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Israelite interactions with gentiles in the Old Testament and the implications regarding missions

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Nancy Jane Eavenson
Abstract:
This dissertation examines the missional implications of teaching regarding Israelite interactions with Gentiles found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Chapter 1 defines what is meant in this study concerning mission and Israelite interactions with Gentiles. In addition, foundation is laid for the study by detailing presuppositions, history of perspectives on the topic, and the methodology. Chapter 2 surveys the witness present in the Hebrew Scriptures concerning God's expectations for Israel's interactions with Gentiles. First, principles are highlighted for interactions from the Torah narratives and legislation. Next principles are identified in passages outside of the Torah. Finally, principles are outlined that are derived from key phrases and overall themes spanning the entire body of Hebrew Scriptures. Chapter 3 studies specific examples of Israelite and Gentile interactions throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. Analysis is provided of the interactions in view of the foundational principles identified in chapter 2. Chapter 4 examines how the intertestamental Jews interpreted and applied teaching from the Hebrew Scriptures concerning their interactions with Gentiles. Primary attention is given to the Jewish writings of the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, and the Tannaim with references to NT opinion. Chapter 5 synthesizes the data from the Hebrew Scriptures and intertestamental witness and draws conclusions about God's intention for Israel in relation to the Gentiles. In addition, observations are made concerning Israel's application of principles from the Hebrew Scriptures concerning their interactions with Gentiles. Finally, implications of the study are drawn for current application. This work maintains that although many Israelites in the Hebrew Scriptures were unaware of God's intention for mission to Gentiles, some existed who understood God's desire and cooperated with God's mission. In addition, during the intertestamental period while many Jews failed to understand and act on God's mission to have His name glorified by Gentiles, others felt called to intentionally interact with Gentiles and actively sought to bring Gentiles to know and worship Yahweh as God.

TABLE OF CONTENT S

Page

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

................................ ..................

vi i

LIST OF TABLES

................................ ............................

i x

PREFACE

................................ ................................ ....

x

Chapter

1.

INTRODUCTION

................................ ....................

1

Thesis

................................ ..............................

1

Presuppositions

................................ .....................

2

Historical Overview

................................ .................

5

OT

Witness Concerning Israelite Interactions

with

Gentiles and Implications for Missions

......................

5

OT

Israelite Interactions with Gentiles and

Implications for

Missions as Understood by

Intertestamental Jews

...........

6

OT

Israelite Interactions with Gentiles and

Implications for

Missions as Understood by Early Christ ians

.................

13

O T Israelite Interactions with Gentiles and

Implications for

Missions as Understood by the Reformers

..................

15

OT Israelite Interactions with Gentiles and

Implications for

Missions as Understood by Modern Jews

...................

19

O T Israelite Interactions with Gen tiles and

Implications for

Missions as Understood by

Modern Christians

..............

23

Methodology

................................ .......................

38

Method for Examining Hebrew Scripture

........................

39

Method for Examining Israelite Interactions with Gentiles

........

4 0

Method for Examining the Reality of Intertestamental Jews

Concerning Interactions with Gentiles and Missions .........

42

v

Chapter

................................ ................................ .......

Page

2.

FOUNDATIONS FOR ISRA ELITE MISSION

AND INTERACTIONS WITH GENTILES

............................

4 3

Foundation Derived from the Torah

................................ ..

4 3

Principles from Torah Narratives

................................

4 4

Principles from Torah L egislatio n

...............................

48

Foundation Derived from Outside the Torah

..........................

56

Missional Aspects of Intercess ion

...............................

56

Mission al

Aspects

of Psalms

................................ ....

5 8

Mission al

Aspects

of Prophecies

................................

6 2

Foundation Derived from Key Phrases

...............................

6 7

―In you shall all families of the earth be blessed‖

.................

68

―You shall be to me a kingdom of priests‖

.......................

7 2

―Stranger who dwells among you‖

..............................

73

―That you/they may know that I am the LORD‖

.................

7 8

Foundational Concepts

................................ ..............

79

Universalism

................................ ..................

80

Election

................................ .......................

81

Glorification of God‘s Name

................................ ...

