Gleanings of Wheat: A Blog dedicated to cooking, kids, and Christ

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Passover 2009 Series: Kosher Laws vs the NT

I thought it'd be interesting to give a basic overview of the laws that outline what is a Kosher diet with what was sent to the Gentile believers of Acts 15. I got the following chart from Religious Facts.

Kosher (permitted)
Ritually slaughtered beef, sheep, goats and deer with no flaws or diseases
Chicken, turkey, quail, geese
Salmon, tuna, carp, herring, cod
Meat eaten separately from dairy
Wine or grape juice made under Jewish supervision
Soft cheese and kosher hard cheese

Trayf (forbidden)
Crab, lobster, octopus, clam, swordfish, sturgeon
Meat with dairy (e.g., cheeseburger, burger with milkshake, chicken cordon bleu, wiener schnitzel, etc.)**
Eagle, hawk, vulture
Any other wine and grape juice
Most hard cheese

**This requirement is not actually found in Scripture, rather is an interpretation that has been handed down in the Talmud. Exodus 23:19b says "Thou shalt not seeth a kid in his mother's milk," tradition imposed even more strict standards on top of what God had said and Jews who keep kosher will often avoid even drinking milk when having a meal with meat.

Now, all this is a pretty sharp contrast to the freedom in the New Testament. After all, we know that it isn't what goes into a person that makes them clean or unclean (see Matthew 15:11). In Acts some Jewish believers were trying to get Gentile believers to conform to the Law, this was creating such strife between the groups that an assembly was formed to try and sort the matter out, to see what God would have them observe.

"Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have trouble you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul...For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well." (Acts 15:24-25,28-29)

Out the window are the 613 commandments and the additional traditions - in their place God instructs the Gentile believers to abstain from things that would have marked their lives prior to conversion: fornication, bloody animals, and idol worship. Paul later writes in 1 Corinthians that we should be careful not to offend our more sensitive brethren for the sake of our liberty found in Christ. Though Paul was writing specifically to address food this has clear implications for the rest of our Christian lives as well. It could touch on everything from alcohol to music to television; though we are not called to adhere to the Law there is still an expectation of holiness to be found in our lives...of otherness. It is the freedom in Christ that would spur us on to honor God in that liberty.

Passover 2009 Series
Fat-free Knaidlach
Chicken Soup
A Kosher Diet