Have you heard of the Noahides?

Very interesting.

Unbeknownst to most Jews, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Noahides, and most, like the Longs, are former Christians who’ve turned their backs on the faith. This is not the first time the world has seen a community of “Righteous Gentiles” who center their beliefs around Judaism, but Long and his fellow Noahides represent the first modern attempt to take that 2000-year-old body of theoretic writings and bring it to life as a worldwide movement.

myjewishlearning.com/beliefs/Issues/Jews_and_Non-Jews/Legal_Issues/Noahide_Laws/Noahide_Movement.shtml

And the Noahides are not to be confused with the Nazarenes (or Nazarites), who regard themselves as Jews and, at the same time, accept Jesus as the Messiah but not His divinity. Neither group is the same as Messianic Jews or members of the Church of the Nazarene. It gets complicated!

Reminds one of the Jews still lost in the desert of their own making, but with no interest in finding the promised land.
The Jewish religion is to be respected as they are the chosen people of God. However, one can only find pity for this group that have lost Christ in return for a set of valueless rules and rituals that are leading them to the very vacuum they recognise in the article.
Pity and Prayers.

I thought the term “Righteous Gentile” was conferred on someone, not self adopted?

That isn’t the same thing as Noahide, right?
noahide.com/movement.htm

Or are the “Hasidic Gentiles” applying this term?
noahide.com/movement.htm

I have heard of the noahides. I am not sure where but it was about 7 years ago. I haven’t heard anything about the since so I am not sure if they are growing in numbers or not.

Not only have I heard of the Noachidim/Noahides, I actively identified with/practiced this way of life for about a year. So maybe I can shine some light on the matter.

Firstly, the Noachide movement centers around the ‘Seven Laws of Noach’.

Conceptually speaking, these are somewhat similar to the Ten Commandments in that they serve as both broad categories of law (e.g. by encompassing many mitzvot/laws outside of the seven) and concise units of self-contained law in of themselves.

Though the link above goes into more detail on these, in short the laws exhort us not to worship (or ideally, even to mention) any deity but the One God; never to take parts from a living creature (for example, skinning animals for their fur while they’re still very much alive and conscious, God forbid); not to blaspheme the One God; not to cause undue harm or violence towards God’s Creation (this including licentious sexual relations, and thievery); and finally to establish courts of law to disseminate and enforce these laws among the gentiles that these laws apply to.

Elaborating on that last point a little bit, these seven laws do in fact only apply to the Gentiles according to the Torah worldview. Where the 613 ‘main’ mitzvot of the Torah (written and oral) apply to the Jews, these seven laws apply to the Gentiles.

In fact, these seven laws are not unique; they derive from the same pool as the laws for Jewry does. The main discerning factor is that these specific seven were decreed as binding on the Gentiles to both Adam and Noach.

(An interesting side-note is that there were originally only six laws revealed to Adam; the seventh, Eiver Min HaChai [or not taking a part from a living animal] wasn’t given until the time of Noah.)

All of this considered, Noachide-ism has never been considered to be a religion in of itself; just a series of laws incumbent on humanity as a whole, a measure of goodness or righteousness if you will.

Just as we expect the man on the street not to murder or pickpocket his fellow (whether either party be Catholic, Muslim, atheist, Sikh, or any other religious affiliation for that matter), God expects these seven laws out of his human Creation as a basic code for living.

Some have tried to make a cohesive religious movement out of the Noachide laws, but this is generally frowned upon as a man-made addition to the seven laws HaShem has already given to humanity. The more common and accepted route is simple propagation of these laws, occasionally mingled with attempts to reconcile Noachian law with pre-existing religion (see this page for an example of the latter).

Most of the laws are fairly self-explanatory, but the seventh (establishing courts of Noachian Law) is perhaps the most intriguing. Originally, these courts were in existence and regular operation up until the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. They enforced matters of morality and meted out capital punishments as the Oral Law dictates.

Actually, to the best of my knowledge, there was just one main court; and that was the Sanhedrin. Catholics might know this court better as the Pharisaical court which condemned the Christ to death for heresy.

After the coming of the Messiah, these courts will be re-established under his care and the full Noachian way of life will be restored replete with the fully-functioning legal system.

A good modern-day comparison to this is the legal system used by orthodox Jews (the beis din, or ‘house of law’). However, instead of serving the community on a shul-to-shul (or community-to-community) basis, this Sanhedrin would serve to judge Gentiles on a more universal level.

Overall, these laws are sourced from the oral tradition of Torah (the Mishnah, Shulchan Aruch, rulings of various rabbonim, and so on). The individual laws can be seen in the biblical texts, but the oral laws are what expound on them and make them more cohesive.

Some good sources of first-hand information on these laws are Ask Noah, WikiNoah, and the UK Noahide Blog.

