Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Jews Gave Us the Old Testament

Of course, God gave us the Old Testament by inspiration, but the point is that the apostles did not give us the Old Testament. Instead, it was an existing body of literature that was handed on to them. We see this in Scripture.

Romans 3:2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them [that is, to the Jews] were committed the oracles of God.

And, of course, we also see this reflected in the writings of the church fathers.

Chrysostom (about A.D. 349-407):
Finally, if the ceremonies of the Jews move you to admiration, what do you have in common with us? If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies. But if ours are true, as they are true, theirs are filled with deceit. I am not speaking of the Scriptures. Heaven forbid! It was the Scriptures which took me by the hand and led me to Christ.
Greek text:
Ὅλως δὲ εἰ θαυμάζεις τὰ ἐκείνων, τίς σοι κοινὸς πρὸς ἡμᾶς ἐστι λόγος; Εἰ γὰρ σεμνὰ καὶ μεγάλα τὰ Ἰουδαίων, ψευδῆ τὰ ἡμέτερα· εἰ δὲ ταῦτα ἀληθῆ, ὥσπερ οὖν καὶ ἀληθῆ, ἐκεῖνα ἀπάτης γέμει. Οὐχὶ τὰς Γραφὰς λέγω· μὴ γένοιτο. ἐκεῖναι γάρ με πρὸς τὸν Χριστὸν ἐχειραγώγησαν·
Citation: Chrysotom, Against the Jews (Adversus Judaeos), PG 48:852; translation in FC, Vol. 68, Discourses Against Judaizing Christians, Disc. 1.6.5 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1979), pp. 23-24.

Justin Martyr (wrote after A.D. 151):
But if any of those who are wont to be forward in contradiction should say that these books do not belong to us, but to the Jews, and should assert that we in vain profess to have learnt our religion froth them, let him know, as he may from those very things which are written in these books, that not to them, but to us, does the doctrine of them refer. That the books relating to our religion are to this day preserved among the Jews, has been a work of Divine Providence on our behalf; for lest, by producing them out of the Church, we should give occasion to those who wish to slander us to charge us with fraud, we demand that they be produced from the synagogue of the Jews, that from the very books still preserved among them it might clearly and evidently appear, that the laws which were written by holy men for instruction pertain to us.
- Justin Martyr, ANF: Vol. 1, Justin’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks, Chapter 38 - Concluding Appeal.

Chrysostom (about A.D. 349-407):
At the beginning, then, God communicates directly with human beings as far as it is possible for human beings to hear. This is the way He came to Adam, this is the way He rebuked Cain, this is the way He was entertained by Abraham. But since our nature took a turn for evil, and separated itself by a lengthy exile, as it were, at long last He sent us letters as though we were absent for a long time and He intended to reestablish the former friendship through an epistle. While it was God who sent the letters, it was Moses who brought them.
- Chrysostom, Robert Charles Hill, trans., St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis (Boston: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2004) Sermon 1, p. 26.

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
But the Jews survive still, and for a special purpose: so that they may carry our books, to their own confusion. When we want to prove to the pagans that Christ’s coming was prophesied, we produce these scriptures. But possibly pagans obstinately opposed to the faith might have alleged that we Christians had composed them, fabricating prophecies to buttress the gospel we preach. They might have thought that we were trying to pass off our message by pretending that it had been foreshadowed in prophecy. But we can convince them of their error by pointing out that all those scriptures which long ago spoke of Christ are the property of the Jews. Yes, the Jews recognize these very writings. We take books from our enemies to confute other enemies! In what sort of disgrace do the Jews find themselves? A Jew carries the book which is the foundation of faith for a Christian. Jews act as book-bearers for us, like the slaves who are accustomed to walk behind their masters carrying their books, so that while the slaves sink under the weight, the masters make great strides through reading.
- Augustine, John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 3, Vol. 17, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms, Psalms 51-72, Psalm 56.9 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2001), p. 110.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (about A.D. 393-466) commenting on Ezekiel 37:28:
In fact, through those of the Jews who came to faith the nations also received the light of the knowledge of God: the divine apostles and the first disciples of the apostles were from among the ranks of Jews, and the nations came to faith in the divine message by learning the truths about Christ our savior from the inspired books preserved by Jews. Hence the divine apostle also said that the believers from the nations are grafted into the pious root of the Jews, while the unbelievers from Jews are broken off and separated from this root.
- Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Robert Charles Hill, trans., Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentaries on the Prophets, Vol. Two, Commentary on the Prophet Ezekiel (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2006), preface, p. 251.

