These are the statutes and the judgments and the laws which YHWH has given between Him and the sons of Israel, in Mount Sinai, by the hand of Moses. Leviticus 26:46
Laws – Did you realize Yeshua and all His followers believed in more than one Law? There was the Law of God, written by the hand of Moses. We call this Law the Torah. But in the time of Yeshua, that wasn’t the end of the matter. The “canon” of Yeshua and the apostles wasn’t confined to the books we call the Old Testament (the Tanakh). There was more – a good deal more – most of which we have never heard.
Consider this quotation from Sifre Torat Kohanim, an ancient rabbinic commentary. On this passage from Leviticus, the rabbis taught:
“These are the rules and judgments and laws which the LORD established between Himself and the children of Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai.” The “rules” refer to interpretations of the text, “judgments” refer to the principles of jurisprudence, and “laws” [torot, plural] teach that two laws were given to Israel on Mount Sinai: one written, and the other one was given orally.”
When Rav Sha’ul asserts he believes everything that is in accordance with the Law and the prophets, he positions himself among the Pharisees who accepted both the written and oral Torah as God’s holy word. Rabbi Sha’ul says he is a follower of the Way which some call a sect. Notice that he does not consider it a sect of Judaism. It is the real religion of the Jews, firmly set on the Law and the Prophets, hoping in the one redeemer Yeshua who lived and died in Sha’ul’s own experience. There can hardly be a stronger case for the absolute unity of the Torah in the Tanakh and the Ketuvim Netzarim (the writings of those who follow the Nazarene).
Have we settled the issue? “Paul” is not a Greek-thinking convert to a new religion called Christianity. He is a rabbi who follows Yeshua, holding fast to all that YHWH has revealed to His people Israel. What does this mean for us today? It means we need to re-read, re-think and re-evaluate everything “Paul” says in light of his rabbinic commitment. He isn’t the man the Church has pretended to find among the pages of the New Testament (the Ketuvim Netzarim). He is much closer to Moses than Martin Luther, much more like Amos and Aquinas and a thinker like Solomon, not Schleiermacher. Everything he says has to be filtered through the eyes of a Jewish rabbi who encountered a Jewish Messiah on that road. It’s time to go back. Maybe then we will discover that some of those difficult passages in his letters aren’t quite so strange after all. Are you ready to look with eyes that see and listen with ears that hear? Are you ready to sit at the feet of rabbi Sha’ul and hear him in his own worldview? Or do you still think Paul is the first “Christian” missionary?
Topical Index: Paul, Sha’ul, rabbinic, Ketuvim Netzarim, oral torah, Acts 26:46
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