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
oHe liked the Jewish people
oHe encouraged them to return to their homeland.
−The beginning of Judaism is tied closely to Ezra and Nehemiah:
oEzra – priest and scribe (professional copier of ancient manuscripts)
When he returned to Jerusalem, he was instrumental because he
took with him the Torah (1st five books of the Hebrew Bible)
He instigated to encourage the public readings of the Torah.
oNehemiah – architect of re-building the city of Jerusalem.
In 515 the walls were re-built.
−Esther is also important:
oSaved the Jews from destruction
−Hellenistic age follows the classical Greek age
oAge of philosophers, poets, writers.
−Alexander the Great - conquered many of the countries around the
Mediterranean and ruled 336-323.
oHe spread the Greek language.
oHellenistic Greek/common Greek was spoken.
oEveryone throughout Greece and down into Egypt communicated in it.
oLanguage was a universalizing factor of culture and religion.
oSeptuagint (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?
oGenerally one or two generations
oIn 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
oJews have lived not only in the land of Israel, but many areas around it as
oChange in language in Hellenistic age also caused a cultural and religious
challenge to the Jewish people.
oReceived name from one of their leaders
He 'hammered' somebody
oBefore 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
o223 BCE, The Seleucids overcame the Ptolemies due to Antiochus III
Mediterranean era of Hellenistic age came under control of
oAntiochus 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
Renamed the temple 'Temple of Zeus'
Political ruler who suppressed the Jews
oJewish people did not take this very well!
167 BC - Judas Maccabee rose up against Antiochus IV and
•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
•Good time for the Jewish people
•Tension was struggle between retaining Jewish practices
and finding a balance with Greek culture
−Philo of Alexandria
oImportant to philosophical development of Judaism
oMany of his ideas were later rejected in Rabbinic Judaism
oGrew up Greek, spoke Greek as mother tongue
oLeft 40 treatises, including allegorical interpretation of Torah
oTried to work out philosophical/theological synthesis between Judaism
Biblical Judaism and Greek Philosophy
More or less followed 'Middle Platonism"
•Along the lines of Plato
•First attempt to interpret Plato philosophically
oBrought idea of Logos, or reason
oIdeal that you cannot know God's essence, only his existence
oBelieved Plato got some ideas from Moses
−Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes