Thinking About Religion
Volume 12 (2016)

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Christianity’s Earliest-Recorded Heresy, and its Relevance to Christian Acceptance of Scientific Findings

Philip J. Senter
Fayetteville State University


New Testament passages on the peritomēs (circumcision), a heretical faction in the early Church, reveal a controversy in early Christianity between literalist and allegorist interpretations of the Pentateuch.  These New Testament passages advocate allegorical interpretation and constitute instructions not to take the Pentateuch literally.  A major obstacle to public acceptance of biological evolution is the interpretation of Genesis as a literal account of events.  By advocating a non-literal approach to the Pentateuch, the New Testament removes a major obstacle to acceptance of biological evolution and other findings of science that contradict the literal wording of the Pentateuch.


The anti-evolution movement within Christianity is based on acceptance of the biblical account of creation in the book of Genesis as a literal, historical account.  This, in turn, is based on the principle of adherence to biblical wording, a principle that anti-evolution authors accept.[1]  Because evolutionary theory contradicts the view of Genesis as a literal, historical account, the principle of adherence to biblical wording appears to advocate rejection of evolutionary theory.  But does it?  If some other part of the Bible instructs readers to reject a literal interpretation of Genesis, then the principle of adherence to biblical wording demands that Genesis is not to be taken literally, in which case believers who follow this principle are free to accept evolutionary theory.  As I shall show below, numerous passages in the New Testament (NT) instruct the reader not to take Genesis literally, thus giving Christians biblical permission to accept evolutionary theory.

To grasp the message in these NT passages it is important to first understand that when the NT was written, Genesis was not considered a stand-alone book, but was instead considered Volume One in a single, five-volume work called the Pentateuch, the Torah, the Law, the Book of Moses, or simply Moses.  The five volumes of the Pentateuch became the first five books of the Christian Old Testament—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—after the Christian canon was settled.   Together, the narratives in these five volumes relate the stories of creation, the Flood, the lives of the patriarchs, the Israelites’ journey from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, and God’s handing down of legal and ritual regulations to Moses.  In the first few centuries A.D. this grand saga was treated as a single composition whose author was thought to be Moses.[2]

Post-NT Christian authors

Within today’s Christian anti-evolution movement the narratives in the Pentateuch are thought to be an accurate record of history.  Numerous ancient Christian authors agreed with that assessment, including the fifth-century authors Theodoret of Cyr,[3] Theodore of Mopsuestia,[4] Augustine of Hippo,[5] Severian of Gabala,[6] and John Chrysostom;[7] the fourth-century authors Diodorus of Tarsus,[8] Ephrem the Syrian,[9] Basil the Great,[10] Hilary of Poitiers,[11] and Eusebius of Caesarea;[12] the third-century authors Hippolytus[13] and Julius Africanus;[14] and the second-century author Theophilus of Antioch.[15]  All these authors agreed that the narratives of the Pentateuch had a double meaning: (1) the literal meaning, which was an accurate record of historical events, and (2) a deeper, spiritual meaning.  To find the deeper, spiritual meaning, most of these authors advocated treating the Pentateuch’s narratives as allegory: an extended metaphor in which characters, places, and events are symbols of spiritual principles.  However, these authors accepted the narratives as literal history even while interpreting them allegorically to gain spiritual insight.

