“Those who swear by the Guilt of Samaria,
and say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan,’
and, ‘As the Way of Beersheba lives,’
they shall fall, and never rise again.”
~Amos 8:14 ESV
In Amos, we see followers of “the Way” which was a deviation of Judaism, created by the kings of Israel in the northern kingdom after the split under Rehoboam. These the Lord condemns, and after the exile, the people of Judah remember the judgment that fell upon the followers of the Way, and they never return to it.
“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
~Acts 9:1-2 ESV
Then in the book of Acts, we see the church being referred to by Saul and other persecutors as “the Way”. I always thought this was what the church called itself in the early days because they adopted the name, “Christians,” in Antioch, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Instead, the orthodox community appears to be linking this new development out of Judaism to a time 800 years prior. And with a passion for the purity of their faith, with which I can actually sympathize, they seek to snuff out the supposed heresy before it brings down judgment once again. This time, however, the Way is from God.
Does anyone else see this connection? Hebrew and Greek scholars, is this a valid correlation? I’d love to hear feedback or correction.
6/28/2011: Further thought…
Considering that Luke is the narrator of Acts 9, it is unclear whether Saul and the chief priests called the early Christians followers of “the Way” or whether Luke is conveying the name by which the early church referred to itself.