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Jewish Christian Torah Observance

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Jewish Christian Torah Observance

Postby John2 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:13 pm

God, and I was just about to try and start another thread while it's slow at work and this dumb "John T" issue comes up again.

But anyway, Stephan mentioned in my now defiled other thread that Jewish Christians only observed the Torah in part.

They read and interpreted the Jewish scriptures but in a highly mystical or allegorical manner. Indeed as far as I can see the only points of debate that ever emerges in the Patristic literature are (a) the calculation of Easter (b) abstention from certain types of foods and wine (c) some sort of observance of the Sabbath even as a fast (d) adherence to the Ten Commandments (e) recognition of Jewish holidays but again in a highly allegorized or 'spiritual form' (such as the examples of a Christian Festival of Unleavened Bread and (f) the covering of women. Maybe there are others. But circumcision isn't on that list certainly, nor animal sacrifices, nor again ritual mourning, birth observances, marriage contracts, divorce etc etc. There is simply no way to square core Jewish beliefs with the 'Jewish Christians' unless you assume that ALL of the Patristic sources are wrong and all the books of the Orthodox are forgeries which is a gross neglect of scholarship


I haven't thought about the various versions of post-70 CE Jewish Christianity in a long time, so I want to take a fresh look at the issue, and that's what this thread is about. I'm not here to push any particular agenda, only to see what the Patristic sources say again and to let the chips fall where they may.

After my initial research into it (which was interrupted by the "John T" issue), it appears to me that the Jewish Christians who did not observe all of the Torah existed only after 70 CE. As Epiphanius says about these Jewish Christians in Pan. 30.18.7:

Nor do they accept Moses' Pentateuch in its entirety; they reject certain sayings. When you say to them, of eating meat, 'Why did Abraham serve the angels the calf and the milk? Why did Noah eat meat, and why was he told to by God, who said, 'Slay and eat?' Why did Isaac and Jacob sacrifice to God—Moses too, in the wilderness?' he will disbelieve those things and will say, 'What need for me to read what is in the Law, when the Gospel has come?'


But before this he says in Pan. 30.2.7 that:

Their origin came after the fall of Jerusalem.


And he says in Pan. 29.1.3-3 that the other kind of Jewish Christians, who did keep all of the Torah, go back to before 70 CE:

...these people did not give themselves the name of Christ or Jesus' own name, but that of 'Nazoraeans.' But at that time all Christians alike were called Nazoraeans. They also came to be called 'Jessaeans' for a short while, before the disciples began to be called Christians at Antioch.


And he says in Pan. 29.5.4 that these Jewish Christians did observe all of the Torah:

So when they were called Jessaeans then shortly after the Saviour's ascension and after Mark had preached in Egypt, in those times certain other persons, supposed followers of the apostles, seceded in their turn. I mean the Nazoraeans, whom I am discussing here. They were Jewish, were attached to the Law, and had circumcision.


And Pan. 29.7.1-5:

But they are Jews in every way and nothing else. They use not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Jews do. For they do not repudiate the legislation, the prophets, and the books which are called Writings by the Jews and by themselves. They have no different views but confess everything in full accord with the doctrine of the Law and like the Jews, except that they are supposedly believers in Christ ... They are perfectly versed in the Hebrew language, for the entire Law, the prophets, and the so-called Writings—I mean the poetic books, Kings, Chronicles, Esther and all the rest—are read in Hebrew among them, as of course they are among the Jews. They are different from Jews, and different from Christians, only in the following ways. They disagree with Jews because of their belief in Christ; but they are not in accord with Christians because they are still fettered by the Law—circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest.
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Re: Jewish Christian Torah Observance

Postby Secret Alias » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:33 pm

It is hard to imagine how a partial observance of the Law would entitle one to consider oneself Jewish - outside of looking at stupid American messianic traditions in the modern age. But that doesn't count. People in antiquity weren't as stupid as modern Americans.
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Re: Jewish Christian Torah Observance

Postby John2 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:26 pm

It is hard to imagine how a partial observance of the Law would entitle one to consider oneself Jewish.


But no one can do all of the Torah after 70 CE, and Epiphanius is talking about a now post-70 CE sect.

Pan. 29.8.1-2:

But they too are wrong to boast of circumcision, and persons like themselves are still 'under a curse,' since they cannot fulfill the Law. For how will they be able to fulfill the Law's provision, 'Thrice a year thou shalt appear before the Lord thy God, at the feasts of Unleavened Bread, Tabernacles and Pentecost,' on the site of Jerusalem? For since the site is closed off, and the Law's provisions cannot be fulfilled, it must be plain to anyone with sense that Christ came to be the fulfiller of the Law—not to destroy the Law but to fulfill the Law—and to lift the curse that had been pronounced on transgression of the Law.
Last edited by John2 on Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Jewish Christian Torah Observance

Postby Secret Alias » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:36 pm

But being Jewish or Samaritan for that matter is comprehensive. Hard to imagine what being Jewish might be without - for example - circumcision. But we know heretical groups said:

1. only the ten commandments = God's Torah/the rest came from a man Moses
2. circumcision isn't in the Ten Commandments.

But what kind of 'Jewishness' was this?
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: Jewish Christian Torah Observance

Postby John2 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:47 pm

Hard to imagine what being Jewish might be without - for example - circumcision.


