Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Not so Idle thoughts" article...

Ben Witherington “Not so idle thoughts about eidolothuton,” TynB 44.2 (1993), 237-54.

Does anyone have a digital copy of this article, that they'd like to please email to me? [primalhcc AT gmail . com] Thanks!


It is commonly assumed that eidolothuton is a polemical term created by early Jews to refer to meat sacrificed to a pagan god. An exhaustive search of the data in the TLG and in the papyri casts doubts on this hypothesis. All of the references to eidolothuton in the sources are found in Christian texts, with two exceptions; and both of these exceptions may have been influenced by Christian redaction. In any case, it appears that neither of these texts antedates the Corinthian correspondence. Thus, this term may have originated in early Jewish Christianity.

A study of all the NT references to eidolothuton reveals that this term in the early period was distinguishable from hierothuton (sacred food), and that it meant meat sacrificed to and eaten in the presence of an idol, or in the temple precincts. Numerous reference to eidolothuton in the Greek Fathers show that Chrysostom and others understood this to be the meaning of the term in Acts 15 and in other contexts.

Several possible implications of the above are: (1) the Decree in Acts 15 is about Gentiles refraining from meals and immorality in pagan temples, not about them keeping a modicum of Jewish, or Noachic food laws; (2) 1 Cor. 8-10 reflects Paul's acceptance and implementation of the Decree; (3) Galatians was written before the Decree and reflects the struggle that led to the Decree; (4) Paul and James were in basic agreement in regard to what Gentiles needed to do to maintain table fellowship with Jewish Christians-avoid pagan feasts and immorality. Neither imposed circumcision or food laws on Gentiles. The latter was the position of the Judaising faction in the Jerusalem Church who were more conservative than James, Peter, or Paul. As C. Hill's recent 'Hellenists and Hebrews' shows, F.C. Baur's view of early Christianity is no longer adequate.

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