Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 19 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 64-66

Leviticus 19 – There are many more “Holiness Rules.”
-       You must honor your parents and always keep the Sabbath
-       Turn aside from idols
-       Eat all peace offerings by the day following the sacrifice
-       Leave some grains after harvesting for the poor and alien
-       No stealing, lying or defrauding
-       No withholding wages overnight
-       No cursing the deaf or putting stumbling blocks in front of the blind
-       No dishonesty in rendering judgment
-       No partiality either to the weak or to the mighty (19:15)
-       No slander
-       “You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your hearts.  Though you may have to reprove your fellow man, do not incur sin because of him” (19:17).
-       “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (19:18).
-       Do not cross-breed animals or crops or mix threads in your garments
-       Regarding sex with female slaves who are committed to becoming another man’s wife (19:20).
-       Fruit trees planted in the land you are to be given—time to wait to eat fruit.
-       No eating meat with blood in it
-       No divination or soothsaying
-       No clipping hair at temples or trimming of beards
-       No laceration of bodies, tattooing
-       No prostitution for daughters
-       No mediums, fortune-tellers, etc
-       Show respect for the old
-       No molesting aliens—treat equally “for you too were once aliens” (19:34)

It is interesting to consider that in modern times, a good many of these rules seem very antiquated – not all for sure but some:  having sex with slaves who are supposed to be marrying someone else? Cross-breeding animals? No tattoos? Certainly everyone must agree that just because a prohibition is stated in the text does not make it something we must accept today. It is more complicated than that. I don’t know how anyone could think all are equally compelling. But I also think those who argue that the Old Testament has no “teaching” on homosexual are not facing up to the reality.

Some early Quakers seemed to have been obsessed with things like divination, soothsaying or fortune-telling; I don’t feel comfortable with these but I don’t think most people feel that way any more.

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
Further Misrepresentations of the Truth
64 – He returns to his obsession with the ways the “poets” of Rome have borrowed from the Jewish scriptures in crating some of the stories of the sons/daughters of Jupiter: Proserpine – associated with water in the way the Spirit of God is associated with water in the creation story; Minerva, a daughter of Jupiter “not by sexual union but the “first conception” ; and others he doesn’t mention.

Administration of the Sacraments
65 – Returning to the routines of entering into the Christian community, he talks about after baptism has occurred, the new member is brought into the common assembly where prayers are offered up for everyone and for the newly “baptized [illuminated] person.”

When prayers are over “we salute one another with a kiss.” And bread and a cup of wine mixed with water is taken to the “president of the brethren” and he takes them, “gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length.”  The people assent by saying “Amen” – Hebrew for “so be it.”

Those who are deacons give to everyone a bit of the bread and the wine mixed with water, and if someone is not at the gathering, some will be taken to that person as well.

Of the Eucharist
66 – This food we eat is call among us the Eucharist and “no one is allowed to partake [of it] but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.”

“For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.”

The apostles in their memoirs – called the Gospels – “delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, ‘This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body,’ and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, ‘This is My blood,’ and gave it to them alone.”

He calls those who copied the Christian Eucharist in what they call the “mysteries of Mithras” “wicked devils.”

Monday, April 29, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 18 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 61-63

Leviticus 18 Chapters 18-26 are known as the “Holiness Code.” The Schocken Bible editor points out that beyond the “heightened moments” of perception that make human beings feel linked to the “primal powers of existence,” the Jews also longed for a perfection and completeness in behavior “in all areas of life, personal and communal (593).

The people are warned NOT to conform to the customs of the people among whom they are settling. “You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God. If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them” (18:3-5).

Among the many rules are the following:
“You must never have sexual relations with a close relative” (18:6). Close relatives here include your mother, any of your father’s wives, your sister or half sister, your granddaughter, your stepsister, your aunt, your daughter-in-law or sister-in-law. You should have no sex with both a woman and her daughter or granddaughter (18:17-18).

No sex with menstruating women (18:19). It is kind of interesting that the “holiness rules” seem to be addressed only to the men. I guess women were expected to extrapolate from their rules, the rules they should follow.