If you’re interested in more in-depth coverage of the finer details of Noachian laws, Rabbi Moshe Weiner of the AskNoah organization has released a book called The Divine Code which covers them all pretty thoroughly. It’s a little chunky (almost 700 pages), but if you’re looking for information on the subject in English that’s a good place to start.

Hopefully that shed some light on the subject (and wasn’t too verbose or link-filled!). I have a tendency to repeat myself or go into too much detail on things sometimes, but so it goes. :stuck_out_tongue: If an

Also, this is my first actual post on the board after months of lurking. So greetings! :wave: Looking forward to getting to know you guys as time goes on.

Thank you for the excellent summary! One additional point about the Sanhedrin: I believe there were several local “sanhedrins” as well as the central one. And also, with regard to the Pharaiscal court (i.e. Sanhedrin) which you state Catholics believe sentenced Jesus to death, I am not sure the Church believes the Sanhedrin had such power under Roman authority. But this is a whole other issue for another thread.

My pleasure! :slight_smile:

It’s very possible. I was under the impression that the Church taught this (the term ‘Sanhedrin’ was specifically used a couple of weeks ago at Mass in my local parish, when the clergy was going over the Passion) but I could very well be mistaken. And it’s just as well; after all, I am here to learn! lol

Would it be proper to say that the Noahide Laws are the moral laws inherently written in the hearts of all men?

Technically the Sanhedrin did not have the power to sentence people to death under Roman law, however they did lobby, threatening revolt, for the execution. Scripture is clear that they are the only reason Christ was executed.

However Christ also said on the cross “Forgive them, they know not what they do”. If anyone else had done what Jesus did, they would have been guilty of blasphemy under Jewish law. It was out of ignorance about who Jesus was that they executed him.

I talked to some online once. They seemed to have a mess of ignorant and unlearned opinions concerning Christianity. One of them even had the gall to say Jesus didn’t exist and Saint Paul was a liar and evil man. I do wonder what one gains as a benefit in becoming a noahide, that I imagine they long to take part in the Jewish law (which they cannot) it seems that to be noahide, the next logical step is to become a Jew and attempt to receive more blessings.

Ah, so I see! Thank you for the clarification.

To Miserissima, I wouldn’t disagree with that definition. If nothing else, the Noachian laws provide a good baseline for the avoidance of sin and the acknowledgement (if not outright worship) of the loving and omnipresent God.

There are a couple more points that I wanted to clarify in relation to my first post:

The term ‘righteous gentile’ or ‘noachide chassid’ simply means one that not only has a good grasp and adherence to the main seven laws, but goes out of their way to live a more wholesome and Torah-filled life.

This may well manifest itself in the form of taking on additional mitzvot (for example, covering the head for men or eating kosher). Only a few mitzvot are out-and-out prohibited for non-Jews to do (and these are mostly things that are considered to only be incumbent on Jewry, such as the donning of phylacteries or tzitzis [prayer shawl with fringes]).

Like I had mentioned, in the Torah worldview held by the Jewish orthodoxy and these Gentiles, the Noachide Laws are merely the bare minimum expected for all non-Jews to adhere to.

Those that violate them are said to have no place in the World to Come, and those that do are assured of their place in that World. All the moreso the righteous ones taking care in their observance!

So that is the long and short of the whole ‘righteous gentiles’ thing. Just as a chassidic (righteous) Jew is a Jew taking extra care towards Torah observance, a chassidic Gentile is a Gentile taking extra care in this way towards his or her own laws.

Thank you, Seeker!

When are you due to be received into the Church?

Thank you. Yes it does get complicated. Christians have various flavours too.

Is there a branch of the Jewish faith which make similar claims to Judaism as the CC/Orthodoxy do?

Of course! :slight_smile:

Sadly, I have yet to actually begin the baptismal/initiatory process with the Church in any official capacity. Less out of a lack of interest and more out of a lack of time.

As a student in the secular world I’m currently working on obtaining my GED, and am struggling a little in my studies towards that goal at the moment.

So taking RCIA classes is out of the question for me schedule-wise until I can get that taken care of. :sad_yes: I still look forward to the day I can finally begin (and finish!) this process though.

Joining the Church and receiving the sacraments in an official capacity is something that’s very dear to my heart. Resources like CA are very useful tools for bolstering my knowledge and making me feel like less of a slouch in the meantime!

It seems that this “trend” toward a specific application of Messianic Judaism goes back further than I realized. I picked up a copy of “This Rock” from July 1991, and page 6 mentions a Baptist church converting to this style of worship.

I read a bit about them back in 2006, when I had left Pentecostalism behind and was trying to sort out what I did believe in, other than God. I was reading about Judaism and Islam at the time, comparing them to Christianity, and briefly wondered if that path was mine. Beyond following rules even more basic than the Ten Commandments, however, there wasn’t anything to it. There wasn’t any moral guidance beyond " don’t do these things you’re already not doing". When I asked a friend, a Jewish teenage girl, if she had ever heard of them, the only ‘righteous gentiles’ she knew of were those given that title for shielding Jews from persecution by the State during WW2.