8 2

Conclusion

................................ ..........................

84

3. CASES O F ISRAELITE INTERACTIONS WITH GENTILES

..........

8 5

Interactions

................................ ..........................

85

Elijah and Widow

of Zarephath

................................ .

8 6

Servant Girl and Naaman‘s Wife

................................

93

Elisha and Naaman

................................ .............

97

Jonah and Gentiles

................................ .............

102

Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar

................................ ....

110

vi

Chapter

................................ ................................ .......

Page

Conclusion

................................ .........................

119

4 . IMPACT O F OT

TEACHING ON MISSION AND

INTERACTIONS WITH GENTILES AS

EVIDENCED BY EARLY

JEWS

................................ ......

122

Jewish Perspectives concerning Mission and Interactions with Gentiles

122

Themes of the Hebrew Scriptures Found in Early Jewish Writings

.

1 2 3

Case Studies from the Hebrew Scriptures

........................

155

Conclusion

................................ .........................

176

5. SYNTHESIS

................................ .........................

178

God‘s Intention for Israel in Reference to Gentiles

....................

1 78

God‘s Mission

................................ ..................

179

God‘s Chosen People

................................ ..........

18 1

God‘s Methods for Using Israel

................................ .

184

Israel‘s Response

in Relating to Gentiles

..............................

187

Implicatio ns for Mission Today

................................ ......

1 89

Differences between OT and NT Mission

........................

1 90

Similarities

between OT and NT Mission

........................

192

Current Application for Missions

................................

194

Suggestions for Further Study

................................ .......

198

Conclusion

................................ .........................

2 0 0

Appendix

................................ ...............................

Pa ge

1 . THAT YOU/THEY MAY KN OW THAT I

AM THE LORD

............

203

2 . SCRIPTURES REFERENCE D

................................ ........

205

3. EARLY JEWISH WRITINGS REFERENCED ..........................

213

BIBLIOGRAPHY

................................ ............................

219

vii

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

BT

The Babylonian Talmud

(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005)

BBR

Bulletin for Biblical Research

CC

Calv in‟s Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996)

CJ

Conservative Judaism

CTQ

Concordia Theological Quarterly

FF

Face to Face

IBMR

International Bulletin of Missionary Research

JT

The Talmud of the Land of Israel

(Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998 )

LOJ

The Legends of the Jews

(Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909 - 38)

LCC

Library of Christian Classics

( Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006)

LW

Luther‟s Works ( S t .

Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959 - 1965)

Mek.

Ish.

Mekilta de - Rabbi Ishmael

( Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1933 - 35)

Mek. Shm .

Mekhilta de -

( Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2006)

MR

Midrash Rabbah

(London: Soncino Press, 1951)

M TT

The Minor Tractates of the Talmud

(London: Soncino Press, 1965)

Mish

Mishnah

(New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988)

Mis

Missiology

viii

OB

Occasional Bulletin

TOTP

The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha

(Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1985)

PTR

P rinceton Theological Review

RRev

Reformed Review

The

Themelios

TWOT

Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Word Press, 1980)

Works

Works of Josephus

( Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987)

YT

The Jerusalem Talmud (Berlin: Walter de Gr uyter, 2000 - 10)

ix

LIST OF TABLES

Table

................................ ................................ ................................ ..........................

Page

1. Occurrences of ―be a blessing‖ in Genesis

..............................

69

2. Use of phrases similar to ―stranger among you‖

.........................

74

x

PREFACE

Although many have encouraged me during my time at Southern, I am especially gr ateful to my committee. Dr. Fuller, my supervising professor, granted much grace along the way ,

and each time I spoke with him, he provided encouragement. Dr. Martin stirred my initial interest in investigating missional concepts in the Old Testament and p rovided much valued critical feedback from the outset . Similarly, Dr. Garrett‘s forthrightness along the way challenged me and helped to improve the final work.

From the beginning through the end, my friends and co - workers at Campus Crusade for Christ su pport ed

and pray ed

for me. Only through the understanding and flexibility of my leaders at CCC, Jim Bengtson and Pam Jones, was I able to continue to work for the ministry I love as I followed this new calling. Thanks to all those from Campus Crusade who f aithfully prayed for me.

In addition to the prayer support from my friends at Campus Crusade, while a student in Louisville, I was also blessed by my friends at my church home, Bee chwood Baptist. Through flood, H urricane Ike, ice storm, and the everyday, t heir encouragement and constant care helped me to be faithful to my call ,

and I am deeply grateful. I am especially thankful to Pastor Robert Blackburn and the Friendship class ,

who allowed me to serve in a variety of ways and who never ceased to encourage

me along the way.

Words cannot fully express the gratitude I have for

my parents, my brother, and my sister. My parents, Charles and Janie, helped by example to instill a love of God‘s word in my heart , and often

I think back on the days when we read the

Bible together as a family, such a treasured memory. Their emotional support and prayers helped me to follow God‘s leading even when I did not know the ultimate destination. In addition, the encouragement from my siblings, Chuck and Christie, helped to br ighten my way.

xi

Continually my family inspired me to persevere in following the path the Lord showed me because of their faithful commitment to serve our Savior.

Finally, to my Lord and Savior, I owe everything. His abundant grace and tender mercy never ce ase to amaze me. May everything bring glory to His Name; all praise to the L ORD

God Most High.

Nancy J. Eavenson

Louisville, Kentucky

December

2011

1

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

Although the concept of deliberate mission in the Old Testament is still in

dispute, various scholars have contended that God was on mission to reconcile non - Israelites to Himself and certain people of Israel understood the calling to participate in that mission. As one reads the accounts in the Old Testament, it seems that somet imes the actions of individual Israelites helped to fulfill this mission while at other times their actions seemed to undermine God‘s purpose. Some would argue that the impact of the Old Testament teaching on interactions with Gentiles was manifested missi onally with the result that, when Israelites followed principles outlined by their calling and how they were to behave with non - Israelites, Gentiles came to a potentially saving knowledge of God. By the intertestamental period, it would appear some Jews un derstood certain teachings in the Hebrew Scriptures in a missional way, which led to the openness to and practice of proselytism.

Thesis

This dissertation use s

biblical and extra - biblical

evidence to show that the Old Testament provides a witness, underst ood by early Jews and instructive for Christians today, of God‘s missional intention to use Israel‘s interactions with Gentiles to bring people to acknowledge Himself as God.

Since the first century, Christians have held the belief that they shared the O ld Testament function and mission for the people of God to bring non - believers into an encounter with God that could lead to their becoming members of the faith community. As a result, it is important that the original mission is understood and the relatio nships of

2

God‘s people with non - Israelites are understood. Much can be learned from studying early Israelite understanding of mission and their attendant interactions with Gentiles. In addition, much can be gleaned by observing how that foundational unders tanding of the Old Testament mission affected early Judaism. This study will focus specifically on how the teachings found in the Hebrew Scriptures did or did not influence how Israelites interacted with Gentiles and what the implications might be for Chri stian mission today.

Presuppositions

From the start, several presuppositions need to be stated. Each interpreter of Scripture brings to the task a way of seeing the biblical world that is colored by his own understanding of reality. Whether or not acknowle dged, these presuppositions do impact how one interprets and evaluates Scripture. To be clear, major presuppositions will be stated at the beginning and the impact those viewpoints will make upon this work will be acknowledged. Several presuppositions will

be noted: (1) the acceptance of the divine author and inherent authority of Scripture, (2) an understanding of what is meant by mission versus missions with the initiation of mission by God, and (3) an evangelical Protestant acceptance of the belief that Christians are now also called to participate in the mission of God to bring glory to His name and

to

reconcile the world to Himself.

To acknowledge the divine authorship of the complete Protestant canon of Scripture has several ramifications. First, ac cepting divine authorship prompts one to practice the interpretation of Scripture with a consideration of the intention of the divine author and to take into account the whole canon of Scripture even while focusing on one section. As a result, the interpre ter accepting the divine authorship considers the interpretations made by New Testament writers regarding Old Testament passages as valid and inspired, just as the original writings. Such an interpretation of Scripture does not negate or invalidate a first

meaning understood by the original writers and recipients. Instead, the interpreter accepts that with further revelation, as given to the apostles and

3

writers of the New Testament, comes fuller understanding of the divine author‘s overall intention.

