Friday, April 29, 2011

Lemon meringue pie

Generally, I'm not a big fan of lemon pies, but ever since my mother-in-law gave me this recipe, I've come to realize that not all lemon pies are created equal.  For example, unlike most lemon pies today, this one is made totally from scratch, which, of course, makes a world of difference.  The filling has a wonderful fresh lemony taste and sets up beautifully, while the sweet and creamy real meringue topping whips up high.  There's no doubt about it — this lemon pie is just plain good!

1 1/3 c sugar
1/2 c cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 c water
4 eggs, separated
2 tbsp butter (not margarine)
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
1/2 c lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 c sugar (for meringue)

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan; gradually add water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to boiling and is thickened.  Boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Beat egg yolks slightly and slowly blend into cornstarch mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  (Do not overcook!)  Stir in butter, lemon rind and lemon juice; pour into cooled pastry shell.  (My pie crust recipe is here.)  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 hours.

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy-white and double in volume.  Sprinkle in remaining 1/2 c sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, beating all the time until sugar dissolves completely and stands in firm peaks.  Spoon meringue on top of pie.  Bake at 425 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until peaks turn golden.  Cool completely and serve, or store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Romans 7:15-8:4 - conclusion

Clearly, Romans 7:15-8:4 teaches that believers have two natures; that our old nature is not done away with at conversion nor at any time before our going home to be with the Lord. It further teaches that because our old nature is totally bad; it cannot be improved. Therefore, the only way to victory over sin is not by wrestling with it, but by faith, considering ourselves to be dead to sin by accepting God’s Word that our old man was crucified with Christ.

It doesn't follow, however, that our old nature is dead experientially, otherwise why are we told to consider him dead? Judicially, our old nature has been put to death in Christ, and now it is up to us to live out this truth by putting off our old, dead selves and putting on the new (Col 3:9-10).

Herein lies victory over sin; by deciding to put on the new, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. It is very important to understand that He is doing the work, not us. Some may argue that Philippians 2:12 tells us to "work out your salvation." And by itself, it does sound like we're doing the work. But don't leave off there; go on to the very next verse — "it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."

Picture a father teaching his very young daughter how to dance. The young girl wants to be with and please her father, whom she dearly loves, and he wants to teach her to dance. So what does he do? Does he give her detailed instructions on the proper steps and moves of the dance? No, he tells her to put her right foot on top of his left and her left foot on top of his right. Of course she can allow herself to be distracted and decide that although she loves him, she'd much rather go out and play. But when she does do as he asks, he is doing all the work. Her only part in it was to decide that she wanted to be with and please him. In like manner, God doesn’t give us the power and then tell us to go and do it. Rather, He does it in us and for us as we by faith decide to walk according to the Spirit (Rom 8:3-4; Gal 5:16, 25).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Romans 7:15-8:4 - part 5

5. The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:2):

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” is simply because we are “in Christ Jesus” and “complete in Him” (Col 2:10). Because our sins have been imputed to Christ and His righteousness imputed to us, we are fully justified before God (Rom 3:21-4:8).

But there’s more to it than that — “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” So what is this law?

“The law of the Spirit” is “life in Christ Jesus.” The moment we place our faith in Christ, the Spirit gives eternal life, the life of Christ Jesus Himself. This is an unalterable law. True faith in Christ always produces this result.

So then the one law — “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ” — makes us free from the other — “the law of sin and death.” Does this mean one divine law violates the other? No, but one supersedes the other. It is the law that sin results in death, and therefore because we have sinned, we must die. But, we have died — in Christ! (Rom 6:6). And since death could not keep Him in the grave and He came forth in resurrection life, so have we — in Him.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal 2:20).

(to be continued)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is Risen! Hallelujah!

(from "Mount of Olives")

Hallelujah! unto God’s Almighty Son.

Praise the Lord, ye bright angelic choirs,

In holy songs of joy.

Man, proclaim His grace and glory!

Hallelujah! unto God’s Almighty Son.

Praise the Lord in holy songs of joy.
by Beethoven 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Are you sure?

Would you like to be certain that your sins have been forgiven? Would you like to be sure of heaven?

The first step to heaven is to realize that you can't get there by trying.  Many try to earn heaven by doing good works, thinking that getting to heaven depends on how good or bad they've been.

But in Proverbs 14:12 we read that "there is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."

What might some of these "ways" be that "seem right" to men, leading them to hope for heaven?  Being baptized?  Joining a church?  Doing one's best?  Keeping the Ten Commandments?  Loving one's neighbor as one's self?  These are only a few that people follow, but they all come under one heading: "Do good."

