20-3 Judaism at the Dawn of the Christian Era
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Major centers of Jewish settlement in the post-exilic period
- Babylon: many of the deported Jews remained and flourished
- Alexandria in Egypt: there were more Jews in Alexandria than in Jerusalem.
- Palestine: including returned exiles and those who had never left (anawim)
- every major urban area of the Roman Empire (by the 1st century AD)
What was the largest city in the ancient world? What people settled there in large number?
Alexandria in Egypt. One-quarter of its population was Jewish.
Jewish Literary Productions from Ezra (458)
- Dead Sea Scrolls
- Jewish religious writings
- Two significant Jewish authors: Philo of Alexandria and Josephus
Dead Sea Scrolls include:
- texts of all OT books except Esther
- biblical commentaries
- apocrypha (Tobit) and pseudepigrapha (non-biblical books such as Enoch, Jubilees, Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs)
- documents regarding Essenes community life
What is Apocrypha?
"hidden" or "secret" writings no read in many synagogues
Jewish religious writings:
- Book of Jubilees
- Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs
- Psalms of Solomon
- Letter of Aristeas
- 3rd and 4th Maccabees
What is the Letter of Aristeas?
It is a letter from 2nd century BC from the Hellenized Jewish community of Alexandria, explaining the origin of the Septuagint as divinely inspired.
Life of Philo of Alexandria
25 BC-AD 50
Who is Philo of Alexandria?
a Jewish philosopher who presented Jewish law as reasonable, and in doing so made free use of allegory
Life of Josephus
Who is Josephus?
a Jewish historian and apologist who worked closely with the Romans
What is Talmud?
It is a collection of post-biblical laws and teachings that originated with the rabbis in Babylon or Palestine in the first four Christian centuries. This represents the tradition of the Pharisees, which survived the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70.
Two types of material in the Talmud
- Halakah: legal material
- Haggadah: narratives or stories
What is Mishnah?
It is the earliest part of the Talmud, put together by Rabbi Judah the Prince around AD 200.
What is Gemara?
It is a later addition to Talmud containing the opinions of rabbis from AD 200-500.
What was one of the strongest movements in Judaism prior to the Christian era?
hope for a Messiah
Did every Jewish group expect the same sort of Messiah?
Stages of Messianic expectation
- 1st stage: God made the unconditional promise to David through the prophet Nathan.
- 2nd stage: The prophets before the exile looked for a better king in the line of David.
- 3rd stage: After the exile, there is no Davidic king. Thus, prophets such as Haggai and Zechariah hope that one will arise. This increasingly becomes a hope that God himself will intervene.
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