-25 “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor”

Nothing in the Scriptures of Israel suggest that the Law would pass away. Nor would most Jews have agreed with the idea that the Torah was given because of human transgression (Gal 3:19). Rather, they would have regarded it as a sign of divine love” (Levine pg. 81 – The Misunderstood Jew)

(4) Gal 3:19 “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made”

Mediation should not make a difference in theological value; the words of God spoken by the prophets are mediated, but they are no less value than a voice that comes directly from heaven” (Levine pg. 81 – The Misunderstood Jew)

(5) Gal 4:25/26-28/29 “Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother…And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.”

Thus those who claim physical descent from Abraham and follow Torah are children of Hagar; those who claim spiritual descent and do not follow Torah are children of Sarah. Who knew?” (Levine pg. 81 – The Misunderstood Jew)

Uh yeah…need I say more about Paul and his break from Torah (for the sake of the Gentiles he was addressing).

Advertisements

57 thoughts on “Paul, Torah, and Gospel (Law Comparison)

  1. I can categorically state Paul and Jesus do view the Torah differently – even the brief statements of each cannot be ratified to mean the same thing – one is saying ‘it will not pass away’ – while the others seems to be quite certain ‘the law is no longer needed’. That is different – so much so – I would say they are in dis-agreeance.

    As for the Torah passages used in Galatians – well as Levine points out – Paul actually seems to mis-represent the very passages he is pulling ideas from – or a term we all know ‘out of context’…namely that allegory thing about Sarah and Hagar. I understand what Paul is trying to do – persuade these gentiles to not be circumcised or even obey the dietary laws – I mean why should they – they are not Jewish. Still, they actually wanted to do that and Paul developed this letter to persuade them not to – even to the point of denying the Law as relevant.

  2. Wow… there’s a tone here, but let me take a crack at just a few:

    (1) Genesis 1-4 by Collins tackles the issue of the plural v. the singular use of the seed. In short, the version of Gen. 12:7 that you quote is translating “descendants” incorrectly. The hebrew word is “zera,” and the form used here is 3rd person, masculine, and singular. The ESV translates it as “offspring” but “seed” is just as viable in the singular. Thus Paul’s interpretation is quite accurate. I’d have to take a look at how he is using it in Galatians to fill that out more, but his singular use is 100% accurate.

    (3) Paul says “no longer under a tutor,” not “the tutor no longer exists.” Believers of Christ are no longer condemned by the law because (through His substitutionary atonement) His righteousness is imputed/given to us. The Law very much exists and applies, the only difference is that it no longer condemns.

    I gotta run to class, but those are the two right off the top of my head. I’ve never heard of Levine, who is he/she? I can’t recommend Genesis 1-4 by Collins any more… I seriously think you’d eat it up.

    Peace.

  3. “Levine, who is he/she?” (Brad)

    Amy Jill Levine – wrote ‘The MIsunderstood Jew – the Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus’. She is an orthodox Jewish lady that also teaches at a Christian Divinity school in America (where she teaches slips my mind). She is very well studied in the practices of both faiths and has studied both sets of scriptures in some level of depth…is she the smartest lady that ever lived – likely not – but her critique on the Christian faith and history is very very good and well documented. The book is at the least worth a read.

    “The ESV translates it as “offspring” but “seed” is just as viable in the singular. Thus Paul’s interpretation is quite accurate” (Brad)

    It’s a viable ‘play on words’ with the term offspring (which can be read both as singular or plural depending on how one wants to use it). The big question is how was ‘offspring’ (or seed) used in the Gensis passages? Was it ever singular? I think the passages can be played with to make a singular point about ‘offspring or seed’ – but the fact is – and Yael can clear me up on this if she wants – offspring is usually used as the whole Jewish nation and not one single person from the community. Paul is playing semantics – even seed as a term is both plural and singular (you do not say ‘seeds’).

    “Believers of Christ are no longer condemned by the law because (through His substitutionary atonement) His righteousness is imputed/given to us. The Law very much exists and applies, the only difference is that it no longer condemns.” (Brad)

    How can a Gentile be condemned by a Law they do not know nor they have ever followed? Paul says ‘but where there is no law, there also is no violation’ (Rom 4:15). So Jesus died as a subsitutte for what exactly when no law exists?

    Also Paul says this ‘But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets” (Rom 3:21) – huh? Like one sentence before Paul is quick to point out ‘because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight’. Paul has a double standard in a way going on. He points out the Law and Prophets can show the righteousness of God but even that cannot justify you. So the teachings are good but they are not good? How can you tell he is tailoring this message to a Gentile community to get them to ‘reject the Law’.

    “The Law very much exists and applies, the only difference is that it no longer condemns.” (Brad)

    I also think the Law exists and now we all have some limited access to it – by buying a bible. I actually do like Paul’s whole excursion about the problem with sin from Romans and how it is revealed by the Law – but the Law being the problem is where I diverge from him. Paul seems to think the Law (given by God to Moses) is weak and not like the Christ (given by God) and this seems flawed to me. See below.

    “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh” (Rom 8:2-3).

    Why is it that the Law (from God) is not good? To me, it is very clear what Paul is saying here – the Torah is not to be followed – only faith in Christ is to be followed (which begs the question why we even use the Tanakh). Paul does not think the Torah can justify humanity in God’s sight – this is not how Jesus quite viewed the Torah nor is it how Jewish people actually viewed it (then and now). I see Paul as an advocate for a few things:

    (a) the Law is for the Jewish people – they should follow it
    (b) The Law is by no means to be followed by a Gentile – it is not their right
    (c) Faith in Christ doesn’t need to be tied to the Law/Prophets
    (d) Paul is against the dietary laws and circumcision in Gentile communities (this is law)
    (e) Paul see’s following one Law as the need to follow it all (James also says this)

    Paul is different than Jesus and some small pieces of study will reveal that…is he anti-Jesus? By no means! Paul’s letters establish Jesus to the Gentiles. What Jesus was weak in doing Paul was strong in doing – meeting the Gentiles and even challenging Torah for them. Sorry, this was a Romans parody…

  4. “The big question is how was ‘offspring’ (or seed) used in the Gensis passages? Was it ever singular?”

    That’s what I was trying to say, that the grammatical use of the Hebrew word is in the 3rd person masculine singular form. That’s straight from the Hebrew (I studied that exact passage this semester for my Hebrew in Exegesis class).

    “offspring is usually used as the whole Jewish nation and not one single person from the community.”

    In the plural form, it absolutely is. Then it is translated correctly as “descendants” or “offspring” (in the plural sense). But this particular usage of the word is in the singular, and would not fit that usage.

    “How can a Gentile be condemned by a Law they do not know nor they have ever followed?”

    Rom. 1:19-21 “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

    It looks like Paul would say that the Law is a verbalization of eternal truths that are not unknown to the world. While it may not be to the same degree that the Israelites know, it definitely is “enough” according to God.

    “Why is it that the Law (from God) is not good?”

    He never said that at all. He is using comparative language to describe the glory of the messiah. Is it any surprise that the Law is weaker by comparison because it was never meant to “save?” He is not saying the Torah should not be followed, he’s saying that Christ alone should be followed for salvation. Gordon Wenham describes the law as the “floor beneath which we must not sink,” and following Christ as the “ceiling that we must aspire to.” They are not in opposition, neither are “bad,” and both are helpful, but one is greater.

    “What Jesus was weak in doing Paul was strong in doing – meeting the Gentiles and even challenging Torah for them. ”

    Oh no no no… not at all. Paul himself said in Rom. 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

    He seems to believe that the Jews came first to this opportunity, and Jesus was intentional in doing that. I would not say at all that it came from an inability, but from an intentional strategy (otherwise, why would God choose Abraham in the first place?).

    It seems that most of the problems you notice (as far as I can tell) can be cleared up by some grammatical, literary, and historical exegesis. We bring a lot of “stuff” to the table as 21st century readers (i.e. “Because this doesn’t reconcile to me, Jesus and Paul MUST be disagreeing…”), and we the readers must be aware of that “lens” we see things through. It’s amazing how man cultural presuppositions get in the way of reading the author’s intent and how the original audience heard the message. Good stuff, bro.

  5. “It looks like Paul would say that the Law is a verbalization of eternal truths that are not unknown to the world. While it may not be to the same degree that the Israelites know, it definitely is “enough” according to God” (Brad)

    I rather like this viewpoint – it resonates with me about the fact we are taught to do right no matter what culture we come from. However, I would ask – can someone apart from the teachings of God be saved? I think Paul is making this argument here about people that my not have the teachings of God – basically – what is Paul saying is the ‘way to God’ and not the ‘way to God’…immorality and righteousness?

    “They are not in opposition, neither are “bad,” and both are helpful, but one is greater.” (Brad)

    I actually also liked the analogy of the ceiling and the floor – I might have used them differently – but they make a good point about the need for the Torah/Prophets on which all of this ‘hangs’. As for the ‘greater’ aspect of the conversation – why do you think one is greater than the other? God does save the Jewish nation many times in the Tanakh – the Torah is based on one such event (from whence comes the Law of God).

    This is where there can be a difference – but it’s not about the ‘greater or lesser’. Maybe Paul see’s the heavenly realm as something not in the Torah and thus not addressed until the point of Jesus – as in salvation in that ‘thereafter’ sense of the word. Maybe this is Paul’s viewpoint he is coming from? And maybe the law shows us this is what God has done on earth and will also do in heaven.

    “It seems that most of the problems you notice (as far as I can tell) can be cleared up by some grammatical, literary, and historical exegesis” (Brad)

    That’s the funny thing – I am basing my ideas plainly on historical aspects of the time (namely the forgotten Jewish aspect of that time) and literary works of Paul’s own writing. Grammar – well that gets addressed when the need arises.

    See the original problem is Paul does think we ‘are released from the law’ and Jesus does not quite say that (actually says something very contrary to Paul). It is also well known Paul is writing to Gentile communities (ex: Galatia, Rome, Thessalonika, Ephesus, etc) and not Jewish ones – whereas Jesus spoke only to the Jewish community.

    Paul is adapting a message that was from the Jewish nation and trying to make it fit into Gemtile communities. His skimrmishes with the Law are slanted to the acceptance of the Gentile community (and some of that I agree with) – however – he has no right to make blanket statements about the Jewish faith (which is his forte) – which make the Law appear as a ‘second class’ piece of work – when we know full well God made those Laws also! Or am I mistaken – was the Torah the work of man or a gift from God? Even by your own words you verify this ‘They are not in opposition, neither are “bad,” and both are helpful, but one is greater.’ I see Pauline theology all over that sentence – namely that we happen to be greater with ‘no law’.