But it's not a question of how good or bad we've been, it's of whether or not we've sinned.  We need commit only one robbery to be a robber, burn only one house to be an arsonist, kill only one person to be a murderer — and commit only one sin to be a sinner.  This is why Scripture says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). 

None of us are good enough for heaven! 

But, Paul goes on to say in the very next verse that those who believe in Christ are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).  And further on he writes, "therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

Salvation is simply and only “the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast"  (Eph 2:8-9).

So you see, it's not by trying, or joining, or loving, or keeping, or by doing anything that will get you to heaven; it's only by believing. God says that He loves us, and that Christ died for our sins, and rose again!  Will you believe this, and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior?

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (Jn 3:16).

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" (Jn 11:25-26)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bach's St. Matthew Passion

The night before last a good friend from church and I had the privilege of attending Bach's St. Matthew Passion at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Chicago.  This was the debut of Chicago Bach Project,** which celebrates Bach and all that inspired his work and faith.  It is anticipated that the St. Matthew Passion will now become a new Chicago tradition.

Bach truly is the best of the best.  He was an absolute genius at creating atmosphere and mood and certainly didn't hold back this gift when composing what many consider to be his crowning work — St. Matthew Passion.  As an aside, did you know that Bach signed most of his works with the initials S.D.G., which stood for Soli Deo Gloria, meaning, "To God alone the Glory"?

I immensely enjoyed the whole of the St. Matthew Passion, but especially the second half.  My eyes welled up when the choirs sang, "Truly this man was the Son of God."  It is said that the two bars containing these words are the greatest in the history of music, and after Wednesday evening, I can't but wholeheartedly agree.

Following is the section leading up to these famous "two bars."  I'll begin where the chorale sings a verse from the very moving hymn, O Sacred Heart Once Wounded:

When once I must depart,
do not depart from me!
When I must suffer death,
then draw Thou close to me!
When I shall be most full
of fear at heart,
then may Thy power rend me
from my fears of fear and pain.

And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom.  And the earth did quake, and the rocks rent, and the graves opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept there arose.  And they went out of their graves after His resurrection, and came unto the holy city, and appeared  unto many.  Now when the centurion, and those who were with him to watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what happened there, they feared greatly and said:

Truly, this was the Son of God!

As we remember all that the Son of God endured on our behalf, may we be moved to live for His glory alone.

**And the reviews are in (4/28/11):

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Romans 7:15-8:4 - part 4

4. The Law of sin and death (Rom 8:2):

There is another very basic law to consider, a law which we see in operation all around us — "the law of sin and death." Scripture makes it very clear that sin brings death (Ezek 18:4; Rom 5:12; 6:13; James 1:15). This law not only refers to physical death, but also to spiritual death (Rev 20:11-15). Some believers in Christ, who truly long to please God, are understandably upset at the thought of appearing before the Lord at the Great White Throne for their many sins. But praise God such fears are unnecessary because Revelation 20 clearly tells us that only the lost will appear at this final judgment. There's also another law mentioned in Romans 8 that makes this truth even clearer.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Biblical interpretation down through the ages - the rise of allegorism - part 1

The writers of the first centuries faced many difficulties.  They didn't have an established canon of either the Old or the New Testament.  They had known only the rules of interpretation of the Rabbinical schools and, therefore, had to free themselves from its extreme literalness.  They were surrounded by Judaism, paganism and all sorts of heresy.  Out of all this came three different exegetical schools.  Farrar says:

The Fathers of the third and later centuries may be divided into three exegetical schools.  Those schools are the Literal and Realistic as represented predominantly by Tertullian; the Allegorical, of which Origen is the foremost exponent; and the Historical and Grammatical, which flourished chiefly in Antioch, and of which Theodore of Mopsuestia was the acknowledged chief.

In tracing the rise of the allegorical school, Farrar goes back to Philo and ultimately to Aristobulus, saying that his...

...actual work was of very great importance for the History of Interpretation.  He is one of the precursors whom Philo used though he did not name, and he is the first to enunciate two theses which were destined to find wide acceptance, and to lead to many false conclusions in the sphere of exegesis.

The first of these is the statement that Greek philosophy is borrowed from the Old Testament, and especially from the Law of Moses; the other that all the tenets of the Greek philosophers, and especially of Aristotle, are to be found in Moses and the Prophets by those who use the right method of inquiry.

