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  #1  
Old Jul 16, '12, 2:24 pm
CastingCrown CastingCrown is offline
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Question Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

In Acts 8:26-40 we read about the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch. Which was he:
1. Ethnically Jewish?

2. Proselyte?
(Gentile who had fully converted to Judaism)

3. God-Fearer?
(Gentile monotheist who came to synagogue & Temple but who didn't fully convert by receiving circumcision and keeping kosher)
I had always assumed Cornelius (Acts 10) was the first Gentile to enter the Church which would suggest the Eunuch was either (1) or (2).

Anyone know of any official Church position on this or teachings of the Early Church Fathers?
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Last edited by CastingCrown; Jul 16, '12 at 2:39 pm.
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  #2  
Old Jul 16, '12, 3:05 pm
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tabycat tabycat is online now
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CastingCrown View Post
In Acts 8:26-40 we read about the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch. Which was he:
1. Ethnically Jewish?

2. Proselyte?
(Gentile who had fully converted to Judaism)

3. God-Fearer?
(Gentile monotheist who came to synagogue & Temple but who didn't fully convert by receiving circumcision and keeping kosher)
I had always assumed Cornelius (Acts 10) was the first Gentile to enter the Church which would suggest the Eunuch was either (1) or (2).

Anyone know of any official Church position on this or teachings of the Early Church Fathers?

Don't know If there is an official Church position, but I think he was either 3 (God-fearer) or 2 an Proselyte. Just my opinion!
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  #3  
Old Jul 16, '12, 3:09 pm
CastingCrown CastingCrown is offline
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

On what do you base that?

The problem with saying that he was a God-fearer is that the revelation given to Peter when he receives the Gentile Cornelius into the Church shouldn't have been news...
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  #4  
Old Jul 16, '12, 3:28 pm
_Abyssinia _Abyssinia is offline
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

Quote:
D. A. Hubbard suggests that he may have been a proselyte,[1] though Paul Mumo Kisau argues that he was a Godfearer instead.[3] Scott Shauf suggests that the "primary point of the story is about carrying the gospel to the end of the earth, not about establishing a mission to Gentiles," and thus Luke "does not bring the Gentile status of the Ethiopian into the foreground." However, "the suggestion that the eunuch is or at least might be a Gentile in the story, by both his ethnic and possibly physical description, serves to tantalize the reader with the mystery of the situation"[4
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_eunuch
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  #5  
Old Jul 16, '12, 3:45 pm
Cyklist Cyklist is offline
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

Pervo, R. I. (2009). Acts: A commentary on the Book of Acts (H. W. Attridge, Ed.). Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, doesn't say that he was
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Originally Posted by CastingCrown View Post
3. God-Fearer?
Neither does Chrysostom say he was a God-Fearer. HOMILY XIX.

ACTS 8:26, 27.

“And the Angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went.”

IT seems to me, this (Philip) was one of the seven; for from Jerusalem he would not have gone southwards, but to the north; but from Samaria it was “towards the south. The same is desert:” so that there is no fear of an attack from the Jews. And he did not ask, Wherefore? but “arose and went. And, behold,” it says, “a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.” (v. 27, 28.) High encomiums for the man, that he, residing in Ethiopia and beset with so much business, and when there was no festival going on, and living in that superstitious city, came “to Jerusalem for to worship.” Great also is his studiousness, that even “sitting in his chariot he read. And,” it says, “the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him reading the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?” (v. 29–31.) Observe again his piety; that though he did not understand, he read, and then after reading, examines. “And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the Scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” (v. 32–35.) Observe how it is Providentially ordered. First he reads and does not understand; then he reads the very text in which was the Passion and the Resurrection and the Gift. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (v. 36.) Mark the eager desire, mark the exact knowledge. “And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” (v. 38, 39.) But why did the Spirit of the Lord bear him away? (Hereby) the occurrence was shown to be more wonderful. Even then, the eunuch did not know him. Consequently this was done, that Philip might afterwards be a subject of wonder to him. “For,” it says, “he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Cæsarea.” (v. 40.) This (Philip, therefore) was one of the seven; for there in fact he is afterwards found at Cæsarea. It was well and expedient therefore that the Spirit caught Philip away; else the eunuch would have desired to go with him, and Philip would have grieved him by declining to comply with his request, the time being not yet come. (a) But at the same time here was an encouraging assurance for them that they shall also prevail over the heathen: for indeed the high character (τὸ ἀξιόπιστον) of the (first) believers was enough to move them. If however the eunuch had stayed there, what fault could have been found? [But he knew him not]: for this is why it says, “he went on his way rejoicing:” so that had he known him, he would not have been (so) delighted.

