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Old 06-24-2006, 07:20 PM   #1
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Why Some Christians Don't Eat Kosher

I have seen a lot of discussion regarding why most Christians do not obey all of the Old Testament laws (especially those in Leviticus), while at the same time quoting Leviticus to support other laws. At first glance, this seems like Cut and Paste Theology as well as just plain, outright hypocrisy. To be honest, I used to have the same problem. As a matter of fact – I used to attack Christians pretty harshly because they allowed the Old Testament in the Bible.

Before I tackle this subject, I should probably give you a little background about myself. I am in my mid thirties and I am currently in my third year of seminary. However, I have not always been a Christian. I hope to either be a pastor or a professor some day. I am also about ready graduate from Officer Candidate School for the Army National Guard.

I had the usual crappy childhood (no active father, disengaged mother, abusive step-parents..etc) Somehow, my grandparents imparted on me a little of the Catholic faith that would prove to be the seeds of my own conversion later in life.

In my late teens and twenties – I was a self-proclaimed atheist (and adamant follower of Ayn Rand). In college I double majored in Philosophy and English Lit before succumbing to the worldly pressure of MIS. However, while studying Plato – I became convinced that God existed. After that, the next question was “if God exists – what kind of God is he?” Needless to say, after several more years of searching I found myself back in a Catholic Church and studying the Bible.

After a few years of studying the Bible, and after a brief but extensive fascination with Christian Gnosticism (hence my username), I personally found that I agreed with more of an Orthodox interpretation of the New Testament—a pretty amazing thing considering how much I used to hate Protestant Christianity. But I still could not stand reading the Old Testament other than Psalms and Proverbs. I drove pastors crazy with quotes from Leviticus. There is one about crushing a man’s testicles that I found especially disturbing! One pastor finally asked me – “what is your motivation for asking? If it is to attack it – then you will never understand it. But if you really want to understand it, keep studying the Bible and trust the Holy Spirit.”

I promise, I will post the main point of this post here very soon
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Old 06-24-2006, 07:22 PM   #2
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It was not until my study of Romans 7 did it all come into focus for me. For those who do not know, it is Paul’s famous treatise of the Law and it’s relation to us as Christians.

To wrap this up, I essentially learned on what Melon already touched on. A great deal of flexibility is found in the use of the term “law” in the New Testament. A few of the uses are as follows. Some cut and paste from study materials is mixed into this.

1. This term is used of the entire Old Testament (John 10:34; 12:34; 1 Cor. 14:21). John 10:34 is a quotation from Psalm 82:6, and 1 Corinthians 14:21 is a quote from Isaiah 28:11-12. Technically neither the Psalms nor Isaiah are a part of the Old Testament “law,” but sometimes the term “law” was applied to the entire Old Testament because it constituted God’s special revelation of instruction for Israel and ultimately for man.

2. It is used with such terms as the prophets, and writings, again as a title for the entire Old Testament Scripture, but in this way it looks at them in their division (Luke 24:27, 44).

3. It is especially used of the first five books of the Old Testament or the Mosaic Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). (Compare Luke 2:23; John 8:5; 1 Cor. 9:9; Gal. 3:10).

4. The term is used of the entire specific Mosaic code given to the nation Israel to govern and guide their moral, religious and secular life, and covers parts of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy (Deut. 4:8, 44-45).

5. The term is used of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17).

6. Law is used of a principle, force or influence that impels one to action or behavior (Rom. 7:21, 23a, 25).

7. It is used of law in general (Rom 3:27 and possibly Rom. 5:13b).

It is the Mosaic Law that causes the most controversy and can be broken down into 3 parts:
• Part 1: The Moral Law or the Ten Commandments. This part of the Law governed the moral life giving guidance to Israel in principles of right and wrong in relation to God and man (Exodus 20:1-17).
• Part 2: The Judgments, or the Social Law. This part of the Law governed Israel in her secular, social, political, and economic life (Exodus 21:1–23:13).
• Part 3: The Ordinances or the Ceremonial Law. This was the religious portion of Law which guided and provided for Israel in her worship and spiritual relationship and fellowship with God. It included the priesthood, tabernacle and sacrifices (Exodus 25:-31: Leviticus).

