Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rahab and Kinism - Part 2

Introduction

This is the second part in a brief series on Kinist claims regarding the ethnic identity of Rahab. In this section, we will be responding to an article entitled Kinist Orthodoxy: A Response to Brian Schwertley, Part 4, which is written by David Carlton. Although it touches on various Biblical personalities, it also speaks on the same subject as the previous article we looked at (that is, whether or not Rahab was a Gentile). However, it makes different arguments, mostly due to this particular article being in and of itself a response to someone else. Nonetheless, because this may be an issue a brother or sister in Christ will have to tackle, it will be worth confronting.

If anyone is reading this before the first part, I suggest reading that blog post first. At the beginning of that post, I define Kinism and the various levels of it; I also deal with certain arguments throughout the post that will be referenced here. As before, all quotations from the article itself will be in purple.

Who is Matthew's Rachab?

In the section dealing with Rahab, Mr. Carlton presents this initial argument:
First, the Rachab of Matthew 1:5 is possibly not the same “Rahab the harlot” mentioned in the book of Joshua, Hebrews 11:31, and James 2:25. Certainly, it is possible for there to be more than one woman named Rahab, and biblically, we hear nothing of what occurs with Rahab following her inclusion into Israel in Joshua 6. She could have very well lived as a resident foreigner in Israel until her death. If this connection does not hold, then the entire case falls apart before anything else is to be considered; we would have no reason to suppose that she was made a member of the nation (rather than church) of Israel, and we would have no reason to suppose she intermarried. Yet for the sake of argument, and because of the strong attestation of tradition, let’s assume that these two Rahabs are one and the same.
I literally laughed out loud when I first read this - not out of empty dismissal, but because the argument was so incredibly absurd. We are told that there is nothing to make us immediately assume that the Rahab of Matthew 1:5 is the same as the Rahab in Joshua, other than "the strong attestation of tradition."

Indeed, there's a very strong attestation to tradition. Among Patristic sources, Jerome says "Rahab the harlot is reckoned among our Lord's ancestors" (source). John Cassian wrote that she was "inserted in the progenitors of our Lord’s nativity" (source). John Chrysostom, in his commentary on Matthew, identified her as Rahab the harlot (source). Ephraim the Syrian seems to have had this section of Matthew in mind for his Hymn 7 on the Nativity, where he mentions Tamar, Ruth, and Rahab the harlot together (source). Pseudo-Chrysostom (believed to have lived about the fifth century) identified this Rahab as the prostitute (Kellerman, 9). Thomas Aquinas likewise identified this Rahab as the harlot (source).

This "strong attestation of tradition" goes well beyond antiquity. Great men of the church who have affirmed Rahab from Joshua is the Rahab in Matthew include Martin Luther (Luther, 137), the Geneva Bible translators, John Gill, Adam ClarkeJonathan Edwards, George Haydock, Joseph Benson, Charles Ellicott, William Barclay, Arno Gaebelein, John MacArthur (MacArthur, 1119), and David Guzik. Similar to how there was never really a question whether or not Rahab was a Gentile, neither is there any question that the Rahab mentioned in Matthew 1:5 is the same Rahab mentioned in Joshua. I would put forward that there is as much a "strong attestation of tradition" for Matthew's Rahab being the Rahab of Joshua as there is for the Trinity and the divinity of Christ.

Let's now present the entire genealogy found in Matthew. I've put in bold and underlined the sections where a woman is named.
The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa. Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah was the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. [Matthew 1:1-16; NASB]
Over the course Matthew's genealogy, he mentions a handful of women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Scripture attests to the clear identity that these women are the wives and mothers Matthew lists them as: Tamar is recorded as having had physical relations with Judah (Gen 38:18), later bearing him Perez and Zerah (Gen 38:27-30); Ruth is the wife of Boaz (Ruth 4:13), and mother of Obed (Ruth 4:17); Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah (2 Sam 11:3), later the wife of David (2 Sam 11:27), with whom she bore Solomon (2 Sam 12:24); and Mary is, quite obviously, the wife of Joseph, and the mother of Jesus.

In all the genealogies regarding Salmon and Boaz, Rahab is not mentioned (cf. Ruth 4:21; 1 Chr 2:11; see also Luke 3:32); Matthew is the only one who mentions Boaz's mother. From this, Mr. Carlton presents an argument from silence, telling us that we don't know if the Rahab in Matthew 1:5 is the same Rahab in Joshua because "we hear nothing of what occurs with Rahab following her inclusion into Israel in Joshua 6." Nonetheless, we see from the previous passage that Matthew - a Jewish Christian, writing a Gospel which makes more references to the Jewish Laws and Traditions than any other Gospel - is clearly using women with whom his readers would have been familiar. According to Mr. Carlton, however, Matthew decided, in the midst of referencing well known women from the Old Testament, to namedrop a woman that nobody would have been able to identify. What would have been the purpose of including a woman named "Rahab" in the genealogy unless Matthew expected his readers to presume this was the Rahab mentioned in Joshua?