Not all ancient Christian authors agreed with that interpretation.  According to another ancient Christian school of thought the Pentateuch’s narratives were allegory only and were not historical accounts.  In this theological camp were the fourth-century authors Ambrose of Milan,[16] Tyconius,[17] Gregory of Nyssa,[18] and Didymus the Blind;[19] the third-century authors Cyprian of Carthage,[20] Origen,[21] and Tertullian;[22] the second-century authors Clement of Alexandria,[23] Pantaenus,[24] Justin Martyr,[25] Papias of Hieropolis,[26] and Ignatius of Antioch;[27] and the first-century author of the Epistle of Barnabas.[28]  Tyconius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Origen pointed out numerous incongruities in the Pentateuch narratives that indicated that the narratives cannot have been accurate history.[29]  As Origen put it, “Who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, toward the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life?...I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries.”[30]  Regarding other passages in Genesis he wrote “In these stories history is not being narrated, but mysteries are interwoven.”[31]  According to Origen, the story of Moses in the Pentateuch contained numerous impossibilities and was “…written not to relate ancient history…[but you should] understand that these things which are said also happen now not only in this world, which is figuratively called Egypt, but in each of us also.”[32]  According to Gregory of Nyssa, in the Pentateuch narratives “Moses…[is] placing doctrines before us in the form of a story,”[33] and in Genesis “doctrine…is set before us by Moses under the disguise of an historical manner.”[34]  Tertullian added that much of the Pentateuch contains prophecies of Christ and has characteristics of “prophetic announcement”: “that future events are…announced as if they are already passed” and that “many events are figuratively predicted by means of enigmas and allegories and parables, and that they must be understood in a sense different from the literal description.”[35]  According to Tertullian, when the Apostle Paul says the Law (Pentateuch) is spiritual,[36] what he means is that the true meaning of the Pentateuch is not its literal meaning but is its figurative, allegorical meaning.[37]  Origen, Gregory, and Ambrose all agreed that Paul’s statement that “the letter kills, but the spirit gives life”[38] affirms that the figurative sense (the spirit) is the true sense of the Pentateuch, not its literal sense (the letter).[39]  According to Clement, the Law was written in parables[40] with three possible understandings: “as exhibiting a symbol, or laying down a precept for right conduct, or as uttering a prophecy,”[41] and not as literal history.  “It were tedious,” wrote Clement, “to go over all…the Law, specifying what is spoken in enigmas; for almost the whole Scripture gives its utterances in this way.”[42]  Ignatius of Antioch even used the word μύθοις (fables, myths) for the Pentateuch stories, admonishing readers not to follow Jewish practices that came from “myths told to the ancients.”[43]  The author of the Epistle of Barnabas vehemently argued against interpreting the Pentateuch’s narratives literally.  He called the story of the Israelites’ entry into the Promised Land a parable[44]  and pointed out that the command to rule over the fishes and birds and beasts is impossible to follow and therefore must not be taken literally.[45]  He quoted Isaiah 1:10-14 and Jeremiah 7:22-23, reminding readers that in those two passages God himself says that he did not give commands about burnt sacrifices and that he doesn’t like blood sacrifices and observances of new moons or feast days, etc.,[46] whereas according to the Pentateuch narratives God did indeed give the commands for such observances.  The only way to reconcile this apparent contradiction is to accept a figurative interpretation of the Pentateuch instead of a literal interpretation.  The author of the Epistle of Barnabas provided a figurative interpretation by insisting that the regulations given in the Pentateuch are not meant to be followed literally but instead are symbolic instructions for one’s spiritual life.[47]

Some ancient authors expressed the opinion that scripture contained multiple non-literal meanings in addition to the literal meaning.  Clement of Alexandria distinguished three non-literal meanings of scripture: its moral sense (which provides behavioral instruction), its symbolic sense, and its prophetic sense.[48]  Origen called the literal sense of scripture its “body” and distinguished between the non-literal “soul” (figurative meaning that is easy to decipher, such as in figures of speech) and “spirit” (allegorical meaning) of scripture.[49]  Ambrose distinguished two non-literal senses of scripture: the moral sense and the mystical (allegorical) sense.[50]  Augustine distinguished between four senses of scripture: its historical sense (the narrative of events), its etiological sense (the reason a thing is said), its analogical sense (which reconciles the Old and New Testaments), and its allegorical sense.[51]  According to Thomas Aquinas, among Augustine’s four senses, the first three are literal, and only the allegorical sense is not.[52]  Despite this bewildering array of classifications of non-literal senses, ancient authors generally agreed that scripture has multiple valid senses.  The point on which they disagreed was as to whether the literal sense was among the valid senses—in other words, whether the narratives were correct records of events or whether they were not.

The peritomēs heresy

The question of whether or not to take the Pentateuch literally (i.e. whether its literal sense is valid) was central to a controversy in the early Church that involved the earliest Christian group to be labeled heretics.  Paul’s epistle to Titus in the NT contains the earliest recorded Christian use of the term αἱρετικόν (heretical) (Titus 3:10).[53]  There, Paul applies the term to ματαιολόγοι (empty talkers) and φρεναπάται (mind-deluders) who were spreading misinterpretations of the Law.  Their misinterpretations prompted Paul to write four epistles—Galatians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, and Titus—specifically to combat their influence.  The misinterpretation that caused Paul the greatest consternation was their insistence that Gentile converts must be circumcised, and he explained that literal circumcision was unnecessary in several of his NT epistles.[54]

Modern commentators have nicknamed the heretical group “Judaizers.”[55]  Paul had two nicknames for them: περιτομῆς[56] (peritomēs: the circumcision)[57] and κατατομής (katatomēs: the concision, the cutting-off).[58]  In one epistle, he expressed his desire that they would amputate themselves (from the Church, apparently),[59]  in effect calling the group the foreskin of the Church, an unclean appendage to remove and discard.