I think I’ve stumbled on a model for this particular heresy: Ebionism. Jimmy Akin did a great piece for This Rock back in May, 1994 which has some striking parallels to the Noahides / Noachides. Can we call it pseudo-Ebionism?

Ebionites, Ebionism A Judeo-Christian sect (or category) in the 2nd-4th centuries CE; accepted much of Mosaic Torah (circumcision , sabbath, etc.) but rejected sacrifices; accepted Jesus/Joshua as messiah but not his divinity; some Ebionites opposed the doctrines of Paul.

EBIONISM
By JAMES AKIN

** Dates** First through fifth centuries.

**Founder ** Possibly Ebion of Pella.

**Principal errors **

Insistence that all Christians or at least all Jewish Christians must be circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law; belief that Jesus was not God but an angel or, more commonly, a mere man, often with a denial of the Virgin Birth; rejection of the epistles of Paul; claim that Paul was a false apostle; and often the rejection of all Gospels except Matthew or a revised version of Matthew.

** The term “Ebionite”**

Many Church Fathers derive the name “Ebionite” from a supposed founder named “Ebion,” a Jewish Christian who was said to have lived at Pella, across the Jordan, after the destruction of Jerusalem.

Modern scholars see the origin of the name in the Hebrew word ebyon, meaning “poor.” This term originally was applied to Christians because they came from lower social groups and tended to be poor (Gal. 2:10, Acts 11:28-30, 24:17, Rom. 15:25-31, 1 Cor. 1:26-29, 16:1-2, 2 Cor. 8-9). Over time, the term “Ebionite” (Hebrew Ebyonim) came to be applied to Jewish Christians and later to heretical Jewish Christians. This last sense is the one with which we are concerned.

There were three groups of Jewish heretics in the early Church: A strict party, the Judaizers, claimed that all Christians must accept circumcision and keep the Mosaic Law in order to be saved. A milder party, sometimes called the Nazarenes, claimed that all Jewish Christians must be circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law, even though Gentile Christians need not. A Gnostic Jewish group, sometimes called the Elkasaites, insisted on keeping the Mosaic Law and added pagan cosmic speculation and the worship of angels.

** Development of the heresy**

Ebionism started as a broad movement rather than with a single leader. Even if Ebion of Pella was a real person, many beliefs of Ebionitism were common in early Jewish Christianity, especially the insistence on observing the Law of Moses.

In Acts 10 it was revealed to Peter that the ceremonial precepts of the Jewish Law were no longer binding, especially those dealing with ritual purity and the separation of Jews and Gentiles. Up to this time Christians viewed themselves as a particular sect of Judaism and assumed one must be a Jew (a circumcised keeper of the Law of Moses) to be a Christian. The new revelation given to Peter showed this was not the case, though it did not convince all Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem. Those not convinced became heretics by failure to keep up with authentic revelation.

Some time later, a group of early Ebionites (Judaizers) went to Syrian Antioch, where Paul was headquartered, and taught the necessity of circumcision for salvation. This ignited a major controversy in the early Church and led to the first Church council in A.D. 49. This did not completely stop the heresy, and in later years groups of Ebionites continued to plague the apostle Paul’s ministry. Following the two destructions of Jerusalem (A.D. 70 and 135), Ebionitism waned, but did not die out until the fifth century.

As the Church matured Ebionites became more distinct from Catholic Christianity. They rejected most of the New Testament and composed edited forms of Matthew’s Gospel in Hebrew or Aramaic. Three of these were known as the Gospels of the Ebionites, the Nazarenes, and the Hebrews.

The Gnostic group of Ebionites, also called the Elkasaites, had a book they received from their supposed founder, Elxai. This book was said to be received by Elxai in 101 and was brought to Rome in 220 by the Syrian Alcibiades. According to Origen, the book was said to have fallen from heaven, though according to Hippolytus Elxai was said to have received it from an angel who was the Son of God.

One difference between these Ebionites and ordinary Gnostics was that they maintained the unity of the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New. “Regular” Gnostics claimed that Jehovah (whom they termed “the Demiurge”) was separate from the New Testament God of Love.

In the second century and later, the claim that Jesus was a mere man became the most noted doctrinal claim of Ebionitism. Some have suggested this influenced the development of Islam and its similar view of Jesus.

** Orthodox Response**

The decisive step in refuting the Judaizers was taken in A.D. 49 at the Council of Jerusalem, where the apostles, joined by the presbyters of that Church decreed that it was not necessary for the Gentile converts to be circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law.

