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Jerusalem Perspective is pleased to make available to the English-speaking world this important article written originally in German by David Flusser and Shmuel Safrai: “Das Aposteldekret und die Noachitischen Gebote,” in Wer Tora mehrt, mehrt Leben: Festgabe fur Heinz Kremers (ed. E. Brocke and H.-J. Borkenings; Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1986), 173-192.
The apostles possessed more empirical supports for their faith than we can ever hope to possess, and certainly their spiritual “report cards” did not suffer for the fact.
How do the results of a debate that raged more than three centuries after the New Testament was written affect the way most Westerners read Paul’s theology? Put briefly, Augustine effected a revolution in understanding what the human predicament is, how Christ saves us from it, and what the role of justification is within the larger understanding of salvation.
Still today a famous German New Testament professor can say (as he did) to his students: “If you want to be a good Christian, you must kill the Jew in your heart.” I quote this professor’s words not because I am a Jew, but because he used the word “kill” as if it were a Christian virtue. Furthermore, the opinion that “you have to kill the Jew in your heart” is not unconnected with an important trend that existed in Christianity from its beginnings.
It has been noted that in instances where Mark’s editorial hand restructured his story, Luke has preserved a more primitive form of the account, a form that is independent of Mark’s influence. Gospel scholars need to properly evaluate Mark’s editorial style and acknowledge that frequently a theological agenda influenced his rewriting.
Jesus’ teaching on judging is one of his most frequently misunderstood sayings, sounding as if he is saying, “Have no discernment. Just ignore sin!” Often we struggle to find a way to sort out sin without actually calling it that so that we do not judge. While Jesus’ ethical demands are high, we often give up trying to follow them if they do not make sense to us.
The restoration of the Jewish homeland, Israel, and the reconnection of the Church to its Jewish roots are not unrelated phenomena. Many sectors of the Body of Messiah today are being stimulated and enriched by the “nourishing sap” of Israel’s faith, scriptures and scholarship. We are discovering that there is scarcely a single New Testament subject that cannot be amplified, deepened, or balanced by a Hebraic perspective. As disciples of Yeshua, we are deeply indebted to Israel.