    Also Paul is mistaken (and James) that if you follow one aspect of the law – you have to follow it all…and Abraham shows this to be false (following one aspect of the law but not the whole Mosaic Law – which would be similar to Gentiles in some ways).

    “It’s amazing how man cultural presuppositions get in the way of reading the author’s intent ” (Brad)

    This is the same thing Levine is saying in her book – cultural pre-suppositions about the Judaic faith are getting in the way of what the Jewish faith actually did say and looked like in the 1st century. There are many examples: Pharisee’s are authoritative and evil people? The Law is something we have to observe through Paul’s narrow lense? God is a Trinity? Christianity replaced Judaism? To name a few.

    I actually think most of the Christian articles of faith – no matter the denomination – are shaded by a cultural bias concerning the Torah and Prophets that smacks of Gentile interpretation and not Jewish perspectives (although we claim the original writers are Jewish – the teachings we have now do not reflect that very much).

    I know the church history and how this all gets shaped and I would say it is a very accurate thing to say Gentile Christianity eradicated anything Jewish about the Christian faith – during those councils in Nicea for starts (but basically since the Jewish faith rejected us – and by the time John dies – the severence has begun in full swing). Think about it – in early Christianity after these original writers – how many church father are Jewish? One can only imagine how this changed the perspective from a Jewish source for the writings to that of the philosophies of the Gentile cultures (and what do you now…God can be more than one person/Jesus can be 200% as a person/etc). Wow…and things just keep getting more adrift.

    Chruch history shows, plain and straight-faced, Christians did use these passges from the gospels and letters to actively persecute and de-mean Jewish people. That includes the majority of church father writings and those from the Reformation. I mean, if Paul has no intent (or the book of John) of being anti-Judaic in any way – then how is it those passages can be even remotely used for hating Judaism? Yet that’s the pre-dominant view in Christianity for many generations. So something with removing the Jewish aspects from the church made de-meaning Judaism almost neccesary – even a mandate. That’s sad to me – even if it remains quite unsaid – fact is churches know very little about actual Jewish beliefs.

  6. **Believers of Christ are no longer condemned by the law because (through His substitutionary atonement) His righteousness is imputed/given to us.**

    I’m not sure something like this can be cleared up, though. Christianity teaches that the law is essentially given to show everyone their need for a Savior. It condemns. Judaism doesn’t teach this. We have statements in Psalms 119 that state they love following God’s law, the Torah is a delight. It was something they rejoiced in, and a way of connecting to God. As Levine say, Judaism doesn’t say the Torah was given because of divine transgression, but because of divine love. To quote Paula Fredriksen, “… Israel’s election, embodied in the giving of the Torah, is viewed as God’s gracious gift. Obedience to the Torah is the proper response to the gift, but it does not earn salvation as such.” Salvation was left up to God’s grace and mercy. Not only that, but would the Tanakh writers have understood salvation as saved from hell/eternal torment? Salvation seemed to be much more about present-day rescue. I think the idea is that if you ask a Jew is s/he has been saved, they’ll respond with “Saved from what?”

    Yet the Torah isn’t something you can rejoice in through Christianity, because all it does is tell people they deserve punishment, and gives a list of things to follow in order to achieve salvation.

    The perspectives are just too different.

    **It’s amazing how man cultural presuppositions get in the way of reading the author’s intent and how the original audience heard the message. **

    Brad, not to pick on you, and I know we’ve discussed this earlier, but wouldn’t you find this a dangerous statement for a Christian to make? Because they pretty much are re-interpreting all of Judaism’s texts, saying that Judaism misunderstood the whole point of their religion.

  7. Society,

    In re-reading this post, it’s sparked some questions.

    **For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. **

    We’ve had the discussion on what Jesus meant by fufill, but I also wonder what he refers to when he says “until all is accomplished.” All of what? The crucifixion/resurrection? Except the accomplished seems tied to the idea of heaven and earth passing away. He also goes onto to say that whoever teaches someone to annul one of these commandments shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, and yet whoever teaches them shall be called the greatest. Is there a time-limit on this teaching? Does this only last until all is accomplished?

    **The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land”**

    It seemed like the original point of this was that the promise made to Abraham was that his offspring would inherit the land, and so your question was if Paul uses this in the same context –does Paul mean that God promised the seed of Abraham the same land? Or does Paul mean promise in a different way?

    **Gal 3:24-25 “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor”**

    I only have the paragraph to go on, but it seemed that Levine used the idea of the Law no longer existing in that it no longer applied if one had faith in Christ, and that was never stated in Judaism. In Judaism, the Torah would always apply. There was nothing to “replace” it. If one is no longer under a tutor, then how does that tutor still apply?

    I would also assume that Paul uses ‘tutor’ here in the sense of teaching everyone their need for a Savior, given that he says the Law was added due to transgressions.

  8. Sorry to leave you hanging Society. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are my long hours working at shul. I have to help take care of Jews sometimes, too you know. 🙂

    So, first off…. the point being made by Jill Levine is not about singular or plural but about WHO inherited the promise given to Abraham. Did the nation of Israel inherit the land or did Jesus inherit the land. That was the promise after all.

    Societyvs posted:(1) Gal 3:16 “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.

    Gen 12:7 “The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land”

    “Paul does not speak of Jesus as inheriting the land nor of the gentile Galatians as about to possess Jerusalem real estate” (Levine pg. 79 – The Misunderstood Jew)

    Brad then comes along and tries to sidetrack the point being made by Jill Levine. But, let’s get back to her point. Jesus was never given this land nor were his followers. In spite of the attitude of some Christians and missionary groups today, Israel is a JEWISH state, not a Christian state. The promise was to the nation of Israel, a singular nation.

    In Hebrew all words are either male or female, BTW. There is no equivalent to the English ‘it’ even though we translate using ‘it’. In Hebrew it would always be either he or she. It would be kind of strange to talk about male seed as she I suppose. The seed is referred to as he.

    Brad posted: (1) Genesis 1-4 by Collins tackles the issue of the plural v. the singular use of the seed. In short, the version of Gen. 12:7 that you quote is translating “descendants” incorrectly. The hebrew word is “zera,” and the form used here is 3rd person, masculine, and singular. The ESV translates it as “offspring” but “seed” is just as viable in the singular. Thus Paul’s interpretation is quite accurate. I’d have to take a look at how he is using it in Galatians to fill that out more, but his singular use is 100% accurate.

    Yael’s response: First off, some nit picking. The Hebrew word is not zera, the root is zera, seed. The word itself is l’zaraka, to your seed (masculine). 🙂

    So, Brad, are you saying every time Torah uses 3rd person, singular, masculine this automatically is a reference to Jesus? That would certainly make for some strange stories on your side of the great divide! Are you saying that Torah never refers to the nation of Israel as a whole using this tense? How do you interpret Isaiah 52:4? Is this verse not speaking about the nations of Israel, yet the word used is ashko, his oppression? And this is just one I can pull off the top of my head.

    ‘Quite accurate’? I guess you could say that I disagree….100%, but also 100% civilly. I went to Christian seminary, too, BTW and I never can figure out why it’s never good enough to learn that this is ‘a possible interpretation’ rather than that it is ‘100% accurate’.

    It’s amazing how man cultural presuppositions get in the way of reading the author’s intent ” (Brad)

    Society,
    I’m right with you with your comments. Jews studied Torah for thousands of years before there was Christianity and for 2000 years since, yet how many Christians know anything about how Jews viewed or view these texts? It’s all just pushed aside as meaningless drivel. Brad recommends to you a Christian book on interpreting Hebrew? Hey, why not do something really radical by just first learning Hebrew and only afterwards looking for yourself to see what the texts have to say! Wouldn’t that be something?

    I will again recommend a book written by a Christian who studied Torah with Jews but remained a Christian: The Gospel According to Moses. Obviously I don’t agree with him on many things, but you have to admire the guy. He didn’t content himself learning what Christians say Jews say. He went right to the source and learned for himself. So….who’s coming to Torah study with me next week? We’re studying Metzora….ever a fascinating parashat…..you wouldn’t want to let this opportunity pass you by…..

  9. *deep breath*

    Societyvs,

    “However, I would ask – can someone apart from the teachings of God be saved? ”

    Great question. I’d say that apart from Jesus, no. I know it’s not popular to say that, but that’s what scripture tells us.

    “I actually also liked the analogy of the ceiling and the floor”

    Yeah, it definitely helped connect some dots for me too. Wenham is an awesome and accessible writer in that regard.

    “Maybe this is Paul’s viewpoint he is coming from?”

    I’d say that is very possible. His background as a Pharisee would have lended to a significant interest in heavenly/salvific aspects of the faith (Pharisees believed in a literal, physical resurrection).

    “Also Paul is mistaken (and James) that if you follow one aspect of the law – you have to follow it all…and Abraham shows this to be false (following one aspect of the law but not the whole Mosaic Law – which would be similar to Gentiles in some ways).”

    Could you explain this a little more?

    “There are many examples: Pharisee’s are authoritative and evil people? The Law is something we have to observe through Paul’s narrow lense? God is a Trinity? Christianity replaced Judaism? To name a few.”

    Ehhh…. there is cultural presupposition, and then there is faith. Many times they overlap, but sometimes they don’t. For example, “Christianity replacing Judaism…” That is an issue of faith, not so much of culture, but yes they do overlap some. God as a Trinity? That’s doctrine taught by scripture and the early church fathers across cultures, and thus even more a doctrinal thing.

    What I am referring more to is aspects of modernism (these don’t seem to reconcile, they most be wrong due to the law of non-contradiction), postmodernism (my interpretation is just as valid as yours… “my truth is the truth,” etc.) and others like some “Americanized” Christianity (health and wealth as an example).

    “Chruch history shows, plain and straight-faced, Christians did use these passges from the gospels and letters to actively persecute and de-mean Jewish people.”

    Could you give some examples? I know Luther was definitely in this category, but I am not aware of other reformers or church fathers who did (dispensationalists are another story, and I’m not a fan, so no worries there).

    I gotta run to class… I’m already late, but I’ll get to the rest soon, I promise!

  10. OSS,

    “I’m not sure something like this can be cleared up, though. Christianity teaches that the law is essentially given to show everyone their need for a Savior. It condemns. Judaism doesn’t teach this.”