“Do not permit any of your children to be offered as a sacrifice to Molech, for you must not bring shame on the name of your God” (18:21). Canaanite youth were sacrificed in this way - first killed then immolated.

“Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin” (18:22).

And there must be no sex with animals. Here there is a specific rule for women as well.

“So obey my instructions, and do not defile yourselves by committing any of these detestable practices that were committed by the people who lived in the land before you” (18:30).

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
Christian Baptism
61 – So how do Christians dedicate themselves to God once they’ve been made new? They “undertake to . . . live according (to what they’ve been taught]”; they pray and fast for the remission of the sins in their lives that are past; then they “receive the washing with water” [baptism]. “For Christ also said, ‘Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.’” They try to put away evil doings from their souls and do good things: care for the orphans and widows.

As to why this rite of baptism is so central, “we have learned from the apostles [that] since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe. . . the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed.”

Its Imitation by Demons
62 – The devils “having heart this washing published by the prophet” have imitated these rites as well. They also make people wash themselves before they enter shrines where their images are set up. And they ask them to remove their shoes. This Justin Martyr also believes is something copied from the teachings of Moses. The removal of shoes is from the story of Moses approaching the fire, “mighty power from Christ,” in the bush.

How God Appeared to Moses
63 – He tells how even the Jews themselves accept the accusation of Isaiah the prophet that they do not “know” God. The Spirit of prophesy in Moses said, “’The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know Me, and My people do not understand.’”

And Jesus too said, “’No one knoweth the Father, but the Son; nor the Son, but the Father, and they to whom the Son revealeth Him.’” (citing Matthew 11:27).

“[S]o much is written for the sake of proving that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God and His Apostle, being of old the Word, and appearing sometimes in the form of fire, and sometimes in the likeness of angels; but now, by the will of God, having become man for the human race, He endured all the sufferings which the devils instigated the senseless Jews to inflict upon Him.”

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 17 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 59-60

Leviticus 17  Every sheep, goat or ox must be presented as an offering to the Lord in front of the Dwelling before it can be slaughtered for food.  The blood needs to be splashed on the altar and the fat burned. 

Offerings previously were made to “satyrs” [goat-demons] but this shall be no more (17:7).

This differs from Deut.12 where slaughter is permitted as long as the blood is poured out—scholars disagree which practice came first, Schocken says.  What is not disputed is the importance of “the blood.”  It effects a type of “ransom” or redemption—the blood of the animal substituting for that of the sacrificer.

“And if anyone, whether of the house of Israel or of the aliens residing among them, partakes of any blood, I will set myself against that one who partakes of blood and will cut him off from among his people.  Since the life of a living body is in its blood, I have made you put it on the altar, so that atonement may thereby be made for your own lives, because it is the blood, as the seat of life, that makes atonement” (17:10-12)

See reference to this in Hebrews 9 and 10.
“He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, which is better than the one made by men’s hands because it is not of this created order” (9:11).  He has “entered the sanctuary once and for all” (9:12), taking not the blood of a sacrificial animal but his own blood and has “won an eternal redemption for us” (9:12). He “offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God through the eternal Spirit , . . [to] purify our inner self from dead actions so that we do our service to the living God” (9:14).

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
Plato’s Obligation to Moses
59 – Plato is very respected and Justin Martyr absolutely believes that Plato’s ideas were borrowed from the Jewish prophets.

“Plato borrowed his [the prophet’s] statement, having altered matter which was shapeless, made the world, hear the very words spoken through Moses, who, as above shown, was the first prophet, and of greater antiquity than the Greek writers; and through whom the Spirit of prophecy, signifying how and from what materials God at first formed the world, spake thus: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was invisible and unfurnished, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved over the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and it was so.’ So that both Plato and they who agree with him, and we ourselves, have learned and you also can be convince, that by the word of God the whole world was made out of the substance spoken of before by Moses, and that which the poets call Erebus, we know was spoken of formerly by Moses.”

Erebus was a primordial deity in Greek mythology representing the darkness.

Plato’s Doctrine of the Cross
60 – The Platonic thinker and philosopher in Justin Martyr is very present in this section. And the work of Plato he discusses here is one that sounds very interesting from what I can gather from “google-ing” it, but I myself am unfamiliar with the work.

