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Author: Guido Baltes

Abstract

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.

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Author: Kåre Berge

Abstract

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.

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Abstract

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.

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Abstract

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: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Author: Antti Laato

Abstract

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.

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Author: Magnar Kartveit

Abstract

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.

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Abstract

The earliest discussion between rabbis and Samaritans regarding the Bible is found in Sifre Deut 56: The Samaritans are accused to have falsified the Torah by adding “Shechem” to the text of Deut 11:30. More pervasive is the claim that the Samaritans falsify the meaning of the Torah through their interpretation, saying that the resurrection of the dead is not to be derived from the Torah, or rejecting levirate marriage, interpreting Deut 25:5 in a forced way in order to avoid any conflict with Lev 18.16. Direct discussions with Samaritans on the meaning of biblical texts are to be found in some midrashim. Here the “Samaritan” is simply a spokesman pointing to a possible contradiction between two biblical verses which has to be resolved. The rabbis claim that by changing from the paleo-Hebrew script of the Bible to the square script, the Jews have found access to the true meaning of the Torah. The Samaritans have maintained the older script and thus cannot understand the Torah correctly.

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Author: Martin Tamcke

Abstract

The dialogue between the Muslim Emir and the Patriarch Yuhannon is an important document of early Christian-Muslim dialogue. It may date back to the earliest days of the Islamic conquests of the Christian world on the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Even though this archaic text is no detailed and accurate protocol of discussion, it is significant for historical reasons. The text illustrates the milieu of Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations in the early time, when it was possible to hold a trialogue between the Abrahamic religions in a relatively positive atmosphere—later there was more tensions in these discussions.

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Abstract

Ancient Jewish authors often summarised their law. For this, they mostly used two virtues also known and important for the Hellenistic world in general, εὐσέβεια (“piety”) and δικαιοσύνη (“justice”). Philo of Alexandria was the first to connect these two virtues with the two tables of the Decalogue. And it was Philo who used the ten commandments of the Decalogue as headings and summaries to subsume all Jewish single laws under them. In general, the Decalogue seems to be the essence of the Jewish law as, besides Philo, New Testament authors show, and to some extent also Pseudo-Aristeas shows.

A third virtue stressed in the Letter of Aristeas and the New Testament is ἀγάπη (“love”). For Pseudo-Aristeas love is the dynamic of piety that is a preeminent form of beauty, the latter also being an important Hellenistic value. In the New Testament love is the dynamic of piety and justice as expressed by the so-called double love commandment in the synoptics and the so-called royal law in James. For Paul, loving your neighbour has fulfilled the whole Jewish law because neighbourly love is an expression of the will of God. Love is thus a summary of the whole Jewish law because that is what God wanted by means of the Jewish law.

For all the exemplary works and authors, the summaries of the Jewish law do not summarise it at the expense of its single commandments. For Paul, however, loving your neighbour supersedes the single commandments. Though this does not mean that the latter are not important for Paul.

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Abstract

In this paper, I investigate the concept of Torah in relation to the coming into being of the Book of the Twelve. First, I study the fourteen occurrences of the substantive torah. Secondly, I study in more detail some of the passages in which the noun occurs: the book of Hosea (4:4–6; 8:1–3; 8:11–13); the book of Haggai (2:10–14) and Zechariah (7:7–14); the book of Malachi (2:4–9; 3:22–24). The tentative conclusion is that with regard to the theme of the Torah, the Book of the Twelve does not show a very coherent picture. Coherent lines can be drawn in the first place with works outside the Book of the Twelve. Within the Book of the Twelve, the word torah contains different meanings and connotations. As such, it does not contribute to the understanding of the book as an authorial unity. Although the possible redactors at several stages of the transmission process did not seem to feel it necessary to unify the conception of the Torah as a coherent conception, the different meanings and connotations might reveal something of the coming into being of the book.