    I’d say that Christian scripture would be in agreement… When Paul talks about the law as something that “condemns,” it’s more along the lines of… evidence, maybe? I’m struggling for the right words, but there’s no doubt that the law was grace, pleasure, and cherished by the psalmists, and orthodox Jewish doctrine. In the first century (and leading up to it), the law became something “more” than it was intended to be, in a salvific sense. Jesus spoke against this in His ministry when he talked about Pharisees’ obsession with clean in appearance but having hard hearts of impurity (Matthew 23:25).

    In short, I agree, and much of Christianity has lost the beauty and grace of the law due to an overemphasis of the law as condemning. Yes, it does point out our sin (which was very much intended), but that should be a GOOD thing!

    “Yet the Torah isn’t something you can rejoice in through Christianity, because all it does is tell people they deserve punishment, and gives a list of things to follow in order to achieve salvation.”

    Ah! That’s exactly the problem. Yes it tells us that we deserve punishment, but it was never intended (either by Jewish or Christian theology) to help us achieve salvation. Knowing we deserve punishment IS incredibly discouraging, but when coupled with the atoning sacrifice of the messiah, that valley only accentuates the height of the mountain.

    “Brad, not to pick on you, and I know we’ve discussed this earlier, but wouldn’t you find this a dangerous statement for a Christian to make? Because they pretty much are re-interpreting all of Judaism’s texts, saying that Judaism misunderstood the whole point of their religion.”

    You’re not picking, no worries. That is a very honest question. I’d wouldn’t say “the whole point” of the faith… God’s grace and His faithfulness to us is absolutely right on. I would say that the identity of the messiah was and still is in contention, but the point is still the same.

    Also, there are a few VERY KEY speeches in Acts (chapters 2, 3, and 7) that are absolutely rooted in Jewish thought, and they were a call to the people to remember what the passages they are quoting meant. At times the NT authors are ADDING an interpretation to an already existing Jewish idea, but it always added a layer instead of stripping something away. Also, we have examples like Simeon (Luke 2:25) who was waiting with INTENSE anticipation of Jesus’ coming.

    Christianity is not necessarily a reinterpretation of Jewish texts, but an elaboration and fulfillment of Jewish messianic interpretation and expectation.

  11. Yael,

    “Brad then comes along and tries to sidetrack the point being made by Jill Levine.”

    “Tries to sidetrack”? Come on, Yael. You ascribe intent that just isn’t there.

    “The promise was to the nation of Israel, a singular nation.”

    Agreed.

    “The Hebrew word is not zera, the root is zera, seed. The word itself is l’zaraka, to your seed (masculine).”

    Also agreed. I should have used “derived from” or “the root is” in explanation. Either way, the parsing is the same.

    “So, Brad, are you saying every time Torah uses 3rd person, singular, masculine this automatically is a reference to Jesus? … Are you saying that Torah never refers to the nation of Israel as a whole using this tense?”

    Straw man, much? *sigh* Of course not. Contextually and grammatically, I am saying that the translation of “l’zaraka” as a plural “descendants” is not accurate. I am also saying that Paul’s elaboration of the text explains it as messianic.

    I could elaborate on this personally, but C. John Collins does so much more effectively and comprehensively than I could here. I just posted an article on our Resources page (http://seminarianblog.com/resources/) on exactly this problem (Paul’s use of Genesis 22:18 in Galatians 3:16).

    If you disagree, fine. But I assure you my perspective (Reformed Christianity) is well-informed and has plenty of exegesis and research to back it up. I’d love to have the benefit of the doubt from you in that area.

  12. Brad,
    I saw your comment on your own blog. You will receive no benefit of the doubt from me. Where in Torah are we told the law was given to show us our sin? Where in Torah are we told we need ‘salvation’. Salvation from what? The only salvation spoken of is a very real ‘salvation’ from physical danger. That your religion has a different take on these? Fine, but that is because of your text’s interpretation of Torah, not because of what Torah says itself. And that is not a criticism, we do the same thing only without the pretense.

    Yes, Levine’s point was ignored and the conversation sidetracked. Her point is still being ignored since no response has yet been given to her comment that the land was what was promised and the land has been given to Jews.

    Straw man? You’re the one who said that because the grammar shows third person, masculine singular, that Paul’s claim of this verse refers to Jesus is 100% accurate. I pointed out another instance where this tense is used to speak of the nation of Israel, to which I received no response. How can a person so categorically state the first verse must be about Jesus but all other instances, may or may not be? If one is a ‘must’ what keeps the others from not being a ‘must’ as well? Well, perhaps you think Isaiah 52:4 does refer to Jesus and that he was oppressed by the Assyrians….

    If you disagree, fine. But I assure you my perspective (Reformed Christianity) is well-informed and has plenty of exegesis and research to back it up. I’d love to have the benefit of the doubt from you in that area.

    I saw evidence on your blog of at least one instance of your idea of great research…. I do disagree with you, there is no reason to think we would ever agree, but there was no need to resort to such shoddy scholarship in order to back up points. Our texts can speak for themselves or not. I’m sure most religious traditions can give ‘proof’ of their own authenticity. It’s all about interpretation. And now I need to go to work.

  13. Yael,

    That’s too bad. I think you and I have reached a firm roadblock in our conversation, at least for the time being. I’ve provided multiple verifiable and respected sources to back up my argument, and you call it “shoddy scholarship” and continue to attack me instead of critique the content I am trying to communicate.

    I understand that there is a history of controversy with this topic. If you go back and reread my statements, you’ll (hopefully) see that I am not making claims to the degree of generalization that you are attaching to my comments. If you take a look at the exegesis of the article I posted on this topic, you will see that this “shoddy scholarship” is not merely rooted in tradition, but also grammatical, exegetical and historical context.

    I’d be happy to have a constructive conversation on this topic or any other. Till then, God bless.

  14. In a nutshell, Jason. Paul was stating that we have Jesus now to believe and follow. The Law still convicts us and we will still break it every day or most any day because of our sinful nature. But through Jesus we have a way to uphold the Law (Romans 3:31) that God has ordained.

    (1) Gal 3:16 “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.

    Gen 12:7 “The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land”

    “Paul does not speak of Jesus as inheriting the land nor of the gentile Galatians as about to possess Jerusalem real estate” (Levine pg. 79 – The Misunderstood Jew)

    Paul was pointing out that the seed of Abraham was the Christ and used the example not for real estate [unless their’s an end time double-meaning] but for making that connection. I see this as also reflective of Genesis 12:3 which ends “as all the nations of the world will be blessed by you”. Even atheist skeptic Ted Turner had to admit that Christianity fits that bill just this week.

    2) Circumcision is a physical state pointing to the intimate inward circumcision that Christ makes possible.
    3) Again, following Christ saves us from condemnation of the Law. Called being saved.
    4) All this nonsense with the Law is that we’d have a human being who would lead us to follow the Law. Follow Jesus, follow the Law. This “Jesus made the Law go away so we can sin and repent when we feel like it” might be found in a bad sermon by a hungover pastor but it is not the way Paul or Jesus or any non-heretic would see the issue. It’s quite frankly what is generally considered “scoffing”.
    5) The current Jerusalem is a slave to sin. Jesus the Son of God’s Jerusalem is not. Where’s the controversy?
    Thanks for posting this and for the info on the Levine book. I will look it up.
    But in my opinion, “Pauline Christianity” is a myth. Jewish scholars can argue against his interpretations and I like reading what they believe the OT says. But there is no contradiction between Jesus and Paul that I have ever found. And that is still the case.

  15. I mentioned that Jill Levine’s comment on the promise has never been responded to, and I ask how the singular tense in Isaiah 52:4 is interpreted, neither of which have even been acknowledged. I also posted questions about about Torah teachings which also received no response.

    Multiple verifiable and respected sources? You have provided exactly one, Collins. What I called shoddy scholarship is that —- you posted on your blog as ‘proof’ that Jewish sages deliberately hid Isaiah 53. I have a hard time with someone making a claim to the highest scholarly standards when they would quote such a source as truth. On this blog what you have posted about the grammar of the verse from Genesis is correct; I never said that was shoddy. My interest is in that promise. How can the promise of land be seen as somehow transfered to Jesus?

    Continue to attack you? Where? Generalization? You are the one who said Paul’s interpretation is 100% accurate. His interpretation is clearly stated. According to Paul, Jesus is the ‘seed’ spoken of in Genesis. If this one statement is clearly about Jesus, based solely on grammar, then what would be the basis for interpreting other uses of this same grammatical construct as some other person or nation? I think that is a legitimate question.

    Although I am not the quickest translator in the west, I am certainly capable of picking apart the Hebrew on my own so I don’t see much point in reading someone’s breakdown of the Hebrew. As you have no doubt learned, Hebrew isn’t as hard as it looks. Anyway, we agree, the Hebrew is singular and masculine. After that we are separated by the great divide, as always. Anyway, people will read and decide for themselves what they think of it all.

  16. Brad,

    **Ah! That’s exactly the problem. Yes it tells us that we deserve punishment, but it was never intended (either by Jewish or Christian theology) to help us achieve salvation.**

    But where does Judaism teach that the Law is given in order to prove how one deserves punishment? How could it even point to an eternal punishment, when the concept of an afterlife is so vague for much of the Tanakh? How does Judaism say that the whole point of the Torah is to point to the need for a Savior? As Yael says, salvation from what? Where does Judaism say that the law was given in order to highlight transgressions, and demonstrate a need for salvation?

    **I agree, and much of Christianity has lost the beauty and grace of the law due to an overemphasis of the law as condemning.**

    I’m not being sarcastic here, but did Christianity ever have an idea of beauty/grace towards the Torah? As Paula says, you followed the Torah as a proper response to being given the Torah, and being selected by God. How does one follow something that only points out consistently a punishment one deserves? Even to say that CHristianity overemphasies the law as condemning — isn’t that a logical output from the statement that through Jesus, one is no longer under the condemnation of the law?

    **Also, we have examples like Simeon (Luke 2:25) who was waiting with INTENSE anticipation of Jesus’ coming. **

    But in what way was he waiting? Was he waiting for God to become flesh in order to die for the sins of the world?

    I think the biggest problem that some would have with Christianity is that all the texts used as prophecies are almost reverse-engineered. I don’t know of anyone prior to Jesus who pointed to Psalms 22, or 110 and said that pointed to a Messiah. Or even pointed to Isaiah 53 and said that it pointed to the idea of the Messiah suffering for the sins of all. Or even the speech in Acts 2 — if that was so clear, why was it only explained that way after Jesus died? Why wasn’t that the held belief prior to the NT?

  17. **The Law still convicts us and we will still break it every day or most any day because of our sinful nature. But through Jesus we have a way to uphold the Law (Romans 3:31) that God has ordained. **

    But doesn’t this make the Law something to be feared? I’m sure a Christian would say no, not now, due to Jesus. But in the Tanakh — wouldn’t the Jews have feared the Law? I find a huge difference between being thankful I don’t have to keep the Law myself because of Jesus, and being so thankful that God provided the Torah as evidence of His love. In the latter case, you would be thankful to simply have the Law and follow it. How can one be thankful for the very thing that one must be saved from?

    This again comes down to the perspective that the Law is only used to condemn someone’s sinful nature, which I find problimatic in two ways — one, because it doesn’t match how Judaism views the Torah, as I’ve described in other places. Two, a Law is given that no mortal can possibly follow, and then people are condemned for that failure.

  18. Hi OSS / Heather,
    But doesn’t this make the Law something to be feared? I’m sure a Christian would say no, not now, due to Jesus.

    It is something to be feared…and something to love, just as the Psalmist in Ps 119:97 says, ” Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” Indeed, the Law guides us. The bar is too high for us, but what would we do if we got to the point where we said, “I got it – I’m not going to break the law any more!” Then what? Are we like God then?

    How can one be thankful for the very thing that one must be saved from?
    Because it is divine. We are being saved from the wrath of God.

    Two, a Law is given that no mortal can possibly follow, and then people are condemned for that failure.

    Hmm, but it does guide us, Jews and Christians alike. Should we have a law that is easier to follow? Hey, God, you gotta be kidding! Give us a break! No, it makes more sense that a Holy God would have a Holy Law. Doesn’t it?

  19. Paul was pointing out that the seed of Abraham was the Christ and used the example not for real estate [unless their’s an end time double-meaning] but for making that connection. I see this as also reflective of Genesis 12:3 which ends “as all the nations of the world will be blessed by you”. Even atheist skeptic Ted Turner had to admit that Christianity fits that bill just this week.

    Hi Jim, didn’t see you sneak in there since we must have been writing at the same time.

    Except the verse Paul quotes isn’t 12:3 but 12:7 which specifically states God is giving this land to Abraham’s seed. I guess you can split the sentence apart, but then Paul’s interpretation would be even more of a stretch I would say since it’s only based on half a sentence. Of course,

    So, Ted Turner has joined the replacement theology bandwagon? Hey, if Ted says it, it must be true. I’m going to have to get busy changing my Chumash this weekend…..Damn. Lot’s of Jews will be happy. Remember Teviah from “Fiddler on the Roof”? “Can’t You choose someone else for awhile?”

    Here’s something that might interest you, Jim. My father also held that Paul and Jesus had totally different messages; he was a dispensationist who held that Jesus’ teachings were for a different age, Paul’s were for the church age. I don’t know how it all is supposed to work out, but just thought I’d point out to you that it’s not just Jews who say Jesus and Paul contradicted each other.

    OSS,
    Torah is indeed much loved rather than feared. I spend hours and hours every week pouring over its pages. I always have a pocket size Chumash, pocket size Tanakh, pocket size book of Psalms, and pocket size siddur in my bag, one of which goes into my pocket when I’m at work. In those spare minutes during my day I can get in some extra reading.

    Torah is like a ketubah from God to us. I think in many ways it all comes down to self-fulfilling prophecy. If someone is told over and Torah is to be feared and can’t be followed, they’re most likely going to fear Torah and think it can’t be followed. But, if someone is told over and over it’s not too difficult, it was given to you in love, they’re most likely going to find it not too difficult and will indeed see it as given in love.

  20. Jim,

    In all honesty, how many Christians do you think love the Torah? Let alone know any large portions of the Torah? Do you? I certainly don’t. In everything I read from Christians, I don’t see any sort of love or admiration expressed for the Torah. They are grateful they don’t have to personally follow it, or be held to it. They see the Torah as legalistic, and something no longer applicable to them, because they are under grace. How many would really, truly say “I love your law, and meditate on it?” Instead, how many picture the Torah as Judaism’s way of trying to earn salvation? You don’t love the thing that condemns you, you want to escape from the thing that condemns you.

    The point in the guidance of Torah always comes across as guiding one to knowledge of a Savior, and that is not expressed In Judaism. I don’t even see that expressed in the Tanakh itself, such as Psalms 119. The Torah was loved simply because it was a gift from God.

    **The bar is too high for us, but what would we do if we got to the point where we said, “I got it – I’m not going to break the law any more!” Then what? Are we like God then?**
    Isn’t that the whole point — to become without sin? To become perfect? And even if you reached that point, why is bad to reach the point where one can be sinless?

    **Because it is divine. We are being saved from the wrath of God.**
    I’m not sure how this makes one thankful for the Law, when all it does is tell you that one deserves eternal torment/wrath of God. Why would you praise something, study something, love something, that condemns you?

    And being saved from the wrath of God opens up a whole new debate arena, because it comes across as saying that God is saving us from Himself.

    **No, it makes more sense that a Holy God would have a Holy Law. Doesn’t it?**

    Holy in what sense? Seperate or without sin? And would a just God give laws that He knew no one was capable of meeting? Does that even match the definition of justice? Or do you rather give something that people are capable of meeting, or reaching? God is praised as being merciful, and just, and righteous … and yet gives a law with impossible standards, and gets wrathful when those standards aren’t met.

    I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a code of conduct that points out wrong behavior. How else can such behavior be corrected unless it’s unearthed? My issue isn’t the wrong behavior, my issue is that the Christian portrayel of the Torah does not seem to match the Judaism portrayel. From any good God, I would expect high standards, because the only way to achieve maximum growth, under any circumstances, is by following something that challenges you.

  21. Wow, this blog went into some vicious depth – thanks Yael, OSS, Brad, and Jim – I don’t think I would of have thought 1/2 of this stuff – and that’s why we need each other.

    “I’d say that apart from Jesus, no. I know it’s not popular to say that, but that’s what scripture tells us.” (Brad)

    I have questioned this for some time – namely the ‘way’ passage and what that means – if we take it literal in that ‘Jesus is the Way’ – it’s funny – because were not these same people called ‘the Way’ in Acts? What is the way is the real question – the person of…or the teachings of (which would be a more similar in intent to the Torah idea than saying a ‘person’ – which is way more Roman in nature).

    “Could you explain this a little more?” (Brad)

    Abraham never followed the Mosaic Law – no proof of this one iota from the Torah. But he does get circumcised – which is later part of the Law. Now if Abraham can do one aspect of the Law (circumcision) then shouldn’t it follow that the Galatian Gentiles (who also wanted to follow circumcision) could also? Paul states they have to follow it all for doing the circumcision thing…but then he is quick to jump on the Abrahamic faith band-wagon.

    “God as a Trinity? That’s doctrine taught by scripture…” (Brad)

    Really – find me the term trinity if it’s truly there? I mean, if not then I think early church fathers are making things up or adding to the fact something they needed to see. The fact Trinity is not even there at all (as a word defining God) – then I have to really wonder where the term and idea come from. Call it scripture if you need to – but I don’t see it in there.

    “Could you give some examples? I know Luther was definitely in this category” (Brad)

    I could but it will take a while to find a lot of thes examples – I will have to go through many portions of church history to pull them out – but the Crusades is a prime example…I know – blame the Catholics.

  22. “But through Jesus we have a way to uphold the Law (Romans 3:31) that God has ordained.” (Jim)

    Really – then how come we still ‘sin’? With or without the atonement sin exists…this is beyond a fact. If Jesus provided a way for this keeping of the Law – what make us any different than any Jewish person with the Laws of God? We all have to deal with our struggles of sin and trying to make it better.

    “But there is no contradiction between Jesus and Paul that I have ever found. And that is still the case.” (Jim)

    Then you’d best get your glasses on or something – because in the actual post Jesus and Paul are found in disagreeance – now you can deny that is true – but I wrote their sayings exactly as they were written – and they are in contradication – unless you see those sentences as saying something different? (Matt 5, Gal 3, Rom 7 – Jesus says the Law is in tact – Paul says it’s not – how can we deny the obvious from their own writings?).

  23. “But through Jesus we have a way to uphold the Law (Romans 3:31) that God has ordained.” (Jim)

    Really – then how come we still ’sin’? With or without the atonement sin exists…this is beyond a fact. If Jesus provided a way for this keeping of the Law – what make us any different than any Jewish person with the Laws of God?

    I I have to first ask a question – Why do you think Jesus came in the first place? I answered all of those complaints, #1-#5. I expected a rebuttal not an insult (get my glasses). Maybe there’s a lot of comments here, but take your time and respond to my replies.

    OSS,
    I apologize in advance for God having created us. But because it was Him and not, say, Microsoft, He holds the key to both salvation and condemnation while Bill Gates does not. You seem to be at odds with that. But if there is only one game in the universe and someone says, “Screw you, God!” then what is God supposed to do with them, give them an iPod and send them to eternal detention? Cheers.

  24. Jim,

    Your response doesn’t really deal with any of my questions, though. Asking if something meets the definition of justice is not lodging a complaint, it’s pointing out a flaw I see in a certain theology. If we are given a set idea of justice, and then told God is just, we’d look for a God that falls into how justice is defined. Or the word becomes meaningless. If you told your daughter that you are just or compassionate, and then give her impossible standards to fufill, do you think anyone would agree with your definition of yourself? He holds the key to salvation/condemnation — how does that address the issue of how Judaism views the Torah verses how it’s treated in Christianity?

    **But if there is only one game in the universe and someone says, “Screw you, God!” then what is God supposed to do with them, give them an iPod and send them to eternal detention? **

    This has nothing to do with what I’m asking, but I would expect God to be better than us. We would be all to happy to punish someone for rejecting us, or spitting at us. We’re very good at that.

  25. Society,

    **If Jesus provided a way for this keeping of the Law – what make us any different than any Jewish person with the Laws of God? We all have to deal with our struggles of sin and trying to make it better. **

    I think a Christian would say that when we screw up, what God actually sees in our place is Jesus upholding the Torah. However, that would get into a tricky area, especially if pulling the Trinity into this, because God is seeing HImself, basically? But then if Jesus is offering to take one’s place, and there’s still forgiveness when one screws up, then surely God is also seeing the mistake, in order to be able to forgive it.