Origen (about A.D. 185–254):
Where you get your "lost and won at play, and thrown out unburied on the streets," I know not, unless it is from Tobias; and Tobias (as also Judith), we ought to notice, the Jews do not use. They are not even found in the Hebrew Apocrypha, as I learned from the Jews themselves.
- Origen, Letter to Africanus, Section 13

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
The examples I have adduced are indeed by no means doubtful in their signification, because only plain instances ought to be used as examples. There are passages, however, in regard to which it is uncertain in what sense they ought to be taken, as for example, "In the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red: it is full of mixture." Now it is uncertain whether this denotes the wrath of God, but not to the last extremity of punishment, that is, "to the very dregs;" or whether it denotes the grace of the Scriptures passing away from the Jews and coming to the Gentiles, because "He has put down one and set up another,"— certain observances, however, which they understand in a carnal manner, still remaining among the Jews, for "the dregs hereof is not yet wrung out."
- Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book III, Chapter 25, Section 36

-TurretinFan

34 comments:

Mike Burgess said...

What do you mean by "the Jews"? What did St. Paul mean in the passage you cited? Are we talking about Saducees? Pharisees? So-called Essenes? Post-Temple enclaves of anti-Christian rabbis? What?

John Bugay said...

Mike Burgess: The identity of the Jews is first given in Romans 16-17. "The gospel ... is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

So Paul is speaking in the broadest sense: Among "everyone who believes," these Jews are simply all those who are not Gentiles.

Mike Burgess said...

From the preceding chapter as well, I think that's St. Paul's meaning, in which case a variety of canons present themselves for consideration, as I said: the Saducees' canon was quite succinct, just the Pentateuch; the Pharisees (of whom St. Paul was a leading disciple of the greatest Pharisaical rabbi) had what seems to be the LXX plus the haggadah and halakah, with Moses committing his revealed portion to Joshua, Joshua committing that and his revealed portion to the elders, the elders to the prophets, and then to the elders of the men of the great assembly (perhaps). The Essenes had the LXX and a manual of discipline. The Samaritans had a slightly modified Pentateuch. But either way you go, unless you slide on past all that to the aforementioned post-Temple, anti-Christian rabbis, TF's is either too small or too big.

John Bugay said...

I don't think Paul makes all the distinctions you are making.

Mike Burgess said...

It's most likely he considered the Pharisees as the proper custodians, you're right.

Turretinfan said...

Mr. Burgess,

The idea that "the Pharisees had what seems to be the LXX plus the haggadah and halaka" as their Scriptures is not a statement that reflects that best scholarship on the subject.

The best scholarship continues to confirm that the Jews (of whom the Pharisees were the dominant sect) held the 22 book Old Testament canon (not the longer LXX canon) - the same canon that they told the fathers about when the fathers asked them, the same one that Josephus reports, and the same one that is attributed to the so-called council of Jamnia.

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

Well, obviously I disagree, but I'm open to reading suggestions. What sources do you have in mind? I tend to take a dim view of some sources whose authors utilize modernist methodologies, unlike others who have commented here and elsewhere.

Turretinfan said...

"I tend to take a dim view of some sources whose authors utilize modernist methodologies, unlike others who have commented here and elsewhere."

What do you consider "modernist methodologies" when it comes to investigating the historical question of the 1st century Jewish canon?

Modernism sounds bad to me, but I'm not sure what you mean by it.

Mike Burgess said...