He basically believes that Plato was using the “Son of God” in his work, Timaeus, “where he says of the primordial deity, “’He placed him crosswise in the universe,’” {in the form of the letter X to represent the “soul of the universe”). He believes Plato got the X idea from Moses, who creates a cross-like figure – the bronze snake attached to a pole in Numbers 21:8 – to provide protection for his people in the desert.

“Which things Plato reading, and not accurately understanding, and not apprehending that it was the figure of the cross, but taking it to be a placing crosswise, he said that the power next to the first God was placed crosswise in the universe. And as to his speaking of a third [person/image of God??], he did this because he read, as we said above, that which was spoken by Moses, ‘that the Spirit of God moved over the waters.’ For he gives the second place to the Logos which is with God, who he said was placed crosswise in the universe; and the third place to the Spirit who was said to be borne upon the water. . . “

The lesson the writer thinks we should take from this is NOT that different people come in different ways to Truth, something most modern believers would feel comfortable with; he believes all the thinkers who have come to even remotely similar truths have come to them because they have all been influenced by Moses.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 16 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 56-58

Leviticus 16 - Day of Atonement—When Aaron goes into the sanctuary he needs to bring a young bullock for a sin offering and a ram for a holocaust.  From the community he shall receive two male goats to the entrance and cast lots to determine which one will be for the Lord and which one will be for “Azazal” - a name for Satan the note suggests—it translates the word as “escaping goat” hence “scapegoat”.  The one for the Lord shall be offered up as a sin offering (hattat).  The other shall be “set alive before the Lord” and then sent into the desert.

The bullock Aaron brings for himself shall be offered up to atone for himself and his family.  Incense from the altar of sacrifice shall be brought inside the veil, placed on the fire so that a cloud of incense covers the propitiatory.  The blood of the bullock shall be sprinkled on the propitiatory. 

Then he offers the people’s sin offering and does the same with its blood—he makes atonement for the sanctuary, the meeting tent, for himself and for the community, for the altar—mixing the blood of both sacrifices. When he comes out he shall place his hands on the head of the other goat and confess the sins of the community.  Then the goat is escorted out of the community, out into the desert.  He leaves his vestments in the sanctuary, bathes and puts them on again and then offers up the holocaust and burn the fat of the sin offering on the altar.
There shall be a fast on this day as well every year in perpetuity.

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
The Demons Still Mislead Men
56 – Not only did “the evil spirits” rely on their pre-incarnation stories of Jupiter and his sons, even AFTER Christ’s appearance and AFTER they learned of the prophesies regarding Him and AFTER they should have believed, the still continued to set their eyes on lesser men like Simon Magus and Menander.

We pray that the “sacred senate” and you leaders help people to avoid those evil doctrines and destroy the statue set up to honor them.

And Cause Persecution
57 – The devils can’t persuade us that there will be no eventual punishment of evil – just as they couldn’t keep Him hidden after He came.

The only thing “they who live irrationally, and were brought up licentiously in wicked customs, and are prejudiced in their own opinions, should kill and hate us.” But not only do we NOT hate them, we pity and try to lead them to repentance.

We do not fear death; all die. If they don’t believe that we exists after death, they help us by setting us free.

And Raise Up Heretics
58 – These same devils have tried to get us to list to Marcion of Pontus, “who is even now teaching men to deny that God is the maker of all things in heaven and on earth, and that the Christ predicted by the prophets is His Son, and preaches another god besides the Creator of all, and likewise another son. And this man many have believed, as if he alone knew the truth, and laugh at us, though they have no proof of what they say, but are carried away irrationally as lambs by a wolf, and become the prey of atheistical doctrines, and of devils. For they who are called devils attempt nothing else than to seduce men from God who made them, and from Christ His first-begotten; and those who are unable to raise themselves above the earth they have riveted, and do now rivet to things earthly and to the works of their own hands; but those who devote themselves to the contemplation of things divine, they secretly beat back; and if they have not a wise sober-mindedness, and a pure and passionless life, they drive them into godlessness.”

