Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

And they built a gymnasium

In 1 Maccabees, we read about some Jews who built a gymnasium in Jerusalem and "made themselves uncircumcised." Thus it is evident that there were many Jewish men in the Hellenistic period who were uncircumcised, never having been circumcised, or underwent a surgical procedure to reverse the sign of their circumcision. Therefore we must assume that there was a wide variety of Jewish views on circumcision in the First Century. The evidence for uncircumcised yet practicing Jews is indirect but unequivocal.

The Jewish followers of Jesus attracted to their movements many Jews who had ceased to practice Judaism, some because they had been excluded by Jewish society and other because their occupation or their conduct had made them pariahs. The movement probably also attracted Jews who shared the Greek and Roman abhorrence of circumcision.

The Circumcision Party objected to the inclusions of these Jewish males as full members of Jewish society quoting Genesis: "Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised on the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant." Perhaps these certain Jews viewed the actions of Paul as threatening cultural survival.

Copyrighted 2006


Blogger Justin Jenkins said...

Interesting insight, especially in respect to people attracted to Jesus’ message.

Seeing how hard it would be to become uncircumcised, is it possible this could be metaphorical? In other words they became "unjewish" or "uncovenant." I realize that's a less likely reading --- but perhaps worth a thought.

12:45 PM


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