The questionable methodologies aren't limited to investigating the question of 1st century Jewish canons. Which sources were you suggesting as the best scholarship, though?

Turretinfan said...

Sorry Mike, I'm going to need an answer about what you meant by "modernist methodologies" first.

Del Sydebothom said...

I think it goes without saying that the Apostles received, in some way, the texts of the Old Testament from the Jews. However, we Gentiles did not receive the Old Testament Jews directly, but by the instrumentality of the Apostles. What's more, it was the Apostles who told us that the Jewish texts were authoritative--something we could not have known otherwise. That is why it is appropriate to say that we have received the Bible from the Apostles.

Of course, the LXX is a Jewish work as well. While it is certainly not Catholic dogma, there were at least some in the early ages of Christianity who thought that the LXX was itself divinely inspired. I certainly don't discount this notion as impossible, as the quotes from the LXX in the New Testament *certainly* are.

As a matter of fact, I believe I read someplace about a Russian cleric wanting to translate the LXX into Hebrew, as a tool for evangelizing the Jews. The goal would be to reconstruct "H70", the Hebrew that stands behind the LXX.

At any rate, the debate between the value of the text that underlies the LXX, and what eventually became the Masoretic text involves which group of pre-Christian Jews we give preference to: the nationalistic Jews of Palestine, or the more universalist "evangelizing" ones, usually typified by the Alexandrian Jewry.

To me it seems obvious which of these groups Christianity is heir to.

John Bugay said...

I believe I read someplace about a Russian cleric wanting to translate the LXX into Hebrew, as a tool for evangelizing the Jews. The goal would be to reconstruct "H70", the Hebrew that stands behind the LXX.

This is brilliant. Translate Hebrew into Greek, then re-translate it back into Hebrew. I wonder how much of the original meaning you'd lose doing that.

Del Sydebothom said...

"This is brilliant. Translate Hebrew into Greek, then re-translate it back into Hebrew. I wonder how much of the original meaning you'd lose doing that."

Well, one does still have the Masoretic version as a base, and a great number of the LXX readings could be lifted directly from the Hebrew Dead Sea Scrolls. You'd then have a revised text that is, at the very least, closer to H70. The residue could be analyzed according to the normative means the LXX book in question has used to translate the Hebrew.

Of course, some books, such as 1st Maccabees, would be more difficult, since the Hebrew original is lost entirely. Nevertheless, I have little doubt that knowledge gleaned from working with those books that *do* have a Hebrew prototype would allow a team to "back-translate" the Greek into a Hebrew that closely resembles the original.

At any rate, such a project would be worthwhile. It is true that the Masoretic text is the only complete Hebrew version of the Old Testament still extant. Nevertheless, when its readings differ from the LXX, one ought to take Masoretic text with a grain of salt, if only due to the anti-Alexandrian, and anti-Christian positions of the Jews who developed it.

natamllc said...

Del

You wrote:

"....However, we Gentiles did not receive the Old Testament Jews directly, but by the instrumentality of the Apostles. What's more, it was the Apostles who told us that the Jewish texts were authoritative--something we could not have known otherwise. That is why it is appropriate to say that we have received the Bible from the Apostles.".

Not exactly.

That brush stroke is very narrow indeed.

I have spent a fair amount of time over the years with some friends, Jews, in several places within this country, the USA and in several other countries, personally going over their Jewishness, their beliefs and their writings.

For obvious reasons I cannot elucidate those personal discussions except to say, I was quite surprised by the historical personal property several of them had inherited that were not for the public but squarely corroborated what is in the public historical records, family records from antiquity. In their possession were documents from antiquity of value to Historians.

As I have noted before, when you are living on the "straight" line, what one has in their personal archives that comes out of antiquity and is truth should line up well. And from my discussions with these friends I am convinced that their personal possession do. So that is why I throw this cloud of doubt on your position cited.

Mike Burgess said...