Marcion was not trying to lure men TO THE WORLD but away from all things physical. And that is not what we are about as Christians anyway. Our savior came in human flesh to redeem the lives we live.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 14-15 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 53-55

Leviticus 14Purification after leprosy.  There are elaborate sacrifices to be made—of all kinds (holocausts, guilt offerings, sin offerings, wave, cereal). 

Everything, including the houses used by lepers, must undergo cleansing, both actual and ritual. Cleansing of the house involves a ceremony with two birds that are ceremonially clean.  One of the birds is sacrificed over an earthen jar of water.  Then the water and blood are sprinkled on some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop. Schocken editors suggests that these things were somehow associated with life. The blood of the dead bird is sprinkled on the person being purified, and when that is done, the live bird will be released to fly away.

The person being purified must wash their clothes, shave their hair and bathe themselves; then they can return to the camp, but they must still stay outside their tents for seven days.

Leviticus 15 Regarding personal uncleanness – discharges from the body, typically from ones’ private parts (from illness or from sexual activity).  Again, great care in cleansing, avoiding contact and atoning are called for.  The important thing is keeping the Tent of Dwelling unpolluted.

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
Summary of the Prophecies
53 – The writer thinks there are many other prophesies he could mention that provide proof of the Christian Truth he embraces, but he thinks he’s mentioned enough. The arguments themselves are not enough – even Justin Martyr admits this. It is the “fruit” or “results” of the life and death of Christ and the spreading of the word about him that is most convincing.

“For with what reason should we believe of a crucified man that He is the first-born of the unbegotten God, and Himself will pass judgment on the whole human race, unless we had found testimonies concerning Him published before He came and was born as a man, and unless we saw that things had happened accordingly—the devastation of the land of the Jews, and men of every race persuaded by His teaching through the apostles, and rejecting their old habits, in which being deceived. . .”

The prophesies are critical for Justin Martyr He can’t imagine anyone believing that the God behind all of creation would take the form of a crucified man without the convincing words of the prophets, words he sees as having been fully realized in the life, death and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Origin of Heathen Mythology
54 – The poets who hand down the myths that so many in Roman society believed are not supported by this same convincing foreshadowing.

He sees that some Greek writers trying to undercut the Christian message by trying to incorporated some of the Old Testament prophecies into their myths, and some of this has already been discussed in earlier chapters.

Symbols of the Cross
55 – But despite all of the efforts of the Greek poets to coopt prophetic utterances, there never has been a single instance when they used the crucifixion, “for it was not understood by them, all the things said of it having been put symbolically. And this, as the prophet foretold, is the greatest symbol of His power and role. . . “

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 12-13 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 50-52

Leviticus 12 – Rules governing the “uncleanness” or ritual “pollution” surrounding childbirth.  For seven days after birth of a boy, the mother shall be deemed “unclean.”  After the circumcision on the 8th day, 33 days must pass for her to be over the period of ritual pollution.  It is twice that time – sixty-six days – after the birth of a female child. 

At the end, she is to bring animals – a one-year-old lamb and a young pigeon or turtledove - for a holocaust offering (in thanksgiving) and a sin offering and the priest shall offer them up to make atonement and she shall be considered clean again.

Leviticus 13 – Skin problems of various kinds dealt with.  Leprosy shall make the person “unclean” ritually.  If it is not, the person may have to be quarantined for seven days and reexamined.  White hairs and penetration of sores beneath the skin are reasons for concern.  Even baldness is covered—it is fine unless he has pink spots too in which case there may be reason to suspect leprosy.  The leper shall dwell apart and cry out “unclean” so people will be warned.

There are 59 verses of intricate detail on how the sores are to be examined and evaluated over time.

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
His Humiliation Predicted
50 – The amazing lines of Isaiah’s prophecies about the humiliation Christ was to suffer are set forth at length: “He was despised, and of no reputation. It is He who bears our sins, and is afflicted for us; yet we did esteem Him smitten, stricken, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of peace was upon Him, by His stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; every man has wandered in his own way. And He delivered Him for our sins; and He opened not His mouth for all His affliction.”

