Luke ended the Acts by delivering Paul to Rome, but then a curtain descends. A long time passed before another well-informed Christian realized that there was an important story to tell, and that a connected narrative of the Church's development would contribute to self-understanding. Nevertheless, sources exist from which deductions can be made about principal features of Church life and the problems besetting the early communities.
Debate between Church and Synagogue long continued. A letter in the name of Barnabas, one-time missionary colleague of Paul, set out to deter believers from thinking the Mosaic law obligatory for believers in Jesus, or that observant Jews and Christians shared a common covenant. At the same time the author of the letter was aware of the risks of antinomianism. The letter ended by adapting a Jewish catechism, The Two Ways, a copy of which was known at Qumran in Cave 4 (4Q473). 1 'Barnabas' warns against sodomy, abortion, malicious gossip, avarice, loquacity, going to pray with unconfessed sin on the conscience.
'Barnabas' takes to extreme lengths the thesis that Christians have an exclusive proprietary right to the Old Testament. The observant Jews of the Synagogue, he contends, are singularly unintelligent to suppose that Moses could have intended his laws literally. A command not to eat pigmeat means a warning to avoid human beings resembling pigs in behaviour. The circumcision intended by the Law is that of the heart; and the fact that it is also practised among Arabs, Syrians, and Egyptians proves that there is no divine command uniquely for all the people of God in the physical ceremony. Abraham, to whom the rite was first prescribed, was really looking forward to Jesus, for he had 318 servants and the Greek for 318 is ΤΙΗ, shorthand for the cross of Jesus (ΙΗ being already a scribal abbreviation for ΙΗCΟίC). Entry to the true promised land of milk and honey is by baptism. The
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Publication information: Book title: The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great. Contributors: Henry Chadwick - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 56.
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