Seven Laws of Noah (Theology/Philosophy) - Printable Version
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Seven Laws of Noah (Theology/Philosophy) - A True Monotheist - 01-15-2008 08:31 PM
This will be a (hopefully) brief discussion of theology. In particular, I intend to discuss a kind of "bridge" between the three Abrahamic religions, which are so often at odds. Name, I believe that the Seven Laws of Noah may provide a bridge of understanding between Jews, Christians and Muslims that upholds the One G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in a manner that is universal and not tribal. In other words, a common view of Hebraic theology is that it is tribal, when in fact it is universalist in nature.
The Rabbinical view of Torah is that the Israelite is bound to 613 Laws of Moses. These are the Prohibitions and Affirmations passed down to Moses while the Israelites wandered in to the desert. One of the central questions of Paulian Christianity is the question of whether the "Gentile" is under the Torah, or under Grace. This view ultimately split Judaism and Christianity in a way that may have even been more basic than the split over the Trinity, or questions of salvation that seem to concern the Church so much. However, Paul and his Rabbinical opposition BOTH respected the Torah as their central starting point. In addition, there are several passages in the New Testament suggesting that the Nazarene and Paul both respected Rabbinical teachings.
Thus, it is important to understand that Rabbinical Judaism and early Christianity would both have agreed that Torah Law is complex. It cannot be understood simply, as so many believe today. Christianity "split off" from Judaism somewhere around...well, it is hard to say. Let us guess the second century. The transition may have been very smooth, or it might have been accelerated with the destruction of the Temple, depending on one's interpretations. However, even some later Christian teachers still understood that the teachings of the Rabbis on points of Torah were valid. Thus, the question for so many Gentiles who approach Judaism, Christian and Muslims Monotheists primarily, is whether the Jewish understanding of Torah is universal or not.
The answer is yes---and no. The Gentiles Nations are not understood by the Rabbis as being under the 613 Laws of Moses. This is very simple from any reading of the Scriptures. However, at the same time, there are seven Universal Commandments that are understood as binding on all men and women everywhere. Under Oral Tradition, they are said to have been given to Noah. These Laws are for everyone, Jew and Gentiles, according to the exegetics of the Rabbis. I will list them in an informal order:
1) No Murder (Genesis 9:6)
2) No Stealing
3) No Fornication/Adultery
4) Uphold the Divine Name/No Blasphemy
5) No Idolatry
6) No Blood with Meat/Animal Cruelty (Genesis 9)
7) Courts of Justice to uphold these other Six Laws.
These Laws are violated by the Nations all of the time. We only need to look at the JRC to know that some institutions believe that they *ARE* G-d, rather than uphold G-d. Tyrants have always held to a view very similar to this concept. Yet, the understanding in Hebraic thought---Orthodox Hebraic thought---is that these Laws are binding on the entire globe, leaders and people alike, without respect to persons.
Rule number "7", the Commandment of Courts of Justice, is considered to be problematic by many. There is a lot of commotion about it on the internet. Many will argue that it gives governments license to overthrow democracy for the sake of suppressing idolatry, that it would revive the Inquisition or the Taliban. This is a complicated question. Remember that Orthodox Judaism is different from Reformed Judaism, the latter being a product of the Enlightenment. Orthodox Judaism originated in a world that was pre-liberal, and in which most governments were tied in to some form of religion or cosmogony. There was no such thing as a "secular" government. I question whether even the Enlightenment actually held to such a view.
The propaganda on the internet holds that these Laws were passed in order to give the government power to suppress certain religions that are deemed "idolatrous," or to repress people generally. My response to this is that anything that is of the Light WILL be misused for purposes of darkness. This is part of how the world works. Darkness will always use the things of Light to mask itself. Just as the Christian, New Testament admonition to uphold legitimate authorities, "Romans 13: 1-7", has been misused by some to suggest that tyrannies should be upheld (a blatant misuse), so it is that many agendas may misuse the Seven Laws of Noah for their own purposes. The misuse of the Seven Laws of Noah by certain forces in the world no more implies a "Jewish conspiracy" than the misuse of "Romans 13" by H*tler implies a Lutheran conspiracy. If anything, it implies that there is a powerful truth that the spirit of ignorance would want distorted. Spiritual Ignorance works by distorting Truth to its purposes.
