Monday, April 8, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Exodus 27 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 1-2

Exodus 27 – The altar or “slaughter-site” [Schocken] shall be a square – five by five cubits, three cubits high. It is to be made of bronze and there are to be “horns” on each corner of bronze. Like the ark, it too shall have poles so that it may be carried.

The courtyard of the sanctuary should be enclosed with linen curtains hung on silver hooks and rings. The curtain shall be decorated “with beautiful embroidery in blue, purple and scarlet thread” (27:16).

“Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. The lampstand will stand in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron and his sons must keep the lamps burning in the Lord’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for the people of Israel, and it must be observed from generation to generation” (27:20-21).

While it may seem that I am including a lot of minutia in my paraphrasing and retelling, there is really a whole lot more detail; but it the kind of detail that provides a great deal of symbolism – details as to materials used, measurements and other things that for millennia have been interpreted and re-interpreted by those who see a great wealth of spiritual importance in the detail.

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165)
Introduction – Born in what is today Nablus (Palestine) into a Gentile/pagan family. Exposed early-on to Greek philosophy – Stoics and Pythagoreans and Plato. Met “an old man” who was a Syrian Christian and they talked philosophy and religion. He kindled in Justin an interest in the prophets, in whose writings he saw a foretelling of Christ, and this led him to a love of Christ that was deep and abiding. He was also influenced by the bravery of persecuted Christians.

He traveled to Rome where he started a school. Tatian was a student of his. Tatian would become a well-known, 2nd century Christian theologian and author of the Diatessaron [Harmony of the Gospels]. In the reign of Marcus Aurelius, he was denounced by a “cynic philosopher” named Crescens, was tried by urban prefect Junius Rusticus and beheaded c. 165.

He was prominent in examining the idea of the Logos.

I use here the online edition of the Apology, which is available to the public on the site Christian Classics Etherial Library.

First Apology – Dated sometime between 147 and 161 AD.
1 – The letter/apology is addressed to Antoninus Pius, his sons and the Roman Senate “on behalf of those of all nations who are unjustly hated and wantonly abused, myself being one of them.”

2 – “Reason directs those who are truly pious and philosophical to honor and love only what is true, declining to follow traditional opinions, if these be worthless. For not only does sound reason direct us to refuse the guidance of those who did or taught anything wrong, but it is incumbent on the lover of truth, by all means, and if death be threatened, even before his own life, to choose to do and say what is truth, by all means, and if death be threatened, even before his own life, to choose to do and say what is right. Do you, then, since ye are called pious and philosophers, guardians of justice and lovers of learning, give good heed, and hearken to my address; and if you are indeed such, it will be manifested. For we have come, not to flatter you by this writing, nor please you by our address, but to beg that you pass judgment, after an accurate and searching investigation, not flattered by prejudice or by a desire of pleasing superstitious men, nor induced by irrational impulse of evil rumors which have long been prevalent, to give a decision which will prove to be against yourselves. For as for us, we reckon that no evil can be done us, unless we be convicted as evil-doers or be proved to be wicked men; and you, you can kill, but not hurt us.”

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