Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Exodus 28 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 3-5

Exodus 28 - The vestments shall have breast-pieces, ephods, robes, brocaded tunic, miter and sash. Onyx stones—one for each of the sons of Israel—engraved with the names in order of birth, shall be set in the shoulder strap of the ephod.  The breastplate “of decision” made with various precious stones (the names of which seem to vary with each English translation)—12 different ones: carnelian, topaz, emerald—garnet, sapphire, beryl—jacinth, agate, amethyst—chrysolite, onyx, jasper (NAB). 

Aaron will thusbear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastpiece of decision over his heart as a constant reminder before the Lord” (28:29). In the breastpiece shall go the Urim and Thummim (over his heart).  Schocken editors have little to add to explain but note that Urim starts with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and Tummim with the last letter.

Aaron’s robe shall be made of violet material, and all around the hem he shall have gold bells and pomegranates alternating, and he must wear this whenever he is ministering in the sanctuary or else he will die.  On the miter there shall be a plate of gold engraved with “Sacred to the Lord” and this shall hang on his forehead  Since Aaron bears whatever guilt the Israelites may incur in consecrating their gifts” (28:38). He must always have this plate on.

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165) – First Apology
3 – Sounding every bit like a defense attorney, Justin insists that the charges against the Christians be investigated. And, he insists somewhat ironically, if the charges “be substantiated, they be punished as they deserve; indeed we ourselves will punish them.”

Those subject to the investigation should “render an unexceptional account of their own life and doctrine,” and the rulers [you] “should give their decision in obedience, not to violence and tyranny, but to piety and philosophy.”

It is our job, he says, to offer an inspection of our life and teachings.

4 – One should not decide everything on the basis of a name. Hard to believe how long we’ve been arguing that! We “are accused of being Christians” and others will insist that they are philosophers; but just the name is not enough.

5 – In the past “evil demons” were given the name of gods. When Socrates attempted “by true reason and examination to bring these things to light, and deliver men from the demons [beliefs in ridiculous so-called gods], then the demons themselves, by means of men who rejoiced in iniquity, compassed his death, as an atheist and a profane person, on the charge that ‘he was introducing new divinities;’ and in our case they display a similar activity. For not only among the Greeks did reason (Logos) prevail to condemn these things through Socrates, but also among the Barbarians [Jews] were they condemned by Reason (or the Word, the Logos) Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ”; it is in obedience to Him [that] we deny who did such things as these are gods, but assert that they are wicked and impious demons. . ..”

Interesting intersection here of a respect for the best philosophers and the Jewish line of thought that led Christians to see in Christ the fulfillment of that Logos. He is perhaps the first to see that different ways might lead to the same truth.

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