The peritomēs appear to have first made their views public as part of an attempt to correct what they thought were inaccuracies in the Christian message as it had been presented to the Gentiles.  In its earliest stages Christianity was a movement within the Jewish religion, and Christians at first preached the message only to other Jews, even after persecution caused some geographical scattering of the movement to regions outside Judaea.[60]  Paul and Barnabas began preaching to Gentiles in Antioch, then spread the message to Jews and Gentiles in Cyprus and Asia Minor.[61]  The peritomēs began their missionary activity after Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch.  The group sent representatives there, where they claimed that all believers must be circumcised according to the Law of Moses in order to be saved.[62]  The Apostle Peter was visiting Antioch at the time, and both he and Barnabas were intimidated enough by the peritomēs to separate themselves from Gentiles when eating, according to Jewish custom, despite the fact that Peter had been living like a Gentile until then.[63]  Paul challenged this hypocrisy, upon which he and Barnabas both disputed the circumcision requirement for Gentiles.[64]

The brethren in Antioch then sent a delegation to bring the question of Gentile circumcision to the Christian movement’s authorities in Jerusalem.  This event is now known as the Council of Jerusalem.  The decision of the Council was that Gentiles were not bound to literally follow regulations from the Pentateuch, including circumcision, because salvation is by faith and not by observation of Jewish customs.  The Council made its decision known via a letter that was sent abroad.[65]

The peritomēs did not accept the Council’s decision but opted to remain in the Church and spread their message despite the disapproval of Church authorities, prompting Paul to call them ἀνυπότακτοι (rebellious, unsubmissive) and ἀπειθεῖς (disobedient)[66].  The group sent representatives to Galatia and Ephesus in Asia Minor, and Crete.[67]  To stem their influence before their arrival elsewhere, Paul wrote warnings about the peritomēs to churches in Colossae of Asia Minor and Philippi of Macedonia,[68] and he wrote against the circumcision requirement to churches in Rome and Corinth.[69]

Circumcision was but one of the Pentateuch regulations upon which the peritomēs insisted.  Paul records that they also demanded observation of regulations on diet, purity/cleanness and impurity/uncleanness, and observances of special days and seasons and years, including religious festivals and Sabbaths,[70] a range of practices that are derived from passages spanning all five volumes of the Pentateuch.[71]  He also records that they wanted to become teachers of the Law.[72]  Unsurprisingly, the group had the approval of Christians who were members of the Pharisee brotherhood,[73] a fraternity devoted to the study and application of Mosaic Law.[74]  It is plausible that the instigators of the peritomēs’ missionary activity were Pharisee Christians who—not understanding that faith was sufficient without observations of Pentateuch regulations—sent emissaries out of genuine concern for Gentile converts, wishing to ensure that they knew their spiritual obligations.

According to Paul, the peritomēs promoted μύθοις (myths, fables) and γενεαλογίας (narratives with biographical details), terms which English-language Bibles often render as “myths” and “genealogies.”[75]  However, unlike the English word “genealogies,” the Greek term γενεαλογίας (genealogias) refers to biographical details in general and not just ancestry.[76]  The “myths and genealogies” passages apparently refer to Jewish imitations of an unfortunate habit of some students and teachers in contemporaneous Greek schools of literature and philosophy, who engaged in trivia battles on minutiae from Greek mythological literature and ridiculed those who had not memorized minute biographical details.  Most scholars abhorred the practice, which they considered offensive and rude, but it nevertheless persisted among small-minded individuals.[77]  The hypothesis that the peritomēs engaged in such trivia debates explains much of the content of Paul’s epistles to Timothy and Titus.  His denunciation of μωράς (foolish) ζητήσεις (arguments, questionings) over genealogiais (narratives with biographical details) and νομικάς (regarding the Law) are consistent with Pentateuch trivia debates as a form of antagonistic showboating.  Paul called such practices βεβήλους (profane, heathen),[78] which suggests that they were derived from the example of pagan Greeks.[79]  Pagan minutia collectors charged fees for trivia lessons, [80] which is consistent with Paul’s condemnation of the peritomēs for teaching Torah trivia for monetary profit.[81]  Celibacy was required of students in Greek schools, which is consistent with the forbidding of marriage by the peritomēs.[82]  All of these Pauline passages support the hypothesis that the peritomēs taught the Torah in the manner of Greek schools.