    However, what this would lead me to ask is if Jesus is upholding the Law, and takes our place as upholding it, then doesn’t that lead Christianity to saying that fufillment of the Torah is a requirement for salvation, in a way? You’re condemned for breaking it. What to you receive if you perfectly uphold it? If you perfectly upheld it, wouldn’t you be without sin? And thus have easy access to heaven? Isn’t this saying that God requires a perfect obedience of the Torah in order to let someone into heaven?

  26. ” I expected a rebuttal not an insult (get my glasses).” (JIm)

    Sorry about that JIm – my bad – and I take full responsiility for what I said. I was mainly using it as a means to point you to the original scriptures in light of all the comments that have surfaced up to that point – and I am sorry about writing/saying it – won’t happen again. Sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you in any way…guess that was a sentence we all could of did without.

    “Why do you think Jesus came in the first place?” (Jim)

    I think Jesus came to both uphold the Torah/Prophets but also to be a sacrifice on behalf of humanity for the sake of allowing the possibility of God coming nearer – even His values (kingdom) in our hearts and lives. When someone calls Jesus ‘the way’ – I immediately now think of Jesus creating a ‘way’ (namely for Gentiles – but from the Jewish Nation) to the God we we knew little about. There is a sacrifice for sin apparent in the writings – an atonement – but it is about satisfying the access to God requirements (one time for all – no more animal sacrifce to be done) to approach – removing the barrier of ignorance that held us back all along. The sacrifice does take care of some sin – but we also are responsible after approaching God and developing relationship. I think that’s quite fair – we answer for what we do.

    I see we play a part in that – in both aspects of atonement from Jewish faith – repentance and charity (which the early church was more than happy to keep as faith teachings). When someone claims they play no part in the endeavor – which is common in Christian circles now – I think they are denying the obvious and how they are involved in this ‘friendship with God + with others’. If we sin after having the sacrifice (as the writers from Hebrews is clear on) – then there is ‘no sacrifice’ for sins…but sacrifice is done anyways – we are now living sacrificial lives (in a sense – mini-sacrifices – ie: our lives to God).

    “Isn’t this saying that God requires a perfect obedience of the Torah in order to let someone into heaven?” (OSS)

    It’s rather funny in a way – this appears no where in the gospels at all as justification for what Jesus was doing and living…for all we would know Jesus appears rabbinic or prophetic in nature (which is actually fairly true). As for being perfect – this is not stated once in the gospels concerning the Torah…Torah/Prophets seems like something to emulate more than something to call impossible (and even in this – ‘all things are possible with God’).

    I can personally say I like the ‘Torah and Prophets’ as presented from Jewish sources and the rabbinical scholars (and Yael). They also speak to me on a very gut level about doing the ‘right’ thing and even challenging myself to better views of humanity. The Torah and Prophets are ‘so good and valuable’ I think the way mainstream Christianity villianizes them is somewhat in the realm of ‘lying’ or ‘absolute ignorance’ (a sin Jesus’ sacrfice does cover). That’s all I am ever asking is we all check into Jewish sources and let them define themselves – we have a lot to learn from the feet of Judasim (yes, I am humble before the original teachings of God – there is nothing in our faith that says this is wrong). For me, it’s gut-check time for the soul of Christianity.

  27. No problema, Jason. You’re still the kindest soul in the blogosphere. Sounds like you’re getting a clearer picture of the biblical narrative from this study and exchange. I would just add that no matter how deviant organised religion is, it still shouldn’t detract from a true (and non-contradictory) form of Christianity. Don’t forget it was church people who wanted Jesus dead. There is a lot of work to do to get people away from these false Christianities.

    OSS
    Are you sure your concept of justice isn’t having God do what you would expect Himto do to prove He’s better than us?

    If you told your daughter that you are just or compassionate, and then give her impossible standards to fulfill, do you think anyone would agree with your definition of yourself?

    Here’s a big flaw. Look at the Ten Commandments. Are any of them unreasonable? No.

    It’s our abuse of our own free will givien to us by God that causes the Commandments to be “impossible to fulfill”.

    Here’s another thought I’d like to throw out there for Jason and everyone.
    I have a video right now from a movie on the philosopher Wittgenstein. He asks in the segment, “What if a lion could talk? There would be no way we could possibly understand it! We do not understand their world.” I would also add that they are not even wired like we are for abstract thought.

    How would the Creator of the universe then make an intimate connection with a created being as limited as we are? Like Wittgenstein’s example, you would have to become a lion. God would have to be in our world at least for one lifetime and make it possible that that visit would be enough to change the world. Just a thought.

  28. Crap… looks like I missed a lot. I read most of this, but let me try to address questions for me that I can…

    “You have provided exactly one, Collins.” (Yael)
    I also provided the initial quote on our blog of Beckwith/Selmann (eds.), and Sarna (from the Jewish Publication Society Commentary Series). Nevertheless, if you continue reading the Collins article, you will see that once he establishes a foundation rooted in grammar, he comes to some fairly distinct conclusions that discuss just the kind of interpretive problems that are being discussed here.

    “You are the one who said Paul’s interpretation is 100% accurate.” (Yael)
    Paul’s use of the singular is 100% accurate. I also believe his interpretation is 100% accurate, but what does that mean? What exactly is Paul saying? Why is he quoting Genesis in the first place? Read the Collins article, I agree with his conclusions. That was my (attempted) point.

    I Re: to the issue of land inheritance, I apologize for not stating this explicitly earlier, but I know I have not addressed it yet because I don’t have a very informed opinion about it. I’m doing some research and picking a professor’s brain. I’ll get back to you as soon as I have something constructive and educated to say (that is what you would prefer, is it not?).

    OSS: “But where does Judaism teach that the Law is given in order to prove how one deserves punishment?”
    Let me point out the key phrase here: “in order to prove.” I would not say this is the PURPOSE of the law, so much as it is the effect the law has. The law is a description of right relationship with God. It is a gift, first and foremost. But it also shows us our sin and our need to be cleansed of it. The sacrificial system, culminating in the annual Yom Kippur, is the satisfying of God’s justice upon the sacrificial substitute.

    Thus…
    “How can one be thankful for the very thing that one must be saved from?”
    It is not the LAW we must fear and be saved from, but SIN.

    (Societyvs): “What is the way is the real question – the person of…or the teachings of (Jesus?)”

    Both. The person and work (sacrifice) of Jesus gives us the ability to follow his teachings. That’s the difference between grace (God loves me, therefore I obey) and legalism (I obey so that God loves me).

    “Abraham never followed the Mosaic Law”
    Yes and no. Chronologically, he did not have it written down. But Mosaic law is ROOTED in Creation. Because the law describes right relationship with God, it is simultaneously a description of relationship with God before the Fall. Abraham seemed to have walked in that right relationship without that written/verbal description at his disposal.

    In Re: to the Trinity. You are absolutely correct, and I do not mean to say that the term “Trinity” is anywhere in scripture. The term itself is an attempt to explain and tie together what the evidence is telling us in scripture. It’s definitely systematic doctrine, but it is rooted in scripture. Mike and I are working hard to put together a document that explains the foundation for this doctrine. We’re working on meeting that request for scriptural evidence in full!

    That’s all I got in me right now… I hope that contributed to the discussion. Peace.

  29. “it still shouldn’t detract from a true (and non-contradictory) form of Christianity.” (Jim)

    That’s part of the journey for me – dealing with what might very well be contradictions – and if not – then seeing why they are not contradictory – which leads into more study and that can only be seen as a good thing. I don’t think I have read that much of Romans in the last while – but then I did this blog and was digging through like crazy.

    “How would the Creator of the universe then make an intimate connection with a created being as limited as we are” (JIm)

    I think that is assumptive in nature and not answerable – from neither side with 100% surety. Because God is the Creator of the created (humanity in this case) – it would be possible for God to know what He created (namely in His image). If not, than God would have to admit something obvious – He does not know all things.

  30. Sorry, I know this went off topic.

    Jason– think that is assumptive in nature and not answerable – from neither side with 100% surety. Because God is the Creator of the created (humanity in this case) – it would be possible for God to know what He created (namely in His image). If not, than God would have to admit something obvious – He does not know all things.

    The last sentence is an oxymoron: If God doesn’t know all things, how could He know to admit it? 🙂 But, of course, the Creator must know all things. Thus it is impossible for us to know God unless God made it possible for us to know Him.

    In this context of God and man we are Wittgenstein’s lion in this case. Only we could not become a lion in order to teach him. God can. That God would become a man in order to teach us about Himself is quite logical, and supported by the Old Testament as well.

    On Scripture verifying…
    You are right to examine thoroughly Scripture passages that sound contradictory. It’s important to keep an open mind, praying for wisdom to discern what it’s saying and try to understand all the aspects of the context of the passage. The “Chapter and verse” error is very common [I’ve stepped in that hole more than once]. We need to look at the entire body of Scripture around the passage. But it’s very tempting to jump to a conclusion because of outside pressure. We know that, which is why we’re all pressuring you to conclude our way. 🙂 Cheers.

  31. “That God would become a man in order to teach us about Himself is quite logical, and supported by the Old Testament as well.” (Jim)

    I think you stated this point before Jim about God becoming man from the Tanakh – I am not sure it is there per se – but then again – we can find anything in the Tanakh if we want to read the idea in (ie: Trinity for example or God becoming a man to teach man). It’s funny though if God did become man – wouldn’t He still want us to follow His divine law given by Him to Moses at Sinai? Which, oddly enough, is what I claim Jesus is doing in the gospels (that does not mean Jesus is God though).

    “But it’s very tempting to jump to a conclusion because of outside pressure. We know that, which is why we’re all pressuring you to conclude our way” (Jim)

    I am a winnable soul ain’t I? LOL. I think that’s what makes discussion rather fun to be honest – seeing the variety of lenses brought to the fray and then going into some depth on the issue at hand. But here is how I currently have the scoreboard:

    (1) OSS – her arguments are blowing people off the map thus far
    (2) Yael is the resident Torah expert – she has done some fantastic research – and she knows her stuff on the Law
    (3) Brad – studious to the point of having an answer for most questions posited to him
    (4) Jim – Answered some of the questions – and has introduced new ones
    (5) SocietyVs – the winnable soul tossed about the seas of life – can he be brought in?

    LOL…I am the lowest of course – you always take the backseat for the real drivers.

  32. Jim,

    In regards to an earlier comment, I also want to say that disagreeing with what you say is not synonmous with having a problem with God. I disagree with your interpretation.

