The Apostle Paul and the ‘Works of the Law’

The Apostle Paul and the 'Works of the Law'

A great emphasis in the protestant reformation was the doctrinal formulation of “justification by faith alone,” which many asserted to be “the doctrine upon which the Church stands or falls” (Martin Luther: “articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae”).

While this was in and of itself a complete novelty (and devoid of Patristic warrant) — supposedly being based upon the Scriptures alone — it is quite easy to demonstrate that not only is this concept foreign to the Scriptures but is also foreign to the first century Judean mindset (not to mention the Christian). To be plain, Luther and other reformers were reading their contemporary disagreements with the mainstream Latin church into the words of St Paul.

A Book of the People: Judaism and the Canon of Scripture

A Book of the People: Judaism and the Canon of Scripture

As is certainly the case today, Judaism was not a monolithic religion in the first century. Limiting ourselves to even the New Testament witness, there are various, competing sects—such as the Pharisees and Sadducees—who disagreed over everything from the resurrection to the proper interpretation of God’s law. Alongside these doctrinal differences was a debate regarding […]

The Temple Cult and Early Christian Worship

The Temple Cult and Early Christian Worship

The Judaism of the first century was a religion almost entirely centered around the sacrificial worship of the temple. Faithful pilgrims traveled many miles from all around the diaspora to worship at the temple several times a year, and the temple was central to their faith and piety. While various forms of post-Christian Judaism today […]

Who Were the Pharisees?

Who Were the Pharisees?

To be named a Pharisee today is to be named a legalist. To be someone who trusts in themselves and their own righteousness more than that of the righteousness which comes from the faithfulness of God. While to be a Pharisee is almost always seen in a negative light among Christians and even non-Christians today, […]

Appropriating the Academic Study of Scripture from an Orthodox Perspective

Appropriating the Academic Study of Scripture

When I first studied Orthodoxy, I had long been studying contemporary Biblical scholarship. The history of the Church was foreign to me, and the revelation that the canon of Scripture emerged out of the history of that same Church (thus making Sola Scriptura self-contradictory)—along with the revelation that Patristic theology resembled Catholic and Orthodox theology […]

Competing Temples

Competing Temples

While the glorious Temple of Solomon is featured prominently in portions of the Old Testament, there were at least two other temple copies erected in places other than the temple mount of Jerusalem. One was apparently in Tel Arad (Palestine), and excavations show it being called a “House of YHWH” (בית יהוה). Unfortunately, it was […]

Remaking the Temple of the Lord

Remaking the Temple of the Lord

While the temple of the first century was rejected by certain groups of Jews—such as those at Qumran—it was not because they had lost faith in sacrificial religion, but rather because they had lost the temple itself. Herod’s temple was no doubt wondrous in its externals, but the hierarchy was corrupt and the faith had […]

Jesus is the Temple

Jesus is the Temple

John’s Gospel is the most “mystical” and symbolic of all the canonical Gospels. In fact, John’s Gospel is so filled with spiritual insight that the Church almost exclusively reads from it during the Paschal (post-Easter) season. This is done because all catechumens are baptized on Great and Holy Saturday, leaving no un-initiated among the laity. […]

Original Sin and Free Will in the Apocalypse of Baruch

Original Sin and Free Will in the Apocalypse of Baruch

Introduction According to the Apocalypse of Baruch, humanity is afflicted neither by the guilt of Adam’s sin nor by a bondage of the will. Instead, it presents a humanity that inherits death and corruption, that is personally responsible for individual sins, and that has a will free to deliberate between both good and evil. The […]

A Brief Introduction to Second Temple Judaism

A Brief Introduction to Second Temple Judaism

When considering the Judaism of the period prior to that of the advent of Jesus Christ (and the development of the new covenant Church), it makes sense to begin with the period of the exiles and the time of the second temple. This period of Judaism, which scholars aptly label “second temple Judaism,” is the […]