He repeats the story of the apostles, clueless at the crucifixion, but revived at the resurrection when Christ came to them and “taught them to read the prophecies” they were so familiar with. It is the power of the Old Testament prophecies that gave momentum to the evangelization process.

The Majesty of Christ
51 – The translation here of Isaiah 8-12 is so hard to relate to, I have turned to another translation the NRSV: Still exploring the mysterious origins of Christ and the amazing way he “rules His enemies” he quotes the prophet Isaiah: “”By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet is was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through his the will of the Lord shall prosper. Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his through his knowledge. . . . because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the trangressors.”

And it was also prophesied that He would ascend into heaven both in Psalm 24 and in Daniel 7:13.

Certain Fulfillment of Prophecy
52 – If so much of what happened to Christ was predicted by the prophets and came true, Justin Martyr argues that we must expect that things prophesied, which have not yet come to pass WILL come to pass at some point.

“For the prophets have proclaimed two advents of His: the one, that which is already past, when He came as a dishonored and suffering Man; but the second, when, according to prophecy, He shall come from heaven with glory, accompanied by His angelic host, when also He shall raise the bodies of all men who have lived, and shall clothe those of the worthy with immortality, and shall send those of the wicked, endued with eternal sensibility, into everlasting fire with the wicked devils.”

Ezekiel says that at that time, “’very knee shall bow to the Lord, and every tongue shall confess Him.’” And the repentance of the Jews for not “getting it” will be fulfilled he seems to say: “Tribe by tribe they shall mourn, and then they shall look on Him whom they have pierced; and they shall say, Why, O Lord, hast Thou made us to err from Thy way” The glory which our fathers blessed, has for us been turned into shame.’” (quoting Zechariah and Isaiah).

What I don’t think a lot of “literalist” believers ask themselves is will believers be as clueless the second time as they were the first? People talk and talk about what the “Second Coming” will be like based on the words of prophesy, just as many of those who lived in Jesus’ time talked about the prophesies that the Messiah would restore the Davidic monarchy and bring an end to what we have come to call “the fall”; but that is what the split between Jews and Christians was all about – having completely different understandings of what the “coming” of the “Messiah” would be like. Turned out the ones who “got” the Christian “take” on what happened were those who had not grown up feeling they understood it all. It was the “outsiders” who “got it” if indeed we “got it” – I believe we did.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 11 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 47-49

Leviticus 11 – On clean and unclean foods at the ordinary Jews’ table. Schocken Bible note points out that the domestic table was considered an “altar in miniature” reflecting the fact that Israel was considered a “kingdom of priests.”

Debate continues over the rationale for the dietary constraints imposed by the Mosaic Law.  Schocken thinks the argument from ancient “hygiene” concepts is weak.  He thinks they relate more to simply setting “distinctions” and boundaries again.  Lawrence Boadt seems to think it has to do with “normality” concepts applied to different animal species—meant to reflect the same kind of order as set forth in Genesis 1 (189).

Regarding land animals, only those, which chew the cud AND have cloven hooves may be eaten (if they have only one of those characteristics, they are off limits).  Some like the rock-badger and hare are mis-classified by modern standards, but they appeared to chew a cud to the Israelites. Pigs have cloven hooves but do not chew a cud—therefore they are verboten. The Schocken note also says pigs were used in cults worshiping gods of the underworld (559).

Water animals that have BOTH fins and scales are eatable, but again if they have only one, they are out.

Birds that are predators are out – association with the dead.  Winged insects that walk on the ground are OUT unless they have jointed legs for leaping (grasshoppers and crickets, etc.)

Not only are people not to eat of these unclean animals, any contact with their dead bodies renders people unclean for a period.  Animals that swarm on the ground like rats, mice, lizards etch are unclean—[might this relate to the serpent].

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
Desolation of Judaea Foretold
47 – Justin Martyr believed that the destruction of the land of the Jews was foretold. Quoting Isaiah 64:10, he writes, “’Sion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. The house of our sanctuary has become a curse, and the glory which our fathers bless is burned up with fire, and all its glorious things are laid waste.”

The Roman leaders were very aware of this destruction, their having been the vehicle through which it came.