    **Are you sure your concept of justice isn’t having God do what you would expect Himto do to prove He’s better than us?**

    Any method used to describe an entity is to place expectations on that entity. If we say that person A is loving, we have an expectation based on the definition of loving. Same with the words merciful, and justice, and any other means we use to describe God. Any expectation I have of God is derived from what I see in the Bible — to be like the Father is to love those who essentially say “Screw you” and not retaliate in kind.

    **Here’s a big flaw. Look at the Ten Commandments. Are any of them unreasonable? No. **

    The Torah in Judaism, from my understanding, encompasses much more than just the Ten Commandments. Not only that, but we’ve gone from the bar is too high for us/the laws aren’t easy to follow, which gives the idea that we cannot follow the law. Now you’re saying we do have the ability to follow the law? And I am not saying that they are unreasonable, I am asking is it just to give laws that are impossible to fufill? Is it unreasonable to ask us to love our neighbor as ourself? No. Is it possible to do so perfectly every second of the day? No. It’s two different concepts.

    But then this leads me back to the question I asked Society — if one can follow the Torah perfectly, not one slip-up, then that means that the Torah can lead to salvation/heaven. But my impression from Brad is that the Torah was never meant to provide salvation by any means.

    **How would the Creator of the universe then make an intimate connection with a created being as limited as we are? Like Wittgenstein’s example, you would have to become a lion. **

    Except there’s a difference between a lion and us. One did not create the other. God did create us, and created us in His image and likeness — why wouldn’t part of creating us include the ability to communicate with us without becoming a man? Why would it be impossible for God to communicate with us unless He became a man?
    Wouldn’t part of being created that way include the ability to have no difficulty in communicating with one’s creation?

    Brad,

    **“How can one be thankful for the very thing that one must be saved from?”
    It is not the LAW we must fear and be saved from, but SIN.**

    Except if you say that one is no longer under the condemnation of the law, the impression will more than likely be that one is saved from the Law — saved from the Law’s demands and such. And I again get stuck on the fact that I don’t see Christianity celebrating God’s law the way the psalmists do, because of the whole condemnation factor. If the standard response is “Through Jesus, we are no longer under condemnation of the law,” then is it really a surprise that this is the only aspect taught about the Torah?

    Also, you mentioned earlier that the purpose of the Torah was not to save, but to point to a right relationship with God. BUt what if someone followed the Torah perfectly, by Christian standards? Wouldn’t the Law in effect have attributed to their salvation? If you say that the Law condemns us because it shows us our sin, and thus why we need a Savior … what if the Law didn’t condemn us because we lived perfectly? Wouldn’t we then be saved by the Torah, because it was followed perfectly? What would you then say the purpose of the Torah is?

    But how does this address the idea that Judaism would still ask “saved from what?” Where does Judaism say that the point of the law is to show the need for a Savior? Society recently posted a link from a site called Outreach Judaism that said forgiveness wasn’t always accompanied by an actual sacrifice — that a sacrifice wasn’t needed. You could be healed from sin or saved from sin simply by repenting and asking for help.

  33. Brad,
    It’s almost Shabbat and I’ll feel bad if I go into it feeling like a schmuck. I was annoyed about your comment on the other blog and carried that annoyance to here. We’ve always had civil conversations before and I prefer to return to that. I don’t see my comments here as attacking, but neither were they, shall we say, overly warm. My apologies.

    I have to say though, I no longer read Christian apologetics or interpretations of Torah texts so if you post links for me to read, I’m not going to go read them. I will read short comments but I spent too many years studying such things before I converted and I just don’t have the interest to slog though all of that anymore. I don’t believe anything Paul says, I don’t believe in Jesus, but I do believe it’s better for people to have a connection to God and that for most people that connection will be though Christianity. My love is of Torah and Talmud. In my interactions with people I only hope that love for Torah will be evident and that some just might be willing to move over a little bit and allow us a space in this world as Jews rather than as potential converts to Christianity or as misguided souls deceived by our rabbis.

    Hey, I learned something from you this week. I had commented that I didn’t know if there is such a thing as halakhic midrashim and that I was skeptical since google only returned messianic sites when I searched. Well, I was still curious so I continued to search and found out this title isn’t such a common one, but there is indeed such a thing. I guess there much be something in it the messianics think is a slam dunk for them since they reference it so often, but since I don’t read Aramaic, I can’t look for myself but the messianics can’t either so whatever they’re pointing out will only be someone’s interpretation.

    I think one of the biggest misunderstandings of Judaism is the thought that if someone can just find that one contradiction, that one piece to the puzzle, we will be devastated and Judaism will crumble to nothing. Judaism is all about embracing contradictions, however; it’s about living with the tensions. It’s not about perfection, one truth, one path, it’s about living in reality. How do we create a just society filled with people who are often unjust. How do we love a God who isn’t always so loving? How do we form communities when we all want everything for ourselves. How do we bring a sense of holiness to the mundane? It’s a very different way of living and thinking. For someone to come up to me trying to convince me of the truth of ‘the gospel’ I just look at them in amazement. We’re not even on the same wavelength, you know what I mean? We don’t speak the same language, or value the same things. That’s why Jason is questioning so much; he wonders how this can be if Christianity was supposed to come from us. The reasons could be many, but I don’t think any of them have to do with evil deceivers on either side. Such talk is surely an insult to everyone’s intelligence and integrity. Let him explore and ponder. He’ll be fine. Too many people worry too much and IMO try to force him to think like them instead of learning from HIM and his unique insights.

    I think some ‘fishers of men’ need to learn to play out the line a bit instead of keeping such a tight line that it eventually snaps. 8)

    Again, my sincere apologies, really. The next time I am faced with a similar situation may I be wiser and just walk away. Have a good weekend. Enjoy your studies with your professor. Studying is a good thing! I’m out of here to celebrate Shabbat with my sons and our friends. Life is good.

  34. Jason,
    Too funny you posted about being tossed at sea and I posted at the same time about the fishers not playing out the line with you a bit! Hey, great minds think alike.

    It’s too bad people assume I’m trying to convince you to come my way. I don’t see you as a soul to be won. Won for what purpose? I see you as a person on a journey and I’m a tour guide pointing out a few sites along the way. What you think of those sites, what value they have to you is not for me to say. The cool thing is you ask questions so I get to learn more and find out about even more sites.

    And I think you’re having fun, too. Torah is like that.

  35. Now the big question is did Yael truly repent and recieve forgiveness- without the blood of Jesus 🙂 – I’m kidding Yael – just found it kind of funny (my bad) – You know I hold you in high regards. Have a great Shabbat.

    But I enjoy everyone’s comments – such a wide variety of students and well learned people – how much more can I ask for in life than to be blessed with this knowledge from each of your finger-tips! I may not be in total agreeance about everything with everyone – but one thing I do agree upon is the right for each person’s equality in the convo’s…and let;s be honest – we need each other in these dialogues…if not for another voice in the convo we’d be speaking to ourselves.

  36. Yael, never worry about me – I think you know I love the Judaic texts and learning new viewpoints from the Rabbinic traditions and scholars – even the stuff you post from Hebrew school and Torah is fascinating…I would say of all the learning I have done in the pst 2 years – I learn the most new things from you (and your posts). Heck, the whole questioning God think opened my eyes to some new clarity – and that was just one post! I could go on about Heschel and Hillel…but time does not permit for this boasting.

    As for the ‘tossed at sea’ comment – that was just pure religious humor.

  37. Now the big question is did Yael truly repent and recieve forgiveness- without the blood of Jesus 🙂 – I’m kidding Yael – just found it kind of funny (my bad) – You know I hold you in high regards. Have a great Shabbat.

    But, I’ll give a serious answer. No, I didn’t. Not because of the blood thing but because the wrong was between Brad and me, not between God and me. God can not forgive me for being rude to Brad, only Brad can. If he accepts my apology, I’m forgiven. If not, I’m not. If I have truly repented, Brad won’t see me acting rudely to him again. If I persist, then he’ll know I really wasn’t interested in repentance at all. That’s one of many misunderstandings, not on your part Jason, but in general as Christians look at Judaism. The talk is ever about making things right with God whereas most of life is about making things right with our fellow man.

    I don’t worry about you, Jason. I have the utmost ‘faith’ (my turn to LOL) that you are fine and will remain fine.

  38. OSS–The Torah in Judaism, from my understanding, encompasses much more than just the Ten Commandments.
    True, but the each of the other laws are rooted in one or more of the 10. In fact, Jesus reduced them to 2 [“the Law and the Prophets hang on these two”], Love God, Love your neighbor. 1 through 5 being rooted in the first commandment and 6 through 10 being rooted in the second.

    And I am not saying that they are unreasonable, I am asking is it just to give laws that are impossible to fufill?

    Two points: The Law is reasonable (God). The Law is impossible to fulfill (Humans).
    The US Declaration of Independence has an impossible ideal, “all men are created equal”. We’ve been botching that one up for 231+ years now. Is it an unfair creed to give to a bunch of ugly Americans? Correct me if that’s not a good analogy, but I think it is. I would add that it would make me suspicious if “God” were to lower His standards for us.

    I think you might have one other point, why didn’t He enable us to be righteous as the Law requires? That is a tougher question. The story of the Fall shows two people who seem to be ill-equipped to face evil. Hmmm, but they did have a choice to avoid it.

    You have some real good points here–Except there’s a difference between a lion and us. One did not create the other. God did create us, and created us in His image and likeness — why wouldn’t part of creating us include the ability to communicate with us without becoming a man? Why would it be impossible for God to communicate with us unless He became a man?
    Wouldn’t part of being created that way include the ability to have no difficulty in communicating with one’s creation?

    I think our misuse of our free will gets in the way of our listening. However, I am encouraged by Christ’s promise to judge by what we knew and what we did with it. You can’t get much more equitable than that. Cheers.

  39. “In fact, Jesus reduced them to 2 [“the Law and the Prophets hang on these two”], Love God, Love your neighbor. 1 through 5 being rooted in the first commandment and 6 through 10 being rooted in the second.” (Jim)

    Jesus did not reduce them to 2 – but not because of the reason you state (sums up the 10 commandments) – which is nice but not the core point of Jesus’ statement about these ideals.

    They are directly related to the tefillin and mezuzot – the phylacteries and binding on the doorpost of their homes by the Jewish faithful – those scriptures they wear as part of their traditions (and the symbology is quite cool). The Shema and Deut 6:4 are included as part of the scriptures they wear (and bind to the doorpost). Jesus names they outright as the ‘great commandments’ – but this was something Jewish people had already in place and when Jesus answers that one dude in Mark 12:28-34 – his answer is coming from a very Jewish persepctive…got that from Mrs. Levine.

