Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 20-21 and Justin Martyr's First Apology 67-68

Leviticus 20Penalties for sins: If you offer your children as a sacrifice to Molech – death.

Consulting fortune-tellers – this is called “spiritual prostitution” and is punished by cutting them off from the community.

 If you “act as mediums or . . . consult the spirits of the dead” (20:27), then you must die by stoning.

Dishonoring father or mother – death.

Adultery – death for both.

Homosexual sex – death. Carnal relations with an animal – death.

Forbidden sex – varied, mostly cut off from the community or fined, etc.

Leviticus 21 This chapter is dedicated to instructions for priests. Priests shall not prepare corpses for burial and thus incur pollution, except for his closest relatives.  The highest priest shall not even do that (21:11).

They shall not do things the Canaanites do to mourn, like bare the crown of their heads, shave the edges of their beard, lacerate their bodies; they have to remain holy, sacred because it is their job to “offer up food to your God” (21:8)—that’s an interesting thought. 

They shall not marry women who have been prostitutes, or who are divorced or dishonored.  The must marry a virgin. A priest’s daughter who brings dishonor shall be burned. 

“No one who has a defect qualifies, whether he is blind, lame, disfigured, deformed, or has a broken foot or arm, or is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or has a defective eye, or skin sores or scabs, or damaged testicles” (21:17-20).

Early Christian Writers
Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) – First Apology
Weekly Worship of the Christians
67 – He continues describing the life of the Christian community. The wealthy in the church help the needy; they are united in all things. On the day we call Sunday, “all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.”

The they rise and pray together and when that is ended, they bring bread and wine and water, “and the president . . . offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen, and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks has been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.”

A collection is made and people give what they can to the president, who cares for the orphans and widows and those who are sick or in need in some way. They also care for strangers sojourning with them.

Sunday is the day for their common gathering “because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.”

68 – Justin Martyr’s goal throughout this treatise has been to be “reasonable” and committed to telling the emperor and his officials the truth of Christianity. But he says, if the things he’s said, sound like “nonsense” to them they are still not worthy of a decree of death. Christians have done no wrong to anyone in the Empire.

“[W]e forewarn you, that you shall not escape the coming judgment of God, if you continue in your injustice; and we ourselves will invite you to do that which is pleasing to God.”

He makes reference to a letter by Emperor Hadrian, father of the present emperor, that seems to have specified that only Christians in violation of some law could be persecuted, and he attaches a copy of that letter to the treatise.

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