Summary argument against not adding to the law

Athetotheist claims Deut 4:2 means one cannot add anything to the Torah.

Athetotheist wrote: Fri Jul 21, 2023 11:06 am

As for not swearing/making a vow, it’s another example of Jesus getting to the heart. There isn’t really any contradiction with what Jesus said and Num 30:2.

Yes, there is.

Num 30:2
When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

Jesus says, “Do not swear at all” (Mt. 5:34). Moses does not say, “Do not swear at all” and does say, “Do not add to the law”.

Athetotheist wrote: Fri Jul 14, 2023 12:03 pm You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
(Deuteronomy 2:4)

I assert this is a hyperliteral interpretation and is not supported by Jewish interpretation, by Jesus’s interpretation, and by Christian interpretation. Literally adding words or subtracting words from the Torah is not considered sinful as Athetotheist alludes to.

First, what is the Torah? Though the Torah primarily refers to the five books of Moses, the Jews also believe the Torah can include the entire Tanakh and even the Talmud.

otseng wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 9:09 am

Athetotheist wrote: Wed Jul 26, 2023 9:41 pm The Torah has not been expanded. The Prophets, Writings and Talmud have elaborated on how the law (torah) was followed, but Deuteronomy was the last book of the Torah and remains so.

All of these are also considered part of the Torah. I’ve argued this here:

From Jewish sources:

The word “Torah” has multiple meanings, including a scroll made from kosher animal parchment, with the entire text of the Five Books of Moses written on it; the text of the Five Books of Moses, written in any format; and the term “Torah” can mean the entire corpus of Jewish law. This includes the Written and the Oral Law. … -law-torah

In its broadest sense, Torah is sometimes used to refer to the vast library of Jewish text. … -tree-life

But the word “torah” can also be used to refer to the entire Jewish bible (the body of scripture known to non-Jews as the Old Testament and to Jews as the Tanakh or Written Torah), or in its broadest sense, to the whole body of Jewish law and teachings.

There are times when the word “Torah” will be used to cover the whole, huge body of Jewish teaching – both written and oral. That includes the Tanach, the Mishna, the Talmud and many other works – all studied without stop throughout the generations until this very day.

So all of the other 34 books of the Old Testament (and even the Talmud) can be considered to be part of the Torah. And obviously those were not written by Moses. With a hyperliteral interpretation, all of these would be a violation of Deut 4:2 since they were added to the Torah. So, one cannot take a hyperliteral view of Deut 4:2 otherwise the Old Testament would only consist of 5 books and also not refer to the Talmud.

Since it is apparent the Jews have added to the Torah, Athetotheist then changes his argument from adding to the law to nullifying the law:

Athetotheist wrote: Sat Oct 28, 2023 10:11 am

It doesn’t make any sense to say the Jews have been willfully sinning all this time by adding to the law.

That’s why I’m not saying it.

Athetotheist wrote: Sat Oct 28, 2023 10:11 am

If adding to the law is a violation of the Torah, then the Jews have intentionally and systemically violated it for hundreds of years with a vast body of text that dwarfs the Torah.

Again, just because they’ve written a vast body of text doesn’t mean that they’ve nullified any of the commandments. It’s like saying, “Christian preachers have added the traditions of men to the Gospels with all the thousands of sermons they’ve written!”

No, it’s not an apt analogy because no Christian preachers are saying they are modifying the Torah or the Gospels or the Bible. Whereas Jews claim the Talmud is part of the Torah.

Athetotheist then claims I’m making a tu quoque argument:

Athetotheist wrote: Fri Oct 27, 2023 6:53 pm And even if the rabbis do violate the Torah, it’s still a Tu Quoque argument which doesn’t get Jesus off the hook. He’s supposed to have been the one who kept the law perfectly.

It is not a tu quoque argument. Here is what is a tu quoque argument:

1. Person A claims that statement X is true.
2. Person B asserts that A’s actions or past claims are inconsistent with the truth of claim X.
3. Therefore, X is false.

