[b-hebrew] oral law

Peter Kirk peter at qaya.org
Fri Jun 23 11:50:09 EDT 2006

On 23/06/2006 16:39, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:
> ...
> The claim that there is no oral law is just as external to the Torah/Bible
> as the claim that there is.  More to the point, and without identifying
> the oral law as the Mishna/Talmud, it is very likely that there is an oral
> law, simply because any code of law that is written is written in a certain
> context, and further generations must interpret that law to allow new
> situations to be addressed.  While something may have seemed clear
> to the author of the law, it may not be so clear to its practitioners several
> generations hence.  All of this creates the background whereby any code
> of law that is written down, has along with it, associated understandings
> that are not written down, and also must be interpreted continuously in
> further generations.
As a Christian I would not dispute the existence of oral law. It is 
clear (not least from the New Testament) that a body of traditional 
interpretation and application of the laws in the Torah had built up by 
the Second Temple period, and continued to build through the Talmud, 
Rashi etc to the present day. What I would dispute is the proposition 
that this body goes back to the time of Moses. Some of it might, but it 
seems likely to me that at least the majority of it dates from much 
later, no earlier than the approximate time of Ezra when the Jewish 
community reestablished itself in the Land and concentrated on 
distinguishing itself from the surrounding nations. It was this body of 
traditional interpretations which was criticised by Jesus, especially in 
cases where it could be seen to contradict the original intention of the 
Torah, which Jesus summarised as love for God and love for one's neighbour.

Peter Kirk
E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
Blog:    http://speakertruth.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.qaya.org/

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