John Chrysostom. (1889). Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Acts of the Apostles J. Walker, J. Sheppard, H. Browne & G. B. Stevens, Trans.). In P. Schaff (Ed.), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume XI: Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans (P. Schaff, Ed.) (pp. 120–121). New York: Christian Literature Company.
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Anyone know of any official Church position on this or teachings of the Early Church Fathers?
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  #6  
Old Jul 16, '12, 3:52 pm
CastingCrown CastingCrown is offline
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

Cyklist, are you saying that the Patristic witness is silent on the subject of whether he was a Jew or Gentile?
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  #7  
Old Jul 16, '12, 4:28 pm
Cyklist Cyklist is offline
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

Doesn't seem to say that he was a Gentile. I looked up the Scripture passage in a Select library of the NICENE AND
POST-NICENE FATHERS and A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture by Knecht, F. J. (1910). Then I searched the words fearer, feared, feareth, proselyte
Quote:
Originally Posted by CastingCrown View Post
are you saying that the Patristic witness is silent on the subject of whether he was a Jew or Gentile?
Now I found this:
Ver. 27. An eunuch. It is likely a proselyte converted to the Jewish religion. He shews his zeal and devotion, says S. Chrys. not only by coming to Jerusalem, but by reading the prophets in his chariot. Wi.

Haydock, G. L. (1859). Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary (Ac 8:27). New York: Edward Dunigan and Brother.
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  #8  
Old Jul 16, '12, 5:03 pm
Joe Kelley Joe Kelley is offline
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

The footnote in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible notes that because he was a Eunuch "he could not be circumcised or enter the Temple or unite himself fully with the community of the Old Covenant". This agrees with what I have read elsewhere.
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  #9  
Old Jul 17, '12, 8:50 am
CastingCrown CastingCrown is offline
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

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Originally Posted by Joe Kelley View Post
The footnote in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible notes that because he was a Eunuch "he could not be circumcised or enter the Temple or unite himself fully with the community of the Old Covenant". This agrees with what I have read elsewhere.
Yes, but that doesn't really answer the question as to what he was. Was he a Jew brought up in Ethiopia? A proselyte? A God-fearer?
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  #10  
Old Jul 18, '12, 3:58 am
Oldtimer_7 Oldtimer_7 is offline
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

CastingCrown, I think that Joe hit on the right path. I would argue that the eunuch was a God-fearer. Either a Jew or a proselyte would have been able to worship in the Temple, and as a eunuch, he would have not been either, since he would not have been allowed to be circumcised nor allowed to enter the Temple.
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  #11  
Old Jul 18, '12, 7:55 am
CastingCrown CastingCrown is offline
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

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Originally Posted by Oldtimer_7 View Post
CastingCrown, I think that Joe hit on the right path. I would argue that the eunuch was a God-fearer. Either a Jew or a proselyte would have been able to worship in the Temple, and as a eunuch, he would have not been either, since he would not have been allowed to be circumcised nor allowed to enter the Temple.
I don't think this is correct. Shouldn't he been able to enter the court of the Gentiles? After all, the Gentiles wouldn't be circumcised either...
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  #12  
Old Jul 19, '12, 4:47 am
Oldtimer_7 Oldtimer_7 is offline
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

CC, the court of the Gentiles was not a place of worship, but of business. The money changers and the animal sellers would have been there. A sign warned non-Jews not to go beyond to the Court of Men on pain of death.
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  #13  
Old Jul 20, '12, 7:49 am
CastingCrown CastingCrown is offline
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Default Re: Ethiopian Eunuch - Jew, Proselyte or God-Fearing Gentile?

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Originally Posted by Oldtimer_7 View Post
CC, the court of the Gentiles was not a place of worship, but of business. The money changers and the animal sellers would have been there. A sign warned non-Jews not to go beyond to the Court of Men on pain of death.
I'm afraid that's not correct. It was *turned* into a market place; that's what got Jesus so hot under the collar and that's why he kicked them out.
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