Tuesday

My Justice, Your Job

"For the last 1,900 years, Christianity had been assuming that ancient Jewish law was divided into two categories: ritual and morality. The historical record documents that this simply wasn’t so. Christianity had been interpreting Jesus’ teachings based on an erroneous assumption.
To be sure, the Jewish nation did divide their commandments into two groups. However, the historical record shows that the dividing line was nothing other than the precept, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Every commandment summarized by this precept was a Justice. Every remaining commandment was a Job.
Jesus, Paul, and James all used the precept, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Now we know that they used this precept to reference a well-established group of commandments—the Justices. This historical discovery completely changes our understanding of the New Testament. Each, in his own particular way, used the precept to explain that the Justices alone are the Christian law.

The English terms "Justices" and "Jobs" are in consonance with Paul’s terms for the two great divisions of the Torah. "Justices" translates Greek dikaiomata; while "Jobs" translates Greek erga, literally "works." "Justices of the Torah" (dikaiomata tou nomou) is used by Paul in Romans 2:26; "Jobs of the Torah" (erga tou nomou) is used by Paul in Romans 3:20. (See "Dr. Berg on the Justices of the Torah" for documentation on the translation of dikaiomata tou nomou).

The Jewish nation divided their commandments into two groups: commandments between man and God (mitzvot bein adam lamakom) and commandments between man and man (mitzvot bein adam lachaveiro). (mishna Yoma 8:9) Philo documents that the commandments between man and God included all the piety and purity regulations; whereas the commandments between man and man included ethics and justice (Special Laws 2.63). Philo further explained that the commands between man and God are encapsulated by love of God and the commands between man and man are encapsulated in love of neighbor (Decalogue 108-110). Philo presents this dual division of the law based on the two love commandments "as though obvious or well-known." (Resurrecting Jesus: the earliest Christian tradition and its interpreters by Dale C. Allison, p. 154, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005).

The notion that the two love commands (love God and love neighbor ) encompass all of God’s commandments is presumed throughout the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs (t. Issachar 5:2, 7:6-7; t. Dan 5:1-3; t. Gad 4:1-2; t. Jos 11:1; t. Benj. 3:-1-3; t. Reub. 6:8-9). Of particular note is t. Dan 5:1-3, "Observe, therefore, my children, the commandments of the Lord, and keep His law… Love the Lord through all your life, and one another with a true heart." The New Testament further documents that the ancient Jewish nation considered the two love commands (love God and love neighbor ) to encompass all of God’s commandments. Luke 10:26-27, "And Jesus asked the expert in the law, ‘What is written in the law? How do you read it?’ And the legal expert answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

That the commands based on Leviticus 19:18 ("Love your neighbor as yourself") were an independent group of commands is further documented in multiple sources. For example Hillel, the head of one of the greatest Pharisaic schools, stated that the Golden Rule (which was interchangeable with Leviticus 19:18 during his day) contained within it all the commands that a Gentile convert must follow (t. Shabbos 31a). Jesus referenced the commands based on Leviticus 19:18 as an independent group (Matthew 19:16-20). Paul referenced the commands based on Leviticus 19:18 as an independent group (Romans 13:9). James declared Leviticus 19:18 to be the Messianic King’s Law and then proceeded to give examples of Old Testament commandments based upon it; commands such as "Do not murder," "Do not commit adultery," and "Don’t show favoritism" (James 2:8-10). Murder and adultery were forbidden in the Decalogue and showing favoritism was forbidden in Leviticus 19:15. James’ entire letter deals exclusively with Old Testament commands based on Leviticus 19:18 and is structured around this concept.

The implications of this revolutionary historical discovery couldn’t be more profound, especially when it comes to the hot button issue of homosexuality. Surprisingly, the prohibition on homosexuality was a Job (not a Justice). In other words, it turns out that the prohibition on homosexuality wasn’t originally part of Christian law. But then, in the second century, when Gentiles dominated the Faith, they introduced the erroneous assumption regarding the dividing line (ritual/moral) which caused Christianity to err on this very important matter.

- Excerpts from Michael Woods' "Jesus on Homosexuality." (April 25, 2012)

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