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[continued from above]

At this council, Peter issued the basic decision (Acts 15:7-11), Paul and Barnabas gave supporting evidence (15:12), and James the Just proposed four pastoral codicils to make implementation of the decision easier (15:13-21). The result was a circular letter (15:23-29) which was in force for all Christian communities (16:4). This did not stop the Judaizers, and Paul was forced to combat them on later occasions, most notably in his epistles to the Galatians and the Romans.

The Gnostic Ebionites were also dealt with in the New Testament, though no council was convened to deal with them. In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul warned against anyone trying to compel his readers to obey the Mosaic Law or to indulge in Gnostic practices, such as the worship of angels (Col. 2:16-18). The book of Hebrews is also at pains to stress the superiority of the Son to angels (Heb. 1:1-14), and many have detected anti-Gnostic themes in the Gospel and epistles of John.

The situations with the moderate Ebionites or Nazarenes was different. Unlike the Judaizers, they did not insist that Gentiles be circumcised, and, unlike the Gnostics, they did not try to combine the Christian faith with pagan elements. For this reason there was hesitancy in dealing with them decisively. The New Testament bears witness that three of the chief apostles–Peter, James, and Paul–tried to get along with rather than attack this group.

We are told in Galatians 2:11-16 that in Antioch Peter once stopped eating with Gentiles in order to appease the sentiments of certain Jews visiting the city. This caused Paul to rebuke him publicly (as later saints had occasional need to rebuke a pope) because he was acting hypocritically, teaching that Gentiles could be saved without the Law, yet behaving as if they were still outsiders who had to be avoided for reasons of ritual purity. This episode shows that, although the Nazarenes were wrong, that Christian Jews did not need to keep the Law of Moses, and, while Peter knew it, there was still a tendency on the part of some apostles to accommodate them.

The connection with James and the Nazarenes is evident. In Galatians 2:12 we are told that it was certain men associated with James who came to Antioch and prompted Peter to refrain from eating with the Gentiles. In Acts 15:20 James is concerned with the sensibilities of the Jewish Christians, who would be scandalized by unrestrained Gentile converts. In Acts 21:18-26 he and his group prompt Paul to perform a public acknowledgment of the Law, similar to Peter’s.

Paul himself accommodates the Nazarenes on a number of occasions. In 1 Corinthians 7:18 he seems to suggest it is permissible for a Jew to continue to live as a Jew once he has converted to Christianity. Paul’s circumcision of Timothy in Acts 16:3 was certainly an accommodation of Jews and possibly Jewish Christians. The chief act of accommodation in Paul’s career is the incident in Acts 21. James and the presbyters at Jerusalem convince Paul to undergo Jewish purification rituals and have sacrifices offered at the Temple.

The explicitly stated purpose of this act is to show Paul’s subjection to the Law so that “all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you [Paul] but that you yourself live in observance of the law.” Many have suggested that this appeasing of the Nazarenes set Paul in the same position Peter had been in at Antioch and that it was partly in rebuke of this that God allowed Paul to be captured and taken prisoner, eventually going to Rome for trial (Acts 21:27-28:31).

Aside from these efforts made to appease the Nazarenes, the New Testament teaches against them. Paul correctly rebuked Peter (Gal. 2:11). He indicated that he himself was not under the Law and only made it appear as if he were in order to win converts from the Jews (1 Cor. 9:20-21). He said that Old Testament ceremonies were not only not binding on Gentiles, but that they had truly passed away (Col. 2:13-17). He proclaimed the passing away of the Law of Moses as an entity (Rom. 7:1-6) and that Christians are not under the Mosaic Law but under grace (Rom. 6:14-15).

After the apostolic age Ebionitism continued to be a problem for the Church, and all three sects of Ebionites, the Judaizers, the Nazarenes, and the Elkasaites, survived into the age of the Church Fathers. Those writing against them included Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, and Jerome.

Modern Parallels
Different aspects of Ebionite teaching are reflected in the theologies of modern groups. Some groups of Messianic Jews have a position that is basically the same as the Nazarenes with respect to the Law (that is, Jews should keep it, but Gentiles need not).

Seventh-Day Adventists retain elements of the Mosaic Law and practice vegetarianism; they impose these rules on Gentiles, making themselves like the Judaizers except for the fact that they do not require circumcision.

The Gnostic Ebionites find parallels today in New Agers, who blend pagan elements with the religion of Yahweh.

Moslems, like most Ebionites, claim that Jesus was a mere man, and, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, like some Ebionites, claim he was an angel in a body.

Sects that come especially close to Ebionitism are Yahweh’s New Covenant Assembly in Kingdom City, Missouri and the House of Yahweh in Abilene, Texas. These are Messianic Jewish groups that reject the doctrine of the Trinity and insist on observance of parts of the Mosaic Law. The latter group goes so far as to claim that Abilene is God’s chosen city and replaces Jerusalem for the celebration of his feasts.

FIN

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