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Abstract

One of the theological challenges generated by the advent of Islam was that Christians had to reconsider their relation to Torah from a completely new angle. Consequently, Torah has an important place in the argumentation of Theodore Abū Qurrah, the first Orthodox Church father to write in Arabic, as well as in the earliest work of Islamic counter-polemics, surviving in the name of ʿAbd al-Jabbār. For both authors, the role of Torah was a central argument in defending the superiority of one’s own religion. Christians and Muslims did share the approach that Torah is to be read in the light of the religion that represents the highest form of truth, and both authors highlighted the features that were in line with his own religion. Theodore Abū Qurrah stressed the continuity of Christianity and Judaism, as well as miracles of Moses and Jesus in contrast to Muhammad’s separateness and lack of miracles. Correspondingly, ʿAbd al-Jabbār focused on the commandments of Torah that were common with the Qurʾan and Islam, like circumcision, prohibition of pork and ritual purity. With the help of these, he aimed to show that Christianity was thoroughly corrupted. As a curious side effect, both came to stress continuity and conformity with Judaism more than they admitted elsewhere. The rhetorical styles of the two authors differ somewhat, and both have their inconveniencies. Abu Qurrah operates in curious tension. On the one hand, he tries to adjust himself to the Islamic patterns of thought and expression, which makes it somewhat difficult for him to express the fundamental ideas and attitudes of the Christian tradition; and on the other hand, at times he gives traditional Byzantine answers that do not really match with the Islamic questioning. ʿAbd al-Jabbār’s approach is characterised by extreme selectiveness, even by standards of polemical literature. His view on the history of early Christianity is not only an imbalanced construction but a determined distortion of the first Christian centuries.

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Author: Lukas Bormann

Abstract

The paper demonstrates that there was no unequivocal rejection of the food laws of the Mosaic Torah in the Gospels and Paul. Different positions were taken concerning food habits in the early movement of the Christ-believers. The debate on food was embedded in a broader discourse about the connection between ritual and moral purity. This discourse was taken further by the Christ-believers, and it became a more serious challenge after the early communities integrated Christ-believers from non-Jewish heritage. Even Mark and Paul do not reject Jewish food laws as such, but they emphasize the ethical conditions of “eating together” over the ritual requirements which were seen not as part of the Mosaic Torah but merely as “human rules”. To God, “human rules” are not decisive, but moral behaviour is.

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
In Intention in Talmudic Law: Between Thought and Deed, Shana Strauch Schick offers the first comprehensive history of intention in classical Jewish law (1st-6th centuries CE). Through close readings of rabbinic texts and explorations of contemporaneous legal-religious traditions, Strauch Schick constructs an intellectual history that reveals remarkable consistency within the rulings of particular sages, locales, and schools of thought. The book carefully traces developments across generations and among groups of rabbis, uncovering competing lineages of evolving legal and religious thought, and demonstrating how intention gradually became a nuanced, differentially applied concept across a wide array of legal realms.
In The “God of Israel” in History and Tradition, Michael Stahl provides a foundational study of the formulaic title “god of Israel” ( ’elohe yisra’el) in the Hebrew Bible. Employing critical theory on social power and identity, and through close literary and historical analysis, Dr. Stahl shows how the epithet “god of Israel” evolved to serve different social and political agendas throughout the course of ancient Israel and Judah’s histories. Reaching beyond the field of Biblical Studies, Dr. Stahl’s treatment of the historical and ideological significances of the title “god of Israel” in the Hebrew Bible offers a fruitful case study into the larger issue of the ways in which religion may shape—and be shaped by—social and political structures.
Volume Editors: Samuel Adams, Greg Goering, and Matthew J. Goff
In Sirach and Its Contexts an international cohort of experts on the book of Sirach locate this second-century BCE Jewish wisdom text in its various contexts: literary, historical, philosophical, textual, cultural, and political. First compiled by a Jewish sage around 185 BCE, this instruction enjoyed a vibrant ongoing reception history through the middle ages up to the present, resulting in a multiform textual tradition as it has been written, rewritten, transmitted, and studied. Sirach was not composed as a book in the modern sense but rather as an ongoing stream of tradition. Heretofore studied largely in confessional settings as part of the Deuterocanonical literature, this volume brings together essays that take a broadly humanistic approach, in order to understand what an ancient wisdom text can teach us about the pursuit of wisdom and human flourishing.
Essays on the Deuteronomistic History, Chronicles, and Ezra-Nehemiah
Shortly before his untimely death Gary Knoppers prepared a number of articles on the historical books in the Hebrew Bible for this volume. Many had not previously been published and the others were heavily revised. They combine a fine attention to historical method with sensitivity for literary-critical analysis, constructive use of classical as well as other sources for comparative evidence, and wide-ranging attention to economic, social, religious, and political circumstances relating in particular to the Persian and early Hellenistic periods. Knoppers advances many new suggestions about significant themes in these texts, about how they relate one to another, and about the light they shed on the various communities’ self-consciousness at a time when new religious identities were being forged.