Well, I didn't realize we were in first grade, and I did ask first, but it's your site, so here's my brief response: modernist methodologies, as they relate to the historical exploration of the various pre-first century and first century Jewish canons would include de rigeuer skepticism, an absolutist acceptance of the maxim that "the closer a source to the event it describes, the more reliable," absolutist accordance of greater reliability to primary sources than to secondary or tertiary sources, and some usage of psychological interpretation of source material.

Could you give me your best scholarship sources now, pretty please?

Del Sydebothom said...

natamllc...

I can't help but find what you're saying tantalizing, even if I'm not sure what to make of it. Regardless, my original point was in describing how Gentiles came to know that the books of the Old Testament have God as their author. We didn't learn this from the Jews in Palestine, and certainly we did not accept it on their authority alone. Had that been the case, Judaism would probably be the faith with the largest number of adherents today.

natamllc said...

Del

you missed my point and I may have missed yours.

Your presupposition is based on learned experience, correct?

Have you first hand knowledge of what you are speaking about? Or, are you relying upon the work of others, some reliant, scholarly work and some common expression, such as I posed?

Del Sydebothom said...

natamllc...

No one has first-hand experience of things that happened 2000 years ago.

natamllc said...

Del,

and as an after thought:

"....Had that been the case, Judaism would probably be the faith with the largest number of adherents today....".

With those words are you accounting for the Talmud?

natamllc said...

Yes, but there are evidences out there that have not come to the light of day for examination.

I wasn't being so narrow as this that you posed.

Where were you going with your comments in any event with regard to this thread?

Are you Catholic?

Are you Protestant?

Are you just having a fun time in here?

Del Sydebothom said...

natamllc...

I think the Talmud is interesting, and I know that much of it is valuable. Having said that, it is a blatantly anti-Christian document, and I cannot see how it is possible to separate the parts of it that are good and authentic from the corruption of the Rabbis. There may be a way, of course. If so, I simply do not know what it is.

I want to understand what you're talking about; e.g., to what does "narrow" refer? Narrow in regards to what? In relationship to what? I'm afraid I'm having trouble figuring out what you're getting at, and I apologize.

I am a Catholic. This post struck me as interesting because it seems to be in disagreement with the more traditional formulation, "The Church received the Scriptures from the Apostles". Really, the disagreement is superficial at best; I think everyone is aware that all the books of the Old Testament, regardless of which canon one accepts, were written by Jews.

natamllc said...

Del,

Are you sure you want me to address your questions? I am against the RCC and what this institution of men is doing and has done to mankind?

Nevertheless, you asked:::>

"...I want to understand what you're talking about; e.g., to what does "narrow" refer?

To this that you wrote above:::>

"....However, we Gentiles did not receive the Old Testament Jews directly, but by the instrumentality of the Apostles. What's more, it was the Apostles who told us that the Jewish texts were authoritative--something we could not have known otherwise. That is why it is appropriate to say that we have received the Bible from the Apostles.".



"...Narrow in regards to what?

Rather to "Who".

"...In relationship to what?

Rather to "Who" and receiving His gift of Righteousness through a relationship with His Son.

Mat 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

and

Eph 2:17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Eph 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
Eph 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
Eph 2:21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

With regard to your remarks about the Talmud, I wrote asking you a question first quoting your words:::>


"....Had that been the case, Judaism would probably be the faith with the largest number of adherents today....".

With those words are you accounting for the Talmud?

You are aware that the Talmud was man's attempt not to face God on His terms because of the His Unchanging Nature which they most clearly understood to be as much?

I think if we can continue coming closer in understanding from where we are coming from there may be a joining together in the Knowledge and Grace of His Truth?

Del Sydebothom said...

I'm used to people disagreeing with me, or not liking what I am. I'm pretty thick-skinned, so don't worry about objecting to me; you'll be hard pressed to offend me. Anyway:

'To this that you wrote above:::>

"....However, we Gentiles did not receive the Old Testament Jews directly, but by the instrumentality of the Apostles. What's more, it was the Apostles who told us that the Jewish texts were authoritative--something we could not have known otherwise. That is why it is appropriate to say that we have received the Bible from the Apostles.".'