However, at the end of the day – the Law has only one purpose - to show man his total helpless and hopeless condition before a righteous and just God.

Several passages of Scripture clearly establish that the coming of Christ has brought an end to the Mosaic Law. Paul specifically states that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). This instituted a new law or principle of life, i.e., the law of the Spirit, the one of liberty and grace (Rom. 8:2, 13).

This fact was also clearly settled by the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. (Melon already discussed this) A council was convened in the church at Jerusalem to look into the issue of the Law and its place in the life of believers because some were saying “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved,” and because even certain of the Pharisees who had believed were also saying “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the law of Moses.” The conclusion of the council, consisting of apostles and elders, was to reject the concept of placing New Testament believers under the yoke of the Law (15:6-11).

The only thing the Jerusalem Council asked was that Gentile believers control their liberty in matters that might be offensive to Jewish believers, but they did not seek to place the believers under the yoke of the Law for they realized the Law had come to an end.

Finally, the book of Hebrews demonstrates that the old covenant of the Mosaic Law was only temporary and has been replaced by the coming of Christ whose ministry is based on (1) a better priesthood, one after the order of Melchizedek which is superior to Aaron’s, and (2) a better covenant with better promises (see Heb. 7-10). The old covenant was only a shadow of heavenly things, and if it had been able to make men perfect before God there would have been no occasion for a second or new covenant (see Heb. 7:11-12; 8:1-13). This change in the priesthood also necessitates a change in the Law. Such a change shows the Law has been terminated or done away.

So what are Christians to do regading the Mosaic Law?

Part of the purpose of the Law was to point men to the coming Savior through its shadows and types. Through the moral law, man could see God’s holy character as well as his own sinfulness and the infinite gulf that separates God and man. Through the ceremonial part of the Law (the priesthood, sacrifices, and tabernacle), man could find the solution to his sin by faith in what this part of the Law represented, a suffering Savior, one who would die as the Lamb of God. But even though no one could perfectly keep the Law, it was also designed for Israel’s immediate blessing by setting forth righteous principles that would show them how to love God and their fellow man. This would produce a stable and secure society as well as a testimony to the nations (Deut. 4:6-8).

Thus, in 613 commands the Mosaic Law represented an ethical code given by God to Israel to govern the nation until the coming of Messiah, but at their heart, they represented the moral law of God—righteous principles vital to humanity. Today, we are not under this code, but many of its righteous principles, the eternal laws of God, have been carried over and are part of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ (Rom. 8:2) or the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2). In this, some of the former commands are carried over (Rom. 13:9), some new commands and guidelines are added (Eph. 4:11f; 1 Tim. 3:1f; 4:4), and some have been revised, as in the case of capitol punishment which is to be exercised by human government (Rom. 13:4).

It needs to be emphasized that the end of the Mosaic law, including the Ten Commandments, does not cancel or detract one iota from the eternal moral law of God. The moral principles of the ten laws did not begin with Sinai but are as eternal and immutable as the character of God. To understand this should dispel the fears of those who think the abolition of the Mosaic law leaves only a state of lawlessness.

The moral principles embodied in the law of Moses Paul calls “the righteousness of the law” (Rom 8:4), and shows that such principles are the goal of the Spirit-directed life in the same context in which he teaches the believer is not under the Mosaic law (Rom 6—8).

(Not my words but I love the analogy) This should be no more difficult to understand than the fact that a citizen of the United States is not under the laws of Canada, even though the moral principles underlying the laws of the two countries are the same. When a citizen of the United States becomes a citizen of Canada he does not remain under ten of the best laws of the United States. Nor does the fact that some of the laws of the United States are quite similar to some of the laws of Canada confuse or compromise his new exclusive responsibility to Canada. So the believing Jew of the first century moved entirely from the Mosaic economy of law into the new economy of grace instituted by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
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Old 06-24-2006, 09:03 PM   #3
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From the Shadows to the Substance


My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught.

School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that's not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly.

You don't need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.

Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It's not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you're already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin.

So don't put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.

Don't tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape, insisting that you join their obsession with angels and that you seek out visions. They're a lot of hot air, that's all they are.

They're completely out of touch with the source of life, Christ, who puts us together in one piece, whose very breath and blood flow through us. He is the Head and we are the body. We can grow up healthy in God only as he nourishes us.

So, then, if with Christ you've put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it?

"Don't touch this! Don't taste that! Don't go near this!" Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention?

Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they're just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important.


~Selected from Colossians 2 (The Message)
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Old 06-24-2006, 10:18 PM   #4
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Thanks for that, guys.
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Old 06-24-2006, 11:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by the iron horse


~Selected from Colossians 2 (The Message)
I love the Message! It is a great, quotable translatian. I also happen to love 1 Colossians. This is some beautiful, beautiful stuff you quoted here.
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Old 06-25-2006, 01:31 AM   #6
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Thanks for the personal background, AEON. It's always helpful around here to have some sense of who the person behind the positions is and why they care about the things they do.
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Old 06-25-2006, 11:08 AM   #7
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Well, I would say that I agree with the outcome--that Christians do not have to eat kosher--I do not agree with the assertion that the Ten Commandments were excluded from the fulfillment/obsolescence of the rest of the Mosaic Law through Jesus.

I believe that the revisionist emphasis of the Ten Commandments over Jesus' sole commandment, "to love God and to love one another," comes down to a matter of cultural philosophy. "Love," after all, has long been interpreted as a feminine idea in an overwhelmingly patriarchal theology. Perhaps that's where Jesus was most revolutionary of all for His time.

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Old 06-25-2006, 11:48 AM   #8
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Thanks for the background info Aeon.
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Old 06-25-2006, 12:29 PM   #9
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Originally posted by melon
Well, I would say that I agree with the outcome--that Christians do not have to eat kosher--I do not agree with the assertion that the Ten Commandments were excluded from the fulfillment/obsolescence of the rest of the Mosaic Law through Jesus.

I believe that the revisionist emphasis of the Ten Commandments over Jesus' sole commandment, "to love God and to love one another," comes down to a matter of cultural philosophy. "Love," after all, has long been interpreted as a feminine idea in an overwhelmingly patriarchal theology. Perhaps that's where Jesus was most revolutionary of all for His time.

Melon
Without focusing on the Ten Commandments - would you agree that God has an eternal moral law? For instance, as a Christian I believe that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God's character. And the character of Christ displayed the greatest Love humanity has ever seen. But was His only act of love to die on the Cross and receive punishment for sins? - or was His love also demonstrated in His obedience to God's eternal moral law? (love toward his father, and love for us by setting the example)

Jesus Christ makes it obvious that love must be the motivation for all that we do. I believe that we demonstrate our love by living as Christ did - by self sacrifice and obedience to God's eternal moral law. However, the Bible affirms that I do not have the power to do this on my own, so I put my trust in Him:

Galatians 2 - The Message

"What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that."


So does this mean there is not eternal moral law? No. I believe that the sanctification of my character, my soul is the end goal. That is - I will be made like Christ - loving and obedient. However, I am unable to do this on my own power:


From Romans 6 - The Message
What Is True Freedom?


So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!

I’m using this freedom language because it’s easy to picture. You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness?

As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end.

But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master."
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Old 06-25-2006, 01:21 PM   #10
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I believe God's sole eternal moral law is love. That's it. And it could certainly be argued that most things that we can unequivocally believe to be immoral, such as murder or rape, are clearly violations against love. That is the standard by which I live my life: to do unto others the way I want to be treated. Granted, nobody, including myself, is perfect at living up to that standard, but I believe it is a simple, yet comprehensive way to live one's life without having to shuffle through over a thousand pages of the Bible. And, as such, I do believe it is blatantly immoral for someone to use the Bible to look for "exception clauses" to love, which many societies have done for 2,000 years or more to seek justification for their prejudices and hatred.

I believe much of the Mosaic Law, in contrast, to be a collection of man's laws. There is ample suggestion that much of this was imported from Persian Zoroastrian purity codes, back during the exile when the Persian Empire freed the Jews, but then remolded Judaism dramatically to ensure loyalty to the empire--as was the practice of Cyrus the Great. Out of this "remolding" came the Pharisees (not so coincidental that it shares a similarity to the word, "Parsi," or "Persian"), who were the minority of Jews until after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 wiped out the majority of the Jews, the Sadducees. The Old Testament canon that we use today was not formalized until the remnant Pharisees sealed it in the 2nd century A.D.