  40. Society—his answer is coming from a very Jewish perspective

    No surprise there. Wasn’t His Father the author of the Jewish perspective?

    The tefillin and mezuzah are quite cool, too. But they are reminders to the people of how awesome God is. I don’t see what that has to do with this thread, however.
    Take care.

  41. Jim,
    Sorry, but the statement, ‘reminder to the people of how awesome God is’ sounds like something from a Christian worship song…..I can’t imagine anyone at shul ever talking that way. Awe? Perhaps. Awesome? I highly, highly doubt it.

    Passages included in our tefillin:

    Exodus 13:1-10 which include these words: And this shall serve you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead–in order that the Teaching of Adonai, Torat Adonai, may be in your mouth–that with a mighty hand Adonai freed you from Egypt.

    Exodus 13:11-16 And so it shall be as a sign upon your hand and as a symbol on your forehead that with a mighty hand Adonai freed us from Egypt.

    Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Hear, O Israel: Adonai our God, Adonai is one. Love Adonai you God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might. And these words which I command you this day you shall take to heart. You shall diligently teach them to your children. You shall recite them at home and away, morning and night. You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, they shall be a reminder above your eyes, and you shall inscribe them upon the doorposts of Your homes and upon your gates.

    If you will earnestly heed the mitzvot I give you this day, to love Adonai your God and to serve God with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will favor your land with rain at the proper season – rain in autumn and rain in spring – and you will have an ample harvest of grain and wine and oil. I will assure abundance in the fields for your cattle. You will eat to contentment. Take care lest you be tempted to forsake God and turn to false gods in worship. For then the wrath of Adonai will be directed against you. God will close the heavens and hold back the rain: the good earth will not yield its produce. You will soon disappear from the good land which Adonai is giving you.

    Therefore, impress these words of Mine upon your heart. Bind them as a sign upon your hand, and let them be a reminder above your eyes. Teach them to your children. Repeat them at home and away, morning and night. Inscribe them upon the doorposts of your homes and upon your gates. Then your days and the days of your children on the land which Adonai swore to give to your ancestors will endure as the days of the heavens over the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:13-21)

    The mezuzah contains the passages from Deuteronomy. Yes, we are to remember what God did for us in freeing us from Egypt, but we were freed for a purpose and that purpose is to love God by following God’s commandments. That’s the purpose of our tefillin and mezuzot, to be reminded of the commandments, mitzvot. If it was just about thinking how great God is, we would only have the passages about God’s might; passages which aren’t even placed in a mezuzah.

    It’s always a two-fold purpose. I imagine most people in the western world know about Passover, Pesach, our celebration of our freedom from Egypt, but how many people know that 50 days later we celebrate Shavuot, the giving of Torah? If you didn’t, don’t feel bad. Shavuot is the least celebrated Jewish holiday. Everyone is happy to celebrate freedom it seems, but few are willing to even acknowledge that freedom brings responsibility much less celebrate the fact! Lots of Interfaith Seders, too, but I haven’t heard of any Interfaith Shavuot celebrations….

    I don’t know what any of this has to do with the thread either, but have to toss in the ‘Jew view’ on tefillin and mezuzot. Perhaps Society can explain further the connection.

  42. Jim,

    But the Psalmits would’ve been praising the entire piece. All 613, I believe. Wouldn’t that have been the entire Torah he/they praised and studied and were thankful for? The 10 Commandments may be a summary at best, but if we are to say that the Christians and the Jews both love the Torah, the definition of the Torah must be consistent. When Jesus said he came to fufill the Torah — I would think his audience would’ve understood it as all 613, that wouldn’t have been altered at all. If you are going to say that you follow the same Torah as Judaism, and then list the Ten Commandments, you and Judaism are in two different frames of reference.

    **Is it an unfair creed to give to a bunch of ugly Americans?**
    It seems that you’re looking at this as though I’m commenting on whether it’s unfair to give the impossible to someone. I’m looking at the condemnation when we are unable to acheive the impossible. I don’t find “All men are equated equal” an unfair goal to work for. It calls us to be our very best, to challenge ourselves. It asks for the maximum goodness. High standards should be applied, yes. Does “all men created equal” also contain something that says we are condemned and must be punished?

    **Correct me if that’s not a good analogy, but I think it is. I would add that it would make me suspicious if “God” were to lower His standards for us.**

    Why would it make you suspicious? There is a difference here, between asking for high standards, and asking for perfect standards. To ask for standards that we are capable of reaching is not the same as saying “The standard is that we are nice to at least one person today.”

    Not only that, but then how are you applying standards here? Wouldn’t part of God’s standards include the necessity for anything He creates to be perfect? Wouldn’t those standards mean it’s impossible for Him to do or create anything less than perfect? Except if we are created lacking the ability to meet the righteousness, then we are created less than pefect, which then violates the standards.

    And again — is requiring punishment of people for failing to meet impossible standards just?

    **I think you might have one other point, why didn’t He enable us to be righteous as the Law requires?**
    So you’re saying that we can’t perfectly follow the Torah? Because now I’m left with God did not enable us to follow the Torah … and then requires that a punishment be delivered for this failure, that He in fact deliberatly did — creating us to not be as righteous as the Torah requires.

  43. “I don’t know what any of this has to do with the thread either, but have to toss in the ‘Jew view’ on tefillin and mezuzot. Perhaps Society can explain further the connection.” (Yael)

    There is a connnection to the original posting about how Jesus was referencing the those two traditions of Teffilin and Mezuzot – it shows he had mass respect for the teachings within them (and likely even followed them himself). Jesus’ connection to the Torah is very deep and many of the writings about him show this – but we need alomst a new pair of eyes to see these cultural leanings of Jesus – Christianity will not do in this regards. We need a Jewish perspective to show us these things.

    For example, Jesus says the greatest commandments are not from the 10 commandments Christians point out – they are from Deut 6…which reveals a thoroughly Jewish perspective – not a Christian one (for as much as we hold those 10 commandments to some esteem). The fact Jesus uses Deut 6 and the Jewish person he speaks with ‘you have said it well’ – shows he was committed to the mitzvot and upholding the Torah/Prophets. He knew the answer to the question – and it was not what we would of expected – but I think those in the tefillin and mezuzot tradition camps got it – he made sense. I would also point out Jesus used a saying from Hillel about ‘treat others…’ – on which the all the bible rests upon – which Hillel also said but 200 years prior.

    Also if you compare Deut 6 – from the tefillin scriptures – we get into this God who makes it rain and shine – also seen in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus seems more rabbinic in nature if looked at through a more Jewish lens – now this might not sit well with Christians per se – but that is how many of his teachings come off. He is not breaking the law – nor re-writing it – he is elaborating on it and giving further direction concerning it – not unlike rabbinical scholars of his time (or prior to his time).

  44. So Jesus upholds the Torah (and dare I say loves it). Paul, on the other hand, well – he is more complex in nature. On one hand, he is proud to be Jewish – on the other hand – he does not care when in the company of Gentiles. I see Paul demeaning the Law on occasions in his writings to the Gentiles – and points to the Law as having few redeeming qualities whatsoever.

    There is a difference in the tones from gospel to Paul’s letters concerning the Torah/Prophets – Paul see’s only messianic implications (and then the Law is pretty much over with) – while Jesus’ very teachings hearken back to the Law – and shows a high regard for the Torah. I cannot say the same for Paul.

  45. Hi Heather/OSS
    You wrote–Not only that, but then how are you applying standards here? Wouldn’t part of God’s standards include the necessity for anything He creates to be perfect? Wouldn’t those standards mean it’s impossible for Him to do or create anything less than perfect? Except if we are created lacking the ability to meet the righteousness, then we are created less than perfect, which then violates the standards.

    If we accept the reasonable proposition that we were created by God and that we did not pop into existence by mindless accident, the evidence would show that the answer to the question in bold is No. You presumed a Yes answer and apparently based your premise on that.

    OSS—I don’t find “All men are equated equal” an unfair goal to work for. It calls us to be our very best, to challenge ourselves. It asks for the maximum goodness. High standards should be applied, yes. Does “all men created equal” also contain something that says we are condemned and must be punished?

    I see that punishment for a too-high standard seems unfair. Don’t forget, repentance gives us a way to renew our minds and be forgiven the punishment, so punishment is by no means automatic.

    OSS—But the Psalmists would’ve been praising the entire piece. All 613, I believe.
    True, but each of those laws have their root in one or more of the 10 Commandments.

    Yael wrote—Everyone is happy to celebrate freedom it seems, but few are willing to even acknowledge that freedom brings responsibility much less celebrate the fact!
    Amen to that.

    Society, Paul is merely representing the fundamental change of believing in Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. Humanity was drawn to God by the Law, now they are being drawn closer by the entrance of His Son into history. I think you might be punishing the messenger even though it is a rational and consistent message. The Book of Romans is the summation of the whole Bible and is placed first among the letters as it pretty much covers the whole plan. You can’t fairly judge Paul without giving Romans a thorough read. Regards.

  46. “Society, Paul is merely representing the fundamental change of believing in Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law and the Prophets” (Jim)

    I agree – that is what he is doing…however, and of even greater interest, is the Law and Torah fulfilled?

    If we examine the messianic versions of interpretation – we can easily say ‘no…not completely’ (using Isaiah’s ‘beating the swords into ploughshares’ thing). So if Paul is quick to point out the Messianic fulfillment as complete – thus the reason we could brush aside the Law – well he is sadly mistaken. (I am not assuming he has done this – but in his writings to Gentiles he is fairly astute in brushing aside their need for the Law).

    Fulfilled in the sense – more complete – well this is also very lacking in Christian circles – who have conveniently brushed aside almost everything Jewish in nature from interpretation of both the gospels and Tanakh. I think Jesus offers views about the Tanakh that seem to elaborate on priniciples from the Tanakh – so there is some of this idea that makes sense – but we as Christians pretty much wrote this idea off centuries ago.

    Fulfilled – as in ‘kept’ – ie: it was meant to be kept. This seems to be the polemic of the writer’s on some levels – and in the Matthew 5 passage this would make a lot of sense. The whole sermon on the mount goes into elaboration about keeping the commandments – even the gospels in general go this route throughout their pages. I think part of Jesus’ message was to show the goodness of God from the pages of the Torah/Prophets – and he made that well known to his followers. Heck the ‘gospel’ is called ‘good news’ – a term I think that comes from Isaiah – about the message being given to the people.