If you could, would you describe clearly the sense in which you find this to be narrow, or in what sense you consider the word "narrow" to be applicable to it?

'
"....Had that been the case, Judaism would probably be the faith with the largest number of adherents today....".

With those words are you accounting for the Talmud?

You are aware that the Talmud was man's attempt not to face God on His terms because of the His Unchanging Nature which they most clearly understood to be as much?'

Partially. Perhaps even largely, although I can't say that with confidence. I would be shocked to discover that all the material in the Talmud is man-made; I have no doubt that much of what is therein contained includes authentic Mosaic and/or Prophetic traditions. The problem is simply the lack of a reliable means by which to determine which parts are authentic, and which are not.

Having said that, I'm not sure what it has to do with the overall success of Judaism. The Jews in Palestine largely closed themselves off to converts from the outside. It wasn't quite as bad as it was in Babylon, because in and around Jerusalem there remained Jews of a more "Alexandrian" bent. Thus there was a certain social tension created between the ultra-nationalistic Jews, such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the more open, "universalist" Jews.

Ultimately, the Alexandrian understanding of Judaism "won". With Jesus as its centerpiece, we call it "Christianity" today. The form of Judaism practiced in Israel rendered itself sterile.

natamllc said...

Del,

thank you for your persistent request.

I would like to first cover two things.

One, the article puts over this premise:

"....but the point is that the apostles did not give us the Old Testament....".


From where you sit, you are saying that is not correct, correct?

Two,

I would, ironically now, narrow in on the first sentence of that portion of your comments I cited and ask for clarification.

You wrote and it has been cited repeatedly now by both of us:

"....However, we Gentiles did not receive the Old Testament Jews directly, but by the instrumentality of the Apostles....".

I need clarification on the exact meaning since rereading it I have two senses now when before I only had one.

So, would you kindly refine the intent of what you meant here? Did this sentence convey to your intent what you want us to understand you meant when writing it?

For instance, does the phrase "....the Old Testament Jews directly....", mean, all other nations only understand the Jews by way of the good work God did through the Apostles? That is, the representations made by the Jews that they alone are God's special people excluding all other ethnicities making them the special possession of God head and shoulders over all others?

Ok, hope that clears things up a bit? I await your responses and when we are clear on just what we are presenting, the pros and cons of TurrentinFan's argument I would be glad to explain why I accused you of being very narrow in scope from reading your words in reply in this combox.

natamllc said...

Del,

you commented this way regarding your views of the Talmud:

"....I think the Talmud is interesting, and I know that much of it is valuable. Having said that, it is a blatantly anti-Christian document,...".

I would ask you, would that be a similar view regarding the Torah, that is the 22 books of the Old Testament and then remainder, the Prophets' writings, Genesis thru Malachi?

Mike Burgess said...

Apparently not, then, TF? Nor an answer to my initial question to you, which John Bugay answered?

Del Sydebothom said...

"One, the article puts over this premise:

"....but the point is that the apostles did not give us the Old Testament....".


From where you sit, you are saying that is not correct, correct?"

You are correct. I believe the proposition, "The Apostles gave us the Old Testament," is true. Further, it is my considered opinion that if a proposition is true, its contrary is false.

"...the phrase "...the Old Testament Jews directly....", mean, all other nations only understand the Jews by way of the good work God did through the Apostles? That is, the representations made by the Jews that they alone are God's special people excluding all other ethnicities making them the special possession of God head and shoulders over all others?"

First, I need to correct a typo. I meant to type "from the Jew directly", rather than "the Jews directly". My point was that we did not receive the Old Testament directly from "the Jews", but from the Apostles. True, they were Jews themselves, but it isn't typical to refer to Christians as being among the Jews. Theologically, St. Paul depicts Christians as the "true" Jews, but that isn't the usual way we use the word.

natamllc said...

Del

The joys of high tech!

I was responding to you and electricity went off.

