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When did the Church decisively break with Torah-observant Jewish Christians?

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by rakovsky, Aug 17, 2019.

  1. rakovsky

    rakovsky Newbie

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    According to Eusebius, Christians "of the circumcision" led the Church of Jerusalem until the Romans ruined the city in about 135 AD. Ambrosiaster wrote that the early Roman Church (like in the first century) was Torah-observant, following the rituals of Moses' Law.

    Paul emphasized the teaching that gentile Christians need not follow the Torah rituals. Based on Paul's epistle to the Galatians, it seems that there was an early controversy between Paul and the followers of James of whether Jewish Christians could eat with gentile Christians in light of Jewish ritual purity rules. But James and the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 ultimately ruled that gentiles didn't need to follow the Torah's observances except for a few things like not eating food sacrificed to idols.

    In the New Testament, Jewish Christians were sometimes called "Nazarenes", which remains the name for Christians in Arabic. In the 4th century, Jerome wrote that the "Nazarene" Christians kept the Torah rules but accepted Orthodox theology and could be found in Jewish synagogues across the East. Epiphanius listed the Torah-observant Nazarenes in his "Panarion", a book on sects, but he did not describe them as heretical.

    John Chrysostom in the 5th century polemicized in his sermon "Against the Judaizers", although I don't remember if he was just directing his polemics against gentiles taking up the Torah rituals.

    The Canons of the Holy Apostles, which were not actually written in the time of the Apostles, were accepted by what was perhaps an Ecumenical Council, The Quintisext Council (AKA the Council of Trullo), but not accepted ecumenically, ie. not by the Roman Church. These "Apostolic Canons" include:
    Maybe this is only banning Christians from keeping Jewish holidays together with non-Christian Jews, as opposed to keeping the same holidays separately.
    The Apostolic Canons are a bit problematic though. For example:
    So even through all of this it isn't clear to me at what point the Church broke with allowing or including Jewish Christians who observed the Torah rituals. Certainly until 135 AD at least they were a significant portion of the Church. It seems to me that at some point in medieval Eastern Europe there was probably a general Church ban on Torah observance, but I don't know of one. So I am looking the earliest official Church prohibition or official break, but I don't know of any at all.
     
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  2. D.A. Wright

    D.A. Wright Once For All-ist Supporter

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    They didn't.
     
  3. Messerve

    Messerve Well-Known Member

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    I want to say it was because of some of those early corrupt popes, starting around A.D. 896. I haven't read the writings of the decisions and statements made by the Church during that time in history, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if one of them decided Jews were to blame for Jesus' death (ignoring Jesus' own ancestry) and tried to ostracize them socially which grew into an overall suspicion and anger against them.

    I'm no historian, so that's just a guess.
     
  4. David Cabrera

    David Cabrera Catechumen

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    Guys, remember this is the Orthodox Forum! So Orthodox friendly answers, please.
     
  5. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

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    "Nasrani" is a term Arabic took from Syriac, but it's not the preferred term among Arabic-speaking Christians, because it can have some negative connotations depending on who is using it and in what context. It is primarily an Islamic term; though it is used by the St. Thomas Christians in India, they use it because of their Syriac church heritage, not because of Arabic. The preferred term that Arabic-speaking Christians use to refer to themselves is Masihi (مسيحي).
     
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  6. David Cabrera

    David Cabrera Catechumen

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    I found that there is an equivalent in Hebrew:
    "Notzrim" is the modern Hebrew word for Christians (No·tsri, נוֹצְרִי)
     
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  7. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

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    That makes sense. Syriac, Arabic, and Hebrew are all genetically related. Just one big happy family! :)
     
  8. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    the Didache marks some early distinctions, as does St Justin Martyr's debate with Trypho.
     
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  9. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

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    I would think the Quartodeciman controversy fits in there somewhere, too, though I'm not sure if you could call it the decisive breaking point.
     
  10. Greengardener

    Greengardener for love is of God Supporter

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    I'm somewhat new to CF, so I'm not sure if it would be stepping over a rule to suggest that you cross post in the area that people can add thoughts that might not be acceptable in this forum. I had thought to reply until I saw the caution that this is an Orthodox forum. There might be some "un-orthodox" comments that could be helpful too.
     
  11. Oldmantook

    Oldmantook Well-Known Member

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    I suggest you read Acts 15 again. It does not say gentiles don't need to follow Torah. After all, Acts 15:20 lists a few things from the Law itself that gentiles should avoid or abstain from in order to avoid sinning. However, the reason for that particular list is given in the following verse connected by the conjunction "for." 21For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.
    James stated that in order to not make it so difficult for the gentiles who are turning to God (v.19) this is a list of things (v.20) that they should avoid (for the time being), so that as they hear Torah read in the synagogues every Sabbath, they will understand the Laws of Moses more completely and then follow accordingly.
     