    Fulfilled likely takes many aspects of these various definitions (and maybe even more) – but the point in Matthew 5 is simple – the Law/Prophets will not be going away until all is fulfilled/accomplished. Christians are quick to say this point is the meaning – however – even though they acknowledge a 2 tier messianic system (Jesus coming again) – they fail to realize that Jesus has not fulfilled all things and thusly the Torah/Prophets is still the acceptable standard.

    “You can’t fairly judge Paul without giving Romans a thorough read. Regards.” (Jim)

    True. Again this is an on-going work on the theology of Paul and I am examining the writings of Paul – have I done them to some acceptable standard of depth for even my own studies – no. But that’s part of the journey and I am not making statements and points based on no study – I am reading Paul and he is fairly straight-forward with his assertions about the Law (which is where the majority of Christian denominations get their viewpoints about the Law from – Paul is almost always the person quoted). I mean in all honesty, do churches have anything good to say about the Law? That’s truly the answer to the way ‘Paul is read’.

  47. But the Psalmists would’ve been praising the entire piece. All 613, I believe.
    True, but each of those laws have their root in one or more of the 10 Commandments.

    They do? How do you arrive at the conclusion?

    That every person shall write a scroll of the Torah for himself
    To circumcise the male offspring
    To recite grace after meals
    To relieve a neighbor of his burden and help to unload his beast
    Not to reap the entire field
    Not to return to take a forgotten sheaf
    Not to intermarry with gentiles
    To be fruitful and multiply
    That an Ammonite or Moabite shall never marry the daughter of an Israelite

  48. Oops. Hit submit too soon.

    Not to exclude an Egyptian from the community of Israel for three generations
    That the newly married husband shall (be free) for one year to rejoice with his wife
    That one who defames his wife’s honor (by falsely accusing her of unchastity before marriage) must live with her all his lifetime
    To divorce by a formal written document
    That a widow whose husband died childless must not be married to anyone but her deceased husband’s brother
    To remove chametz on the Eve of Passover
    To discuss the departure from Egypt on the first night of Passover
    To take during Sukkot a palm branch and the other three plants
    Not to eat a worm found in fruit
    Not to permit a gentile to treat harshly a Hebrew bondman sold to him
    To keep the Canaanite slave forever
    To assemble the people to hear the Torah at the close of the seventh year
    To appoint judges and officers in every community of Israel
    That houses sold within a walled city may be redeemed within a year
    To establish six cities of refuge (for those who committed accidental homicide
    To impose a penalty of fifty shekels upon the seducer
    Not to eat the fruit of a tree for three years from the time it was planted
    Not to work with beasts of different species, yoked together
    Not to wear garments made of wool and linen mixed together
    Not to put olive oil in a sin-offering made of flour
    That the Nazarite shall not cut his hair
    Not to keep alive any individual of the seven Canaanite nations
    Not to destroy fruit trees (wantonly or in warfare)
    Not to offer peace to the Ammonites and the Moabites before waging war on them, as should be done to other nations
    To destroy the seed of Amalek

    These are just a few I pulled out from the list of 613.

    I don’t know. I guess I have a hard time seeing where someone can say we have the ‘Big 10’ and all the rest don’t matter because they’re already included with these 10. I suppose a person could lump all the remaining 603 under the category of having no other gods before God, but surely that is pushing the limits. I’ll stick with the view we have in Judaism, these are 613 unique commands, most of which are not even applicable anymore. It’s a tough system to live under, no doubt. Yesterday I had an offer for my Canaanite slave but I had to turn them down because I have to keep that dog gone slave forever…..And then my aunt came over hoping for a little hanky-panky but I had to turn her down since having sex with an aunt is a no-no. You guys are so lucky to be free from all of this…..not that you were ever under it to begin with.

    Anyway, looking at all these laws that look so foolish to us today, that’s what makes studying Torah fun. Somewhere in there is wisdom we can use for living . Everything in Torah was given for a reason. But, sometimes I still laugh and say, ‘oh puh-leeze’. And then I go back to my studies trying to figure out why in the world I can’t sell my Canaanite slave….I knew I should have bought that Babylonian one instead! 8)

  49. Jim,

    **If we accept the reasonable proposition that we were created by God and that we did not pop into existence by mindless accident, the evidence would show that the answer to the question in bold is No. You presumed a Yes answer and apparently based your premise on that.**

    Then don’t you have two different ideas going on here? On the one hand, God’s standards require perfect obedience to the Torah. On the other hand, God’s standards do not require that He create humanity in such a way that they can perfectly obey the Torah. If God’s standards do not require perfect creation, why in turn do they require perfect obedience? If you would find it suspicious if God lowered His standards when it came to the Law, why not when it comes to creating something to be less than perfect?

    **I see that punishment for a too-high standard seems unfair. Don’t forget, repentance gives us a way to renew our minds and be forgiven the punishment, so punishment is by no means automatic. **

    Well … the punishment was/is automatic. The Law itself, under Christian perspective, makes it automatic. If part of the substition atonement is that Jesus took our place, then the punishment was delivered. And what about those who don’t repent? Essentially, they are told to repent for something they couldn’t help doing in the first place, because they weren’t created to be perfect.

    **True, but each of those laws have their root in one or more of the 10 Commandments. **

    Then when you say that Jesus fufilled all the laws, or perfectly kept them, are you referring only to the 10 Commandments, or all 613?

  50. I confess the obvious that I assumed these laws gleaned their authority from the 10 Commandments. While some are linked to the 10, they do not have the authority of the 10. Some are mere historical curiosities. I don’t think Jason was worried that Paul might be dissing the 613. The reason some look foolish today is that many are man-made.

    OSS—If you would find it suspicious if God lowered His standards when it came to the Law, why not when it comes to creating something to be less than perfect?

    First, I expect God’s standards to be very high. I can show examples in nature of how He gave us our senses so we could witness the beauty of His creation. I can see He created us and we could never repay Him. Again, the 10 Commandments are all very reasonable. It’s only our own hubris – our sin – that keeps us down.

    Second, if we could not sin, we would not have free will. Are you unhappy that God didn’t make you a perfect machine? It sounds like the Romans 9:20-21 dilemma, the pottery talking back to the Potter, asking “why did you make me like this?”

    I’d like to know your thoughts on universal salvation.

    Then when you say that Jesus fufilled all the laws, or perfectly kept them, are you referring only to the 10 Commandments, or all 613?

    I am definitely referring to the 10 Commandments. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my Canaanite slave is serving dinner. 🙂

  51. “I can see He created us and we could never repay Him” (Jim)

    Payment theology – per se? LOL

    “I’d like to know your thoughts on universal salvation” (Jim)

    Good question – new rabbit hole – but an interesting one. Is everyone going to be saved? I have heard the arguments – actually one of my links is to a site of people that believe this (Bold Grace). Now I truly like their focus and a lot of their sentiments are mine (in spirit anyways). I think this deserves a blog!

  52. Jim,

    **First, I expect God’s standards to be very high.**
    But you’re only using this in terms of what God expects or the law that God would convey, correct? You aren’t using this same expectation when it comes to what God creates, in terms of perfection.

    **Again, the 10 Commandments are all very reasonable. It’s only our own hubris – our sin – that keeps us down.**
    Reasonable in what way? Reasonable in that we can fufill them? Because when we say that something is reasonable, we usually mean that in the sense that it’s not something too difficult for us to accomplish. The request is within our grasp, or within our power. They aren’t extreme or excessive. Expecting perfection from imperfect creatures is extreme, because it’s not within their grasp. Thus, it becomes unreasonable.

    **Second, if we could not sin, we would not have free will. Are you unhappy that God didn’t make you a perfect machine?**
    I’m still trying to get a grasp on something here, though, because I don’t think I fully understand your use of standards: You say that God’s standards are high, and did earlier say that you’d find it suspicious if the standards were lowered. So what standards do you think God followed when creating everything? I mean, usually, if we say someone’s standards are perfect, we mean that if that person created something, the created thing would also be perfect, in order to meet the standards.

    Now, the sin/free will thing is going into a different arena, for a few different reasons. If the ability to sin is necessary for free will to exist, I always come back to the conflict between a perfect/good creation, and sin. Something sinful is obviously less than good/perfect (if we are defining ‘good’ in the sense that God is good, and thus not sinful). But what does that mean about the ability to sin? When defining God as ‘good,’ does that mean that God lacks the ability to sin? If so, and we were created with the ability to sin, then were we created less than good? We would certainly have to be created less than perfect.

    So: we were created with free will, and thus the ability to choose God. Okay. So do you mean that God’s standards when creating humanity meant that it had to have free will? It just seems kind of circular, because God still requires that HIs law be perfectly followed, yet gave humanity free will, which means the ability to sin, which almost traps them, because they can’t ever meet the perfect Law/standards.

    And again, this is not lodging a complaint against God. I’m not even sure that the Romans quote can work here, if we’re combining it with free will, because leading up to the 20-21 is the fact that God has mercy on whomever He chooses, and hardens the hearts of whomever He chooses, such as the Pharoh.

    I’ll always come back to the line of shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? 🙂

    **I’d like to know your thoughts on universal salvation.**
    I don’t think a majority of people will end up in a place of eternal torment, and it comes down to the aspect of reason. The idea of someone rationally choosing Hell ranks right up there with the idea of something rationally choosing suicide. When someone does the latter, we say that they were depressed, or not thinking clearly. Or in a lot of pain, either physical or mental. In most cases, if we see someone committing suicide, we do not respect their choice.

    Hell must be infinitely worse, if it means being cut off from love, light, compassion, and every good thing there ever was. How can someone honestly choose that, and be in their right mind?

    **I am definitely referring to the 10 Commandments.**

    The thing is, I’m not sure this is what Jesus would’ve referred to, since he was Jewish. Or any of the NT writers, if they were also Jewish. Or when the Tanakh speaks of the law, of enjoying it, loving the fact that God gave it … I think they would’ve referred to all 613 commandments.

  53. I don’t think Jason was worried that Paul might be dissing the 613. The reason some look foolish today is that many are man-made.

    But, Jim, every one of them comes from Torah. These aren’t Rabbinic laws, these are Torah laws. If you don’t believe me, look at the references. 613 Mitzvot. Now that could still mean they’re manmade on a certain level, if one holds that Torah is manmade.

    Hope your Canaanite slave fixed a good meal. Mine just threw some stuff in the microwave…..I told you, I regret ever getting that slave and now I’m stuck with him forever.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s