1) How Many Theologians WERE Jean Gerson OR von Nieheim? · 2) Was the Synagogue Chief "Slave to the Law"? And what does "Slave" mean?
The Son of God calls the synagogue chief a hypocrite, a word “he uses so often to refer to those who are rigid and unyielding in their insistence on applying the law down to the last letter”. These people are not free, “they are slaves of the Law”. But “the Law was not made to enslave us but to set us free, to make us children” of the Lord. “Beneath rigidity there is something else, always! This is why Jesus says: hypocrites!”
I go through a search. Exodus does NOT say not to work miracles on the sabbath. The chief of the synagogue is indeed a hypocrite, but it is not the last letter of the law that he is zealous for.
Or perhaps there was such a thing as breach of sabbath in the command to the lame man "take thy bed and go"? But if so, why was the lame man not apprehended for taking the bed and walking?
Ah, perhaps these hypocrites WERE enforcing a Church discipline (remember, there was a Jewish Church leading up to the Catholic Church, and the Aaronite Priests but also Rabbis in this time were still not apostates but part of it and regulating parts of it) IN WHICH a poor man could be asked to take away his belongings if he was trespassing somewhere on the sabbath. Or perhaps the bed was a very light thing and he was not going very far away with it.
There seem to be Jews and similar who these days think it is ok to interrupt a loafer's night sleep in order to make him and his slender property leave the house.
But in that case, neither did Jesus command a breach of the sabbath by "take thy bed and walk".
And what if Jesus had been doing the works of a physician? Well, that might have been a sabbath breach to change his bandages if he had sores, or his plaster, if he had a broken leg. Not sure about that one. But what Christ did was SPEAKING. And there is no rule against SPEAKING on the sabbath. And if the principle was that the effect of the words were to do the EQUIVALENT of illicit medical work on the sabbath, well, God is by His word dragging the Universe around Earth each day, including the sabbath. That is the EQUIVALENT not of oxen dragging a millstone around but of very much more than that. And the miracle Christ accomplished was also of very much more than just equivalent of what could have been done by medical work which in that late part of the Old Testament MIGHT have been illicit. So, equivalent of more than the illicit work = illicit work, even if no physical effort of work is done? Well, that would make God a sabbath breaker.
No, it was NOT "every letter" of the law that the chief of the synagogue zealously observed and wanted observed.
He was probably of the school of Hillel, considered Jesus as of the school of Shammai (Shammai agreed with Our Lord on indissolubility of marriage!) and wanted to show Him "you aren't following your own rules". And in order to do so, he had to resort to subterfuges and go way outside any letter of the law.
Yes, the chief of the synagogue was in a sense a SLAVE of the law. A slave looking for as much wiggle room as possible. A slave paying lip service to the principle of zeal for every letter, but actually having no such zeal. He was not able to say "after all, the law as stated does not call this a sabbath breach". He could have used
Exodus 31:14 Keep you my sabbath: for it is holy unto you: he that shall profane it, shall be put to death: he that shall do my work in it, his soul shall perish out of the midst of his people.
But from context we know that Exodus 31:14 is not speaking about each and every act which can be termed "the Lord's work", not of cultic acts per se, but of preparations for these. If you want flowers on the altar for a Marian feast, well, it's not on the feast day itself you provide the flower pots, but the day before. Some would say the idea is not excellent, for floristic reasons, and some have suggested flowers on the altar are an abuse. But if one puts the flowers on the altar there in order the same morning, at least we live in another covenant than that when Exodus 31:14 was binding law. However, Exodus 31:14 is NOT talking about making miracles, in context.
So, even that idea for an excuse for the chief of the synagogue being zealous is false.
Slaves are not really zealous for their masters. Read Roman comedy, every slave in Plautus is only thinking on how to cheat his way out of the words of the master. But if the chief of the synagogue is "slave of the law", perhaps he was as little zealous as the chief of the synagogue.*
Christ had no more broken the law than a priest entering the sanctuary on Yom Kippur [Leviticus 16:31-34]. Indeed, the words of "thy sins are forgiven" mean that that was precisely what Christ was doing.
No, the chief of the synagogue was simply not zealous for the law at all, but eager for an opportunity of criticism. He was not rigid, he was indeed extremely flexible in exegesis, in claiming to find any fault. He was not applying the actual law, he was bluffing so as to give an impression of doing so, like certain policemen bluff when dealing with people they want to humiliate and have no legal charge against. Slave, yes. Rigid, no.
Hans Georg Lundahl
Holy Martyr couple
Chrysanthus and Daria
* Obviously the chief of the synagogue was as little or as much zealous as the chief of the synagogue. I meant as little zealous as the slave in Plautus. Sorry, had too much to