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. . . “

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