But rather than sift through a bunch of archaic laws that may or may not have divine origin, there's no need to do such a thing, if the eternal moral law is "love." And that's where I think a lot of contemplation on the meaning of "love" becomes important, if one wishes to try and understand "God's Will."

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Old 06-25-2006, 01:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
I believe God's sole eternal moral law is love. That's it. And it could certainly be argued that most things that we can unequivocally believe to be immoral, such as murder or rape, are clearly violations against love. That is the standard by which I live my life: to do unto others the way I want to be treated. Granted, nobody, including myself, is perfect at living up to that standard, but I believe it is a simple, yet comprehensive way to live one's life without having to shuffle through over a thousand pages of the Bible. And, as such, I do believe it is blatantly immoral for someone to use the Bible to look for "exception clauses" to love, which many societies have done for 2,000 years or more to seek justification for their prejudices and hatred.
That is beautifully said, I agree wholeheartedly
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Old 06-25-2006, 01:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
I believe God's sole eternal moral law is love. That's it.

Melon
I certainly cannot disagree with you on this. May I ask: "how do you define love? Both toward for God and humans?"
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Old 06-25-2006, 01:41 PM   #13
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Originally posted by AEON
I certainly cannot disagree with you on this. May I ask: "how do you define love? Both toward for God and humans?"
"To do unto others the way you would want to be treated." Likewise, I believe that God experiences our love through the way we treat His creation. It gives us a great responsibility to live and act ethically.

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Old 06-25-2006, 03:57 PM   #14
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Originally posted by melon


It gives us a great responsibility to live and act ethically.

Melon
Perhaps I am misunderstanding - but doesn't this in a way support the concept of an eternal moral law?

I just know that I used to struggle to truly love others in an unconditional, Christlike manner. I still do. Like I said earlier, I sometimes put the issue over the person. Believe me, if it were not for the grace of God - I would be far worse I have come a long way - and I have a long way yet to go. But God promises to complete the work he started.

I have found in my own walk, that the closer I get to Christ, the more love I naturally feel for everyone that comes across my path. And I also feel, that as one of God's children - I want to please my Father. I cannot do the things necessary to please Him - including loving my enemies - on my own effort, that is, without the power of the Holy Spirit.

I think the gospels demonstrate how Christ lived - and this serves as my example. I would define His example as someone who lived by an eternal moral law - which is love proven by obedience.
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Old 06-25-2006, 08:43 PM   #15
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The funny thing about all this is, the "Golden Rule" actually comes from Leviticus (19:18) and--especially in Jesus' time--the Pharisees were well-known for their emphasis on it. Rabbi Hillel (ca. 70 BC-10 AD, roughly), the founder of the most influential rabbinical school of that era (and a Pharisee), and to this day regarded by most Jews as probably our greatest teacher ever, is famous above all for having said--purportedly in response to some smartass prospective convert who asked him to summarize the essentials of Torah "while standing on one foot"-- "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the entire Torah: all the rest is just commentary. Now--go and study!"

That precise encounter, as recorded in the Talmud, may never have happened, but that it sums up what Hillel's school was best known for is not in doubt. It's still one of the first little "fables" (in the sense of a story meant to teach values) that religious Jews teach their children today. Along with a lot of other values Hillel's school was known for:


-- that the spirit of the law takes primacy over the letter;

-- that the study and practice of the law, as a kind of spiritual discipline, was the birthright of all Jews as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:6) before a God who "desire[s] goodness, rather than sacrifice; obedience...rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6)--not the prerogative of elitist temple priests (read: Sadducees, from their POV) who supposedly held some monopoly on expiation; [*Note: Although--so as not to idealize here--I will point out that the Pharisees quite literally profited from this stance, since they had their origins as rabbis in the synagogue (beit knesset) system that evolved to keep Jewish learning alive during the Babylonian captivity, and they naturally sought to retain that prestige in the Second Temple era. And unfortunately, most of what we know about the Sadducees today relies on what are almost certainly highly biased and unfair Pharisaic-penned accounts--e.g., "the (ritual) uncleanness of the knife (used in a murder at the Temple) was to them worse than the murder itself!" sneers the Talmud.]

