Monday, January 07, 2008

A thought on John 18.28

"Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover" (Jn 18.28).

When I've heard this mentioned (not all that often, to be sure), it's usually mentioned as an example of "legalism," in the sense of practicing something not commanded by God.

But it dawned on me at one point that it's not necessarily as simple as that. After all, Nm 19.14 provides that anybody who entered a tent in which a person died would be unclean for seven days. Now, assuming that the command applies to all dwelling places, and not just tents, then it's possible that we have an explanation for why the Jewish leaders did not want to enter the Praetorium:

It's always possible that someone had pass away in a Gentile dwelling place. Almost by definition, if that had actually happened, the dwelling would not have been cleansed as specified by Nm 18.18. So according to Moses' law, those entering a dwelling might contract ritual impurity, and thus might participate in the Passover while unclean.

That much I hypothesized (which means I didn't have a clue as to whether that was the real reason the Jewish leaders would not enter in).

Conveniently for my hypothesis, however, a year or two later I ran across this brief comment in N.T. Wright's The New Testament and the People of God discussing the "rabbinic dictum that Gentiles' houses are unclean" because the presumed Gentiles "throw miscarriages or deliberate abortions down the drain" (p. 240).

This seems to me to be an appeal to Nm 19. Miscarriages, after all, are not sinful. What connects miscarraiges and abortions in terms of Mosaic impurity laws is not their sinfulness, but that a dead body is present in the house.

So there is a bit of evidence consistent with my hypothesis.

So perhaps the Jewish leaders followed what they considered an implication of Mosaic law, i.e., "avoid the risk of ritual impurity by staying out of Gentile dwellings unless absolutely necessary.

Just a thought.


Blogger lmwal931 said...

the praetorium was used for abortions. JESUS was compelled to go to the CROSS for this horrible sin. we are all guilty. we, ourselves, have given rise to a evil spirit. his bride is the great whore. we have murdered over 50 million babies. they are described in rev 14:2-9 & 12:11b. and GOD sent the great delusion but HE did not send it to me. the man of perdition is a abortionist.

June 10, 2010 5:31 PM  

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