Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Quote of the Day

A provocative quote from New Testament scholar Michael F. Bird:
The Jerusalem council achieved a via media by finding in Scripture a justification for the inclusion of Gentiles within the church without requiring circumcision and placing upon Gentiles only the obligation to avoid idol food and sexual immorality. Yet the Jerusalem council also permitted the existence of two parallel theologies: one theology where the Gentiles were uncircumcised equals in a renewed Israel with holiness constituted by the Spirit and another theology where uncircumcised Gentiles were guests in an Israelite remnant that still defined holiness through Torah observance. The Jerusalem council’s decisions seem optimized in a setting where Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians remain in parallel rather than integrated, especially in relation to shared meals. The council did not stipulate the standard of law observance to be upheld for Eucharistic fellowship to ensue.


Dan Benzvi said...

And of course Bird offers Scriptures to support his thesis?

Anders Branderud said...

Re "Jewish Christians":
(le-havdil), A analysis (found here: (that is the only legitimate Netzarim)) of all extant source documents and archaeology using a rational and logical methodology proves that the historical Ribi Yehosuha ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth and his talmidim (apprentice-students), called the Netzarim, taught and lived Torah all of their lives; and that Netzarim and Christianity were always antithetical.

Judaism and Christianity have always been two antithetical religions, thefore the term “Jewish Christians” is an oxymoron.

The mitzwot (directives or military-style orders) in Torah (claimed in Tan’’kh (the Jewish Bible) to be the instructions of the Creator), the core of the Judaism, are an indivisible whole. Rejecting any one constitutes rejecting of the whole… and the Church rejected many mitzwot, for example rejecting to observe the Shabat on the seventh day in the Jewish week. Examples are endless. Devarim (“Deuteronomy”) 13.1-6 explicitly precludes the Christian “NT”. Devarim 13:1-6 forbids the addition of mitzwot and subtraction of mitzwot from Torah.

Ribi Yehoshuas talmidim Netzarim still observes Torah non-selectively to their utmost today and the research in the previous mentioned Netzarim-website implies that becoming one of Ribi Yehoshuas Netzarim-followers is the only way to follow him.

Judah Gabriel Himango said...

So Bird perceives that the Acts 15 council allowed for 2 parallel theologies:

-Gentiles as guests in an Israelite remnant
-Gentiles were uncircumcised equals in a renewed Israel

One issue I have with Bilateral Ecclesiology is that it sees gentiles not as equals in Israel, not as guests in Israel, but a totally separate assembly apart from Israel.

How do you see it, Jonathan?

Shopharim said...

I'm concerned with the term "guests" as Sh'ul seemed to see the gentiles believers as more: 19 So then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers. On the contrary, you are fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's family (Ephesians 2:19 CJB)

Anonymous said...

"I'm concerned with the term "guests" as Sh'ul seemed to see the gentiles believers as more..."

Shopharim, even a brother is a guest in a house that is not his own. When I go to my brother's house, I do not show up uninvited, I do not just plunk myself down on a bed of my choice for the night, and I certainly do not raid his fridge.

"One issue I have with Bilateral Ecclesiology is that it sees gentiles not as equals in Israel, not as guests in Israel, but a totally separate assembly apart from Israel."

Judah, I guess you don't really know what is meant by the term "bilateral" in BE, so you choose to misrepresent it. We are part of the same BODY (Yeshua), but the body has many parts. An arm is not a leg, nor do the arms do the things that legs do (although some people try to walk on their hands - it looks very funny and unnatural, if you know what I mean). A body part can being connected to the same body, but it's not so attached to it to the point of being indistinguishable from another, just as valuable part of the body of different form and function. Sometimes you touch your legs/feet with your arms/hands (which takes concerted effort for some of us), but most of the time arms and legs perform their functions without constant direct contact. But all of the body parts are working for the same goal and serve the same person.

Yahnatan Lasko said...

>> How do you see it, Jonathan?

I think it's notable that Bird (who locates himself within the Reformed tradition) would find such a view convincing. In his recent followup post he adds, "The two most persuasive cases that I've read on Gal. 2.11-14 are by Mark Nanos and Peter Tomson."

I've followed the Euangelion blog (which Bird co-authors with Joel Willitts) for a while, but this is the first time I've read Bird mention this reading of Paul.

Rabbi Joshua said...


Great quote!