Modern commentators emphasize the legalistic tendencies of the peritomēs,[83] but those tendencies were merely outgrowths of a more basic underlying attitude: a literalist approach to the Pentateuch.  In this they resembled the Pharisees, whose support for them is therefore understandable, because the Pharisees accepted only the literal wording of the Pentateuch and did not accept that a hidden meaning was present beneath the literal wording, as they reveal in their ancient writings.[84]

The Pentateuch as allegory in Jewish thought and the NT

Other Jewish schools of thought from the first century A.D. insisted that the true meaning of the Pentateuch was not to be found in its literal wording.  Rather, the literal wording cloaked a deeper, hidden, spiritual meaning, which was the true meaning of the Pentateuch.  Its narratives should therefore be considered allegory, not history.  The Therapeutae, a Jewish monastic sect in Egypt, accepted the Torah as allegory.[85]  The monastic Jewish sect at Qumran in Palestine also interpreted the Torah as allegory, a set of messianic prophecies that were veiled in the form of a story.[86]  The Dorshe Reshumot and the Dorshe Hamurot, two Palestinian Jewish schools of thought, viewed the Torah’s stories as symbols of spiritual principles, not historical records.  The Dorshe Hamurot explicitly rejected the necessity to follow the Torah’s regulations as they were literally worded, stating that it was necessary only to follow the underlying, spiritual sense of each rule.[87]  The Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria agreed that the narratives were not literal history but advocated that the regulations be followed as spiritual exercises to keep the practitioner in constant remembrance of the spiritual principles that the regulations symbolized.[88]

Jesus himself revealed his stance on the literality of Pentateuch in the apparent conflict between his words and his actions.  On the one hand, he said “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law...Whosoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”[89]  On the other hand, he himself repeatedly broke the Torah’s commands in their literal sense and taught others to do likewise.  He did this with the Pentateuch’s “eye for an eye” laws,[90] Sabbath regulations,[91]  dietary regulations,[92] divorce regulations,[93] and the requirement of capital punishment for adultery.[94]  The only way to reconcile violation of these rules with insistence that they must be followed, is to accept that Jesus meant that one should observe the underlying, spiritual sense of the Torah and not its literal sense.  His view of the Torah therefore resembled that of the Dorshe Hamurot.  It also resembled that of the Qumran sect in that Jesus considered at least some parts of the Torah to be veiled messianic prophecies.[95]

It is therefore evident that Jesus taught that the true meaning of the Pentateuch was not its literal sense but its hidden, spiritual meaning.  This explains why Peter lived “like a Gentile,”[96] why he called the Genesis Flood a symbol (by explaining that cleansing of the heart is the ἀντίτυπον [antitype: that which is symbolized] of the Flood),[97]  why the Council of Jerusalem waived the literal observance of Pentateuch regulations for Gentile Christians, and why Paul—a former Pharisee[98]—considered his previous Pharisaic studies and Jewish observances a waste of effort.[99]  It also explains Paul’s statement that those who don’t literally follow the regulations in the Law nevertheless uphold the Law if they live by faith.[100]  It is, of course, impossible to uphold regulations without literally practicing them, unless they are meant to be practiced in their figurative sense instead of their literal sense.  This statement by Paul is inconsistent with acceptance of the literal sense of the Law and therefore indicates that he did not accept its literal sense.

A plethora of passages in his NT epistles indicate that Paul had discarded the idea that the Pentateuch was a historical record.  For example, all five volumes of the Pentateuch describe the ritual and legal regulations as having been delivered by God, but according to Paul those regulations came not from God but from man.[101]   This insistence by Paul is irreconcilable with acceptance of the Pentateuch as history and therefore constitutes strong evidence that Paul did not accept the Pentateuch narrative as a literal account of actual events.  Paul identifies Adam’s union with Eve as a symbol of Christ and the Church,[102] identifies God’s promise to Abraham about his seed as a symbolic reference to spiritual offspring,[103] identifies the instruction to circumcise as a symbol for a spiritual state,[104] identifies ritual regulations as symbolic references to the mystery of Christ,[105] and explicitly identifies the story of Ishmael and Isaac as allegory.[106]  He identifies the Israelites’ passage through the Red Sea and the accompanying cloud as symbols for baptism, manna as a symbol for spiritual food, and the rock from which water flowed as a symbol of Christ. [107]  He further reveals his stance that the Pentateuch stories are metaphors by claiming that the promise to enter the Promised Land still holds, which would be absurd if the Pentateuch is a historical account, because the promise would have been fulfilled centuries earlier.  This statement by Paul is inconsistent with acceptance of the literal sense of the Pentateuch narrative.  In the same passage he equates the Promised Land with God’s seventh-day Sabbath rest in Genesis and states that this rest is a state of spiritual rest into which a believer can enter,[108] rather than a literal rest on a literal day in the literal past.

