Archive for the ‘Jews’ Category

The Jews Gave Us the Old Testament

January 14, 2010

Of course, God gave us the Old Testament by inspiration, but the point is that the apostles did not give us the Old Testament. Instead, it was an existing body of literature that was handed on to them. We see this in Scripture.

Romans 3:2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them [that is, to the Jews] were committed the oracles of God.

And, of course, we also see this reflected in the writings of the church fathers.

Chrysostom (about A.D. 349-407):

Finally, if the ceremonies of the Jews move you to admiration, what do you have in common with us? If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies. But if ours are true, as they are true, theirs are filled with deceit. I am not speaking of the Scriptures. Heaven forbid! It was the Scriptures which took me by the hand and led me to Christ.

Greek text:

Ὅλως δὲ εἰ θαυμάζεις τὰ ἐκείνων, τίς σοι κοινὸς πρὸς ἡμᾶς ἐστι λόγος; Εἰ γὰρ σεμνὰ καὶ μεγάλα τὰ Ἰουδαίων, ψευδῆ τὰ ἡμέτερα· εἰ δὲ ταῦτα ἀληθῆ, ὥσπερ οὖν καὶ ἀληθῆ, ἐκεῖνα ἀπάτης γέμει. Οὐχὶ τὰς Γραφὰς λέγω· μὴ γένοιτο. ἐκεῖναι γάρ με πρὸς τὸν Χριστὸν ἐχειραγώγησαν·

Citation: Chrysotom, Against the Jews (Adversus Judaeos), PG 48:852; translation in FC, Vol. 68, Discourses Against Judaizing Christians, Disc. 1.6.5 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1979), pp. 23-24.

Justin Martyr (wrote after A.D. 151):

But if any of those who are wont to be forward in contradiction should say that these books do not belong to us, but to the Jews, and should assert that we in vain profess to have learnt our religion froth them, let him know, as he may from those very things which are written in these books, that not to them, but to us, does the doctrine of them refer. That the books relating to our religion are to this day preserved among the Jews, has been a work of Divine Providence on our behalf; for lest, by producing them out of the Church, we should give occasion to those who wish to slander us to charge us with fraud, we demand that they be produced from the synagogue of the Jews, that from the very books still preserved among them it might clearly and evidently appear, that the laws which were written by holy men for instruction pertain to us.

– Justin Martyr, ANF: Vol. 1, Justin’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks, Chapter 38 – Concluding Appeal.

Chrysostom (about A.D. 349-407):

At the beginning, then, God communicates directly with human beings as far as it is possible for human beings to hear. This is the way He came to Adam, this is the way He rebuked Cain, this is the way He was entertained by Abraham. But since our nature took a turn for evil, and separated itself by a lengthy exile, as it were, at long last He sent us letters as though we were absent for a long time and He intended to reestablish the former friendship through an epistle. While it was God who sent the letters, it was Moses who brought them.

– Chrysostom, Robert Charles Hill, trans., St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis (Boston: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2004) Sermon 1, p. 26.

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):

But the Jews survive still, and for a special purpose: so that they may carry our books, to their own confusion. When we want to prove to the pagans that Christ’s coming was prophesied, we produce these scriptures. But possibly pagans obstinately opposed to the faith might have alleged that we Christians had composed them, fabricating prophecies to buttress the gospel we preach. They might have thought that we were trying to pass off our message by pretending that it had been foreshadowed in prophecy. But we can convince them of their error by pointing out that all those scriptures which long ago spoke of Christ are the property of the Jews. Yes, the Jews recognize these very writings. We take books from our enemies to confute other enemies! In what sort of disgrace do the Jews find themselves? A Jew carries the book which is the foundation of faith for a Christian. Jews act as book-bearers for us, like the slaves who are accustomed to walk behind their masters carrying their books, so that while the slaves sink under the weight, the masters make great strides through reading.

– Augustine, John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 3, Vol. 17, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms, Psalms 51-72, Psalm 56.9 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2001), p. 110.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (about A.D. 393-466) commenting on Ezekiel 37:28:

In fact, through those of the Jews who came to faith the nations also received the light of the knowledge of God: the divine apostles and the first disciples of the apostles were from among the ranks of Jews, and the nations came to faith in the divine message by learning the truths about Christ our savior from the inspired books preserved by Jews. Hence the divine apostle also said that the believers from the nations are grafted into the pious root of the Jews, while the unbelievers from Jews are broken off and separated from this root.

– Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Robert Charles Hill, trans., Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentaries on the Prophets, Vol. Two, Commentary on the Prophet Ezekiel (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2006), preface, p. 251.

Origen (about A.D. 185–254):

Where you get your “lost and won at play, and thrown out unburied on the streets,” I know not, unless it is from Tobias; and Tobias (as also Judith), we ought to notice, the Jews do not use. They are not even found in the Hebrew Apocrypha, as I learned from the Jews themselves.

– Origen, Letter to Africanus, Section 13

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):

The examples I have adduced are indeed by no means doubtful in their signification, because only plain instances ought to be used as examples. There are passages, however, in regard to which it is uncertain in what sense they ought to be taken, as for example, “In the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red: it is full of mixture.” Now it is uncertain whether this denotes the wrath of God, but not to the last extremity of punishment, that is, “to the very dregs;” or whether it denotes the grace of the Scriptures passing away from the Jews and coming to the Gentiles, because “He has put down one and set up another,”— certain observances, however, which they understand in a carnal manner, still remaining among the Jews, for “the dregs hereof is not yet wrung out.”

– Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book III, Chapter 25, Section 36


From Seventy to More than a Million?

August 5, 2009

Two posts ago, I pointed out how Mr. Camping’s chronology falls apart under Scriptural scrutiny over something as simple as the name of Moses’ father (link). In the immediately preceding post, I demonstrated that a rebuttal based on there needing to be 430 years in Egypt was wrong based on the plain teachings of Scripture (link). As I explained then, the claim that there were 430 years in Egypt is based on misreading the text of Scripture.

In addition to the argument based on misreading a text as suggesting that Israel would be in Egypt for 430 years, there was also an argument made based on population growth. “How could it be that in only 210 years,” we might paraphrase the question as stating, “the population of Jacob’s family grew from 70 people to over two million?” The short answer is that the Israelites had large families.

For a more detailed answer, first of all, let’s confirm that the numbers are correct:

Exodus 1:5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.

Genesis 46:26-27
All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six; and the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

Specifically that 70 number is (breaking it down by their maternal connection to Jacob): 7 sons and grandsons of Bilhah (Genesis 46:25); 14 sons and grandsons of Rachel (Genesis 46:22); 16 (15 sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons and 1 daughter) offspring of Zilpah (Genesis 46:16); and 33 (32 sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons and 1 daughter) offspring of Leah (Genesis 46:15), for a grand total of 70 sons, daughters, grandsons, and great-grandsons of Jacob.

Additionally, as Genesis 46:26 informs us, there were wives that were not included in that number (nor, as we note above, was Israel himself included in that number). So, in essence, there were 69 men of Israel (Israel himself and 68 sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons, as well as two daughters) at the beginning of the 210 year period in Egypt.

Two years after the Exodus, there were 603,550 men (counting only those 20 years old and older) and not counting the Levites (Numbers 1:46-47). That’s huge population growth in only 210 years. How did this happen? They had very large families. Scripture expresses it this way:

Exodus 1:7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.

They didn’t just have a lot of kids, they:

  • were fruitful
  • increased abundantly
  • multiplied
  • waxed exceeding mighty [numerically]
  • land was filled with them

You can easily imagine why the Egyptians did not like the way this was headed. So they began persecuting the Israelites, and trying to have the midwives kill them off at birth.

But again, after the initial wave of persecution (which the midwives resisted) Scripture tells us that the fecundity continued yet more:

Exodus 1:20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

There was an enormous boom in the population of Israel. How could this happen? The answer is simply that there were really enormous families. This is revealed to us in Scripture:

In Numbers 3:43, Moses and Aaron counted all the firstborn males of Israel – not counting the Levites. Now, keep in mind that the total number of males (over 20 years old) was 603,550. What Moses and Aaron found was that the firstborn males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward were 22,273 (Numbers 3:43).

That’s a ratio of 1 firstborn male for every 27 males. Even if Israelites rarely had girls in those days (an unlikely proposition), that’s an average family of 27 children. And actually, we’ve understated the matter, since the first-born males were counted from a month old and upward, but the total males were only counted from 20 years old and upward, and only those that were able to go forth to war (presumably this excludes any disabled or elderly men) (But see FN1, below). If we further assume that there were about an even number of girls born to boys born, then the average Hebrew family had over 50 children. These children may not have been born serially, since it possible that the Israelites were polygamists. If they were, their ever-increasing need for wives would tend to be met by taking Egyptian girls as the wives for their sons, something that would further have caused concern to the Egyptian Pharaoh, who would see it as decreasing his own population in each successive generation.

So, that’s the answer to the objection to a 210 year stay in Egypt based on the massive population growth of the Israelites: they grew from 69 males to over 600,000 males (an 8,700-fold increase) by having enormous families. [FN2]


FN1: One further caveat is that the firstborn would tend to be the first to die of old age. Given that the 600,000 number counts those able to go to war, and excludes the elderly, the “old age effect” should roughly be canceled out.

FN2: For those interested in such things: 68 x 25 x 25 x 25 = 1,062,500, which shows how 68 men can, in three generations, become over 1,000,000: first generation multiplies 25-fold, second generation does the same, and third generation also does the same.

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 16

September 21, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 16

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the sixteenth in what has become a multi-part series.

Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) – Jews Officially Persecuted

I must immediately qualify this “persecution” claim, but noting that this is measuring the 4th Lateran Council by the standard of modern-day sensitivities, not by an objective standard.

Lateran IV forbade public offices to Jews, authorized “coercive action” to prevent reversion of “converted” Jews, required Jews and Muslims to wear distinctive clothing, required the Jews to tithe (and the like) on properties they acquired from Christians, and prohibited Jews and Muslims from public places during “Holy Week.” (Canons 67-70)

I think by modern standards, most (if not all) of those things would constitute persecution. This is an inconvenient truth for those who like to imagine that the Catholicism they practice today is the same as the “Catholic faith” practiced by the fathers of the Fourth Lateran Council, and yet who cannot stomach religious discrimination and persecution.


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