Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Possible Source of an Idea for Barnabas

In a blog piece, I wrote March 2nd 2008, I indicated that the unknown author of The Epistle of Barnabas made a radical conclusion based upon his interpretation of the golden calf incident. He suggested that when Moses “cast the two tables from his hands” because the Israelites had turned to idols, they lost the covenant. At the time, I had wondered to myself if this unknown author had reached this radical conclusion on his own or if there was a basis for this idea in an earlier writing.

Ellen Juhl Christiansen has stated: “This idea is actually expressed in the Septuagint text which contains a sentence that is not in the MT. Thus Jeremiah 31:32 LXX reads after ‘not the covenant I made with their ancestors, when I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt;’ then the LXX adds: ‘for they did not abide in my covenant and I had no concern for them, says the Lord.’ This means the covenant is not just broken, rather it is no longer valid.”

Thus Barnabas could have based his radical conclusion on the addition to the LXX text appearing in Jeremiah 31:32. This means that the generally accepted view that Barnabas relied upon an anti-Jewish source or tradition needs to be revisited.

Christiansen has recognized the addition to Jeremiah 31:32 appearing in the LXX but is currently of the view that Barnabas may have utilized an ant-Jewish tradition. I am rereading Christiansen’s book and hope to clarify her views.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2008


Blogger Eric Rowe said...

To be fair, while the term "anti-Jewish" was a common descriptor for the language of Barnabas in the past, it seems that in recent decades scholars have been more careful to avoid that, opting instead for something more accurate like "anti-cultic," particularly in light of the comparisons between the ideas expressed in Barnabas and similar ideas found in Essene and Enochic literature.

8:22 AM

Blogger Richard H. Anderson said...

Eric Rowe

Thank you for your two comments; one of which is still in cyberspace.

I agree with you but I think there is a distinction between saying that the language of Barnabas is anti-Jewish and describing a source as anti-Jewish.

8:52 AM


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