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Early Judaism

NT301: Introduction to the New Testament
New Brunswick Theological Seminary
Virginia Wiles

Quick Overview
 The Jewish People
 Jewish Institutions
 Jewish Expectations
The Jewish People
 A Common Heritage
 Diverse Expressions
A Common Heritage
 Common History
 Common Scriptures
 Common Rituals
Sharing a History
 Exodus
 ca. 1300 B.C.E.
 Moses & Torah
 Monarchy
 ca. 1000 B.C.E.
 David
 Divided Kingdom
 Prophets
 Exile
 ca. 587 B.C.E.
 Monotheism
 Return
 ca. 540-(440) B.C.E.
 Apocalypticism
Common Scriptures
 Torah
 Tanak
 Torah -- LAW (canonized ca. 540 BCE)
 Nebi’im -- PROPHETS (canonized ca. 200 BCE)
 Kethubim -- WRITINGS (canonized ca. 90 CE)
Torah -- canonized ca. 440 BCE
Prophets -- canonized ca 2-3 c. BCE
These 2 categories --
“the Law and the Prophets” --
were “Scripture” during Jesus’ and Paul’s lives.

Writings -- canonized at Yavneh, ca. 90 CE

excludes “Greek” writings (in LXX)

 The Scriptures in Translation

 The Septuagint
 The Targums

Other Jewish Writings

 The Apocrypha
 Greek “additions” to the Septuagint
 Key texts for study of Second Temple Judaism

 The Pseudepigrapha
 Many apocalypses

 Jewish Midrash
 A form of “story telling” and scriptural interpretation among
Jewish thinkers. See, for example, 2 Cor 4
Common Rituals

Day Hebrew Name Purpose Time of Year

Sabbath Shabut Rest and Worship Sundown Friday to
Sundown Saturday

Israelite Festivals

Passover Pesach Exodus from Egypt Spring

Pentecost (Weeks) Shavuoth Fruits of Harvest 50 days after
Tabernacles (Booths) Succoth Wilderness Fall

Later Je wish Festivals

New Year Rosh Hashanah New Year Fall

Day of Atonement Yom K ippur Forgiveness Fall
Dedication Hannukah Restoration of Temple December
Lots Purim Esther early Spring

Diverse Expressions
 Pharisees
 Sadducees
 Zealots and Sicarii
 Essenes
 The Samaritans
 The Therapeutae
 Diaspora Judaism
 Diversity in Literature
The Pharisees
 Social Characteristics
 pietist movement composed mostly of laity
 mostly tradesmen, craftsmen, merchants, farmers
 Views:
 Focused on the necessity of adapting Jewish piety to
the changed conditions of life in the “modern” world.
 Written and Oral Torah

The Sadducees
 Unclear origins (= Zadokites)
 included great majority of chief priests
 great power in Jerusalem during Hasmonean and
Herodian periods
 ?rejected oral law
 ?collaborated with Rome

Chief Priests
 Included: captains of the temple, temple treasurers and
overseers, directors of weekly courses of priests
 High Priest: president and convener of
 Factors limiting power and influence
 no longer inherited (from Herod the Great on)
 held office at pleasure of Romans

Zealots and Sicarii

 Origins unclear
 Applies (broadly) to anyone who participated in
revolutionary struggle against Rome

The Essenes
 Mentioned by Josephus (&Philo?)
 ?Perhaps related to Qumran community?
 Origins: Group of priests & levites left temple in
Jerusalem to protest abuses under Hasmonean high

 “Teacher of Righteousness”
 Highly structured community with emphasis on
 Monastic
 Apocalyptic -- Good vs. Evil

Qumran Discipline
If any man has uttered the Venerable Name even though frivolously, or
as a result of shock, or for any other reason whatever, while reading
the Book or praying, he shall be dismissed and shall return to the
Council of the Community no more. If he has spoken in anger
against one of the Priests…, he shall do penance for one year and
shall be excluded for his soul’s sake from the pure Meal of the

Other Jewish Groups

 The Samaritans
 Claimed to be authentic survivors of exiled Israelite nation
 Mt. Gerazim
 Samaritan Pentateuch
 The Therapeutae
 mentioned by Philo
 1st c. Egyptian Jewish
 Female monastics
 Diaspora Judaism
 Philo and Paul
 Little information

Diversity in Jewish Literature

 The Writings of Rabbinic Judaism
 Jewish Mysticism
 Jewish Apocalyptic Texts

The Talmud
 Oral Law = Mishnah
 Gemara (commentary on Mishnah)
 Talmud = Mishnah + Gemara
 Palestinian
 Bablylonian
Jewish Institutions
 The Temple
 The Synagogue
 The Sanhedrin

The Second Temple

 Built upon the return from the Exile
 Herod the Great began expansion in 20 BCE
 Served as the “Center” of Judaism
 Stunning work of architecture
 Social Arrangement of the Temple

Model of the Second Temple

Social Arrangement of Temple
 Holy of Holies
 Holy Place
 Court of Israel
 Women’s Court
 Court of the Gentiles

Jewish Synagogues
 Origins uncertain: Egypt? Babylon? Judea?
 Council house and place of assembly
 Place of prayer -- proseuche
 Central Purpose: The Proclamation and Exposition of the Law
 Oriented toward the laity
 Rectangular building facing toward Jerusalem
 Board of Directors (3); Archisynagogus; 10 minimum
 Service: Shema, prayer, and Torah
 Meeting on Monday and Thursday as well as Sabbath

The Sanhedrin
 “sunedrion” = “seated together”
 first mentioned ca. 55 BCE; lasts until 70 CE
 Chief priests, elders, and scribes
 71 Jewish elders, presided over by high priest (=72)
 Both legislative and judicial authority = “city council”
 In Palestine, both civil and religious authority; in
Diaspora, only religious

 Simple Eschatology
 Prophetic Eschatology
 Apocalyptic Eschatology
Summary of Judaism
 Jewish People:
Common Heritage -- Diverse Expressions
 Jewish Insitutions:
Temple -- Synagogue -- Home
 Jewish Expectation: Apocalyptic

Summary of Key Terms

 Common Jewish History
 Torah
 Tanak
 Septuagint
 Apocrypha
 Pseudepigrapha
 Israelite festivals
 Sanhedrin
 Pharisees
 Sadducees
 Essenes
 Samaritans
 Zealots
 Talmud
 Second Temple
 Synagogues
 Apocalyptic Eschatology