Sec ond, an acceptance of the divine authorship and authority of Scripture means that the accounts presented in the whole body of Scripture will be accepted as true representations of Israel‘s actual history in the world without any shade of error in the origi nal manuscripts. Therefore, when a text is difficult, examination of the textual witnesses will be made to discern as nearly as possible the original reading. Such investigation will be done with the understanding that the Lord has permitted the transmissi on of the text(s) as they are for a reason, since He maintains sovereign control over the Scriptures during all stages of transmission.

Third, an acceptance of the divine inspiration and authority of the Scriptures will circumscribe how much emphasis or cr edence is placed on the theories stemming from historical criticism. For this work, a traditional view, which predates theories popularized by Julius Wellhausen, is accepted for the authorship of most of the Old Testament books. While it will be necessary and valid to investigate the social and cultural situations of Israel and her neighbors for many of the aspects of this study, the settings investigated will be those of the times referenced in the writings, or of any specified human author, with little em phasis given to the situation of any theoretical later editor. For example, the Torah will be accepted as the composition of Moses with the understanding that the Israelite nation had it in their possession from the point that they entered the land of Cana an.

Regarding the presupposition of mission being initiated by God, clarifications about the terms ‗mission‘ and ‗missions‘ first need to be made. As many scholars have noted, confusion exists about the use of the terms mission and missions. In the course of this study, the term ‗mission‘ will be used primarily to describe God‘s plan to bring humanity to glorify His name with the end result of people being brought into right relationship with Him. If the term ‗mission‘ is used, it will be used with the unde rlying

4

understanding that God was the One who initiated the mission. If a passage is described as ‗missional,‘ it will be with the understanding that God was the initiator. ‗Missions‘ will be understood as activities undertaken by men to fulfill God‘s miss ion. As a result, activities like, but not limited to, preaching, prophesying, healing, or testifying to God‘s supremacy will be described as ‗missional‘ activities.

Finally, the presupposition regarding the Church inheriting the call of Israel needs exp lanation. Over the millennia, various beliefs have existed regarding whether the Church has inherited aspects of the call of God to Israel. Positions range from the ―replacement theology‖ of those who believe that the Church has completely replaced Israel to a position that both the Church and the Jews are equally called to work to fulfill the mission of God. 1

In this work, it is maintained that the call on the Church to exalt God Most High in order to draw non - believers to glorify Him is a continuation of

the call on Israel, as the elect people of God. As Christopher Wright noted, the Church is therefore ―joined with God‘s people.‖ 2

At the foundation of the call is the mandate to glorify the name of the one true God, the L ORD , before all nations. In this w ay, the Church shares the initial call with the Israelites. What makes the Church unique is the additional call to testify specifically to belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as God made flesh, in whom is the revealed way of salvation for all.

Historical Overv iew

Although more has been written recently concerning the missional impetus observed in the Old Testament, most references to mission in the Old Testament have

1 Harold H. Ditmanson, ―Some Theological Perspectives,‖ FF

3 - 4 (1977):

6 - 8. Content of the Fall/Winter 1977 FF

issue revolved around the question of Christian mission and Jewish witness. In this issue, Jew ish and Christian writers presented their perspectives on the past and current understanding of mission for Jews and Christians. Of particular note were the articles by Sidney Hoenig, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Jakob J. Petuchowski, James E. Wood ,

and Carl F.

H. Henry.

2 Christopher Wright, Mission of God

(Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006), 497.

5

concentrated on Abraham‘s commission in Genesis 12, the inauguration of the Israelites as a roy al priesthood in Exodus 19, and finding a basis for mission today. Barring a few notable exceptions, little has been done in evangelical circles to survey the picture of mission throughout the Old Testament from a relational point of view, especially as it

was understood through the eyes of the earliest Jews up through the Talmudic period. In addition, there has been little focus on whether and how the foundational teachings, regarding missional call and relational responsibilities, affected the actual acti ons of Israelites and Israelite/Gentile relationships.

