Uninspired LXX, Barnaban Antinomianism, Non-Israelite Kashrut

1. Benjamin Kedar, “The Latin Translations,” Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading and Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, ed. Martin Jan Mulder (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004) 320.

“In order [for Jerome] to obtain the sense of the biblical message, recourse must be had to the original ‘truth’ of the Hebrew text…This bold conception entailed the discarding of the authenticity of the LXX as maintained by Church autorities (sic.) such as Augustine…Gradually Jerome became more outspoken in his views until, at the end, he rejects the view of the LXX as being an inspired version…[T]he apostles’ quotations of the OT did not agree with the Greek text.”

I said in my post, Diverse Bibles, God’s Unforgiveness, Bad and Good Waters, that Jerome asserted the inspiration of both the Hebrew and the LXX of the Old Testament. I thought that’s what I heard from one of my professors. The quote above, however, seems to affirm the opposite, unless Jerome changed his mind at some point. If Jerome thought that the Septuagint was uninspired, I wonder what he made of Jesus’ use of it in the Gospels.

2. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume II: Ante-Nicene Christianity (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1910) 673-674.

“The Old Testament is, with [Barnabas], rather a veiled Christianity, which he puts into it by a mystical allegorical interpretation, as Philo…In this allegorical interpretation he goes so far, that he actually seems to deny the literal historical sense. He asserts, for example, that God never willed the sacrifice and fasting, the Sabbath-observance and temple-worship of the Jews, but a purely spiritual worship; and that the laws of food did not relate at all to the eating of clean and unclean animals, but only to intercourse with different classes of men, and to certain virtues and vices…Paul, in Galatians and Colossians, likewise takes an uncompromising attitude against Jewish circumcision, sabbatarianism, and ceremonialism, if made a ground of justification and a binding yoke of conscience; but nevertheless he vindicated the Mosaic law as a preparatory school for Christianity. Barnabas ignores this, and looks only at the negative side.”

I don’t entirely know if Schaff is correct in his interpretation of Barnabas’ epistle. Couldn’t Barnabas have meant that God expected the ancient Israelites to observe the literal sense of the Torah, while simultaneously recognizing that the laws had deeper spiritual meaning? That was essentially Philo’s position, which he held against the antinomian Jews, who thought they should stick with the law’s spiritual meaning and dispense with its literal application. I could be wrong or right in my assessment of Schaff, but it’s a legitimate question.

I have to admit, however, that I too found Barnabas’ treatment of the law to be rather strange, or at least it was something that I’d never really encountered before. Barnabas states that the law of clean and unclean meats was designed to teach the Israelites to hang around with good people rather than bad. Barnabas appealed to Psalm 1 as evidence that the Israelites once viewed the dietary laws in this spiritual sense. I had always assumed that the Israelites of the Old Testament kept the laws without understanding their spiritual or christological significance. After all, all they’re given is the literal, at least as far as we can see in the Torah.

Another thing I don’t understand: Schaff says that Paul viewed the law as a preparatory school for the coming of Christ. Why couldn’t God have started the Israelites out with a more spiritual religion at the outset? Why prepare them for Christ with a bunch of rituals? Some may say that this was all the ancients knew, and God was reaching the Israelites where they were. After all, they had to work hard to avoid representing God as an image, so enamored were they with what they could see and touch. I wonder if there was a spiritual side to ancient religions as well, however.

3. H. Loewe, “Introduction,” A Rabbinic Anthology, ed. C.G. Montefiore and H. Loewe (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1938) xcvi.

“When David Rahabi came to India and found some people whom he rightly thought to be Jews, though they were scarcely distinguishable from their Indian environment, it was not the Shema which proved that they belonged to the house of Israel, but the fact that they eschewed fish lacking scales and fins.”

I’ve heard people say that non-Israelite cultures have some sort of kosher. Africa comes to mind. Too bad I’m void of actual facts, examples, or documentation at the moment!

Stephen Collins–not Reverend Camden, but the Armstrongite who wrote a book on British Israelism–tried to argue that the Parthians were actually descended from the lost tribes of Israel because their customs were similar to those of the Jews. I think he may have mentioned kashrut as an example, but I could be wrong.

Another issue in which this is relevant is the attempt to identify ancient Israel archaeologically. One indication for maximalists is that the Israelite areas of Palestine lacked pig bones. But I vaguely recall hearing others argue that there are Canaanite areas that lack pig bones too. But I’m just shooting from the top of my head here!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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3 Responses to Uninspired LXX, Barnaban Antinomianism, Non-Israelite Kashrut

  1. xHWA says:

    Hi James! You asked why God didn’t start Israel out with a more spiritual religion? I’m no scholar, but I personally feel God had 2 main reasons.

    The first is, He gave them a fine system, only their sins prevented them from following it. Then He added more and more to it due to their sins.

    The second is, He planned from the beginning to have these two systems (I tried to hit this topic on my blog post about the Genesis Prophecies). It appears to me to be for His glory and for our edification. Before He could get us to understand undeserved grace, He needed to demonstrate hopeless condemnation. We have the lessons of the Old Testament as a bonus from it.

    That’s what I see, anyway.

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  2. James Pate says:

    I’ll take a look at your post about the Genesis prophecies, XHWA. What you say corresponds with how many scholars interpret the Galatians passage about the law being given because of transgressions: it was a punishment for disobeying the moral law, and it was given to highlight sin and punishment so people can see their need for Christ.

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