In his NT epistle to the Romans Paul seems to blame the existence of sin and death on a historical Adam,[109] but this is an illusion caused by English-language wording, in which Paul’s Hebrew- and Greek-based double entendres don’t translate well.  Paul uses wordplay frequently in his NT epistles, and he repeatedly employs puns on the name Adam (Hebrew for “a man” or “humankind”) and the word ἀνθρώπος (anthrōpos: Greek for “a man,” “humankind,” or “human nature”).  Paul calls a person’s earthly, sinful nature (from before salvation) the “old anthrōpos” or the “first man Adam,” and treats the dirt of which Adam was made in the Genesis account as a symbol of this nature.  He calls a person’s heavenly, righteous nature (after salvation) the “new anthrōpos” or the “last [i.e. second] Adam” and treats the breath-of-life that God breathed into the earth-Adam to bring him to life in the Genesis account, as a symbol of this nature.[110]  His statement that sin and death came from “one man” (one of the two human natures)[111] is a continuation of this pun, and his point is that sin and death are products of the earthly human nature.

The peritomēs had a very strong grasp of the literal sense of the Law.  Paul’s statement that they did not understand the very Law that they wanted to teach, is therefore best explained as a reference to their misunderstanding of it as literal history, whereas it should be understood as allegory.  In their literalist hands the Pentateuch’s narratives—which should be allegorically interpreted as spiritual instructions—were reduced to simple μύθοις (fables, myths),[112] Ιουδαϊκοίς μύθοις (Jewish myths),[113] and γραώδεις μύθοις (wives’ tales: literally “old ladies’ fables”),[114] phrases that speak for themselves regarding Paul’s opinion as to the historicity of the Pentateuch’s narratives.  In using these terms, Paul was not disparaging the narratives but was simply acknowledging their non-historicity.  Paul had great respect for the proper use of the Pentateuch’s narratives.  He called them God-breathed and listed ways in which they are useful.[115]  That list of ways does not include utility as historical records but does include utility as sources of doctrine, correction of wayward behavior, and instruction in righteousness.  He provided examples of such utility by using the characters in the Pentateuch’s narratives as examples to heed.[116]  Examples, of course, do not need to be historical, as Jesus demonstrated with numerous non-historical examples in parables.[117]  As Origen later noted, allegorical interpretation does not come easily to everyone, and God had therefore mercifully arranged that readers without this spiritual gift could use the Pentateuch’s stories as examples of righteous and unrighteous behavior to heed, even if they did not understand its allegorical meaning.[118]

Implications for Christian acceptance of scientific findings

Numerous findings of science contradict the literal wording of the accounts in the Pentateuch.  Such findings indicate that the various kinds of organisms were not created separately but evolved from a common ancestor;[119] that the Earth and the universe are billions, not just a few thousand, years old;[120] and that a worldwide Flood never happened.[121]  Archaeological data show that numerous details in the stories of the patriarchs and the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land are historically inaccurate.[122]  If the Pentateuch is taken literally, these findings of science must be rejected. [123]  However, as shown here, numerous passages in the NT oppose acceptance of the Pentateuch as literal history and instead advocate acceptance of the Pentateuch in a figurative sense, e.g. as allegory.  Therefore, for those who accept biblical wording as authoritative, the NT removes an important obstacle to the acceptance of scientific findings such as evidence for biological evolution and an old Earth.


I would like to thank several anonymous reviewers, whose constructive comments on previous, related manuscripts resulted in much improvement of this paper.

[1] e.g.  Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Evolution 2 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2002) 37, 44, 191; Ken Ham, Couldnt God Have Used Evolution? in Ken Ham, ed., The New Answers Book 1 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2006), 31-38.

[2] Modern scholars have determined that the narratives in the Pentateuch were woven together from previous sources by at least three ancient authors (see John J. McDermott, Reading the Pentateuch. A Historical Introduction (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2002)), but in the first few centuries A.D. Jewish and Christian scholars had not yet figured this out.