A survey of the literature touching this subject must begin with classifying the primary source documents of the Hebrew Scriptures. Next, representative comments of early Jewish thought in the interte stamental writings, histories, and rabbinic commentaries will be examined. Then, the perspectives of early Christians will be summarized as seen in the New Testament and in the writings of later Reformation leaders. Finally, the most important contribution s of modern Jewish and Christian scholars will be noted.

Old Testament Witness Concerning

Israelite Interactions with Gentiles

and Implications for Missions

The whole witness of the Old Testament includes a wide variety of passages understood to convey i nformation about God‘s intended mission for Israel and Israel‘s varying degrees of participation with Him . In fact, some scholars identify the first hints of mission in the Old Testament with Genesis 1,

as does Okoye, who calls the passage a

―blueprint for

mission.‖ 3

Even if some do not recognize an aspect of God ‗on mission‘ in Genesis 1, many recognize the significance of God‘s promises to Abraham in Genesis 12.

3 James Chukwuma Okoye, Israel and the Nations

(Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2006), 24. He calls Genesis a blueprint referring to God‘s mission ―in that it depicts both the purpose of creation and the responsibility of humanity in it and for it.‖

6

Evangelical scholar Walter Kaiser even called

Genesis 12 the ―Great Commission‖ of the Old Tes tament. 4

Hints of blessings to the nations and the role of Abraham‘s descendants are further clarified by God‘s words to the Israel ites

at the foot of Sinai before their acceptance of the covenant as recorded in Exodus 19. These passages are foundational to the rest of the Old Testament witness concerning mission. From these beginnings, traces of God‘s mission and intention to use Israel as a witness to the nations are seen through the laws He gives concerning Israel‘s relationships with Gentiles, through the narratives of individual Israelites‘ relations with Gentiles, through the prayers and hymns of the people, and through the prophecies given by the prophets. As the primary records of Old Testament Israel‘s involvement in God‘s mission, these passages a nd their interpretation are of principal importance.

Old Testament Israelite Interactions with

Gentiles and Implications for Missions as

Understood by Intertestamental Jews

Jews who came out of the exile and established the traditions and writings used in the synagogues were the first commentators on the Old Testament writings. How the early Jews thought, wrote, and acted reflected how they understood the Old Testament teachings having to do with Gentile relationships. References to the election and miss ion of Israel are scattered through the various collections of apocryphal and rabbinic literature. Writings and effor ts of the second temple descenda nts of Israel seem to show a consciousness of their calling to bring Gent iles to an understanding about who

the God of Israel was and what His commands were.

Writings that have become known as the Jewish Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha provide insight into how some Jewish people viewed interactions with

4 Walter C. Kaiser

Jr. ,

Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to the Nations

(Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), 7.

7

Gentiles following the exile. Examples of missional prac tices, such as the teaching of Jewish beliefs and the proselytization of foreigners, are found in various writings. For instance, since the writing Joseph and Aesnath

dealt with the conversion of a Gentile to belief in Israel‘s God, the account is instruct ive regarding the openness of Jews to conversions at the time the story was recorded. Other general conclusions regarding early Jewish interactions with Gentiles can be made from writings such as the Letter of

Aristeas

and other works.

Writings from the A pocrypha also provide some early witnesses to how Jews viewed interactions with Gentiles and the concepts of proselytizing and conversion. For example, in Tobit, one finds a clear expression of the future promise that all the nations ultimately will be con verted. 5

In Judith, the conversion of Achior the Ammonite was positively portrayed. 6

Wisdom indicates in its opening verse that those who sincerely sought God would find Him, and Sirach contains a prayer that the nations would know God as Israel knew God. 7

Baruch, on one hand, lists a prayer of the Israelites for the wellbeing of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. On the other hand, Baruch lauds the Torah as given only to Israel and notes that Israel should not give her ―advantages,‖ which seem linked to the Torah and knowledge of what pleases God, to ―an alien people.‖ 8

Punishment for Israel‘s enemies is invoked in the Prayer of Azariah so

that

her antagonists might know the glory of Israel‘s God. 9

Bel records that King Cyrus was accused by his own people of

becoming a Jew

5 Tob 14:6. Quotations from the Apocrypha are tak en from t he

NRSV . See also Tob 13:10 - 18.

