It has often been claimed that a major difference between “Jewish Christianity” and “Pauline Christianity” was the continuation or discontinuation of male genital circumcision. Evidence for the abandonment of physical circumcision within “Pauline” circles has been drawn from Paul’s opposition against gentile circumcision in the letters to the Galatians and Corinthians, as well from his imagery of “circumcision of the heart” in Romans 2. However, a closer examination of the metaphor of “circumcision of the heart” and other images of “inward circumcision” in biblical, early Jewish and post-Pauline Christian texts shows that the Pauline use of the image stands closer to the early Jewish understanding, in which “inward” and “outward” circumcision complement each other, than to later Christian readings, in which the “inward” circumcision replaces or denigrates the “outward”. The Pauline metaphor of “heart circumcision” is therefore not an image of Tora abandonment, but rather of Tora obedience and can be placed well within the possible spectrum of other contemporary Jewish understandings of the metaphor.
The book of Deuteronomy played a central role in transformations that resulted in Mosaic Torah. It is commonly argued that the book results from a process of literary redactions, and it is the book in the hands of late 2nd Temple tradents, which made it central to later ideas of Jewish “book religion.” This article seeks to answer the following questions: When did Deuteronomy’s notion of book religion appear, by whom, and for what purpose? Central to these questions is the dating of the book’s remarks about writing down the Mosaic speech, which is the presupposition for the use of “Torah” as a comprehensive term. The article reassesses the different suggestions, then turning to the relation between oral proclamation and writing in the book, how the book legitimates oral teaching, and what it meant to the Jewish community in Persian-Hellenistic time to be accepted as Scripture. The final part addresses the question of the possible ideological and physical location of the authors.
The Manichaean Bishop Faustus is one of the harshest critics of the Old Testament and Mosaic Torah in the first centuries AD. In his Capitula, he levels arguments against Catholic understanding and use of the Old Testament in general and Mosaic Torah in particular. Augustine, in his Contra Faustum Manichaeum, attacks against Faustus’ views and presents his own. Doing so, he formulates ideas that have lived further in Western theology, such as continuing worth of the Mosaic Torah even for the Christians, its correct understanding and use, and his later so famous doctrine of Jews as witnesses.
The Apostle to the Gentiles left a winning but nonetheless difficult tradition behind. Paul taught that the Gentiles were not required to observe the Torah, but what exactly did that mean? If scholars disagree on Paul’s own view, the problem becomes even more acute when the various Jewish traditions on the Torah are observed properly. The “Old Testament” was accepted after Paul, but most of the rulings of the Torah were rejected, and few if any of the teachers could state the reasons for this. The original context, in which Paul and the other Apostles shook hands, was no longer understood once the Gentile part of the Church outnumbered the Jewish counterpart. This led writers to different, partly creative, solutions, and sometimes into a confusion which their first audience themselves could hardly understand.
In this article it is argued that Justin’s attitude toward the Mosaic Law is based on three fundamental factors all of which were based on earlier Christian tradition: Firstly, it was based on the prophetic prediction that the old Sinaitic covenant would be substituted by the new one, i.e. on Jer 31:31–34 which was an important key-text already used in the New Testament. Secondly, many Old Testament references to the hardness of the people’s heart against listening to the word of God was developed in the Second Temple Jewish texts to address the Jewish people’s unwillingness to listen to the word of God. In Christian theology this topic was developed as a reaction to the Jews’ unwillingness to accept the Christian message. Thirdly, Justin followed an apostolic tradition that Jewish believers in Jesus (“Nazoraeans”) have the right to continue to practise the Mosaic Law. Justin received all three of these topics from older Christian traditions and made a synthesis of them. This explains why there is a certain tension in Justin’s theology.
The Pentateuch enjoys a special status among the Samaritans. It constitutes all of Scripture, and is considered divine. We know of some 750 manuscripts, dating from the second millennium CE. They represent a text type with expansions, which has been discovered also among the Dead Sea Scrolls, in the pre-Samaritan manuscripts. They come from ca. 250 BCE to the turn of the eras. This article studies the relation between these manuscripts and the Samaritan manuscripts. It turns out that the latter reflect one type of pre-Samaritan texts, namely those which only employ Pentateuchal text for the expansions. It is possible to trace the textual family to which the Samaritan Pentateuch belongs, and its nearest siblings.