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.”

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