Excerpts from THE FORGOTTEN AGE OF JUDAH: The Untold Story of Grace in the Second Temple Period, By Dr. Douglas Hamp, Chris Winters Steinle, Copyright 2021 by the Commonwealth of Israel Foundation, Phoenix, USA, Published by the Commonwealth of Israel Foundation. From Chapter 8: Antioch and Hellenistic Judaism
The Antiochian/Hellenistic (anti-Semitic) stance toward the
Law was codified by the Church in the early part of the second century through
the letters of Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch. It should be noted that around
this same time, the heretic, Marcion, was also involved in the task of proving
that Christianity and Judaism—grace and law—were mutually exclusive, and that
they do not even proceed from the same deity. Dr. Hamp has written extensively
on Marcionism’s continued detrimental effects on Christianity, despite the fact
that Marcion was labeled a heretic by the Church!
Ignatius, on the other hand, was sainted as a Christian martyr and his
letters—practically canonized. The proclamations of Ignatius, who was
considered to be one of the Apostolic Fathers, form the basis of what should
properly be called, “Hellenistic Christianity.”
For further study see: Haunted Theology
and the Ghost of Marcion by Dr. Douglas Hamp.
was a bishop of Antioch, said to be appointed by Peter and according to
tradition was the successor to Evodius. Tradition also holds that Ignatius was
a friend of Polycarp and that both young men had been disciples of John the
Apostle. It is also supposed that Ignatius was one of the children Jesus took
in His arms and blessed. Add, then, to these accolades a martyr’s death and it
is obvious why so much weight was placed on the opinions of Ignatius. Quotes
from the letters written by Ignatius while purportedly being extradited to Rome
for execution are presented below, followed by commentary.
Ignatius to the
Magnesians, Ch. 8:
1 Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor
by antiquated fables, which are profitless.
For if even unto this day we live after
the manner of Judaism, we avow that we have not received grace:
2 for the divine prophets lived after
Christ Jesus. For this cause also they were persecuted, being inspired by His
grace to the end that they which are disobedient might be fully persuaded that
there is one God who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ His Son, who is
His Word that proceeded from silence, who in all things was well-pleasing unto
Him that sent Him.
Verse 1 clearly juxtaposes Judaism with grace, implying that
traditional Judaism—keeping the Law—is prima facia evidence that an individual
has not received (saving) grace. Verse 2 begins by stating that the prophets
lived (after the manner) of Jesus, that is by grace rather than by obedience to
the Law. This is simply absurd on several levels. First, Jesus obeyed the Law
to the extent that He could ask: “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (Jn. 8:46).
Furthermore, the prophets kept the law themselves. Secondly, Ignatius redirects
“obedience” away from meaning “obedience to the Law” and defines the meaning of
obedience as the belief that there is only one God—the very ploy of the
Hellenistic Jews. Verse 2 ends with a true statement—that the Son was
well-pleasing to the Father. But ending these phrases with a true statement
does not somehow make the rest of the content true.
Ignatius to the
Magnesians, Ch. 9
1 If then those who had walked in ancient
practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing sabbaths but
fashioning their lives after the Lord’s day, on which our life also arose
through Him and through His death which some men deny – a mystery whereby we
attained unto belief, and for this cause we endure patiently, that we may be
found disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher --
2 if this be so, how shall we be able to
live apart from Him? seeing that even the prophets, being His disciples, were
expecting Him as their teacher through the Spirit. And for this cause He whom
they rightly awaited, when He came, raised them from the dead.
These are some mighty big “ifs.” The assumption presented by
Ignatius is that because God’s “ancient” Elect were looking forward to
participating in Christ’s resurrection, they therefore, to that extent, were
“no longer observing sabbaths.” He thereby implies that the saints of old were,
at least, disobedient to the Law in their hearts. Seriously? Yet the Church did
take this notion seriously. Moreover, Ignatius imposed this hypothetical on his
hearers by threatening that those who wish to participate in the life of Christ
must, likewise, forsake the sabbath and honor “the Lord’s day.”