I’m not stating anything about Athetotheist’s actions or that he personally has violated his own claims. I’m arguing the Jews have violated his claims.

Here is his argument:
1. Anyone who literally adds or subtracts any words from what Moses commanded is sinning.
2. Jesus added words since he stated, “Do not make an oath” and Moses never said divorce was because of people’s hardness of heart.
3. Therefore Jesus sinned.

But, using his argument, it follows:
4. The Jews have added the prophets and the writings to the Torah and also added the Talmud to the Torah.
5. Therefore the Jews have sinned.

If one is arguing consistently, all 5 needs to hold true, otherwise it is special pleading.

Further, the Jews have nullified obeying the commandments since the temple has not existed for almost 2000 years and have not been able to do any of the sacrifices.

otseng wrote: Thu Nov 16, 2023 8:53 am

Obviously they haven’t been since the temple has not existed for close to 2000 years.

And hasn’t been needed, according to Ezekiel and Hosea.

Well, this is also inconsistent since the sacrifices were an everlasting statute.

[Lev 16:34 KJV] 34 And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.

So Ezekiel and Hosea countermanded the law which is a violation of Deut 4:2.

There are few commands that Moses stated were to be an everlasting statute. So, if there’s any serious violation, it would be the claim that Ezekiel and Hosea countermanded an everlasting statute.

So, the Jews, including Ezekiel and Hosea, have subtracted and nullified the Mosaic laws by not performing sacrifices.

Athetotheist then changes the argument again to say though the Jews added or nullified words, the Jews didn’t add commandments. This claim is refuted by the kosher laws:

otseng wrote: Tue Nov 07, 2023 7:41 am

Athetotheist wrote: Mon Nov 06, 2023 8:05 pm Adding to scripture doesn’t add to the commandments.

Not so sure about that. One example of where laws have been added is the extensive kosher laws.

Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus, כַּשְׁרוּת) is a set of dietary laws dealing with the foods that Jewish people are permitted to eat and how those foods must be prepared according to Jewish law.

Kashrut is the body of Jewish law dealing with what foods can and cannot be eaten and how those foods must be prepared. … egulations

Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of Jewish practice is the special diet. The food Jewish people are permitted to eat is known as Kosher (which means “fitting” or “correct”). The Kashrut Laws cover the type of animals a Jew can eat; how they are prepared; the prohibition of consuming blood and certain forbidden fats and sinews; the prohibition of consuming flies and insects, the mixing of meat and milk and many other aspects of diet and food preparation.

A specific example of a kosher law is a kosher kitchen must have two sets of cookware and utensils, one for meat and one for dairy. This is not commanded in the Torah, but a later addition.

The Torah forbids eating meat and milk in combination, and even forbids the act of cooking them together (as well as deriving benefit from such a mixture). As a safeguard, the Sages disallow the eating of meat and dairy products at the same meal, or preparing them with the same utensils. Therefore, a kosher kitchen must have two separate sets of pots, pans, plates and silverware ― one for meat/poultry and the other for dairy foods.

The requirement to keep meat and dairy products separate necessitates that they be prepared with their own designated utensils. Accordingly, a kosher kitchen can be characterized by duplicates: two sets of pots, two sets of dishes, and sometimes even two ovens or two sinks. … er-kitchen

The entire requirement is based on “not seething a kid in his mother’s milk”. The Torah doesn’t say anything about having two sets of cookware and utensils.

[Exo 23:19 KJV] 19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

[Deu 14:21 KJV] 21 Ye shall not eat [of] any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that [is] in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou [art] an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

Has Jesus countermanded the law of Moses in regard to making oaths? No.

otseng wrote: Mon Nov 13, 2023 9:25 am

He’s saying that they should not use oaths at all, and the problem is that Moses condoned the use of oaths. Jesus is setting himself in opposition to Moses.