[3] Theodoret of Cyr, Questions on Genesis 25, 26, 39see English translation in Robert Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus. The Questions on the Octateuch, Volume 1 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2007).

[4] Theodore of Mopsuestia, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians 73 75see English translation in Rowan A. Greer, Theodore of Mopsuestia: Commentary on the Minor Pauline Epistles (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010).

[5] Augustine of Hippo, City of God 13.21, 15.27see English translation in Philip Schaff, A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889).

[6] Severian of Gabala, On the Creation of the World 6.2see English translation in Michael Glerup, Commentaries on Genesis 1 3. Severian of Gabala and Bede the Venerable (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2010).

[7] John Chrysostom, Homily 13 on Genesis 13see English translation in Robert C. Hill, St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis 1 17 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1986).

[8] Diodorus of Tarsus, Commentary on Psalms 1 51 Prefacesee English translation in Robert C. Hill, Diodore of Tarsus. Commentary on Psalms 1 51 (Leiden: Brill, 2005).

[9] Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis 1.1see English translation in Edward D. Matthews Jr. and Joseph P. Amar, St. Ephrem the Syrian. Selected Prose Works (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1994).

[10] Basil the Great, Homily 9 on the Hexaemeron 1see English translation in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890).

[11] Hilary of Poitiers, Book of Mysteries 1.3, 1.32see French translation in Jean-Paul Brisson, Hilaire de Poitiers. Traité des Mystères (Paris: Cerf, 1947).

[12] Eusebius, Chroniconsee English translation in Robert of Bedrosian, Eusebius of Caesarea, Chronicle,

[13] Hippolytus, The Refutation of All Heresies 10.27see English translation in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (eds.), Ante-Nicene Fathers: the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325 (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1994).

[14] Julius Africanus, Chronographysee English translation in Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers.

[15] Theophilus of Antioch, Theophilus to Autolycussee English translation in Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers.

[16] Ambrose of Milan, On Abraham Book 2see English translation in Theodosia Tomkinson, On Abraham (Etna, California: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 2000); Paradise 2.11 3.23, 13.65-66, 15.73see English translation in John J. Savage, Saint Ambrose. Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel (New York: Fathers of the Church, 1961).

[17] Tyconius, Book of Rulessee English translation in William S. Babcock, Tyconius. The Book of Rules (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989).

[18] Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism 5, 8see English translation in Schaff and Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers; Life of Moses Book 2see English translation in Abraham J. Mahlerbee and Everett Ferguson, Gregory of Nyssa. The Life of Moses (New York: Paulist Press, 1978).

[19] Didymus the Blind, On Genesis 20, 26, 106, 152see French  translation in Pierre Nautin, Didyme lAveugle Sur la Genèse (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1978).

[20] Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise 12: Three Books of Testimonies against the Jews 1.19-21,2.16, 2.20-21, 2.25see English translation in Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers.

[21] Origen, On First Principles 4.1.16, 4.1.19-21see English translation in Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers; Homily 10 on Genesis 4; the opening paragraphs of Homily 2 on Exodussee English translations in Ronald E. Heine, Origen. Homilies on Genesis and Exodus (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1981).

[22] Tertullian, Against Marcion 3.3, 5.13see English translations in Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers.

[23] Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 5.6, 5.11, 6.15see English translation in Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers.

[24] according to Anastasius of Sinai in Hexameron 7.5.5see English translation in Clement A. Kuehn and John D. Baggarly, Anastasius of Sinai. Hexaemeron (Rome: Pontifico Instituto Orientale, 2007).

[25] Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 40 42, 86, 91, 134, 138 139see English translation in Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers.

[26] according to Anastasius of Sinai in Hexameron 7.5.5.

[27] Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Magnesians 8-10see English translation in Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers. Greek Texts and English Translations (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007).

[28] Pseudo-Barnabas, Epistle of Barnabas 2.4-8, 6.10, 6.16-17, 7.6 8.2, 10.1-9see English translation in Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers. Greek Texts and English Translations (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007).

[29] Tyconius, Book of Rules; Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Moses Book 2; Origen, On First Principles 4.1.15-18.

[30] Origen, On First Principles 4.1.16.

[31] Origen, Homily 10 on Genesis 4.

[32] Origen, Homily 2 on Exodus, opening paragraphs.

[33] Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism 5.

[34] Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism 8.

[35] Tertullian, Against Marcion 3.3.

[36] Rom. 7:14.

