Stalking the Torah of Jesus Part Two
The possibility of a Torah of Jesus is sometimes denied because of two errors which are made. The first of these errors is not recognizing that the immutability of Torah is more of a rabbinical doctrine that a biblical one. It is true, that modern Judaism in its most Orthodox form regards the Torah as eternal and immutable but this thinking only became set in stone later. The second error is to not rightly regard the authority and person of Messiah Jesus. This particular blog will examine these errors briefly to both create awareness and hopefully create a new appreciation of Jesus’ person in relation to the issue of the Law or Torah
There is an assumption that the Torah of Moses will be the Torah of the kingdom with no substantial changes, but this assumption is more a result of rabbinical Jewish thought then of the Scriptures. As stated earlier, it is the Rambam or Moses Maimonides that solidifies and codifies the idea that the Torah is inviolable or totally immutable, “The Torah is unchangeable (nothing can be added or subtracted from it, “nor will there be another Torah from the Creator”)”.1 in other words there cannot be a new Torah or changes in Torah during the kingdom. When one takes into account the contradiction is predicated on Maimonides’ 13 Principals of Faith this is understandable. Jewish and Christian scholarship is indebted to Marc Schapiro who points out that the idea of the complete immutability and eternality of the Torah is added by Moses Maimonides or the Rambam, even if the idea previously appeared in some strains of Jewish thought. It is not biblical to bring de facto an unchallenged assumption a creed which later is to become a part of standard rabbinical Jewish thought, “a number of rabbinical sources speak of future changes to the Torah.”2. If this is true that this becomes fixed in Jewish thought later that it is possible that the Torah will be God standard not as the Torah of Moses but possibly the Torah of Messiah during the kingdom and thus no contradiction exists. That God’s law which is reflected in Torah takes a different form in the kingdom and the Law as God’s ethical standard is not being applied in the same way at the same time.
W. D. Davies notes that there are references to Messiah changing Torah and even hints that he will introduce his own Torah. He even goes so far as to group these changes, making note of Yalqut on Proverbs 9:2 he notes “here Purim and the Day of Atonement alone are among the festivals to survive into the Messianic Age.”
An important yet overlooked point is that Jesus instituting ordinances proves The New Covenant is not just a series of rulings on the Torah or restatement of the Torah. Jesus/Yeshua institutes a new sign of entrance, Baptism. One cannot find Baptism in the name of the trinity as a sign of entrance in Torah community but Jesus commands this as a sign of entrance in Matthew 28:19-20. Surly this is new instruction or Torah. Surely this represents a change in form.
Of course Jesus also introduces the Lord’s Supper or what some call communion. This is another ordinance. The Passover Seder while it pointed to Messiah did not commemorate his work. Yet a new form is added by Messiah,
"He tells his disciples, by his words and prophetic symbolism, that the original meaning of the paschal rite has now been transcended, inasmuch as he is the paschal Lamb fulfilling the OT prefigurement (1 Cor. 5:7). His words and action in taking the bread and the cup are parables which announce a new significance. The bread becomes under his sovereign word the parable of his body yielded up in the service of God’s redeeming purpose (cf. Heb. 10:5–10); and his blood outpoured in death, recalling the sacrificial rites of the OT, is represented in the cup of blessing on the table. That cup is invested henceforward with a fresh significance as the memorial of the new Exodus, accomplished at Jerusalem (Lk. 9:31)." 3
Since a new form is added for Jesus’ community and the Passover of Moses’ Torah was for all Israel then it logically follows new torah is being given. The ordinances represent a change connected to the New Covenant. Remember Jesus inaugurates the New Covenant with the word “this is the New Covenant in my Blood in Matthew 26:28. The law of logic called the identity states, “The law of identity: something is what it is and not anything else”.5 If key differences are added it is not the exact same covenant.
There are some good reasons to postulate a Torah of Messiah. The Rabbis acknowledged the possibility of changes in Torah, even an additional Torah. The New forms and instruction of Yeshua to his community indicate New “Torah”. What about His authority over Torah, and direct statements of new “Torah”, this awaits the next blog
1 Ronald L. Eisenberg, The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions, 1st ed. (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2004), 511.
3. Martin, R. P. “Lord’s Supper, The.” Edited by D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman. New Bible Dictionary. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.698
4 Donald A. Hagner, “Balancing the Old and the New,” Interpretation 51, no. 1 (January 1997): 1, accessed July 21, 2016, http://search.proquest.com/docview/202697576?accountid=8624
5. Garrett J. DeWeese and James Porter Moreland, Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult: A Beginner's Guide to Life's Big Questions (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, ©2005), 13.