Christ’s Work and Death Foretold
48 – That “our Christ should heal all diseases and raise the dead, . . . There are these words: ‘At His coming the lame shall leap as a hart, and the tongue of the stammerer shall be clear speaking: the blind shall see, and the lepers shall be cleansed; and the dead shall rise, and walk about.’ “ (Isaiah 35:6). He says people can learn of these things from the “Acts of Pontius Pilate” [unknown work for me].

His Rejection by the Jews Foretold
49 – “And again, how it was said by the same Isaiah, that the Gentile nations who were not looking for Him should worship Him, but the Jews who always expected Him should not recognize Him when He came. And the words are spoken as from the person of Christ; and they are these: ‘I was manifest to them that asked not for Me; I was found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold Me, to a nation that called not on My name. I spread out My hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people, to those who walked in a way that is not good, but follow after their own sins; a people that provoketh Me to anger to My face.’ “(Isaiah 65:1-3)

He remarks on the amazing reality that those who read the prophecies of Him the most were the most troubled at actually recognizing him.  Those who never heard anything prophesied “until the apostles set out from Jerusalem and preached concerning Him, and gave them the prophecies, were filled with joy and faith, and cast away their idols, and dedicated themselves to the Unbegotten God through Christ.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 9-10 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 44-46

Leviticus 9 - On the eighth day, Aaron is to address the people, offering up a calf (hattat-sin) and a ram (holocaust–offering up) and encouraging the people also to offer up like offerings (he-goat sin offering, calf yearling and lamb yearling holocaust, an ox and ram for peace, and cereal offerings) “for today, YHWH will make-himself-seen by you!” (9:4)

When Moses and Aaron come out of the meeting tent at the end, “then the glory of the Lord was revealed to all the people.  Fire came forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the holocaust and the remnants of the fat on the altar.  Seeing this, all the people cried out and fell prostrate” (9:23-24).

Leviticus 10We return to the narrative—to the realm of human fallibility and failure according to Schocken (546). 

Two of Aaron’s sons, the oldest, are somehow disobedient with respect to the priestly observances they are in charge of; and the Lord flames out at them, killing them both. 

They are removed from the camp and two other sons—Eleazar and Ithamar—are told not to participate in the grieving process or leave their posts. Schocken says this is part of the general prohibition against priests being in contact with the dead (548).  The Lord also reveals to Aaron that from now on the priests are all to abstain from wine or strong drink (maybe the sons infraction came about as a result of that vice).  
Moses goes over with them what they may eat of the offerings given and where they may eat of it.  Eating a portion of the sin-offering (the goat) was necessary to relieve the community of its corporate guilt.  Moses gets angry when they do not eat of it (10:17). Aaron argues that were not sufficiently “pure” or sanctified to eat of it—especially in light of the punishment inflicted on their brothers.  Moses settles for this argument.

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
Not Nullified by Prophecy
44 – We see this element of freedom in the earliest stories of the Bible and we hear many encouragements in the Scriptures to choose what is good: “’Behold, before thy face are good and evil: choose the good’” (Deut. 30:15).

Plato too said similar words: “’The blame is his who chooses, and God is blameless.’” And Justin Martyr believes Plato took this idea from the Jewish prophets. “[H]ence there seem to be seeds of truth among all men; but they are charged with not accurately understanding [the truth] . . .”

When we say that the prophets have predicted what was to happen, we are not saying that “it [will] come about by a fatal necessity.” It is a revelation of God’s foreknowledge of what men will choose.

Christ’s Session in Heaven Foretold
45 – The writer says that “God the Father of all [brought] Christ to heaven after He had raised Him from the dead, and would keep Him there until He has subdued His enemies the devils, and until the number of those who are foreknown by Him as good and virtuous is complete, on whose account He has still delayed the consummation . . .”

“That which he says, ‘He shall send to Thee the rod of power out of Jerusalem,’ is predictive of the mighty word, which His apostles, going forth from Jerusalem, preached everywhere; and though death [by the powers of the state] is decreed against those who teach or at all confess the name of Christ, we everywhere both embrace and teach it. And if you also read these words in a hostile spirit, ye can do no more, as I said before, than kill us; which indeed does no harm to us, but to you and all who unjustly hate us, and do not repent, brings eternal punishment by fire.”

