In his book,
UL AND RABBINIC JUDAISM: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology
," W.D. Davies has an entire chapter devoted to understanding the concept of
the Good Impulse & Evil Impulse as disguised in the Gospels and the Pauline letters. Disguised? Yep! This proto-rabbinic concept about the nature
of man is dressed in Greek words (pnuema = spirit & sarx = flesh ), but there's no doubt that Yeshua and Paul were alluding to it, IF one places
their words back into the proper historical, linguistic and cultural context.
For those who are willing to learn more about this rabbinic concept of the two impulses I recommend you
to read a different post of mine and/or
and scroll down to the section entitled "The Dual Nature" or read
" by A. Cohen, Chapter 3,
section IV. "The Two Impulses", pp. 88ff.
The sages of the Common Era believed that man was born with an Evil Impulse, which isn't evil in and of itself, because it basically amounts to our
Survival Instinct and Sex Drive. Nevertheless, these are the agents through which evil works. However, the Good Impulse only comes "online" at the
age of thirteen for a boy and twelve for a girl, when the child becomes a "Son/Daughter of the Commandments"; thereafter being held accountable for
their own actions, which the parents had hitherto been obliged to shoulder.
"The Evil Impulse is thirteen years older than the Good Impulse. It exists from the time of a person's emergence from his mother's womb; it grows
with him and accompanies him through life. It begins to desecrate the Sabbath, to kill and act immorally, but there is nothing (within him) to
prevent it. After thirteen years the Good Impulse is born
" - Avot d'Rabbi Nathan 16.
When Yeshua speaks of being "born again" and states, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of G-d" (John 3:3) and "That which is
born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit, is spirit" (John 3:6), he is speaking about the Evil Impulse (sarx/flesh) and the
Good Impulse (pneuma/spirit).
Further, Yeshua more or less chides Nicodemus (Nakdimon) for not knowing this fundamental teaching of the proto-Rabbinic Separatists (Pharisees).
That one must become a "Son/Daughter of the Commandments" via the activation of the Good Impulse in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (i.e.,
the Rulership of G-d), and thereby tame one's Evil Impulse, was axiomatic by Yeshua's day and age.
How does one combat their Evil Impulse? Well, given that the sages equated the Evil Impulse with Satan and the Angel of Death (cf.
my aforementioned post
), let's read how Yeshua responded to the
Adversary during his "temptation in the wilderness" (Mat. 4:1-11) and compare it to the following excerpt from the rabbinic literature:
< When he (the Evil Impulse) desecrates the Sabbath, it (the Good Impulse) warns him, "Good-for -nothing! Behold it is said, 'Every one that
profaneth it shall surely be put to death
' (Exod. 31:14)." If he thinks of committing a murder it warns him, "Good-for -nothing! Behold it is
said, 'Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed
' (Gen. 9:6)." If he proposes to act immorally it warns him, "Good-for
-nothing! Behold it is said, 'Both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death
' (Lev. 20:10)" - Avot d'Rabbi Nathan 16.
Notice that in both Mat. 4:1-11 and the excerpt above there were three temptations made by the Evil Impulse and three responses delivered from the
Sacred Text by the Good Impulse. I don't know about the reader, but ... all I see here is Yeshua being a Son of G-d (i.e., Son of the Commandments)
and using the Good Impulse to combat the Evil Impulse. More examples to come! Stay tuned!
[edit on 19-6-2005 by smadewell]