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RS 110 - MODULE 2.docx

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University of Waterloo
Religious Studies
RS 110
Peter Frick

MODULE 2 – POST-BIBLICAL JUDAISM The beginning of Judaism − The emergence of Israelite religion. − The return of the Israelites to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile is considered to be the beginning of Judaism as a religion. − King Darius of Persia o He liked the Jewish people o He encouraged them to return to their homeland. − The beginning of Judaism is tied closely to Ezra and Nehemiah: o Ezra – priest and scribe (professional copier of ancient manuscripts)  When he returned to Jerustlem, he was instrumental because he took with him the Torah (1 five books of the Hebrew Bible)  He instigated to encourage the public readings of the Torah. o Nehemiah – architect of re-building the city of Jerusalem.  In 515 the walls were re-built. − Esther is also important: o Saved the Jews from destruction Hellenistic Judaism − Hellenistic age follows the classical Greek age o Age of philosophers, poets, writers. − Alexander the Great - conquered many of the countries around the Mediterranean and ruled 336-323. o He spread the Greek language. o Hellenistic Greek/common Greek was spoken. o Everyone throughout Greece and down into Egypt communicated in it. o Language was a universalizing factor of culture and religion. o Septuagint (LXX) (70)  Idealized portrait of Hebrew Bible (tanack) translated by 72 scribes in 72 days from Hebrew into Greek  Occurred in Alexandria (Upper Nile Delta)  We can now assume that Jewish people who cannot speak classical Hebrew cannot have access to their Holy Scriptures.  Many Jewish people lived in Alexandria and down the Nile. • The translation of Torah into Greek was necessary. − When one group exchanges a traditional language for another language, how long does it take for children to lose the traditional language? o Generally one or two generations o In Alexandria, Jewish community was already speaking Greek  Culture is a strong byproduct of language  Greek culture and Israelite culture often contradicted and conflicted with one another o Jews have lived not only in the land of Israel, but many areas around it as well. o Change in language in Hellenistic age also caused a cultural and religious challenge to the Jewish people. − The Maccabees o Received name from one of their leaders  He 'hammered' somebody o Before Alexander the great, the Ptolemies and Seleucids were two dynasties constantly at war with one another  Ptolemies are located closer to Egypt  Israel was in the middle of these conflicts o 223 BCE, The Seleucids overcame the Ptolemies due to Antiochus III  Mediterranean era of Hellenistic age came under control of Seleucids o Antiochus IV was very much against Jewish customs and Jewish life  Completely desecrated the temple  Sacrificed a pig on the alter of the temple  Forbid the practice and worship of Jewish people in temple or temple area  Renamed the temple 'Temple of Zeus'  Political ruler who suppressed the Jews o Jewish people did not take this very well!  167 BC - Judas Maccabee rose up against Antiochus IV and overcame him • When they entered the temple, there was very little oil left • This is the historical beginning of the festival of Chanukah  165 - 64 BC, Ruling dynasty following Maccabee was the Hasmoneans • Good time for the Jewish people • Tension was struggle between retaining Jewish practices and finding a balance with Greek culture − Philo of Alexandria o Important to philosophical development of Judaism o Many of his ideas were later rejected in Rabbinic Judaism o Grew up Greek, spoke Greek as mother tongue o Left 40 treatises, including allegorical interpretation of Torah o Tried to work out philosophical/theological synthesis between Judaism and Greek o Philosophy:  Biblical Judaism and Greek Philosophy  More or less followed 'Middle Platonism" • Along the lines of Plato • First attempt to interpret Plato philosophically o Brought idea of Logos, or reason o Ideal that you cannot know God's essence, only his existence o Believed Plato got some ideas from Moses − Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes − During the time of Philo there were three or four groups who lived in and around Jerusalem; they took religion seriously − Distinctions between the three were their understanding of Torah: Pharisees o We generally see this as a negative; in English it is associated with 'Hypocrite' o Those who are responsible for oral Torah  Interpretation/Clarification of Torah  'Oral Torah is a fence around Torah' o Rejected by Sauddecees who believed only written scripture was valid o Most accurate interpreters of written law o Also handed down regulations (Oral Torah) that was not written o Oral Torah is as binding and authoritative as written Torah o Everything happens according to the providence of God  Not the same as predestination o Soul is imperishable; after death, life is not over o Lived a simple life; lay people o Influential and liked among the common people Sauddecees o That which is handed down orally does not need to be observed o Oral Torah is not authoritative o Do not believe in divine providence o Do not believe in resurrection o Aristocracy; professional elite; may have been arrogant Essenes o When a candidate to become high priest in Jerusalem was rejected, they moved away  Saw rejection as beginning of end of the world o Romans took over in 63 BCE and Essene community left Jerusalem o When they moved as a community they were guided by 'Teacher of Righteousness'  Orthodox Torah teacher o Did not perform sacrifices or have a material temple o Understood own community as the body (temple) of God o Paid special attention to purity laws; had large ritual baths o Believed end of the world was
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