-- that the Sanhedrin had the power to abrogate the letter of the law where it contradicted its spirit, in accord with the principles and procedures laid out in the Oral Law (later codified as the Mishnah)--an ancient principle, as illustrated by the much earlier (and universally accepted) abrogation of Deut 21:18-21 (which commands to kill one's rebellious son); the Sadducees nonetheless rejected this view, and fought against most of the reforms the Pharisees introduced to (for example) provide technically "illegal" incentives to offer more loans to the poor, or to loosen the Sabbath moratoria on "work" to facilitate the sharing of food and the ministry to the sick; [*Again, a historical note here: while both Jewish and Christian scholars have traditionally assumed that the Sanhedrin in Jesus' time was dominated by Sadducees, there is in fact little credible evidence to support this theory. We really don't have much in the way of reliable information about which factions the various members belonged to--and the Pharisees and Sadducees, as well as the Essenes, etc., are best understood as just that: political factions that fought with each other to curry Roman favor. (Well OK, maybe not the Essenes--they were more like ascetic hermits.) While most Jews "supported" both groups to the extent that they regarded both temple priests and rabbis as pillars of community life, the majority of Israelites lacked both the learning and the motivation to personally identify as one or the other.]

-- high regard for the value of debate among scholars regarded as equals (rather than the dictates of some all-powerful high priest) as the best way to advance knowledge and understanding of law and scripture; [*Though again, so as not to idealize--there certainly were some Pharisaic heads of the Sanhedrin who abused their power to crush ideological opposition.]

-- the possibility of an afterlife and resurrection into a new covenant at some future time, again a concept the Sadducees rejected.


While not all Pharisees understood these teachings the same way, and in particular there were disputes between the School of Hillel and the (also Pharisaic, but ritually stricter) School of Shammai (who for a time dominated the Sanhedrin after Hillel's death), all of these were characteristically Pharisaic stances and priorities in Jesus' day. As an Orthodox Jewish kid reading the Sermon on the Mount for the first time (in a good old-fashioned Catholic high school), I found myself nodding and smiling in recognition all the way through at the familiar teachings and disputes it invoked. But it's a bittersweet memory...because unfortunately, the way the Pharisees are generally portrayed in the New Testament has led to widespread casual use of the term as a dismissive, pejorative synonym for all manner of small-brained, draconian pseudo-piety that purports to come from God. Yet modern rabbinic Judaism understands itself to derive ultimately from Pharisaic teachings, and so this is more painful for Jews to hear than, I think, most Christians realize. Not as painful, certainly, as the "Christ-killer" label--and for all the times I had that one spat at me growing up where I did, I have yet to be called a Pharisee, lol; seems to be more a word Christians sling at each other nowadays--but, in view of where it comes from, and the diverse and complicated bunch of people it's reducing to a crude caricature of extremist hypocrisy...it really does make us wince and grit our teeth a bit. I'm sure some among the Pharisees really were corrupt hypocrites, or self-righteous backstabbers, or just in general sanctimonious little pricks...but, that said, other than what's contained in the New Testament, there is little if anything in other contemporary sources to suggest that the Pharisees, as a group, would've in fact objected to healing the sick through "forgiveness" (a common enough practice at the time), or preaching to the lepers and beggars, or for sure ministering to the sick on Shabbat.

Not that I can't understand where it all comes from. The harsh climate that Christians (though Jews, too) were dwelling in during the years when much of the New Testament was being written; the mission to the Gentiles and final rupture with the Pharisee-dominated Sanhedrin (and risky turn towards the Romans) this created; all those waves of persecution...Roman rule was an ugly, ugly time, and perhaps no more so than on the many occasions when Jewish factionalism and the ill-fated alliances it gave rise to resulted in disastrous revolts followed by violent purges, like the mass crucifixions following Herod's death, or the bloody putdown of the Zealot revolt and the destruction of the Second Temple that clinched it. (The Talmud, pointedly if exaggeratedly, actually blames the latter calamity on "baseless hatred" among the Jews.) So...I can certainly feel some sympathy for anyone who was trying to accomplish something revolutionary (in whatever sense of the term) among Jews in Israel at that time. You need only know the history to imagine what a socially and politically treacherous venture that would be...and how many enemies you could make, sometimes over the stupidest things...and how much resentment and ill will it might breed.
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