RELIGST 2QQ3 Lecture 5: ancient cults

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Published on 18 Oct 2018
We’ve talked about different definitions for word “cult”
- Can be described as a group of people who have a common idea. We usually associate
this with forms of violence that arise; i.e. Jonestown and scientology
- In Jewish temples, sacrifice was centre practice of what it meant to be Jewish. There
were religious specialists who were assigned to carry out the sacrifices for various
reasons. This is the way people would communicate with God
- From sociologists perspective, they use the word “sect” which describes different
religious groups
Pliny the younger
- If you didn’t participate with roman practices or the state cult, you were looked as
suspicious
- Similar to the Jews who didn’t want to participate in the cult
- There’s evidence of neighbours betraying each other probably because they didn’t like
them. Romans were getting wrong idea about what was going on with what Christians
were doing, Pliny says that there’s nothing actually wrong and doesn’t want innocent
people to get killed simply because neighbours didn’t like them
The first century in roman Judea
- Jews living in Jerusalem which was were temple cult was located until 70 CE when
romans destroyed temple. Jewish groups lived in Jerusalem in 1st century
Pharisees
- Another groups who weren’t elite but had a lot of knowledge about Jewish law and
advice people how to fulfill what God required (God gave law to Moses)
Essenes
- Conservative, anti-establishment Jews. People believed they established Qumran
community, really mad about what was happening in temple
Zealots
- Weren’t pissed off for religious reasons but wanted romans gone
Samaritans
- Apparently the descendants of northern tribe. When God brought people to promised
land, land was distributed
Christians
The Mediterranean world in first century (map)
- Romans controlled all this area during first century and would send people out
Rise of rabbinic Judaism
- Romans destroyed Jerusalem and then there was second revolt
- Destruction of temple in 70CE, means there’s no longer a temple cult and couldn’t act
for sacrifices so they only place they could do this was jewish temple
- This isn’t first time temple got destroyed; first came Babylonians
- When Persians took over, they allowed leading jewish figures to return to Jerusalem and
rebuild temple. Mesaiah was the one that offered this
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