Ant. 20.2.3-4:

Now, during the time Izates abode at Charax-Spasini, a certain Jewish merchant, whose name was Ananias, got among the women that belonged to the king, and taught them to worship God according to the Jewish religion. He, moreover, by their means, became known to Izates, and persuaded him, in like manner, to embrace that religion; he also, at the earnest entreaty of Izates, accompanied him when he was sent for by his father to come to Adiabene; it also happened that Helena, about the same time, was instructed by a certain other Jew and went over to them. But when Izates had taken the kingdom, and was come to Adiabene, and there saw his brethren and other kinsmen in bonds, he was displeased at it; and as he thought it an instance of impiety either to slay or imprison them, but still thought it a hazardous thing for to let them have their liberty, with the remembrance of the injuries that had been offered them, he sent some of them and their children for hostages to Rome, to Claudius Caesar, and sent the others to Artabanus, the king of Parthia, with the like intentions.

And when he [Izates] perceived that his mother was highly pleased with the Jewish customs, he made haste to change, and to embrace them entirely; and as he supposed that he could not be thoroughly a Jew unless he were circumcised, he was ready to have it done. But when his mother understood what he was about, she endeavored to hinder him from doing it, and said to him that this thing would bring him into danger; and that, as he was a king, he would thereby bring himself into great odium among his subjects, when they should understand that he was so fond of rites that were to them strange and foreign; and that they would never bear to be ruled over by a Jew. This it was that she said to him, and for the present persuaded him to forbear. And when he had related what she had said to Ananias, he confirmed what his mother had said; and when he had also threatened to leave him, unless he complied with him, he went away from him, and said that he was afraid lest such an action being once become public to all, he should himself be in danger of punishment for having been the occasion of it, and having been the king's instructor in actions that were of ill reputation; and he said that he might worship God without being circumcised, even though he did resolve to follow the Jewish law entirely, which worship of God was of a superior nature to circumcision. He added, that God would forgive him, though he did not perform the operation, while it was omitted out of necessity, and for fear of his subjects. So the king at that time complied with these persuasions of Ananias.
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Re: Jewish Christian Torah Observance

Postby Secret Alias » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:49 pm

I don't find this convincing that an entire movement of uncircumcised Jews emerged in history - even though it is likely it did (given the rabbinic evidence). This is just another example of a Constantine-type monarch who found it politically expedient to embrace a religious group while not fully committing to its beliefs.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: Jewish Christian Torah Observance

Postby Secret Alias » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:58 pm

It is difficult to know why there were so many Jewish converts in Adiabene. But if we look at the map this is where the Mandaeans first settled and more importantly where Marcionism defined and took over the name 'Christian' (the orthodox were called 'refugees' or palutians).

Image

You see I, against Eisenman and his far-fetched imaginings, just think that the 'Jewish Christians' and the Marcionites were likely one and the same group or at the very least related. The fact that the orthodox pitted them against one another was convenient - divide and conquer. I haven't figured it all out. But the 'Jewish sectarians' of the rabbinic tradition and the Marcionites are close enough. I wouldn't be surprised that the Mandaeans were once Marcionites.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: Jewish Christian Torah Observance

Postby Secret Alias » Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:01 pm

Odd also that there remains no numismatic evidence for Monobaz. I know the rabbinic legends (which understand him to be Agrippa's son I think). I mistrust Josephus. It's a pity we don't have any other sources.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: Jewish Christian Torah Observance

Postby John2 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:03 am

I'm going to move a couple posts over to this thread. This is the first one.

Andrew wrote:

...all Jewish Christians seem to have repudiated animal sacrifice in principle.


I'm starting to take a fresh look at this issue, and yesterday I came across a statement by Luomanen regarding Irenaeus' comment about the Ebionites (on pg. 19):

What Irenaeus describes as the adoring of Jerusalem may reflect the Ebiionites' practice of saying their prayers while facing the Holy City. if so, this hardly was only a superficial rite that was carried on even after "the house of God" in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE. Rather, the fact that Jerusalem was able to retain its central position even after the destruction of the temple characterizes the perseverance of Jewish ideas in the religion of the Ebionites and suggests that Jerusalem may also have had central role in their end time expectations.

https://books.google.com/books?id=ujIWl ... es&f=false



And Epiphanius notes in Pan. 29.7.4-5 that there were Jewish Christians who were:

...perfectly versed in the Hebrew language, for the entire Law, the prophets, and the so-called Writings—I mean the poetic books, Kings, Chronicles, Esther and all the rest—are read in Hebrew among them, as of course they are among the Jews. They are different from Jews, and different from Christians, only in the following ways. They disagree with Jews because of their belief in Christ; but they are not in accord with Christians because they are still fettered by the Law—circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest.


That they accepted sacrifice is arguable from 29.8.1-2:

...persons like themselves are still 'under a curse,' since they cannot fulfill the Law. For how will they be able to fulfill the Law's provision, 'Thrice a year thou shalt appear before the Lord thy God, at the feasts of Unleavened Bread, Tabernacles and Pentecost,' on the site of Jerusalem? For since the site is closed off, and the Law's provisions cannot be fulfilled ...
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Re: Jewish Christian Torah Observance

Postby John2 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:05 am

Here's another one.

This would be in keeping with James 2:10 ("For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it") and the presentation of Jewish Christians as spending time and/or offering sacrifices in the Temple in Acts, Hegesippus and Mt. 5:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven ... if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
The ABC's we all must face, try to keep a little grace.
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