I am now pecking away one letter at a time on my iPhone.

Please be patient and when the juice get flowing again I will post response. It is so much faster than what I am doing now! :)

natamllc said...

Ah, wouldn't you know it, just as I published the juice came back on! We are experiencing some severe weather right now on the northcoast. Last week it was an earthquake, 6.5 mag now it's a bad winter storm! The trees love it. I do too!

Well, here is what I was typing out before the electrical interuption:::>

Del,

I thought there was a syntax error in that sentence so that really is why I focused on it. However, either way, you really are saying the same thing narrowing your scope to just the Apostolic writings are you not?

Also, in your reply, and by the way, thanks for the comity in your responses, you wrote:::>

Del:
"You are correct. I believe the proposition, "The Apostles gave us the Old Testament," is true. Further, it is my considered opinion that if a proposition is true, its contrary is false."

"....my considered opinion....". Are you published?

I don't want to pry into you personal life deeply, generally though, if you would be so kind to answer this question, have you traveled much to other countries?

I have traveled to all the continents and have been to the highest levels of many of the governments of these countries. I have had open negotiations with heads of State or the Kings of their Kingdoms and Prime Ministers as well in a number more than the thirty countries I personally have been too.

Why I am asking is my issue with your responses is as I responded above in other comments, those words of yours, in my opinion, paint with a narrow brush not a more specific broad brush stroke.

One of the things I have found is just how narrow minded people really are when their learned experience is only from first hand oral learning, or from schooling by teachers and text books , t.v., movies or radios and not from going personally to countries and spending time in country learning life on the ground level from the people being governed. Also, when you have gained a confidence, there is a broader understanding of how and why because of what and who that comes to you from them. People love their identities. The imparting of oral traditions and familial histories passed on from generation to generation is the norm worldwide. They hold them in the deepest parts of their being protecting "family secrets" and in the two cases I alluded to, family antiquities from well before Christ was born.

Even within the United States, the diversity is broad not narrow. I come from a Native American culture where oral storytelling is how we raise up our own. You might be surprised what the historians don't know because of this phenomenon?

Well, I am teeming with much more to say but will hold off for now until I hear back from you. I am grateful to TF that he permits us to have this exchange and I really do want to keep on point with the premise he has put over here, which, by now, you probably have concluded I adhere to generally and in some sense specifically, which ironically puts me in a narrow light as well in some sense?

Turretinfan said...

Mike asked: "What do you mean by "the Jews"?"

I mean national Israel from the time of Moses until the time of the Apostles.

Mike, you also asked about scholarship, but described the kind of scholarship you didn't accept as adhering to "an absolutist acceptance of the maxim that "the closer a source to the event it describes, the more reliable," absolutist accordance of greater reliability to primary sources than to secondary or tertiary sources, and some usage of psychological interpretation of source material."

However, I would think that virtually all scholarship would agree that contemporary sources are generally more reliable than sources that come 1500 years later, and that primary sources are more significant than secondary or tertiary sources. I'm not 100% sure what "psychological interpretation of source material" is intended to mean, but of course the source material must necessarily be interpreted as to its meaning.

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

So which segment of "national Israel" had the correct canon?

And what are the examples of the "best scholarship" were you referring to which verify your assertion that the Pharisees did not have the LXX + hagadah + halakah or some similar variant as theirs?

Mike Burgess said...

Sorry for the typos and word inversion, I'm groggy this morning.

Turretinfan said...

Mike:

I've declined to present the evidence that you've already indicated you won't accept.

-Turretinfan

Del Sydebothom said...

natamllc...

I apologize for taking so long to reply. I'd like take this further, but I'm in the middle of trying to juggle classes and get my family on our feet following a car accident we had a little over a week ago. I had been slowly working towards creating company to make film about Adam and Eve, but recent events have set us back. Don't worry, though; if you really want to continue our discussion, let me know. I'm happy to post my e-mail address since Yahoo! is so good about filtering SPAM anyway. delsydebothom@yahoo.com