Philo liked Aristobulus's concept and tried to merge Mosaic law and Greek philosophy in order to make it more acceptable to the Greek.  G.H. Gilbert explains it this way:

[To Philo] Greek philosophy was the same as the philosophy of Moses...And the aim of Philo was to set forth and illustrate this harmony between the Jewish religion and classic philosophy, or, ultimately, it was to commend the Jewish religion to the educated Greek world.  This was the high mission to which he felt called, the purpose with which he expounded the Hebrew laws in the language of the world's culture and philosophy.

The only way Philo could make this work was to use an allegorizing method of interpreting Scripture.  Particularly influenced by this harmonization was the school of Alexandria.  Farrar further explains:

It was in the great catechetical school of Alexandria, founded, as tradition says, by St. Mark, that there sprang up the chief school of Christian Exegesis.  Its object, like that of Philo, was to unite philosophy with revelation, and thus to use the borrowed jewels of Egypt to adorn the sanctuary of God.  Hence, Clement of Alexandria and Origen furnished the direct antithesis of Tertullian and Irenaeus...

The first teacher of the school who rose to fame was the venerable Pantaenus, a converted Stoic, of whose writings only a few fragments remain.  He was succeeded by Clement of Alexandria, who, believing in the divine origin of Greek philosophy, openly propounded the principle that all Scripture must be allegorically understood.

It was in this school that Origen further developed the allegorical method of interpretation.  Origen believed Scripture presented a threefold sense: (1) a literal or historical meaning, but only as a stepping stone to a higher idea; (2) a psychic or moral meaning, for the general teaching of the vast majority of men; and (3) a mystic or ideal meaning, for those who knew how to understand the hidden meaning of Scripture.  (Rather arrogant, wasn't he?)  Origen's three-fold meaning theory accomplished basically the same thing as Philo's harmonization — to spiritualize away the letter of Scripture.  Instead of simply bringing out the sense of the Bible, he put into it all sorts of foreign ideas and irrelevant fancies.  But, this was what the people of his time wanted to hear. And because Origen was brilliant and extremely knowledgeable, he gathered a large following, until some of his more extreme ideas caused him to fall out of favor.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Romans 7:15-8:4 - part 3

3. The law of the renewed mind (Rom 7:22-23):

Does all this mean it's okay to live in sin and/or not take it too seriously when we stumble and fall? Absolutely not, because another law forbids it. Paul refers to this law as "the law of my mind" and says this law wages war against "the law of sin and death." So what is "the law of the renewed mind"?

Paul's epistles say a lot about the believer's renewal of mind, brought about by the Holy Spirit's work as He applies His Word to our hearts. And Ephesians 4:22-24 makes it very clear that it's not the body or the old nature that's renewed; it's the mind:

That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

In Romans 7:15-8:4 Paul says that he has received this "renewing of the mind," declaring that he hates the wrong that he does (7:15), that he longs to do right and does not wish to do wrong (vs 18-19), that he "joyfully concurs with the law of God" (v 22), and with his mind serves the law of God (v 25).

Paul calls this renewing of the mind in a believer a law. It's now "the law of my mind" that desires to do God's will. This law operates in every believer, which begins at the moment of our salvation. More and more we should see sin and righteousness in their true light and "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom 12:2).

(to be continued)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Romans 7:15-8:4 - part 2

2. The law of indwelling sin (Rom 7:23):

Another law clearly seen in Romans 7 is that of indwelling sin. This refers to our old natures still within us. Paul freely admitted that this law was at work within himself when he says:

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin...For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not...For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want...I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good...For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man...but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members (Rom 7:14, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23).

Does this mean that Paul was not the true man of God that Scripture presents to us? No, because he doesn't discuss his general manner of life, but his problem — the problem we all have — with sin.

We see this as well in Galatians 5:17:

For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

Paul's honest confession should humble us because it comes from a man who was undoubtedly more godly than we are. But knowing about the law of indwelling sin should also encourage us. It's almost like God is telling us: "Write this down, cement it in your mind: In you (in your old self) is no good thing — it is totally corrupt. But it has been crucified with Christ."

Therefore, we won't achieve victory over sin through subjective examination of our old nature, much less in attempts to improve it, but only in an objective focus on Christ, in whom we now stand before God, justified from every sin, past, present and future.

(to be continued)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Romans 7:15-8:4 - part 1

This Scripture has often been a controversial subject.  It describes an aspect of the Christian life that we should all understand, for if we don't, discouragement will inevitably follow.  But rightly understood, it can contribute to a confident, steady, and joyful Christian experience.

