I want to respond to several recent comments. I know I don’t always respond to all comments that come in here. I am too busy to always respond. Also, I do not find that all comments need a response.
First, let me say thanks to Rabbi Carl Kinbar, a friend, who corrected me privately about a factual error. I guess I am ruining the privacy by mentioning it publicly! The Tosefta was written down about 275 C.E. and not 400, as I stated. The Tosefta contains rabbinic discussion and opinions not chosen for inclusion in the Mishnah, from 200 C.E. The Tosefta was mentioned in my post on the Noahide laws because the very first mention of the Noahide laws is in the Tosefta. That is, we cannot historically say that anyone was talking about the Noahide laws much before 275, because we have no evidence of it. The silence of the Mishnah on the Noahide laws may suggest that they were not a widely accepted concept in the early centuries.
Second, let me encourage some who make comments on the blog:
1. If you are going to write a lengthy comment responding to what I have said, then write it in a word processor first.
2. Take time to develop what you write.
3. Don’t post poorly thought out sentences strung together haphazardly.
4. Have a flow of argument, a logical order to what you say.
I say this because, some are typing (late at night it seems) rather long responses in a confusing, disordered style. It is hard for us to read and understand what you are saying, because you don’t put your thoughts in order with care to communicate.
I think Michael and Marc have some worthy things to say, but their words are less likely to be heard because they are written sloppily. I would even encourage you to go back and rewrite your comments, to make them more coherent.
Third, Gracie Ruth, God bless you, you know how to make your point succinctly. You said, “Acts 15 is in itself evidence that the Noachide commandments for gentiles were established at the time of the Apostles.”
As I indicated in “Musings on the Noahide Laws, Part 1,” I do not agree. The four prohibitions in Acts 15 for Gentiles are:
1. Abstain from the pollutions of idols and things sacrificed to idols.
2. Abstain from sexual promiscuity.
3. Refrain from eating meat strangled (with the blood in it).
4. Refrain from ingesting blood.
I do not think James had the Noahide laws in mind for several reasons:
1. His prohibitions cover only three of the seven rabbinic Noahide laws.
2. There are other explanations that are far better as to a possible rationale for James’ four prohibitions.
What was James thinking when he said that non-Jews would not need to be circumcised and take on Torah yet they should carefully observe these four prohibitions?
I like an explanation I found in a commentary by Tim Hegg (whom I rarely agree with). These four areas are all things non-Jews would find in their involvement in pagan temples. Idolatry and meat sacrificed to idols, temple prostitution, strangled meat, and in some cases rites involving the eating of blood were customs from the temples of the day. These social practices would be too abhorrent for Jews to tolerate in mixing with non-Jews. These things needed stopping immediately.
I have also heard another possible source for James’ four prohibitions. Some say he had Leviticus 17-18 in mind, as descriptions of abominable practices that must be stopped. Let me ask for help here from the readers. Does someone know the argument for Leviticus being the source for the prohibitions of Acts 15? I admit, I have forgotten the case for Leviticus as the source, but I seem to recall there was a good case for it. Bonus points to anyone who can present the case (logically and coherently, please).
Finally, both Michael and Marc, if you can work through their disjointed prose, bring up the argument that Deuteronomy 14:21 is about unrighteous Gentiles. Deuteronomy 14:21 says that Jews are permitted to sell meat found dead to the stranger or the foreigner. I argued from this that God permits non-Jews to eat all meat except meat with the blood still in it. Marc and Michael argued that God does not permit non-Jews to do so. Only non-Jews who reject God and care nothing for his law may do so.
Let me say several things about this. One, the stranger or sojourner mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:21 is a non-Jew living in the land protected by and under the rule of the laws of the land. But even if we accept the notion that some sojourners in the land were not held to much of a standard, even if we are talking about complete and utter pagans, my argument still stands.
God says that Israel may sell unclean meat to non-Jews. If the eating of unclean meat is a sin, then it is a sin to profit from causing sin. I have used the illustration: would God allow us to sell crack to modern pagans? Obviously not. But God did not command non-Jews to observe the dietary laws. Not even righteous Gentiles. Not even the sojourner in the gates who draws near to Israel. There is no valid Torah argument for non-Jews to keep kosher, period.
Soon I will get back to the Noahide laws. I will argue that they are not part of Second Temple Judaism at all. I will argue that they are not part of the background of the New Testament. I will also argue that they are not an accurate depiction of the relationship of Torah to non-Jews. I hope you will pay attention and correct me where I am wrong (especially you, Mr. Shalom Bayit).