Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The use of Scripture in Christian Zionism: a critical examination. Pt. 8

I’ve just been on the phone with the London based NT scholar, Steve Motyer, to confirm that I can upload his article (‘Israel in God’s Plan’, a paper originally written for the 2003 EA consultation) for your reading pleasure. In this article he develops, to my mind, a very important argument, and one that analyses the hermeneutical question clearer than any other I’ve read. Though some of his thoughts, especially in relation to Rom 9-11, are developed in more depth in Israel in the Plan of God (Leicester: IVP, 1989), this article will certainly give readers a fresh and informed perspective on the whole debate. Perhaps the precise exegesis of Acts 15:13-21 may need to reworking, but this is a small matter for his exegesis is consistently well informed yet not too wordy. Indeed, anyone can read and understand it.

Actually, his article will also serve to furnish the argument developed in this series with further ‘snapshots’ concerning the hermeneutical strategy of NT writers.

It will be no secret, given the nature of my argument, that I have learnt a lot from Steve on this issue, and I think he’s dead right, but I would love to hear your thoughts about the thesis of ‘Israel in God’s Plan’, especially if you disagree.

Here is the article.



At 9/26/2006 9:51 PM, Anonymous roodee said...

While I appreciate Steve Motyer's position I think he has drawn some conclusions that don't match with the evidence. I'll focus on just one for now.

"the first Christians (led here by Paul, of course) by and large rejected this

Here Steve is attempting to advance an argument that states the earliest church did not support a Jewish reading and understanding of the old testament.

He makes mention of Judaisers as a powerful force that advocated such a reading. But really, Steve confuses some issues here. The Judaisers and the early leadership were concerned with what practices made a person part of the "movement". So, naturally, the Judaisers had the understanding that strict observance to Torah was required for gentile converts. Paul, of course, argued otherwise. What Steve fails to make mention of here is that we are talking about the "gentile problem" and not the overall "Christian" population.

We don't have any evidence that "converted" Jews (which comprised the majority of Jesus earliest followers) suddenly stopped observing Torah. So, I think, Steve is confusing the term Christian here and not taking into account the variety types of people that made up this group.

Certainly the early leadership had struggles with how to move forward, but this occured at multiple levels and not at the larger Christian level. To presume there was a "one size fits all" solution that accounted for Jews and Gentiles is an error. We know that most of the early leadership understood that membership in this newly created kingdom no longer depended on a certain form of Torah observance. This is why they could require much, much less from gentile converts. This did not mean that the Jewish members could significantly alter their Torah observance.

This dichotomy, I think, presents us with additional data that needs to be accounted for as part of a larger explanation.

At 9/27/2006 12:01 PM, Anonymous James Mendelsohn said...

In due course I'll read Motyer's piece and write some comments of my own from a Messianic Jewish perspective.

In the meantime, I'll pick up on this sentence of Roodee's which I liked: "We don't have any evidence that "converted" Jews (which comprised the majority of Jesus earliest followers) suddenly stopped observing Torah." Indeed not - Paul had Timothy circumcised and bent over backwards to emphasise his observance of the law.

At 9/27/2006 3:17 PM, Anonymous Shane Clifton said...

Chris - i know this is a tangent, but i thought you might be interested to hear that Yisrayl Hawkins is claiming that his prophecy was fulfilled. I listened to 1/2 hour of a you tube message trying to justify this claim (something about a secret weapon fired by bush) - but it is so amazingly confusing i couldnt really follow what he was saying. Aparently we now have another 13 months. Sept 12 was merely the start of the end!

He suggests we need to listen to his message and read his articles, which are vital to our salation. I have tried, but if salvation is this confusing then i guess i am doomed.

At 9/28/2006 1:31 AM, Anonymous Shane Clifton said...

I must be completetly insane - but i watched some more, and at around 70 minutes it become clear. They showed a video of Bush talking about the 5 year anniversary of 9/11, and then another video of some sort of buring rocket - and claimed that these two events entailed Bush launching a nuclear attack.

I reckon that this is an extreme example of the sort of eisegesis that is often done by contemporary dispensational theologians - including many those Christians who assume the restablishment of the nation of Israel was fulfilment of biblical prophecy.

At 9/28/2006 9:42 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

@ Shane:

for crying out loud!

This perhaps deserves a little post ...


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