In my view, knowledge of these Laws is a bridge between faiths, not a dividing line. Some within the Orthodox/Noahide camp will view my position as theologically liberal. I simply see it as the work of HaShem on Earth. I my view, Courts of Justice to uphold the other Six Laws cannot be fully implemented until the Messianic Age to come. However, the bridge of understanding between and among Monotheistic faiths can begin now. Obviously, you and I will still disagree on whether the Trinity is truly Monotheistic, or who is the final Prophet, et al. Yet, the former camp must admit that the New Testament was steeped in a culture of unquestioned Rabbinical assumptions. No genuine scholar denies that. The latter camp needs to consider what "People of the Book" really means.
My purpose is not to proselytize or to convince anyone. Again, I posted this in the special interests area because philosophy and theology have been special interests of mine. That's a fairly "Aspie" thing to do. I do not care to even start a debate---although you are free to do so. Rather, it is a discussion of interest. In my view, the internet has too many proselytizers and not enough informed discussion on theology/philosophy.
Let me leave you with one thought. Genuine Kabbalistic Rabbis (to be distinguished from New Age distortionists and commercializers) have believed that in the Messianic Age the number "7" will assume the properties of the number "8". "7" is understood to be the number of completion, since G-d rested on the Sabbath. "8" is a kind of new beginning. Some Christians have adopted this view to justify a Sunday Sabbath, a view that I disagree with, since I uphold Saturday, yet which is interesting in light of the 7--->8 view of the Messianic Age.
There are "7" Noahide Laws. 7 is a prime number. It is the fourth prime number. One is excluded from the list of primes today, so seven is the fourth prime number. There is a completeness in this, since 4 is the first square number among natural numbers that is different from the number being squared. It is also the first square of a prime. The fourth prime number would thus have the sense of being foundational. I do not believe in numerology, but I do believe in symbolism, as long as one is liberal and not pushy about interpretations.
8 is 2^3, or the third power of the very first recognized prime. Again, one is no longer considered prime, so we exclude it. 2 and 3? How interesting that 2+3=5, which is one more than 4. What does this mean? Oh, the rationalists will probably say, "Nothing." I can respect that. I might be on a limb. However, if we follow a certain symbolism we can at least say that with 5 we have one more than the foundational number 4, just as 8 is one more than the foundational number 7. To my mind, this implies an age of Love and Miracles, in which we have "one more" than what is foundational. We live in a "foundational" existence. I pray that the time in which we are "one more than foundational" comes speedily and in our days.
I apologize that I dwelt a great deal on Christianity to the exclusion of Islam. And, the Eastern philosophies deserve a separate conversation, particularly the "Brahmanistic" and Buddhist paths, which have incorporated concepts that parallel Monotheism in certain key respects. This is not complete. However, it is "foundational."
A True Monotheist
Hillel says, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14
RE: Seven Laws of Noah (Theology/Philosophy) - A True Monotheist - 03-26-2008 08:37 AM
I will choose March 26 to "bump" this thread up. The subject is important because it is a unifier between Jews, Christians and Muslims, if rightly understood. If wrongly understood, it will divide those communities. However, I think that, rightly understood, it is a profound religious bridge. How is a Gentile to follow Torah?
Have a blessed day. Spring time has turned out to be wonderful here in Northern California.
All the best.
RE: Seven Laws of Noah (Theology/Philosophy) - Lucie1 - 03-27-2008 07:15 AM
Autumn is beautiful here with sun and dappled light. I love the shadows and the softer light of Autumn.
RE: Seven Laws of Noah (Theology/Philosophy) - A True Monotheist - 03-27-2008 11:51 PM
Lucie1 and others:
Here is a website that some of you might enjoy, if you like my "Torah" posts;
All the best.