Moses never commanded you must make an oath. Moses only commanded you may make an oath. As a matter of fact, Moses did say not making an oath is not a sin.

[Deu 23:22 NKJV] 22 “But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you.

So Jesus saying don’t make an oath at all doesn’t violate anything Moses said, but actually supports what Moses has said.

What did Jesus mean by saying anything more than a yes or no is evil?

otseng wrote: Sat Nov 11, 2023 7:43 am

In the case of oath-taking, he even goes so far as to assert that it comes of evil (Matthew 5:37), which is a pretty stern judgement on something which Moses condoned (Numbers 30:1-2, Deuteronomy 6:13).

Here’s what Jesus said:

Mat 5:33 ESV – “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’
Mat 5:34 ESV – But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
Mat 5:35 ESV – or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Mat 5:36 ESV – And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
Mat 5:37 ESV – Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Jesus is not saying that oath-taking is evil. He is saying that oath-taking is not necessary. If you say you will do something, then do it. If you say you won’t do something, then don’t do it. What is evil is saying, “Yes, I said I would do it, but since I didn’t swear I’d do it, then I’m not bound to do it.”

Has Jesus countermanded the law of Moses regarding divorce? No. As acknowledged by Athetotheist, he only disputes why divorce was allowed.

Athetotheist wrote: Wed Aug 23, 2023 10:51 pm The issue is the irreconcilable difference between why Jesus says divorce was allowed and why Moses says it was allowed.

Jesus was simply answering the Pharisees’ question why Moses allowed divorce.

[Mat 19:7-9 KJV] 7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Jesus also did not forbid divorce but only qualified the condition of divorce.

[Mat 19:9 KJV] 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

It’s even debatable if there was any command to divorce in the Torah.

[Deu 24:1 NET] 1 If a man marries a woman and she does not please him because he has found something offensive in her, then he may draw up a divorce document, give it to her, and evict her from his house.

In the NET translation, it says he may divorce. It doesn’t say he must divorce.

It’s not clear in the passage what offensive thing a wife does that allows for divorce, but Jesus says it’s for adultery. So, this would not be considered a countermand, but a clarification.

Links to more of my responses to divorce at:

Has Jesus added to the law of Moses? Yes, he has. Jesus himself stated:

[Jhn 13:34 KJV] 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

So, if one takes a hyperliteral view of Deut 4:2, both the Jews and Jesus have violated it.

We are not to take a such legalistic view of the law. Instead, we should follow the spirit of the law, not the literal letter of the law. The issue is those who follow the letter of the law do not have a proper understanding of what does keep and law mean.

otseng wrote: Tue Nov 14, 2023 8:11 am Fundamentally, most people (including Christians) have a misunderstanding of what it means to “keep the law”. This would take a sermon series to cover this. I gave a talk at church about “Keeping the Law” and “Loving the Law” at: … s-podcast/

I also debated this at Should Christians keep the law? and talked about it in Keeping the commandments.

In addition to the Jews, all Christians do not hold to a literal view of not adding or subtracting from the Mosaic law and instead they do not literally follow all of it.

Orthodox Christians regard the Law of Moses as still fully in effect but transformed and fulfilled in a number of ways. Other Christians believe that only parts dealing with the moral law (as opposed to ceremonial law) are still applicable, others believe that none apply, dual-covenant theologians believe that the Old Covenant remains valid only for Jews, and a minority have the view that all parts still apply to believers in Jesus and in the New Covenant without any transformation in their character. Hebrew Catholics believe that the Law of Moses is not obligatory for Christians, but yet beneficial to preserve the Jewish identity of those Jews who have become Catholic, and as a devotional.

Biblical scholar Paul Copan says:
“Keep in mind this statement that is worthy of full acceptance: the law of Moses is not eternal and unchanging.”

So, what is more acceptable? Athetotheist’s novel literalistic interpretation of Deut 4:2? Or what the Jews and Jesus and Christians all believe and practice? Based on all the evidence, it is the latter.