6 Jdt 14:10. Judith purposefully went out of her way to ‗witness‘ to the Ammonite. Her witness of God‘s power led to Achior‘s conversion.

7 Wis 1:1 - 2; Sir 36:1 - 5, 17.

8 Bar 1:10 - 12; 2:14 - 15; 3:9 - 4:4.

9 Pr Azar 1:20 - 22.

8

and that, because of Daniel‘s actions and life testimony, the monarch acknowledged God‘s singularity. 10

First

Esdras 5:48 - 50 indicates that though most Gentiles in the land were hostile to the returning Jews and were rejected by them, some j oined the Jews. 11

One other interesting point in 1 Esdras 8:50 - 53 concerns Ezra‘s reluctance to use protection from the king because Ezra wanted King Artaxerxes to see that he trusted in the protection of his God. Thus, Ezra‘s actions bore witness to the tr uth of his words as a witness to a Gentile king. Though most of 2 Esdras (sometimes called 4 Esdras) is a Christian writing, it has been noted that a part of it is a Jewish apocalypse. 12

In

this Jewish section, comments

exist

concerning how all men might be

saved, the importance of the law of God as given to Israel, and the law‘s availability to all.

All four books of Maccabees, by various authors from an assortment of times, recount different Jewi sh interactions with Gentiles during

their struggle with Hell enism and Gentile domination. As a result, the picture portrayed of Jewish/Gentile relations was often negativ e. In 1 Maccabees 2:46 a comment

exists

about forced circumcisions of all boys within the borders of Israel but little can be concluded about the identity of those circumcised and what was done afterwards, if anything, to convert the hearts of those circu mcised. In 2 Maccabees an intriguing story

exists

regarding Heliodorus and his encounter with the power of God that involved the mediation of the J ewish priest Onias with God for the healing of the Gentile and Heliodorus‘ subsequent testimony to other Gentiles of God‘s power. 13

Scattered throughout the different books are stories showing

10 Bel 28 and 41.

11 Contrast to 1 Esdr 5:68 - 71. Esdras contains stories paralleling the history of Ezra and Nehemiah.

12 George W. E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishn ah (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1 981), 287. He identi fied chap s .

3 - 14 as being Jewish in origin.

13 2 Macc 3:22 - 39. Also, see the account of Antiochus‘s final illness and confession as presented in 2 Macc 9:11 - 20, which portrayed him acknowledging the God of Israel and willing to become a Jew himself out of his agony. Also of note were comments about how Gentiles like Lysias came to recognize God‘s protection of the Jewish people as a testimony to His reality. See 2 Macc 11:13 - 14 and

9

that the Jews considered God‘s supernatural protection of them a s signs to the Gentiles of His reality as God.

Overall, the writings of the Jews during the int ertestamental period shed some

additional light on what the Scriptures themselves said concerning relating

to Gentiles but there is little

direct evidence in the se writings of an organized mission on the behalf of the nations. What can be determined is that some Jews did understand that their actions relating to Gentiles were important, like Judith relating to the Ammonite and Ezra‘s testimony and actions with Art axerxes. Intercession for individual Gentiles was a recognized practice. Conversion of Gentiles was understood as possible, and converts, following conversion, were described in positive ways. Obedience to the Torah was considered as key for anyone to be c onsidered righteous and its teaching was of prime importance. Attitudes toward Gentiles fluctuated dramatically, as presented in various works and even within the works themselves, depending upon the Gentile in question.

Jewish historians of the first cent ury also appear to have had little directly to say concerning the concept of the mission of Israelites in relating with Gentiles in the Old Testament. However, both Philo and Josephus made statements in passing that illustrated that proselytizing occurred and that converts were even common and welcomed. Both Jewish historians conveyed through their words an acceptance and respect of converts.

Philo, an Alexandrian Jew living from around 20 BC to AD 50, had less to contribute to the subject than Josephus; ho wever, his comments highlighted two important points. First, proselytes were considered full Jews. Second, he, as a Jew, esteemed Gentiles who gave up so much in the face of persecution to become proselytes. Therefore, though Philo did not specify how he v iewed Old Testament teaching on relating to Gentiles and any missional implications, his writings served to encourage openness of his fellow Jews to true God - fearers and proselytes.

similar comments in 2 Macc 8:34 - 36 (regarding Nicanor) and in 3 Macc 6:28 - 29 ; 7:6, 9 (regarding King Ptolemy Philopator).