The Word in the World Before Christ
46 – What of all the people who lived before Christ’s incarnation 150 years ago?

“We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived reasonably are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them; and among the barbarians [?] Abraham, and Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael, and Elias, and many others whose actions and names we now decline to recount, because we know it would be tedious.” That is quite a statement – those who lived [in the past, before Christ] “reasonably” ARE Christians, even though they have been thought to be atheists!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 7-8 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 41-43

Leviticus 7Instructions for the Guilt Offering: The ceremony for making guilt offerings—the priests may eat of it as with cereal offerings and sin offerings.  The peace offering is different.  They are made in thanksgiving, and may include loaves of leavened bread along with unleavened cakes and an animal.  A portion of each shall be for the priest, but any “clean” or “unpolluted” person may eat of it too

The fat of ox, sheep or goat is not to be eaten (7:24).  Fat from animals who die naturally or are killed by other beasts may be used for “other things” but not for eating.  A portion of peace offerings—typically the fat together with the breast is offered to the priest.  The fat shall be burned and the meat given to the priest as a “wave offering” or “offering raised up” (7:30).

Leviticus 8 – The ordination ceremony: Aaron and his sons are washed before the community, clothed with the vestments including a miter on his head with gold plate and sacred diadem; the dwelling is anointed and consecrated, oil sprinkled on the altar and appurtenances; some anointing oil on Aaron’s head.

The sacrifices are a sin offering, the fat is burned on the altar with innards, etc.  Then there is a burnt offering (holocaust or “offering-up”) offering; the second ram is the “ordination” (“giving-mandate”) ram.  They may not depart from the entrance of the meeting tent for seven days.  The ordination lasts that long.  This is all to make atonement for them as priests.

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
The Crucifixion Predicted
41 – Again, “in another prophecy, the Spirit of prophecy, through the same David, intimated that Christ, after He has been crucified, should reign, and spoke as follows: ‘Sing to the Lord, all the earth, and day by day declare His salvation. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, to be feared above all the gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols of devils; but God made the heavens. Glory and praise are before His face, strength and glorying are in the habitation of His holiness. Give Glory to the Lord, the Father everlasting. Receive grace, and enter His presence, and worship in His holy courts. Let all the earth fear before His face; let it be established, and not shaken. Let them rejoice among the nations. The Lord hath reigned from the tree.’” A note adds that this last sentence is not in any of copes we have of Psalm 96. When I tried to find more information about this, I found this online:

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible (1832) has this in it:
“It appears that this reading did exist anciently in the Septuagint, or at least in some ancient copies of that work, for the reading has been quoted by Tertullian, Lactantius, Arnobius, Augustine, Cassiodorus, Pope Leo, Gregory of Tours, and others. . . . It is necessary, however, to add, that no such words exist in any copy of the Hebrew text now extant, nor in any MS. yet collated, nor in any of the ancient Versions. Neither Eusebius nor Jerome even refer to it, who wrote comments on the Psalms; nor is it mentioned by any Greek writer except Justin Martyr” (http://bible.cc/psalms/96-10.htm)

Prophecy Using the Past Tense
42 – “[T]he Spirit of prophecy speaks of things that are about to come to pass as if they had already taken place.” The words cited were all “uttered 1500 years before Christ become a man and was crucified.” This number is a mistake and commentators are not sure if it was Justin Martyr’s error or an error in transcription of his work.

“But our Jesus Christ, being crucified and dead, rose again, and having ascended to heaven, reigned; and by those things which were published in His name among all nations by the apostles, there is joy afforded to those who expect the immortality promised by Him.”

Responsibility Asserted
43 – Justin Martyr, while he finds excitement and convincement from his exploration of predictions made in the Jewish scriptures, he does not want to make it look as if he thinks everything is predestined in this life.

“We have [also] learned from the prophets . . . that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g, be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed.”

“Unless the human race [has] the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be.”

We see people transitioning from good to evil and also from evil to good, so there must be some element of choice going on in their lives.