Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pseudo-Barnabas and Typology

I enjoy this letter from Barnabas.  It might have been written by a guy with that name or not, but most are certain it was not Paul's companion.  This is likely written after the temple is completely demolished and Jerusalem sacked.  Barnabas reminds his audience that the temple is not the for-real deal.  It is only a shadow.  People are not saved by the temple or by rituals, but by Jesus.

I have only read 20 chapters into this letter so far.  He seems inconsistent.  One moment he's refuting Judaizers, and the next moment, he's spouting out a ton of rules.  He mostly goes through the old temple rituals and explains how they were a typology of Christ, which I agree, only he over-allegorizes every detail of the process. 

For example, sacrificing a heifer to consecrate Aaron and the priests: three boys sprinkle the blood on the men to symbolize Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Maybe that is symbolic, but I'm pretty sure it is not symbol for the patriarchs. 

I think the aspect that got most of my attention was his interpretation of the dietary laws of Leviticus.  From what I recall from Dr. Schwab's class at Erskine, the dietary laws were mainly to separate Israel from their cultures who ate pigs and shellfish like most people today would eat snakes and snails and think it very gross.  The unclean food was literally considered nasty and unclean.

Anyway, Pseudo-Barnabas analyzes each forbidden food and it is interesting.  It almost reminds me of Charles Spurgeon's allegorizing, the way he dissects each morsel of Scripture.  Swine are forbidden because they live in pleasure, whine when they want something, forget the giver when they have it, and are just plain pigs.  The eagle, hawk, kite, and raven sit around all day and wait for their food to die before they get it.  They do not work for their food but are homeless scavengers who should not eat as they do not work.  The Lamprey, polypus, and cuttlefish are banned because they are ungodly and live in the mud.  The hare is incontinent, aka, it has children a little too rapidly.  The weasel apparently has a wicked mouth.

After this, he reviews a lot of Romans 9 predestination things about Jacob and Esau.  He also notes how that Eve listened to a serpent and how all people who sin are snakebit.  The only cure for some people was to look to a snake lifted on a pole.  The only cure for our permanent sin is to look to our Lord lifted on a cross.  Jesus destroyed the first temple but built a better spiritual one out of all his people.

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