Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Extra-Scriptural sources?

Is it proper to use extra-Scriptural sources?

One area that confuses some people coming from an evangelical protestant view is the reference to the Rabbis, Talmud, and extra- Scriptural sources in Messianic Jewish teachings. The reaction varies from curiosity to hostility. This article is to help those that might not understand why these sources are used, their value, and the scriptural precedence for their use.

Lets discuss these in some detail:

Scriptural precedence for the use of extra-Scriptural sources
It may surprise some, but Scripture itself quotes extra-Scriptural sources. In the Renewed Covenant reference is made to the book of Enoch and other sources are alluded to. So if Scripture itself uses certain other writings, then study of those writings cannot be seen as condemned by HaShem.

The value of extra-Scriptural sources
Writings ranging from the Talmud to Josephus, numbering in the 100's, add considerable information of both the historical and cultural context of the writings of Scripture. Here are some examples:

* The Mishna (Oral Torah) for example, tells us many of the Oral Traditions followed during the time of Messiah. Many of these traditions the Master would have practiced himself as a fully Torah-observant Jew.
* Josephus's writings teach us much of the time period and many facts about both Jewish life and the destruction of Jerusalem. Much of this information is not available anywhere else.
* The Psuedoepighrapha contains many volumes, such as Enoch (mentioned above), that paint a vivid picture of common beliefs in the 2nd Temple era.
* Philo's work speaks of the Word of G-D being part of G-D.
* Targums (Aramaic Translations of Scripture) use specific wording that indicates common understanding of Scripture in the first century.

Why extra-Scriptural sources are used
These extra-Scriptural sources can provide valuable insight on how the Messiahs were understood to those He spoke with. They provide valuable understand as to the intended meaning of His words. They clarify difficult Hebrew idioms that we cannot understand today. This material is critical to maintaining a true picture of what the Master taught.

In Conclusion
Extra-Scriptural sources add meaning to the Scriptures and provide the proper framework for a proper understanding of their meaning. These extra-Scriptural sources should not be used alone for doctrine. They provide value when used along with Scripture to rightly divide the Word and give a true understanding of the doctrine our Master taught us to follow.

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