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.

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