RLGA02 Winter 2013: Study Questions for Midterm
1. Describe the “contracts” or covenants outlined in the stories of the Hebrew Bible. Discuss
themes connected to successful and/or failed attempts to live up to these contracts. Make
sure to include specific examples of these “contracts.”
Answer: Covenants that God made: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob (Israel) and Moses. The main
ones are the covenant God made with Abraham and the one He made with Moses. A covenant is
a special agreement b/w God and the Jewish people.
Covenant w/ Adam: Live in the Garden of Eden where you and Eve don‟t have to work and
everything will be provided for you, as long as you don‟t eat from the Tree of Knowledge of
good and evil. However, Eve is tempted by the serpent and eats the fruit from the tree of
knowledge of good and evil and Adam follows her lead, even though they know they are
disobeying God. Their punishment was that they were banished from Eden, Adam (men) had to
work for a living and Eve (women) was to go through pain during child birth.
Covenant w/ Noah: God tells Noah to build an ark and take two of every animal and his family
on to the ark as He is going to flood the earth in order to punish the evil that humans have
brought about and clear the way for a new start. God said that he will never flood the world again
and that Noah and his family would survive if they remained obedient.
Covenant w/ Abraham: God promises him that he and his descendants will have a home of their
own, Canaan, but Abraham and his descendants must obey the covenant which consists of
human requirements: circumcision of all males, exclusive worship of God, proper performance
of rituals (sacrifice). Also there are rewards for obedience which include: a place (ie Canaan)
where both God and his followers dwell (like Eden), progeny (children); living on through
generations, God‟s love and attention and a peaceful death. The punishments for disobedience
include exile, captivity and death (no progeny).
Covenant w/ Moses: Consists of leading the Jewish people who were held captive in Egypt out
of Egypt and on Mount Sinai, Moses receives the 10 commandments which outline the way that
the Jews should live. One failure in terms of the covenant that Moses committed was that he was
told to lightly tap his stick. He got angry and knocked it down hard breaking the deal (failure)
which resulted in him not being allowed to enter the promise land (Canaan).
2. Discuss the role of the messiah in Israelite Religion up to the time of the destruction of
the second temple. Show how this idea is connected to 1. Apocalyptic expectations and 2.
the Ancient Jewish understanding of God. Be sure to focus on the idea of „messiah‟
within an exclusively Jewish context.
3. Why is Rabbinical Judaism considered to be such an important development for Judaism
today? Be sure to include in your answer the social-historical context that led to the
emergence of rabbinical Judaism, what activities, ideas, and products are associated with the early rabbinical movement, and how it restructured the earlier tradition to meet new
social and political demands. How can we best characterize the rabbinical movement?
4. Explain the connections between the Synoptic Gospels as outlined in lecture and our
textbook. Provide brief summaries of each and then establish key similarities and
differences. Use specific terminology in describing the relations between these
Answer: The synoptic gospels are Mark, Matthew and Luke. These gospels are said to be
synoptic as there is a lot of overlap between these 3 gospels. Due to the overlap, some
believed that the gospel of Matthew and Luke were based on Mark as the gospel of Mark is
historically earlier and was recorded before the other 2 gospe