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As I'm sure all of you know, the Old Testament is the Hebrew bible. Why then do Christians not follow the same rules as the Jews? When Christianity was attracting attention, Paul said that Jews who converted had to follow the Jewish law, but gentiles did not. If the halacha (Jewish law) is still technically in the Christian bible, then why are things like keeping Kosher not observed by Christians?

Also, if a Jew were to convert today, do they use Paul's idea, or stop following Jewish law (obviously it's up to the person, but is there any evidence to suggest that that's how it should be done)?

  • Ok, thanks guys, I was wondering if it would go here or there, and I just figured I would ask it here. – Sam Sep 20 '17 at 10:47
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    I have voted to re-open on the grounds that this question can and should be answered by pointing to narrative content in the New Testament, notably including Peter's dream in Acts, and some of Jesus' confrontations with the Pharisees. Campbell called myth "other people's religion," which definition I accept only on the stipulation that everyone is "other people" to someone. I prefer to define myth as sacred story, and these NT passages qualify. – Brian Donovan Sep 20 '17 at 13:01
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The relevance and applicability of the Mosaic Code to Christians, especially gentile Christians, is a vexed theological question that Paul addresses and tries to finesse in more than one of his epistles—but those are rather theological discourses than mythic narratives, and so less proper for this community’s attention.

The New Testament narrative most obviously relevant to this point is Peter’s Dream in Acts of the Apostles (Acts 10.9–16), in which a sheet is lowered from heaven holding a variety of animals and a disembodied voice directs Peter to “kill and eat.” Peter, addressing the voice as “Lord,” demurs at first because of Mosaic dietary restrictions, which hold some of these animals to be ritually unclean and “common”—meaning diet for some general population but not for Jews like him. But a disembodied voice tells him not so to regard or term what God has ritually cleansed or purified. And the whole exchange is repeated for a total of three iterations, after which the sheet or “vessel” full of animals is withdrawn back up to heaven. This dream-tale is commonly interpreted as lifting the Mosaic dietary restrictions from the Christian community.

There are also various narratives in the synoptic gospels in which Jesus is shown to despise the Pharisees’ excessive insistence on the letter of the Mosaic Code against common sense and charity (e.g., Luke 14.1–6 & Matt. 12.1–14), but these are more tangentially relevant than Peter’s Dream.

  • Great point about common sense and charity. (It seems that element is all too often overlooked.) – DukeZhou Sep 22 '17 at 19:21
  • @DukeZhou, yes, but I would note that the real test of a Code Hero, a common and important type of mythic figure, occurs when an artificial elite code of conduct such as bushido or chivalry conflicts with common sense, including self-preservation, and the hero follows the code nonetheless. – Brian Donovan Sep 24 '17 at 17:22
  • Bushido is a special case b/c in honor/shame warrior cultures, the the primary goal is to die with honor (preferably in battle, but failing that, potentially in an ordeal that proves the hero's courage, thus the painful belly-cut of seppuku. It's worth noting that ritual suicide was often a form of protest, and mirrored in Greek culture by figures like Ajax and Socrates.) – DukeZhou Sep 25 '17 at 17:18
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According to Matthew 5:17, Jesus says that He came not to get rid of the Law or the Prophets (i.e. the Old Testament) but to fulfill them. The other writers of the New Testament agree with this.

For example, in Romans 3:25-26, Paul writes "God presented [Jesus] Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood - to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished - He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the One who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Hebrews 7:27 says "Unlike the other high priests, [Jesus] does not need to sacrifice day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself." From these verses (and similar passages) we see that Jesus fulfilled the Law of atonement of sin; He did not get rid of it but fulfilled it by being the ultimate sacrifice for us. Ephesians 5:2 shows that Jesus' sacrifice was acceptable to God, thus being able to atone for our sin. (In case you want to know why Jesus needed to be sacrificed only once, read Hebrews 10:1-18)

Throughout the Gospels, we see the authors pointing out how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Prophets. The author of Matthew points it out more than the other 3. We also see the authors of the rest of the New Testament pointing it out also all throughout their writings. Here is a table filled with prophecies from the Old Testmant that Jesus fulfilled. Feel free to examine it, but for now I will mention one as an example.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Micah said that out of Bethlehem will come for God one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (Micah 5:2) As seen in Matthew 2:1-6 and Luke 2:4-7, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. According to John 1:1-5 and 1:14, Jesus existed in the beginning and became a human, dwelling with us. Even Jesus Himself claims He existed before even Abraham in John 8:58. From the genealogies of Jesus, though they may be confusing, they both agree that Jesus came from the line of King David, thus having royal blood. While being questioned by Pilate (John 18:33-38), Jesus was asked if He was a king, with Jesus saying that His kingdom was not of this world. And in the future, as recorded in Revelation, Jesus will come again set up His kingdom on earth, ruling from Jerusalem. So we see that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy from the Prophet Micah. This is just one of over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled.

Christians in a way still obey the Old Testament, but they do so through Jesus. Because Jesus fulfilled them, we are living in obedience to them by living for Jesus and having our faith in Him.

  • How do those who don't follow the Jewish laws reconcile referring to the Old Testament for prohibitions and punishments for behaviors they personally disagree with? – DukeZhou Sep 22 '17 at 19:18

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