[37] Tertullian, Against Marcion 5.13.

[38] 2 Cor. 3:6.

[39] Origen, Against Celsus 7.20see English translation in Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers; Ambrose, Exposition on the Christian Faith  3.5.37see English translation in Schaff and Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers; Gregory of Nyssa, Answer to Eunomius Second Booksee English translation in Schaff and Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers.

[40] Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 6.15.

[41] Clement of Alexandria, Stomata 1.28.

[42] Clement of Alexandria, Stronata 6.15.

[43] Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Magnesians 8-10.

[44] Epistle of Barnabas 6.11.

[45] Epistle of Barnabas 6.18.

[46]Epistle of Barnabas 2.4-10, 10.

[47] Epistle of Barnabas 10.

[48] Clement of Alexandria, Stomata 1.28.

[49] Origen, On First Principles 4.1.11-13.

[50] Ambrose, Hexameron 2.5.20see English translation in Savage, Saint Ambrose.

[51] Augustine, On the Profit of Believing 3.5see English translation in Schaff, Select Library.

[52] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica 1.Q1.A10see English translation in Fathers of the English Dominican Province, The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas (Kondon: Burns Oates and Washbourne, 2910).

[53] Here I treat Titus and the other Pastoral Epistles as Pauline, although some scholars doubt his authorship; see review in I. Howard Marshall, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (London: T & T Clark International, 1999), 57-92.  However, the question of authorship is beside the point of this paper.  The important thing here is that they are part of the Christian canon and therefore carry the weight of biblical authority.

[54] Rom. 2:28-29, 3:30, 4:9-13; 1 Cor. 7:17-20; Gal. 5:2-6, 6:12-16; Phil. 3:2-3; Col. 2:11, 3:11.

[55] John B. Polhill, Paul and His Letters (Nashville: Broahman and Holman, 1999); Philip Graham Ryken, Galatians (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 2005); Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Revised Edition. Romans Galatians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008).

[56] This term is also used in the NT to refer to Jews in general (e.g. Rom. 15:8; Gal. 2:7; Col. 4:11).  Context reveals when it is used in reference to this specific group.

[57] Gal. 2:12; Eph. 2:11; Titus 1:10.

[58] Phil. 3:2.

[59] Gal. 5:12.

[60] Acts 11:19, 13:5, 13:13-43.

[61] Acts 13 14.

[62] Acts 15:1.

[63] Gal. 2:11-16.

[64] Acts 15:2; Gal. 2:14-21.

[65] Acts 15.

[66] Titus 1:10, 1:16.

[67] Gal. 1: 6-9, 6:12; 1 Tim. 1:3-7; Titus 1:10-16.

[68] Col. 2:8-23; Phil. 3:1-3.

[69] Rom. 2:25-29; 1 Cor. 17:18-20.

[70] Gal. 4:10; Col. 2:16, 2:21; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; Titus 1:15.

[71] Circumcision: Gen. 17; Ex. 12:3. Dietary regulations: Ex. 7:22-27; Lev. 11:1-47, 17, 19:23-26, 20:5, 23:9-14; Deut. 14:3-21. Ritual purity: Lev. 12 15; Num. 19. Sabbath observances: Ex. 20:8-10, 23:10-12, 31:12-17, 35:1-3; Lev. 19:3, 19:30, 23:3, 24:1-9; Num. 28:9-10; Deut. 5:12-14. Annual observances: Ex. 23:14-19, Lev. 16, 23:4-8, 23:15-44; Num. 28:11 29:39; Deut. 16:1-17. Observances in certain years: Ex. 23:10-11, Lev. 25; Deut. 14:28-29, 15:1-11.

[72] 1 Tim. 4:7.

[73] Acts 15:15.

[74] Steve Mason, Josephuss Pharisees: The Narratives. in Jacob Neusner and Bruce D. Chilton, eds., In Quest of the Historical Pharisees (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2007), 3-40; Steve Mason, Josephuss Pharisees: The Philosophy. in Neusner and Chilton, eds., In Quest, 41-66; Jacob Neusner, The Rabbinic Traditions about the Pharisees before 70 CE:  An Overview. in Neusner and Chilton, eds., In Quest, 297-312.

