The Political and Religious Context, Part 2 The Jewish Setting Palestinian and Diaspora Judaism Definitions Palestinian Judaism?the expression of Judaism most common among the Jews and various Jewish groups in Palestine. Diaspora Judaism?the practice of Judaism as it is found among the various Jewish groups outside of Palestine. Diaspora is a Greek term which means ?dispersion? and is used to describe those who are descendants of the Jews taken into captivity out of Israel by the Assyrians (722 BC) and the Jews removed from Judah by the Babylonians (597 and 587 BC). These groups (and the voluntary migration of Jews later) resulted in sizable populations of Jews outside of Palestine. Important centers of Diaspora Judaism included Babylon, Alexandria (Egypt), Rome, and several cities in Asia Minor. Differences?Must be careful not to overemphasize the differences Diaspora Jews were more affected by Hellenization. Greek was the predominant language of Diaspora Jews (as opposed to Aramaic for Palestinian Jews). NOTE?The Septuagint resulted from this language difference. Hellenistic ideas began to seep into the practices of Judaism among Diaspora Jews (and, ultimately, even among Palestinian Jews). Diaspora Jews were more likely to suffer persecution by their non-Jew neighbors. Shared Beliefs The Nature of God?Yahweh, the only true God Judaism was a monotheistic faith, unlike many of the other religions in the region. In Judaism, God was a supreme transcendent being who cared about humanity and ruled the universe. He was a jealous God, yet he also provided a means for people to have relationship with him. Centrality of the Torah?Teaching or Instruction The Law was the unifying religious document in Judaism. Although different groups gave importance to different aspects, for the most part, the Jews were a people of the book, especially the Law. The unifying tenet of Judaism was obedience to God?s instruction. The Temple?The Center of God?s Activity among Humans For the most part, the various expressions of Judaism all held to the importance of the Temple in Jerusalem as the center of sacrifice and true worship of God. They may have differed on the particulars regarding the priesthood or the sacrifices, but most Jews agreed that the Temple in Jerusalem was the place where God would accept sacrifices and worship in response to the sins of humanity. The Temple was also recognized as the basic dwelling place of Yahweh on earth. Religious Institutions and Leadership Institutions?The Synagogue and the Temple 2. Leadership?Scribes and the Sanhedrin Pre-70 Palestinian Jewish Movements Pharisees Origin?The origin of the Pharisees is unclear, but they may have been an offshoot of the Hasidim who arose in opposition to Antiochus Epiphanes during the second century BC. The name ?Pharisees? means ?separated ones,? and they sought strict obedience to God?s Law as their main goal. They were teachers (rabbis) who not only studied the Torah, but instructed others in it. As such, they were often much sought after in the synagogues. (Famous Pharisees?Paul and Nicodemus) Major Teachings Twofold Law?The Pharisees accepted not only the Mosaic books of the Law, but also the oral traditions that had been handed down for generations regarding the proper observance of the Torah. So, in a sense, the Pharisees held to a twofold Law. Fence around the Law?the Pharisees also held to the need to construct rules that would aid people in keeping the Law without too much difficulty. So, they continued to add to the oral traditions so as to keep folks from breaking the Law of Moses. These traditions were often commentaries on the Law and after being written down became known as the Mishnah (that which is learned by repetition). The commentary on the Mishnah is the Gemara (completion). The Mishnah and the Gemara together make up the Talmud (teaching) which was to protect the Law from being broken. Miscellaneous Beliefs?other beliefs espoused by the Pharisees included a belief in the resurrection of the dead, rewards and punishments after life, and the existence of angels and demons. Institution?Synagogue House of Instruction Place of Prayer Community Center Zealots Major Characteristics Very nationalistic?No master but Yahweh. They refused to accept Roman rule and pushed for an overthrow of the Romans in Palestine. Insistence on the First Commandment?No other gods but Yahweh, worship God alone. Observance of purity and Sabbath Eschatological orientation?apocalyptic mindset, expected divine intervention in their struggle, etc. No Institution Sadducees Origin?Mainly from the aristocratic wealthy priestly families in Palestine. Their name may derive from Zadok in the OT (1 Kings 1:26), the High Priest under David and Solomon. The Sadducees were more likely to accept Hellenization than the Pharisees or Zealots, and they were quick to accommodate their views with Rome. So, they retained a bit of power even under Roman rule as a result. Major Characteristics Doctrinal Conflict with the Pharisees Denied Oral Law Denied Resurrection and Angels Traditional Temple Worship Political Conflict with Zealots Accommodate Romans ?Noneschatological? Major Institution?The Temple Essenes Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls Characteristics Strict Interpretation of the Law Strict Discipline Strict Purity Expected Two Messiahs Institution(s)? Conclusion If ?purity? reflects a concern for the way in which community boundaries are maintained, then? The Pharisees ?privatized? purity by extending dietary regulations to the home. The Zealots ?politicized? purity by engaging in armed conflict with Roman ?outsiders.? The Sadducees ?institutionalized? purity in the architectural space of the Temple. The Essenes ?isolated? purity, by creating an alternative community. Early ?Christians? represent a ?fifth? Jewish Movement
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