Good Jobs for Autistic People, Gentiles Keeping the Sabbath as Israelites, a Desperate Naturalistic Defense, Aquila the Resentful Proselyte

1.  Zosia Zaks, Life and Love: Positive Strategies for Autistic Adults, pages 152-153:

Zosia discusses jobs that may be appropriate for autistic people.  Here are my favorite passages:

Many of us love organizing, stocking, shelving, and counting.  Categorizing items is exciting for me.  The atmosphere in warehouses is informal.  Workers wear jeans and T-shirts or uniforms.  Social life on the job can be more flexible or less pressured.  And usually, workers do not have to jockey for position or recognition.  The social rules and the methods for determining a worker’s worth in this type of environment are very clear.

I have a friend who is a night doorman for a fancy residential building in New York City.  He doesn’t mind chatting when necessary if someone needs help with the elevator or a Chinese food delivery, but these interactions are informal or brief.  Most of the time, he is all by himself, just as he prefers.

I have never failed at a social interaction with a dog or a cat…

2.  Sara Japhet, The Ideology of the Book of Chronicles and Its Place in Biblical Thought, page 343:

In the Bible, religious proselytism is…indicated…by…”joined himself”…Isa 56:3-8 discusses the case of “the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD” (v. 3) and “the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants” (v. 6).  Adopting YHWH worship by definition entails joining the people of Israel, who maintain YHWH worship; the assurance that their offerings will be accepted transforms those who join into a part of the community.

R.P.C. Hanson, Allegory and Event, page 111:

the [patristic] contention that Christians do not now need the law of the sabbath, for in Christ they enjoy a perpetual sabbath.

Isaiah 56 is an important Sabbatarian proof-texts—at least for the Sabbatarians who realize that they should do more than point to Genesis 2 and Exodus 20 in their attempts to convince their detractors!  While many non-Sabbatarians contend that the Sabbath commandment was for the nation of Israel alone, Isaiah 56 presents Gentiles observing the seventh-day Sabbath.  Herbert Armstrong in his autobiography says that he was one time debating a Sunday-keeper.  The Sunday-keeper boldly declared that God gave the Sabbath only to the Jews, and Herbert asked this man if he would end his rebellion and start observing the Sabbath, if Herbert could find a text in the Bible that says the Sabbath is for Gentiles, too.  The man replied, “No I will not!” and stormed out of the room.  Herbert then showed the spectators that he wasn’t bluffing, by pointing out such a passage.  My hunch is that this passage was Isaiah 56.

On my Christian dating site, a Sabbatarian was pulling the same sort of ploy, and no one responded to him.  At the time, I couldn’t think of a good response, but the thought swishing in my mind was: “Well, in those days, if Gentiles wanted to worship the God of Israel, they had to adopt the practices of the Israelite community, such as the Sabbath.  They had to be part of the community of Israel.  Nowadays, however, Gentiles don’t have to do this to have a relationship with God.”  But I wondered how true this thought was.  In I Kings 8:41-43, Solomon talks about foreigners who will come to the temple to pray to God, after hearing of God’s reputation.  There’s no explicit statement that the foreigner is becoming part of the Israelite community: chances are that he’s making his request to God, and going back to his native country to spread the good news about God’s greatness.  When Naaman confessed the God of Israel, I see no indication that he joined the Israelite community; rather, he returned to his homeland, Syria. 

Judaism did not require Gentiles to convert to Judaism in order to have a relationship with God.  There were God-fearing Gentiles, who drew from Judaism but did not go all the way and convert.  A prominent strand of rabbinic thought said that Gentiles could enter the World to Come by observing the seven Noachide commandments, which concerned such things as sexual morality, a judicial system, not eating the blood of animals, and worshipping the true God alone.  They didn’t have to become Jews and embrace the entire Torah to have a relationship with God.

So it’s interesting to read Japhet making the same sort of statement that was swishing through my mind when that Sabbatarian quoted Isaiah 56 to win the Sabbath debate, a statement that I found wanting after I supposedly came up with it.  But I wonder if Japhet may have a point: Isaiah 56 appears to be talking about Gentile converts to the Israelite community.  These are not people who merely visit the temple and go back to their native countries, or who dabble in Yahwism without being a part of the Israelite community.  Rather, these are Gentiles who joined themselves to God and his people and hold fast to God’s covenant, which is probably God’s covenant with Israel.  Why are these Gentiles keeping the Sabbath?  Most likely because they have joined the Israelite community as proselytes, so, technically, they’re Israelites now.  The Yahwism of biblical times, like the rabbis, may have held that Gentiles could have a relationship with God without joining the Israelite community.  Yet, my hunch is that there was a greater degree of intimacy with God once a Gentile joined God’s chosen people, with whom God worked for so many centuries.  Or at least the ancient Israelites may have held that the intimacy was greater.

Isaiah 56 may be talking about the Gentiles of that day who were joining themselves to the nation of Israel.  But many believe that Isaiah 56 is eschatological, since it’s in a context that describes God’s dramatic redemption of Israel.  I once called Christian radio personality Harold Camping to ask him about Isaiah 56.  I inquired if that chapter was telling Gentiles to keep the seventh-day Sabbath, which he himself did not observe.  He interpreted the Sabbath of Isaiah 56 allegorically, saying that it represented the spiritual rest that Christians enjoy in Christ, which is for all people, Jew and Gentile.  So, for him, the Sabbath is for Gentiles, but that Sabbath is the rest believers have in Christ, and Isaiah 56 was predicting this.

3.  D.A. Russell, Criticism in Antiquity, page 125:

Melanippe…has exposed her children (who are Poseidon’s) in her father’s cowshed, and they are found being suckled by a cow and guarded by the bull.  Her father takes this as a supernatural event, decides to burn the children, and orders he to prepare them for death.  To save their lives, she demonstrates scientifically that no miracle has taken place…

This is a scene in Euipides’ Melanippe the Wise Woman.  Talk about pressure to defend naturalism!  You can read more about the scene here: Euripides and the spirit of his dramas‎ – Page 158.

4.  And, speaking of a Gentile convert to Judaism, here’s Aquila, who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek in a literalistic manner.  N.F. Marcos, The Septuagint in Context, page 111:

Aquila’s name must have been common in antiquity since it is attested in the apostolic age.  This translator was a gentile by birth and came from Sinope, a Roman colony in Pontus.  Epiphanius provides more details about his life.  He lived during the reign of the emperor Hadrian…to whom he was related…Hadrian commissioned him to supervise the building of Aelia Capitolina on the esplanade of Jerusalem and there he was converted to Christianity under the influence of those returning from Pella.  However, he was excommunicated since he refused to give up astrology.  Out of resentment he underwent circumcision, devoting himself to learning Hebrew in order to translate the Bible into Greek with the aim of displacing the LXX which at the time represented Christian interpretation. 

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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