At this point we should wonder: To what degree had the
Antiochian Hellenist already ceased to comply with the third commandment? This
doctrinal position seems to roll off the tongue at the beginning of the second
century—perhaps shortly after John’s death. It is far more likely that the
Hellenized Church did not fall far from the tree of the Hellenistic Jewish
community. The whole gist of Hellenism was, after all, adapting to the customs
of the international community. As observed by historian Emil Schürer: “They
who then wanted to affect anything in the political world must of necessity
stand on a more or less friendly footing with Hellenism.”
Ignatius to the
Magnesians, Ch. 10
1 Therefore let us not be insensible to His
goodness. For if He should imitate us according to our deeds, we are lost. For
this cause, seeing that we are become His disciples, let us learn to live as
beseemeth Christianity. For whoso is called by another name besides this, is
not of God.
Here we must interject between stanzas what is implied by
Ignatius, but not stated outright—that those who are called “Jews” instead of
“Christians” would not be “of God.”
2 Therefore put away the vile leaven
which hath waxed stale and sour, and betake yourselves to the new leaven, which
is Jesus Christ. Be ye salted in Him, that none among you grow putrid, seeing
that by your savour ye shall be proved.
3 It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ
and to practise Judaism. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but
Judaism in Christianity, wherein every tongue believed and was gathered
together unto God.
Verse 3 begins by making it an abomination to speak of
Messiah (who is the Lord—Acts 2:36) and, at the same time, to follow the Lord’s
instructions. Whereas, the inverse of this statement is actually true. It is
monstrous to speak of Jesus Christ while not obeying His commandments.
Next, Ignatius anthropomorphizes Judaism and Christianity
and asserts, “Christianity did not believe in Judaism.” On the contrary, in
Paul’s own words: “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which
they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets”
(Acts 24:14, emphasis added). Indeed, Christian salvation is attained by the
confession that Jesus is the same “LORD”—Gr.
“Kurios”—of the Old Testament (Acts 10:9-10). Therefore, Christians believed in
the Holy One of Israel and Jews continued to believe in the Holy One of Israel.
And certainly, the words of the Lord are the final authority on this doctrine:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the
Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say
to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means
pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the
least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the
kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great
in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness
exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means
enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:17-20).
Jesus’ only criticism of the Jews of His day concerning
obedience to the Law was that it should be carried out with the love of God,
and not neglect or replace the love of God.
Ignatius’ blatantly blind and baseless antagonism toward the
Jews stemmed from nothing, more nor less, than from the Hellenistic
determination that Jewish Traditionalism opposed the will of God; while the
Hellenistic—watered down, so to speak—approach to obeying God’s laws was the
ordained method that should be adopted by the Church.
Judah’s internal strife during the Second Temple period was
simply the result of the God-fearing Jews’ apprehension that further exile
could only be avoided by obeying God’s laws. From the “Set Apart”—who became
the Pharisees, to the Traditionalists, and finally, the Zealots, all of these
movements were established to promote the pure observance and practice of God’s
precepts. The Hellenists had determined that God’s laws were a burden, and had
preferred, rather, to mingle with nations. In most cases, international forces
were brought into the three major conflicts listed above by those who opposed
the religious purists. And, in turn, the liberal factions compromised their
faith by bending to the norms of the current world empire; be it Persian,
Greek, Syrian, or Roman.
The following quotations should be self-explanatory. These
precious early writings prove that the Apostles and their immediate
appointees—the first overseers and pastors—did, in fact keep the Passover as
required by the Law of God. Yes, the Early Church, not just in Judea but in the
Asian churches of modern day Turkey, kept the Law.Emphasis added.
Eusebius, Church History, Book V.
23. The Question then agitated concerning the Passover.
1. A question of no small importance arose at that
time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the
fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice
the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour’s Passover. It was
therefore necessary to end their fast on that day, whatever day of the week it
should happen to be.
1. But the bishops of Asia, led by
Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to
Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition
which had come down to him:
observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which
shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory
from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep
in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who
lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a
teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the
3. He fell asleep at Ephesus.
4. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr...
these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel,
deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do
according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely
followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my
relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven.
7. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived
sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying
words. For those greater than I have said ‘We ought to obey God rather than
man.’ Acts 5:29
Heresies, Book III, Ch. 2:4:
Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I [Irenaeus] also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time. CONTINUE READING The Forgotten Age of Judah at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08PJ2JTYF