  12. rakovsky

    rakovsky Newbie

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    OldMantook,
    Even if you were right that the Council of Jerusalem's decision that gentiles only need to observe a few Torah rules that he names, like not eating meat sacrificed to idols, was not a decision that gentiles don't need to follow Torah, then my basic thread question still remains:
    What was the earliest point, if any, that the Orthodox Church broke with Jewish Christians observing Torah?
     
  13. D.A. Wright

    D.A. Wright Once For All-ist Supporter

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    What is an orthodox-unfriendly answer?
     
  14. rakovsky

    rakovsky Newbie

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    If you know of a specific canon, rule, or decision for the whole Orthodox Church that across the board Orthodox must not obey the Torah ritual rules, it would answer my thread question if you would just quote or cite it, without getting into debates. If you are really worried that posting in the section would violate the rules, you could link to another thread where you want to answer the question.
     
  15. Greengardener

    Greengardener for love is of God Supporter

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    Thanks, rakovsky! In this case, Oldmantook said just what I had in mind to say. I just didn't want to risk stepping over appropriate rules.
     
  16. David Cabrera

    David Cabrera Catechumen

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    Here is the Statement of Faith:

    Statement of Faith:

    Members who are in communion with one or more of the Patriarchs listed here are considered “Orthodox” for the sake of these guidelines.

    Active promotion of views contrary to the established teachings of canonical Orthodox Churches are considered off topic. This includes schismatic or Old Believer teachings.

    To learn more about what members of The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox forum believe, please see the Orthodox Christian websites - references thread and the for those new to Orthodoxy thread. Read here about the Eastern Orthodox Church.


    Community Rules:

    All posts within this faith community must adhere to the site wide rules. In addition, if you are not a member of this faith group, you may not debate issues or teach against it's theology. You may post in fellowship. Active promotion of views contrary to the established teachings of this group will be considered off topic.
     
  17. buzuxi02

    buzuxi02 Veteran

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    Jewish-Christians were thrown out of the synagogues during and after Trajan's reign. There were a few Jews who quietly believed in Jesus as messiah but eventually they embraced the mainstream Judaism of their synagogues and died out.
    There was also a sect (or two) not part of mainstream judaism or christianity who kept themselves segregated from both. These Ebionites were simply the offshoot of Jews who would invoke the name of Jesus without observing the entire gospel as mentioned in Acts 19:12-14, Mark 9:38, Acts 19:2-4.
     
  18. rakovsky

    rakovsky Newbie

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    Buzu,
    Thanks for replying. Over the centuries there have been places where significant numbers of Jews or famous Jews converted to Orthodoxy. For example, certainly a major portion of the medieval Khazars in what is today southern Russia were Jewish and then converted in the following centuries to Orthodoxy. One of the Byzantine emperors had a plan to convert the Jews in Palestine to Orthodoxy when the region was still under Byzantine rule. Considering that there was a significant number of such converts, the question would have arisen whether they could keep their specifically Jewish religious observances. So my question is whether the Orthodox Church ever placed a ban on Jewish Christians following the ritual observances of the Torah.
     
  19. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    Very interesting thread! I'm usually more active on discussing topics like these. The last two decades especially I have had to deal with postings or discussions from Messianic Jews and Evangelicals that make pretty sweeping claims of antiSemiticism and seem to paint Church history in a very jaundiced light.


    I don't think you can point to a specific date for what you are asking in the OP. There are certainly milestones that you can point to which other people have already cited in the thread. I actually believe the process was gradual, a lot like Americanization of ethnic groups in earlier times of the United States (before all the multiculturalism that we have now). Once it is established that you cannot save yourself via the law or that is not a necessary part of Church discipline then that sort of paves the way to "go native" especially when people live in areas which are mostly gentile (because of the eucharistic idea of being "One Body of Christ" and people don't want to be isolated). But that being said, there are certain Eastern Christian groups that descend from Jews largely and keep or kept some Jewish traditions (Especially among the Syriac heritage and African end of the Church). Maronite Catholics and Ethiopian Orthodox kept have kept the original Kochur of the Penteuch (In recent times Maronites loosened up on this while, Ethiopians do it out of ethnic tradition because they of their heritage dating back to Solomon and the Queen of Sheba). And I've got other theories on things like the Eastern tradition of Iconography evolving from earlier Jewish traditions like the mezzuh etc.
     
  20. DraculKain

    DraculKain New Member

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    I would recommend the book Surprised by Christ: My Journey from Judaism to Orthodox Christianity by Father James Bernstein. One chapter shows his own personal study about what happened to the Jewish Christians in early Church history, his curiosity stemming from being a Jew. He makes an argument that the Ebionites (unitarians who believed following the Law of Moses was necessary, aka Judaizers) and Nazarenes (Orthodox Christians who followed the Law as ethnic and cultural Jews) were distinct groups. He followed the Nazarenes’ progress in history from Jerusalem at the time of its destruction in the second century north to the Syria/Lebanon area, and believes they eventually assimilated into the Church of Antioch.
     
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