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.”

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