[75] Modern commentators (e.g. Joanna Dewey, 1 Timothy. in Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe, eds., Womens Bible Commentary (London: SPCK, 1992), 353-358; Clare Drury,. 2001. The Pastoral Epistles: 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. in John Barton and John Muddiman, eds., Oxford Bible Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 1220-1232) often repeat the mistake of Tertullian and the late second-century Bishop Irenaeus, who thought these myths and genealogies were the Gnostic heresy of Valentinus (Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics 33see English translation in Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers; Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, Prefacesee English translation in Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers).  However, Valentinus was not born until long after Pauls death, and Paul specified that the myths were Ιουδαϊκοίς μύθοις (Jewish myths) that were promoted by the peritomēs (Titus 1:10-14).

[76] F. H. Colson, “‘Myths and Genealogies’—a Note on the Polemic of the Pastoral Epistles,” Journal of Theological Studies 74 (1918): 265-271.

[77] Colson, “‘Myths and genealogies.’”

[78] 1 Tim. 6:20.

[79] Colson, “‘Myths and genealogies.’”

[80] Colson, “‘Myths and genealogies.’”

[81] 1 Tim. 6:5; Titus 1:11.

[82] 1 Tim. 4:3

[83] Polhill, Paul and His Letters; Ryken, Galatians; Longman and Garland, The Expositors Bible Commentary.

[84] David I. Brewer, Techniques and Assumptions in Jewish Exigesis before 70 CE (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1992), 160-161, 169, 215-216.

[85] Philo, On the Contemplative Life or Suppliants; see English translation in C. D. Yonge, The Works of Philo, Complete and Unabridged. New Updated Edition (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson, 2006).

[86] Brewer, Techniques and Assumptions in Jewish Exigesis, 187-198.

[87] Jacob Z. Lauterpach, The Ancient Jewish Allegorists in Talmud and Midrash, Jewish Quarterly Review 1 (1911): 291-333 and 503-531.

[88] Philo, The Special Laws 1, 2, 3, and 4see English translation in Yonge, The Works of Philo.

[89] Matt. 5:17-19.

[90] Matt. 5:38.  The regulations are from Ex. 21:22-25; Lev. 24:19-20; and Deut. 19:21.

[91] Matt. 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-26; Luke 6:1-4; John 5:1-11.

[92] He declared all foods clean (Mark 7:14-19), in contradiction to regulations from Lev. 11 and Deut. 14:1-21.

[93] Matt. 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18.  The regulation is from Deut. 24:1-4.

[94] John 8:1-11.  The regulation is from Lev. 20:10.

[95] Luke 24:27, 24:44; John 5:46.

[96] Gal. 2:14.

[97] 1 Pet. 3:20-21.

[98] Acts 23:6.

[99] Phil. 3:5-7.

[100] Rom. 3:28-31.

[101] Col. 2:8, 2:20-23; Titus 1:14.

[102] Eph. 5:31-33.

[103] Gal. 3:7, 3:16, 3:29.

[104] Rom. 2:29.

[105] Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 9:7-9.

[106] Gal. 4:24.

[107] 1 Cor. 10:1-11.

[108] Heb. 3:7 4:11.

[109] Rom. 5:12-17.

[110] 1 Cor. 15:44-49; Eph. 4:22-24.

[111] Rom. 5:12-21.

[112] 1 Tim. 1:4.

[113] Titus 1:14.

[114] 1 Tim. 4:7.

[115] 2 Tim. 3:16.

[116] Rom. 4:1-12, 4:18-24;1 Cor. 10:1-11; Heb. 3:8-19, 6:12-15, 11:1-29.

[117] e.g. Matt. 18:21-25; Luke 10:30-37, 16:19-31, 18:9-14.

[118] Origen, On First Principles 1.1.11-14.

[119] Donald R. Prothero, Evolution. What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007).

[120] Claire Patterson, Age of Meteorites and the Earth, Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta 10 (1956): 230-237; Planck Collaboration, Planck 2013 Results. I. Overview of Products and Scientific Results, arXiv: 1303.5056v2 [astro-ph.CO].

[121] Chris McGowan, In the BeginningA Scientist Shows Why the Creationists Are Wrong (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1984), 58-67; Phil Senter, The Defeat of Flood Geology by Flood Geology: the Ironic Demonstration that There Is No Trace of the Genesis Flood in the Geologic Record, Reports of the National Center for Science Education 30 no. 3 (2011): 1.1-1.14.

[122] Israel Finkelstein and Neil A. Silberman, The Bible Unearthed. Archaeologys New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts (New York: Touchstone, 2001).

[123] e.g.  Sarfati, Refuting Evolution 2, 37, 44, 191; Ham, Couldnt God Have Used Evolution?

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