Furthermore, the feminine article τῆς is placed before Ῥαχάβ in Matthew 1:5. A definite article, in fact, is placed before all the names in the genealogy, so that verse 5 would literally read: "Salmon begat the Boaz from the Rahab, Boaz begat the Obed from the Ruth, etc." The reason English translations never translate the definite articles is because it serves a grammatical, rather than literal, purpose. That is, Matthew inserted them to emphasize the uniqueness of the persons mentioned, and the fact they would be well known to the readers of the genealogy. In other words, Matthew is telling us that, yes, this is the Rahab, and she married the Salmon and gave birth to the Boaz.

Aside from Mary, what is the purpose of mentioning Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba? Matthew essentially had two purposes for including these women, which divides them into two groups. The first group consist of those who were involved in sin: Tamar had pretended to be a harlot and had conceived with her father-in-law, Judah; Bathsheba and David both committed adultery, and hence David had betrayed the trust and loyalty of Uriah (in fact, the original Greek does not include her name, but refers to her simply as "she of Uriah"). The second group were made up of Gentiles initially outside the nation of Israel: Rahab was a Canaanite; Ruth was a Moabite. (John MacArthur suggests that Mary could be seen as being under the "perceived stigma" of having a child out of wedlock, and hence in league with Tamar and Rahab, [ibid] but I am not certain how strongly one can make this case.)

Jerome likewise presents perhaps the best reason for these women being included:
In the Savior's genealogy it is remarkable that there is no mention of holy women, but only those whom Scripture reprehends, so that [we can understand that] he who had come for the sake of sinners, since he was born from sinful women, blots out the sins of everyone. [Jerome, 59]
The point of all this discussion is that there's absolutely zero reason for us, upon coming across the name Rahab in Matthew 1:5, to ask ourselves whether or not this is the same Rahab found in Joshua 2 and 6, Hebrews 11:31, and James 2:25. The clarity of Rahab's identity is found within the context of the passage itself, as well as the interpretation of the passage throughout history. Indeed, nobody has ever had an issue identifying this woman as Rahab the harlot until the rise of Kinism and the need to explain how it was possible a Canaanite woman ended up in Christ's family tree.

Rahab's Use of "Us" and "You"

We return to the article.
Schwertley believes that Rahab’s religious language contrasting “us . . . the inhabitants of the land” (Joshua 2:9) with “you” Israelites and “the Lord your God” (v. 11) demonstrates conclusively that she was not an Israelite, for she evidently did not belong to God’s covenant people at that time. This is true in one sense: regardless of her ancestry, Rahab was clearly not a member of the visible church, and hence she could speak of herself and her fellow inhabitants of Jericho as religious outsiders to Israel. But the whole Alienist case depends on Rahab’s ancestry being sufficiently foreign from Israel, so that her assimilation constitutes miscegenation and discredits ethnonationalism. We can grant that the notion of an Israelite residing in Jericho is rather far-fetched, but the more relevant question is whether, as so many attest, Rahab was a Canaanite.
In my previous post, I had brought up the words of Rahab to the spies that clearly isolated her from the people of Israel. Mr. Carlton's response is that Rahab's wording is purely theological in nature, not theological and ethnic. In other words, she's merely speaking as someone who is "not a member of the visible church." This forgets that, for that time period, gods and peoples were often tied together. For example, when Rabshakeh mocks the Judean faith in God, he refers to the gods of other lands - each one with their own gods - and asks how YHWH will deliver Jerusalem from the Assyrians' hands (2 Kings 18:33-35). This is likewise seen in the dialogue with Pharaoh, where God is often referred to as "the God of the Hebrews" (Ex 3:18; 5:3; 7:16; 9:1, 13; 10:3), as well as with later references to "the gods of Egypt" (Ex 12:12) and "the gods of the peoples who were around them" (Jdg 2:12). This is seen in other accounts of scripture, such as when the people of Israel are said to worship "the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines" (Jdg 10:6).

I have noticed that this seems to be a tactic found within Kinist interpretation of scripture. They'll claim someone is not a Gentile, then when the person clearly speaks in a language of someone who wasn't an ethnic Jew, they immediately commit a form of special pleading in order to say that the person is, in their specific circumstance, and only for themselves, speaking another way. (For example, in another article, Mr. Carlton argues that Ruth's identification of "Moabitess" was in reference to nationality rather than ethnicity.)

Was Rahab a nomadic Semite?