Some theologians hold that Romans 7 describes Paul's experience under the Law and that Romans 8 was his experience under grace, with the former being full of discouragement and the latter, with victory. That's why we often hear the advice: "Get out of Romans 7 and into Romans 8."

But I don't believe this view for two important reasons. First of all, Paul wrote these two chapters at the same writing; there wasn't even a chapter division in the original. The same man who wrote Romans 8:1-2 also wrote the words of 7:22-25 immediately before them. It seems to me that he rejoiced in the truth of Romans 8:1-2 while experiencing Romans 7:22-25. Secondly, sincere and godly believers have admitted that their experience has closely resembled what Paul described in Romans 7:14-25. My questions to those who hold that Romans 7 concerns Paul's experiences while still under the Law are these: Doesn't your old nature constantly try to gain control? Don't you have a problem with the "old man"? Have you consistently overcome sin in your life?

I believe Romans 7 should deeply concern us all because it describes the spiritual experience of the Apostle Paul himself, and, of every sincere believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

To fully understand Romans 7:15-8:4, we must look at five important laws referred to in this passage. And just to make things clear, a law is basically a fixed rule. This definition fits well the laws of nature, of civil and moral laws, and also of the Law of God.

1. The moral Law of God (Rom 7:22):

This is the Law that God gave through Moses (Ex 21:15-16; Jn 1:17). It represented a covenant which God made specifically with Israel (Ex 19:5-6). The penalty for breaking this covenant was death (2 Cor 3:7).

While the Law was given particularly to Israel, it still concerns the Gentiles as well. Romans 2:14-15 says that the "Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them."

Therefore, while the Gentiles were already condemned by the moral law, written in their hearts by God, God gave this law, written on tablets of stone, to Israel as a basis for a covenant which He would use to show them that they too were sinners. And sure enough, they almost immediately began breaking the Law, so that they, like the Gentiles, were declared guilty before God (Rom 3:19; 5:12, 20). While the covenant of the Law was made with Israel alone, it at the same time accentuates man's sin.

(to be continued)

Friday, April 15, 2011


What a great word!  Of course we know that "therefore" is a key word in the study of logic.  It's not surprising, then, that we find this word used in one form or another approximately 70 times in the Book of Romans, for Romans is a logical, as well as a theological book.

Therefore you are inexcusable... (Rom 2:1)

Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight... (Rom 3:20)

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law (Rom 3:28).

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1).

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1).

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (Rom 12:1).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Biblical interpretation down through the ages - during the time of Christ

The literal/plain method continued to be the method of interpretation among most Jews during the time of Christ.  Unfortunately, it was the same sharp literalism used before His coming.   As Bernard Ramm well observed:

...the  net result of a good movement started by Ezra was a degenerative hyper-literalistic interpretation that was current among the Jews in the days of Jesus and Paul.  The Jewish literalistic school is literalism at its worst.  It is the exaltation of the letter to the point that all true sense is lost.  It grossly exaggerates the incidental and accidental and ignores and misses the essential.

And yet it can't be denied that literalism was the accepted method.  Misuse of the method doesn't mean the method itself is wrong.  The method itself wasn't at fault, but rather the misapplication of it.

The literal/plain method was also the method of the apostles.  Although F.W. Farrar had some unusual ideas, I believe he said this rather well:

The better Jewish theory, purified in Christianity, takes the teachings of the Old Dispensation literally, but sees in them, as did St. Paul, the shadow and germ of future developments. Allegory, though once used by St. Paul by way of passing illustration [see Gal 4:24], is unknown to the other Apostles, and is never sanctioned by Christ.

R.B. Girdlestone confirmed this in his writings:

We are brought to the conclusion that there was one uniform method commonly adopted by all the New Testament writers in interpreting and applying the Hebrew Scriptures.  It is as if they had all been to one school and had studied under one master.  But was it the Rabbinical school to which they had been?  Was it to Gamaliel, or to Hillel, or to any other Rabbinical leader that they were indebted?  All attainable knowledge of the mode of teaching current in that time gives the negative to the suggestion.  The Lord Jesus Christ, and no other, was the original source of the method.  In this sense, as in many others, He had come a light into the world.

Even liberal-minded C. A. Briggs agreed that Jesus didn't follow the method of His day:

The apostles and their disciples in the New Testament used the methods of the Lord Jesus rather than those of the men of their time.  The New Testament writers differed among themselves in the tendencies of their them all, the methods of the Lord Jesus prevail over the other methods and ennoble them.

