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Chapter 7

RLG Chapter 7.doc

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Kenneth Derry

Chapter 7: Judaism Meaning in God • The Jews focused on the Other’s personalism in a single, supreme, nature- transcending will. • Nature is an expression of a single Lord of all being not attributing the sun to the sun-god and the rain to the rain-god. • Judaism contributed to the religious thought of the Middle East by being monotheistic. o They owed their origin to Yahweh. o Unlike Yahweh, they were mortals; they are God’s subordinates. • Lucretius: preached atheism on grounds that were actually religious. • The God of the Jews is a God of righteousness, whose loving-kindness is from everlasting to everlasting and whose tender mercies are in all his works (opposite to the ideology of the Greeks, Romans and Syrians at that time  believed God was amoral and indifferent). Meaning in Creation • Judaism affirms the world’s goodness because God created it. • God means a being in whom power and value converge, a being whose will cannot be thwarted and whose will is good. • Things repeatedly go wrong in life because: o It is written in the stars. o It is our fault. • Jewish hold marriage in high regard. • They find appreciation of nature, blended with confidence in human powers to work with it for the good. • Judaism and Christianity are the most materialistic religions in the world: o The material aspects of life are important. o Matter can participate in the condition of salvation itself (resurrection). o Nature can host the Divine. Meaning in Human Existence • Jews wanted truth-for-life; they wanted to understand the human condition so as to avail themselves of its highest reaches. • Jews were aware of human limitations: weakness, susceptibility to pain, life’s brevity and sinful (moral limitations rather than physical ones). • Humans make or break themselves, forging their own destinies through their decisions. • People are God’s beloved children; everybody should be treated equally with “glory and honor”. Meaning in History • God is found within the limitations of the world of change and struggle, and especially that he reveals himself in events, which are unique, particular and unrepeatable. • Jews believe history was very important. o They were convinced that the context in which life is lived affects that life in every way, setting up its problems and conditioning its outcomes. o Collective action or social action is very important: working together. o They saw it as a field of opportunity: nothing in history happens accidentally. o Life’s opportunities are not monotonously alike: each opportunity is unique. • God’s direct intervention in history is at certain critical points and of a chosen people as recipients of God’s unique challenges. • Abraham was the first Hebrew, the first of a “chosen people.” • Human destiny lay within history, history as currently constituted, not as it might become  it is not what it should be (keeping things as they were). • Judaism believes that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. • When things are not as they should be, change is in order; reforms in God’s name. Meaning in Morality • Human beings are social creatures, living with others may become barbaric; therefore, moral rules and constraints are in order. • The Hebrew Bible contains 613 commandments that regulate human behavior. • Four Danger Zones that can Cause Unlimited Trouble for Humanity (not for animals): o Force: you can bicker and fight but you cannot kill o Wealth: you can earn a lot of money but you cannot steal o Sex: passions that destroy entire communities if it violates restraints. o Speech: you can talk all you want but you have to speak the truth. • Ten Commandments : Social Order (social world) :: Genesis : Natural Order (physical world) • Four Ethical Precepts of the Ten Commandments: o Thou Shalt Not Murder o Thou Shalt Not Steal o Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery o Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Meaning in Justice • Prophet: someone who speaks for someone else. • Three Stages of the Prophetic Movement: o Stage of the Prophetic Guilds: prophets are not identified as individuals because their talent is not an individual possession (group phenomenon). o Stage of the Individual Pre-Writing Prophets: they could receive the divine visitation while they were alone and the divine spoke through them more clearly (challenged individuals). o Stage of the Writing Prophets: challenged corruptions in the social order and oppressive institutions (slaves, debtors and women should be treated equally). • Justice was found in the ringing proclamations of the prophets. Meaning in Suffering • Suffering illuminates as nothing else can. • Those who remain faithful in adversity/suffering will be vindicated. • Vicarious Suffering: suffering that enters the lives who are willing to endure pain so that others might be spared it. Meaning in Messianism • For the Jews, oppressed people hope for improvement. • Jewish hope came to be personified in the figure of a coming Messiah. • Messiah: meaning anointed, someone who had been elevated or “chosen.” • Two Sides of Hope: o Politico-National Side: national restitution o Spiritual-Universal Side: world upgrade • Messianic Expectation: hoped for an age in which there would be political freedom, moral perfection and earthly bliss for the people of Israel in their own land and also for the entire human race. • Restorative Messianism: looked for the recreation of past conditions. • Messianists differed concerning whether the new order would be continuous with previous history or would shake the world to its foundations and replace it with an aeon that was supernaturally different in kind. • Zionism: the modern movement for political and spiritual renew
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