Ok, throughout the old testament there had been terrible wars, conflict and abuses over the arguments about the rights and wrongs of circumcision as a religious practice. It is a simple fact that Christianity would not have got off the ground were it not for the decision and guidance provided by the Council of Jerusalem in c50 AD (Acts 15), i.e., except advisory for certain conditions, circumcision is not a consideration/requirement for membership of the faith. The bit that's been lost in understanding is the advisory part. My website jquad.org/ goes into some detail on this. So the references in Acts 15 to "strangled" and "blood" are to the signs of phimosis and frenulum breve. It drives me nuts that academics and religious leaders don't get this and teach it; and it drives me even more nuts that certain religious leaders interpret it as meaning that blood transfusions are forbidden! The Acts 15 words and teaching that ought to be liberating are, therefore, not only used incorrectly but are used, newly, to oppress.
Post by Robin (admin) on Aug 12, 2016 13:50:10 GMT
hi ed I read through Acts 15 and yes, its curious how Paul and Barnabas take up the first 10 verses with a question of whether the Gentiles should circumcise or not. And then get an answer about meat food and sex.
The Oxford Bible Commentary edition (2012 paperback) ‘TOBC’ “there are many textual and exegetical problems relating to the details of this decree”; “there is a puzzling lack of ‘fit’ between James’ conclusion (and the decree that follows) and the introduction to the debate”
i read through your first 3 pages a couple of times.
Acts 15. James 19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.
are there many different translations of this passage ... or are they all much the same? what is food polluted by idols? or your translation "what has been sacrificed to idols" ? - why anything at all to do with idols?!! - i'd have thought this was obvious if you converted.
If it were just idols then i could agree with your interpretation that this means the 1st commandment - love god ... i'd like that to be true, but i dont see the connection with "sacrifice" to idols.
Why sacrifice, strangled things AND blood? ... even in the conventional (leviticus) interpretation surely this is the same thing - as far as i know in jewish practice - as a sacrifice the animal was strangled on the altar, then cut and blood dropped on the floor. Does that mean the conventional interpretation says 3 times the same thing?
Could there be a connection between newly developed christian ideas on sacrifice (e.g. Isaac, a ram, to Jesus), and the sacrifical motives sometimes connected with circumcision?
i think all the tighter forms of phimotic ring could be described as strangling, - ... but how certain are we of how this word is translated? could it be constricting?? because contricting would refer to all the conditions! ... i remember things like charitas : dearness of heart not charity, and peter : the stone of my church.
and i think i need to know how important : "circumcision, sacrifice to idols, sexual immorality, meat of strangled animals and blood" are in relation to each other, ... why are only 4 things listed, surely there are other Jewish covenant style Laws? are these 5 the only old style covenant laws?
i note a small passage on your jquad page about other theories but i think you may be in a similar position to what i found often when writing male-initiation.net. For example with the origins of the practice of routine circ., i needed to understand all the other reasons which had been argued as origins e.g. sacrifice, initiation, castration complex, etc. and understand why they had been rejected, to complete the theory.
and i believe you need some explanation for the early christian knowledge of phimosis and fr. br. - is there anything in the OT? Among circumcised people eg. americans they admit they know little of the foreskin and its problems, on the other hand one thing i found in my sample group was circumcised men were always far more open to ideas and information than uncircd., purely because they had always been aware of the subject, always been "open" to it. i could well imagine in those days as now, jewish doctors being asked to treat their heathen neighbours ... (we need to continue the OT thread : what did the jews know of phimosis?).
Yes, all good stuff. The translations of the Acts 15 passage, the quadrilateral, the quartet, vary slightly but I checked with a theologian back to the Greek and my interpretation is valid and not inconsistent with that. The ‘strangled thing’, some translations say ‘strangled animal’ and/or refer to ‘food’ and ‘meat’ or ‘thing’ and ‘things’. I’d say that enhances my interpretation, i.e. it’s some kind of animate object that they didn’t have an exact word for. And re animals and blood and circumcision, think about it…. Modern day surgeons are traditionally not called “Dr”, they’re “Mr”. This is because, back-in-the-day, surgeons’ skills came from skills from cutting flesh with sharp knives, i.e., they evolved from those in the meat trade: butchers… not necessarily from doctor physicians, so they’re Mister not Doctor. Butchers had the knowledge of anatomy, and skills and confidence with the knife… and knew the importance and significance of very sharp knives etc for cutting flesh. So, you see, there are definitely some kinds of connections.
Yes, I think that other interpretations are clutching at straws. They don’t really work. They’re not convincing and, indeed, this seems to be generally accepted, i.e. that the academics haven’t really worked out what it means. This is deeply frustrating when looking at life from the experience of phimosis/frenulum-breve and its snags. Having been there myself, the Acts 15 advice is, in the way I see it, so blindingly obvious, and would have been very helpful to me had I been given it in time… I think my life would have been very different… I’m not complaining. It is what it is. I’m just saying it would have been very different.
I haven’t heard that in Jewish sacrifice the animal is strangled on the altar… My understanding is that severing the main artery to the head with an extremely sharp knife is considered the most humane method of slaughter. Strangulation being less humane. I haven’t found any ‘strangle’ words in the Old Testament that could be reference to phimosis. As you say, the Jews circumcise, so they don’t witness it in their community. So it would be Abraham and earlier when they would have had the opportunity to see it; and then Moses’s 40 years in the wilderness when the practice had dwindled; and then in the New Testament when Jesus’s followers integrated with Gentiles.
Food, pollution, sacrifice, idols…. Yes, I struggled with this one but came to the conclusion that it’s simply some kind of introductory catch-all which, at the time, would have been simply understood. The philosophical, intellectual and cultural ‘battle’ between Greeks and Jews: one unifying all-seeing all-knowing all-loving God versus separate individual gods for each and every activity warring against each other. And yes, “food”? Is this the edible kind or of the ‘food for thought kind’… Jewish one-God way in preference to ‘pollution’ by Greek cultural belief that there were many gods and they were in conflict with each other? This kind of food sounds, in the context, to be the more likely.
Why only four things listed?…. Well, exactly. And why, if it’s about food laws, doesn’t the Christian Church follow the guidance seriously? Some try to, like those who interpret it as meaning hunting for animals in the field and strangling them, and thus use the Bible to support their belief that hunting is forbidden etc. Others interpret it as meaning blood transfusions are forbidden. And I suppose the wider more general understanding of Acts 15 is that circumcision isn’t an absolute requirement. In my view this is the correct one, though it came with the caveats, and this is what has been lost and is vital to revive and engage with. One thing is for sure, though: there is no general acceptance in the wide Christian Church that consuming blood and consuming meat from animals that have been strangled is prohibited, nor that blood transfusions are forbidden. Why then was this church council meeting conclusion so defining and pivotal, even though there's now no clear consensus on it's full meaning? Male pride, boyish sniggering, general and, maybe, last true taboo, I'd say. Pathetic.