As we can see, it wasn't necessary for the apostles to use a different method to properly understand the Old Testament, but rather to correct the extremes of the existing method.  Moreover, since there's a vast difference between explaining an allegory (Gal 4:24) and using the allegorical method of interpretation, we must conclude that the New Testament writers interpreted the Old Testament literally/plainly.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

O Sacred Head Now Wounded

O sacred Head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down,
now scornfully surrounded
with thorns, thine only crown:
how pale thou art with anguish,
with sore abuse and scorn.
How does that visage languish
which once was bright as morn.

What thou, my Lord, has suffered
was all for sinners' gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior.
'Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor,
vouchsafe to me thy grace.

What language shall I borrow
to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love for thee.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Biblical interpretation down through the ages - the OT

Biblical historians generally agree that biblical interpretation began when Israel returned from the Babylonian exile under Ezra (Neh 8:1-8). It became necessary at that time because of the long period in which the Mosaic law was not only neglected, but forgotten by the nation. When Hilkiah discovered the forgotten "book of the law," it was given a place of prominence for a brief time but was soon forgotten again. The Jews had also replaced their native language with Aramaic while in exile, which made the Scriptures unintelligible to them when they returned. So Ezra had to explain the forgotten and unintelligible Scriptures to the people. It goes without saying that Ezra's interpretation was a literal, plain interpretation of what had been written.

Over time Rabbinism came to have a tremendous hold on the Jewish nation.  Johann Jakob Herzog in A Religious encyclopaedia or dictionary of Biblical, historical, ... offers some interesting insight on how this came to be:

When the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity, they felt that they were not a Mosaic people, but had, in order to become one, first, to learn what Mosaic law was, and, next, to re-organize their social, moral, and religious life in accordance with its prescripts.  The problem thus set before them demanded a union between school and government, and that union forms the very characteristic of rabbinism.  In the schools the Mosaic law was rendered into the popular Chaldaean tongue either by literal translation or by more copious paraphrasing, and to this rendering were added explanations, illustrations, admonitions, etc.  But the transition from a purely theoretical teaching of the law to a practical application of it was, of course, easy to make; and soon the teachers formed, in Jerusalem and other great cities, courts, into which all cases of litigation were brought for adjudication.  It is probably that at first the teachers were priests; but, as there was no necessity for combining those two functions, the teaching of the law, and its judicial application, gradually fell into the hands of the laity, and, as one of the principal duties of those teachers was to copy the sacred books, they received the name of Sopherim ("scribes").

In the time of Simeon the Just, who lived under Alexander the Great, or a little later, the institution attained it perfection and final establishment.  With Simeon the Just, however, begins the second stage in the development of rabbinism.  It was quite natural, that in the interpretation of the law, a tradition should be formed, comprising the opinions of the oldest and wisest interpreters, the Chachamim; and soon this tradition was dated back beyond the Babylonian captivity, even up to Moses.  But where there is tradition, there will come schools.  Antigonus, a pupil of Simeon the Just, formed the first school, and from that branched off afterwards the school of the Sadducees; for the Sadducees were a school before they became a sect.  About the same time a circle of men gathered from among the mass of the people, and pledged themselves to the strictest observance, even the most minute prescripts of the law; and from this circle of men, the Chassidim, afterwards developed the sect of the Pharisees.  Of still greater importance than the formation of schools was the transformation of the whole class of law-teachers into a corporation, which also took place in this period, owing to the introduction of the semichah, or ordination by the laying-on of hands.  Though the semichah was not legally established until about eighty years before Christ, it, too, was dated back to Moses.  Its final form it received from Hillel I.: it could be given only within the boundaries of Palestine, and only with the consent of the president of the sanhedrin, and any one who had received it was eligible to that assembly.    

It is obvious that the scribes during this time used a literal method of interpretation; however, it was a literalness so sharp, it cut out the spiritual requirements of the law. Although they arrived at false conclusions, it wasn’t the fault of the literal method, but the misapplication of it. C.A. Briggs, after explaining the thirteen rules that guided Rabbinical interpretation, says this:

Some of the rules are excellent, and so far as the practical logic of the times went, cannot be disputed. The fault of Rabbinical exegesis was less in the rules than in their application, although latent fallacies are not difficult to discover in them, and they do not sufficiently guard against slips of argument.

So despite all the fallacies of Jewish Rabbinism, it must be concluded that they followed a literal, plain method of interpretation.

(to be continued)