We continue:
Ehud Would has written an excellent article providing argumentation against the thesis of Canaanite ancestry, arguing instead for her Hebrew (and most likely Midianite) roots.
This article we responded to in our previous blog post, so I won't repeat myself here. Instead, we'll skip to the arguments specific for Mr. Carlton.
So if we can conclusively rule out a Canaanite ancestry, what can we say Rahab actually was? Per Schwertley’s own admission, “It is likely that Jericho was a rag-tag combination of Canaanite with perhaps some nomadic Semitic blood,” but he nevertheless believes his argument holds weight, even if he must concede that Rahab was Semitic, for “the point is that Rahab was absorbed into the tribe of Judah, even though she was not a Jew.” This does not follow. We Kinists concede that a reasonable immigration policy for a nation can permit certain ethnic kin to be assimilated, just as Edomites were permitted in Israel (Deut. 23:7-8), and just as many nations in history have permitted individuals from near-kin nations to be naturalized. Sufficiently closely-related nations can immigrate, within certain numbers, to kin-nations. This means that Rahab need not have been an ethnic Israelite (“Jew”) herself; she could have been of “nomadic Semitic blood” and likely satisfied ethnonationalist concerns. But in any case, the onus is upon the Alienist to prove that Rahab was of an ancestry incompatible with Israelite integration, not upon the Kinist to prove the opposite.
Mr. Carlton states "Rahab need not have been an ethnic Israelite...she could have been of 'nomadic Semitic blood' and likely satisfied ethnonationalist concerns." I must say it's astounding that the spies of Jericho were able to identify Rahab as someone of "near-kin" blood by merely hanging out with her for a few hours. (Though Mr. Carlton's associate, Mr. Would, argues that they may have known she was a Hebrew because she knew how to speak Hebrew - it was as easy as that!) Earlier, Mr. Carlton had admitted "the notion of an Israelite residing in Jericho is rather far-fetched." He is quite right there: it is most far-fetched to believe, in the midst of a largely Canaanite region, there would be at least one family of Israelites there. It's also far-fetched to believe, even with some others of Semitic blood present, and to maintain a consistent Kinist standard, that this same family had never intermingled with other Canaanites during their entire time in Canaan.

Mr. Carlton concludes that "the onus is upon the Alienist to prove that Rahab was of an ancestry compatible with Israelite integration, not upon the Kinist to prove the opposite." As I believe I have demonstrably shown, the testimony of scripture and the vast majority of church history concludes that Rahab was considered a Gentile. The Kinist must therefore, in order to remain consistent with their own position, either admit that there is a contradiction found in scripture regarding intermingling, or there has been a great misunderstanding of Rahab (indeed, a great misunderstanding of the Gospel and the true Christ, according to Mr. Would) throughout the entirety of church history - until, that is, the rise of Kinism.

Conclusion

As with the previous article, let's review what we covered:

It was argued that there is nothing to immediately presume the Rahab of Matthew 1 has any connection with the Rahab of Joshua 2 and 6. As we saw, this is not only completely illogical, but contextually incorrect. Likewise, literally nobody in the history of the Christian church has ever questioned the identity of Rahab in Matthew's version of Christ's lineage.

It was argued that when Rahab included herself among the people in Canaan, it was more from religious identity than ethnic. This is likewise erroneous. As scripture continually shows, religion and ethnicity were often tied together, and there is nothing to make us presume that Rahab is breaking from this mindset, other than the Kinist having to deal with a dilemma brought about by their own theology.

It was argued that there is a possibility Rahab may have had Semitic origins, and the burden of proof is upon the individual who wishes to argue Rahab didn't have Semitic origins. The possibility Rahab may have been Semitic is far, far less than the probability that she wasn't. Given this reality, as well as the already established strong testimony of tradition and the historical Christian teaching, the burden of proof is actually upon the Kinist to prove otherwise.

There is little else that I can add to this which I did not already say in the conclusion to my previous post. The only thing I might add was a comment made during the part of Mr. Carlton's article referencing Mr. Would's article:
Are we then to expect that Christ, the trueborn King of Israel hailing from the tribe of Judah, had Canaanite ancestry – that both He and His ancestors ought to have been separated from Israel for having a forbidden admixture? The notion is heretical and absurd.
In the previous article, we discussed how Kinism redefines and adds to the Gospel, making it dependent not upon Christ's being free of the stain of sin, but on Christ's being free of the stain of Gentile blood. Here, to suggest that Christ had any Canaanite ancestry at all is deemed not only absurd, but heretical. If this is the case, one must assume that the vast majority of Church Fathers, Reformers, and great men of the Christian church have, throughout time, been heretics. Whether or not one would want them to be full blown heretics or "material heretics" is probably something the individual Kinist would decide.

In either case, all this demonstrates not only how detached Kinism is from historical Christianity, but orthodoxy and biblical doctrine as well.

***

Work Cited

Jerome, and Thomas P. Scheck. Commentary on Matthew (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 117). N.P.: Catholic U of America Press, 2008. Print.

Kellerman, James A., and Thomas C. Oden. Incomplete Commentary on Matthew. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010. Print.

Luther, Martin, Joel R. Baseley, and Stephan Roth. Festival Sermons of Martin Luther. Dearborn, MI: Mark V Publications, 2005. Print.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc, 2005. Print.