Thursday, May 2, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Leviticus 22-23 and Irenaeus Book I [1 - 3]

Leviticus 22 – Priests must respect the offerings made by the people by remaining clean, sacred.  Laymen may not eat of the sacred offerings.  Such offerings—holocausts, votive offering or free-will offerings—must be unblemished males, at least eight days old.

Leviticus 23 – The holy days that must be observed are listed in this chapter:

Sabbath – “You may work for six days, but the seventh must be a day of complete rest, a day for the sacred assembly on which you do no work at all. Wherever you live, this is a Sabbath for YHWH” (23:3).

Passover – It “begins at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month” (23:5).  Seven, the number of perfection par excellence, days of unleavened bread.  On the first day a sacred assembly; oblations offered each day; another assembly on the seventh day.  Bring a sheaf of the first fruits to the priest who will wave it before the Lord.  At the same time, you shall offer an unblemished yearling lamb as holocaust, a cereal offering and libation (23:5-8).
First Sheaf – The first sheaf of your harvest should be offered to the priest “and he is to present it to YHWH with the gesture of offering, so that you may be acceptable” (23:11). There is more detail to the kinds of holocaust offerings that are to be made, but I am leaving out a lot of this detail.

Pentecost (The Feast of Weeks) – seven full weeks after the sheaf is offered (above), bring a new cereal offering (two loaves of bread of the new harvest), a holocaust of seven yearling lambs, one young bull and two rams.  One male goat as sin-offering and two yearling lambs as peace offering (23:15-22).
New Year’s Day– The first day of seventh month—Sabbath rest and sacred assembly, offer oblation (23:24-25).
Day of Atonement – The tenth day of seventh month.  There is to be a sacred assembly. “You must fast, and you must offer a burnt offering to YHWH. You are not to do any work that day, for it is the Day of Atonement, on which the rite of atonement will be performed over you before YHWH you God” (23:27-28). If you fail to fast you “shall be outlawed from his people” (23:29).   

Feast of Booths or Tabernacles – The fifteenth day of the seventh month, and it shall last seven days (23:34). There shall be a sacred assembly on first day, with no work; gather foliage of trees, palms and myrtle boughs.  Make merry for a week and dwell in booths to remind everyone of the exodus.  Offer oblations each of seven days and on eighth another assembly and offer oblation and do no work (23:35-36).

Concluding Note on Justin Martyr: Justin Martyr wrote a second Apology and a very long Dialogue with Trypho, a Jewish man he met. The dialogue is a very interesting piece but much too long and repetitive to track on this blog. I identify very much with the mind-set of Justin Martyr. His philosophical training and approach to the gospel makes him very easy for a modern reader to identify with. The opening of his Dialogue with Trypho has such a modern feel  – discussing the deep questions about the meaning of human life and how to approach such existential matters. I can’t do ALL the writings of any of these 1st and 2nd century Christian writers, though. What is clear is that it was the Old Testament “prophecies” and the array of “types” and “figures” that won Justin Martyr over to Christ.

Irenaeus of Lyons (c.180 AD)
Introduction: Irenaeus was raised in a Christian family in Asia Minor – probably in Smyrna on the western coast. He is said to have studied under Polycarp. He moved before 177 AD to Lugdunum in Gaul (now Lyons in France). In 177, philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius, authorized or approved a severe local persecution of Christian in that region, but at the time it happened Irenaeus was en route to Rome with a letter concerning Montanism. Upon his return to Gaul, he was made Bishop of the city.

Irenaeus’ writings are almost all on the different “heresies” that were plaguing the church during this time. He wrote against Gnosticism and Marcionism. We don’t really know how he died. Jerome, and some others after him, thought he had been martyred, but we really don’t know.

Irenaeus’ writings are very lengthy, but I found a compilation of his writings on different heresies that I thought would introduce people to him, without making it all too long. The numbering of the sections corresponds to the parts of his 5 major treatises on heresies that the snippets were taken from.

Selections from the Work Against Heresies
Book I: The Heretics
1 – He expresses his concern that people “are introducing among us false stories and vain genealogies, which serve rather to controversies . . . than to God’s work of building up in the faith.” Their rhetoric confuses the inexperienced, and they lead people “away by the pretense of knowledge from Him who constituted and ordered the universe, as if they had something higher and greater to show them than the God who made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.”

It is difficult for “simple hearers” to distinguish the truth amidst all their lies.

2 – Their errors are “craftily decked out in an attractive dress, and made to seem truer than the truth itself to the inexperienced because of the outer appearance.” Like a piece of glass that is put forward to resemble a emerald, what they present needs to be tested.

“So then, lest some should be made prey of through my fault, like sheep by wolves, not recognizing them because of their outwardly wearing sheep’s clothing—whom the Lord warned us to guard against [Matt.7:15]—and because they talk like us, through thinking very differently” Irenaeus thought it important to familiarize himself with their thinking so he could show us their sinister ideas.

So “as well as I can, then, I will briefly and clearly describe the position of the present false teachers, I mean the followers of Ptolemaeus, who is an offshoot of the school of Valentinus.” As well as I can, I will try to “how foreign to the truth  are the things they say.”

3 – He says he is not an expert in rhetorical skills, but he affirms that “what I write to you out of love, plainly and truly and simply, you will surely receive in love” and will be better able to understand. He is writing someone he is sure will be able to grasp the importance of what he is saying and that he will pass it along to others, “according to the grace which the Lord has given you, so that men may no longer be ensnared by” these ideas.

No comments:

Post a Comment