A Bedford Road Bible Study
Idolatry: Worship Gone Wrong
This weekly Bible study (Wednesdays, 7-8pm) is focused on developing a Biblical theology of idolatry. Why would we want to study something like idolatry? Because it is a common human problem - more common than we like to admit. Human beings have an innate desire to worship something, and as a result, we are always hunting for a locus - a center, a symbol, an image - that we can focus on. By exploring the Scriptures, we can identify the dangers of idolatry and find a path to avoid this sin and its inevitable results. We can instead find true worship.
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This study has come to an end. We hope you enjoyed it if you participated. If you'd like to journey with us, the videos belong are all five sessions.
Answering Questions that Come Up During the Study
A good question came up in discussion last night (1/27) about whether the Jews had the same issues with meat offered to idols that Christians did (1 Cor 8, 10).
As I noted last night, when we look back at Judaism in the Roman world, it is important to understand there was not a single Judaism but rather multiple Judaisms. The issue of dealing with meat offered to idols would not have been a problem for the Jews of Syria and the Levant, since their culture was pervasive there. It appears also that the majority of converts to Christianity in that region were Jews.
The Greek-speaking Jews living outside of Palestine were largely professionals, working as soldiers, scribes and merchants throughout the Empire. They were largely protected during the first century AD by a series of laws passed by Julius Caesar when he was consul. They were exempt from many taxes and allowed to operate under their own laws, and the Jewish community in Rome itself wielded impressive sway over the Roman Senate when they wished.
In Paul’s time, Jews therefore would have been able to keep their own kosher butchers - separate from the temple-sponsored slaughterhouses that Paul had to address in 1 Corinthians. Since the Christians were seen as heretics by most Jewish communities and since most of the Christians in Corinth were Gentiles, the services of these kosher markets would not have been available to the Christians.
It seems unlikely then that Jews had to deal with the conflict of interests that the Christians had in procuring meat. Remember also, however, that in a culture like the Roman world the class stratification was extreme. It is likely that most people of the lower classes (and Christianity was largely a religion of the lower classes at the time) would not have eaten meat very often. Therefore, this discussion may have something to do with the influential rich members of the Corinthian congregation who were throwing parties for their peers in the place of the Lord’s table (see 1 Corinthians 11).