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A C H R I S T I A N I N T E R P R E T A T I O N O F R I T U A L L AW S c h a p t e r 23 “If we do not accept this conclusion, then we shall fall into absurd ideas, as the nonsense either that our God is not the same God who existed in the days of Enoch and all the others who were not circumcised in the flesh, and did not observe the Sabbaths and the other rites, since Moses only imposed them later; or that God does not wish each succeeding generation of humanity always to perform the same acts of righteousness. Either supposition is ridiculous and preposterous. 2. “Therefore, we must conclude that God, who is immutable , ordered these and similar things to be done only because of sinful men, and at the same time we confess him to be sympathetic toward all men, prescient, needful of nothing, just, and good. If I am wrong, gentlemen, let me hear your opinions on this subject.” 3. When I received no reply, I continued, “Permit me, therefore , to repeat to you, Trypho, and to those who wish to become converts, the heavenly doctrine I received from that old man.1 Is it not evident to you that the elements do not refrain from work, and that they do not observe the Sabbaths? Stay as you were at birth. For if circumcision was not required before the time of Abraham, and if there was no need of Sabbaths, festivals , and sacrifices before Moses, they are not needed now, 37 1. I.e., the old man who conversed with Justin by the seashore. See Dial. 3–8. Marcovich, 64, says, “Proselytes must have its usual meaning of ‘proselytes to the Jewish faith,’” not Christianity. See Skarsaune (cited in Dial. 8.2 n 21, above). when, in accordance with the will of God, Jesus Christ, his Son, has been born of the Virgin Mary, a descendant of Abraham. 4. “Indeed, while Abraham himself was still uncircumcised, he was justified and blessed by God because of his faith in him, as the Scriptures tell us. Furthermore, the Scriptures and the facts of the case force us to admit that Abraham received circumcision for a sign, not for justification itself.2 Thus, it was justly said of your people, That soul which shall not be circumcised on the eighth day shall be destroyed out of his people.3 5. Moreover, the fact that females cannot receive circumcision of the flesh shows that circumcision was given as a sign, not as an act of justification. For God also bestowed on women the capability of performing every good and virtuous act. We see that the physical formation of male and female is different, but it is equally evident that the bodily form is not what makes either of them good or evil. Their righteousness is determined by their acts of piety and justice. c h a p t e r 24 “Now gentlemen,” I continued, “I could prove how the eighth day, rather than the seventh, has some mysterious meaning (made known to us by God through these rites), but lest you think that I am digressing from the subject, understand what I now state, that the blood of circumcision is now abolished , and we now trust in the blood of salvation. Now another covenant, another Law has gone forth from Zion, Jesus Christ.4 2. “As was taught of old, he circumcises with knives of stone 5 all those who want it, that they may become a righteous nation, a faithful , truthful, and peace-loving people.6 38 st. justin martyr 2. See Gen 15.6; Rom 4.3–11. 3. Gn 17.14. See Skarsaune, 174, 445; Smit Sibinga, 19–20; N. J. McEleney, “Conversion, Circumcision and the Law,” NTS 20 (1974): 319–41. On “the eighth day” see Smit Sibinga, 60–61. 4. See Daniélou, 164 for this reading. 5. Jos 5.2–3. Later on (Dial. 113–14), St. Justin distinguishes between the first circumcision (of Moses), which was administered by iron knives, and the second circumcision (of Joshua), which was done with stone knives. Joshua’s circumcision was a figure of Christian circumcision, which also is done with knives of stone, i.e., with the precepts of Christ (whom Scripture calls a Stone). 6. See Is 26.2–3. 3. “Come with...


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