Friday, April 19, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 4 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 32-34

Leviticus 4 – Sin offerings [“hattat”] Schocken Bible note says “sin offering” is not a good translation.  It is a “decontamination offering” for priests – for inadvertent sins. 

When these are committed by the high priest, he brings guilt on all the people.  He must offer a young, unblemished bull.  Its blood should be brought into the tent and sprinkled toward the sanctuary seven times.  Some of the blood should go on the horns of the altar of incense.  The fat shall be burned, the hide, head and uneatable parts shall be brought outside the camp to a clean place where it can be burned in a wood fire and the ashes left.  The eatable part may not be eaten by the priest according to Schocken lest he profit from his own wrong.  But from other people’s offerings, he may eat.

When the entire community has sinned inadvertently by violating one of the Lord’s commands “but the people don’t realize it, they are still guilty. When they become aware of their sin, the people must” make the “decontamination offering.” For this offering, the “elders of the community” are the ones who make the offering.

If the inadvertent sin is committed by one of the leaders of the community, when he becomes aware of the sin, he must make the offering. The seven-fold sprinkling of the altar is omitted, but everything else is the same.

And if “any of the common people sin by violating one of the Lord’s commands, but they don’t realize it, they are still guilty” too. Then they become aware of the sin, they too can make an offering of a female goat with no defects.

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
Christ Predicted by Moses
32 – Like so many – Jesus’ disciples and those who came after them – Justin Martyr finds in the prophecies, “types” and “figures” of the Old Testament, the most convincing arguments for the claims of the Christians. I can well understand how they cringed at the demands of the Marcionites that the Old Testament god and the Old Testament itself should not be part of the Christian world view.

Jacob’s prophecy about the destiny of his twelve in Genesis 49 – here mentioned as Moses’ words – are quoted: “’Judah, your brothers will praise you. . . . The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor. He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.’”

And then addressing again his Roman addressees, “[A]nd after He (i.e. Christ) appeared, you began to rule the Jews, and gained possession of all their territory.” And in all races of men “there are some who look for Him who was crucified in Judaea . . . [and] the prophecy, ‘binding His foal to the vine, and washing His robe in the blood of the grape,’ was a significant symbol of the things that were to happen to Christ, and of what He was to do. For the foal of an ass stood bound to a vine at the entrance of a village, and He ordered His acquaintances to bring it to Him then; and when it was brought, He mounted and sat upon it, and entered Jerusalem, . . . And after this He was crucified, that the rest of the prophecy might be fulfilled. For this ‘washing His robe in the blood of the grape’ was predictive of the passion He was to endure, cleansing by His blood those who believe on Him. For what is called by the Divine Spirit through the prophet ‘His robe,’ are those men who believe in Him in whom abideth the seed of God, the Word. And what is spoken of as ‘the blood of the grape,’ signifies that He who should appear would have blood, though not of the seed of man, but of the power of God.”

Similarly the prophecy of Isaiah in 11:1 is discussed: “’A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a flower shall spring from the root of Jesse; and His arm shall the nations trust.’ And a star of light has arisen, and a flower has sprung from the root of Jesse-this Christ. For by the power of God He was conceived by a virgin of the seed of Jacob, who was the father of Judah, who, as we have shown, was the father of the Jews; and Jesse was His forefather according to the oracle, and He was the son of Jacob and Judah according to lineal descent.”

Manner of Christ’s Birth Predicted
33 – He quotes the words of Isaiah again: “’Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bring forth a son, and they shall say for His name, ‘God with us.’” For things which were incredible and seemed impossible with men t hese God predicted by the Spirit of prophecy as about to come to pass, in order that, when they came to pass, there might be no unbelief, but faith, because of their prediction.”

Mary’s virginity is significant to the writer in part because it is important to him to distinguish the conception of Christ from other stories of gods that had had intercourse with women – stories that were omnipresent in Greek and Roman times.

“It is wrong, therefor, to understand the Spirit and the power of God as anything else than the Word, who is also the first-born of God . . . and it was this which, when it came upon the virgin and overshadowed her, caused her to conceive, not by intercourse, but by power. And the name Jesus in the Hebrew language means . . . Savior in the Greek tongue. Wherefore, to, the angel said to the virgin, ‘Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.’ “

Place of Christ’s Birth Foretold
34 – “And hear what part of earth He was to be born in, as another prophet, Micah, foretold. He spoke thus: ‘And thou, Bethlehem, the land of Judah, are not the least among the princes of Judah; for out of thee shall come forth a Governor, who shall fee My people.’”

There is such a town thirty-five stadia [term of measurement] from Jerusalem, and this is verifiable from the tax registers of Cyrenius, first procurator in Judaea.

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