10

Josephus also conveyed an appreciation for Gentile converts and provided a witness to the effects of proselytizing by the Jewish people. In Against Apion , Josephus stressed that many Greeks had ―come over to our laws.‖ 14

Josephus sought to show that Judaism was attractive to Greeks and that Jews on their part were open to having

others join with them. In Josephus, one of the clearest signs of first century Jewish proselytizing efforts may be observed in the history he related concerning the conversion of King Izates and the devotion of his mother, Queen Helena of Adiabene. In the

related cases, Jews actively pursued the education of Gentiles about Judaism and succeeded in winning them to their faith.

Early Jewish religious thought is preserved in a variety of writings and collections up through the Talmudic period. Considered the

―codification of the Oral Torah,‖ the Mishnah

of Judah ha - Nasi was the foundational work around which many later writings centered. 15

Very little can be found in the Mishnah

that directly informs the question of Old Testament Israelite interactions with Ge ntiles and the implications for mission. However, the structure of the Mishnah

was followed in later writings that did have more to say on the subject, like the Tosefta (also Tosifta) , a supplemental work, and the later Gemara , or commentary on the Mishnah ,

including

what is written in the collections of the Talmud

and

the

Midrashim . 16

One of the most notable evidences in the rabbinical writings of the effect of the missional efforts of the Jews is the existence of the short tractate, Gerim

(Proselytes). Wr itten right after the era of the Mishnah , Gerim

dealt with the process involving

14 Flavius Josephus, Flavius Josephus a gainst Apio n

2.11.123 (trans. William Whiston, Works , 801).

15 A. Cohen, Everyman‟s Talmud

(New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1949), xxvi. The Mishnaic period covered the time f ollowing Hillel and Shammai from around 40 BC up through around AD 200.

16 Meaning ―completion,‖ the Gemara

is commentary that elaborates and completes what is conveyed in the Mishnah . Comments appear often in the Gemara

that deal with

Gentiles and Israel‘ s relations with them and responsibility to them.

11

conversion to Judaism. 17

Though this work does not deal with the Old Testament Scriptures directly in order to rationalize the need for proselytizing, it provides evidence that

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Abstract: This dissertation examines the missional implications of teaching regarding Israelite interactions with Gentiles found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Chapter 1 defines what is meant in this study concerning mission and Israelite interactions with Gentiles. In addition, foundation is laid for the study by detailing presuppositions, history of perspectives on the topic, and the methodology. Chapter 2 surveys the witness present in the Hebrew Scriptures concerning God's expectations for Israel's interactions with Gentiles. First, principles are highlighted for interactions from the Torah narratives and legislation. Next principles are identified in passages outside of the Torah. Finally, principles are outlined that are derived from key phrases and overall themes spanning the entire body of Hebrew Scriptures. Chapter 3 studies specific examples of Israelite and Gentile interactions throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. Analysis is provided of the interactions in view of the foundational principles identified in chapter 2. Chapter 4 examines how the intertestamental Jews interpreted and applied teaching from the Hebrew Scriptures concerning their interactions with Gentiles. Primary attention is given to the Jewish writings of the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, and the Tannaim with references to NT opinion. Chapter 5 synthesizes the data from the Hebrew Scriptures and intertestamental witness and draws conclusions about God's intention for Israel in relation to the Gentiles. In addition, observations are made concerning Israel's application of principles from the Hebrew Scriptures concerning their interactions with Gentiles. Finally, implications of the study are drawn for current application. This work maintains that although many Israelites in the Hebrew Scriptures were unaware of God's intention for mission to Gentiles, some existed who understood God's desire and cooperated with God's mission. In addition, during the intertestamental period while many Jews failed to understand and act on God's mission to have His name glorified by Gentiles, others felt called to intentionally interact with Gentiles and actively sought to bring Gentiles to know and worship Yahweh as God.