Deuteronomy is the fifth (and last) book of the Torah and is presented as Moses’ final speech to the Israelites just before they entered the Promised Land. “Deuteronomy” comes from Greek words that mean “Second Law” and is structured as a “restatement” of the laws found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. Parts of it were revised as late as 450 BCE, but the bulk of the book is generally dated to the reign of King Josiah of Judea (640-609 BCE).
In today’s reading, Moses tells the Israelites that YHWH will raise up a prophet “like me” [Moses] as requested by the people at Horeb (the Deuteronomists’ name for Mount Sinai). Moses “recounts” that YHWH told him that YHWH would put words in the prophet’s mouth and the prophet would speak in YHWH’s name (v.18).
These verses in Deuteronomy formed the basis for the vision that the Messiah would be a prophet and the “New Moses.” This vision was one among many different visions of the Messiah in circulation in the First Century, including the “New David,” the suffering servant, the Paschal Lamb, the Son of Man, and the New High Priest.
The Gospel According to Matthew specifically presented Jesus of Nazareth as the New Moses. This Gospel contains stories about Jesus that are not in any other Gospels and are direct parallels to stories about Moses in the Hebrew Bible. For example, by unusual means, Moses and Jesus avoided death at the hands of rulers who tried to kill all the male infants (Pharaoh and Herod). Moses and Jesus both left Egypt for the Promised Land under God’s protection. Moses went up on the mountain (Sinai or Horeb) to obtain the Law, and Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount to fulfill the Law.
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Corinth, a large port city in Greece, was among the early Jesus Follower communities that Paul founded. Its culture was diverse and Hellenistic. Corinthians emphasized reason and secular wisdom. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was written in the 50’s (CE) and presented his views on many issues that were controversial in this Jesus Follower Community.
In today’s reading, it is difficult to know exactly when Paul is quoting Hellenistic/Corinthian “knowledge” and whether he is quoting it approvingly or not. (Quotation marks were unknown in the First Century; the early predecessors to quotation marks were not used until the 3rd or 4th Century CE. Quotation marks as we know them were developed in the 17th Century.)
In Corinth, sacrificing meat to idols was a normal part of the social fabric. Paul walked a fine line: he did not forbid Corinthians from eating this meat, but he cautioned Jesus Followers that if they ate meat sacrificed to idols, this might harm those who did not fully understand that “no idol in the world really exists” (v.4) and for whom eating meat sacrificed to idols was a “stumbling block” (v.9). Paul admonished that wounding the conscience of one who is weak in this matter would be a sin against the Christ (v.12).