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Judaism.docx

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Department
Religion
Course
RLG280Y1
Professor
David Perley
Semester
Winter

Description
LECTURE THEMES FROM WINTER TERM AND CORRESPONDENCES WITH THE TEXTBOOK: JUDAISM  Both a religion and an ethnic identity; there are those who consider themselves Jewish but do not practice the religion  Gave rise to Christianity and Islam, like Judaism, trace their spiritual lineage to Abraham  Judaism is the smallest of the three  Monotheism—the belief in one God originated from Judaism HEBREW BIBLE (pp. 82-83)  The Hebrew Bible is, is a sacred scripture for Christians and Muslims o It interpretation differs within Judaism o Traditional Judaist believe that the biblical text to be completely literal and that it was dictated to Moses and the various prophets by divine inspiration  The bible is written in entirely in ancient Hebrew, and transcribed on a scroll by hand and treated with the utmost respect  Candidates must learn the ancient script in which the text is written and the traditional melodies to which the words are chanted in order to read from it  PENTATEUCH (The Hebrew bible containing the five books of Moses— the teenage boy reads from this section on his Bar Mitzvah—this is also the first section of the bTANAKH (ACRONYM: T N K) (The actual Hebrew bible and this is where the two selections that the boy will read from at his Bar Mitzvah)  The Torah (religious law) can include both the entire Hebrew Bible and all the commentaries on it, but it can refer specifically to the five books of Moses  1. TORAH  GENESIS; EXODUS; LEVITICUS; NUMBERS; DEUTERONOMY  Genesis: The first 11 chapters describe the primeval history of the universe. In chapter 1, God creates heaven and earth (however the text did not say the universe was created from nothing). Instead it said that in the beginning everything was chaotic and water covered the earth. God separated the darkness from the light and created different things on each of the 6 days (humanity, male and female was created). On the 7 day he rested  Chapter 2: God created a mist to rise from the ground, and vegetation sprouted. He then created Adam, and plants a garden in Eden, where he places Adam before creating the animals and then Eve. Adam and Eve stand naked without shame, in a state of perfect innocence, peace, and harmony  Chapter 3: showed how easily state can be reversed. The serpent presented Adam and Eve with the temptation to become like God by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil  Adam and Eve did not lack intelligence before eating from the forbidden fruit: they lacked moral sense and moral distinction  The shame and guilt the experienced afterwards are two aspects of the ‘knowledge f good and evil’  Thus pain and evil are consequences of human obedience and lack of moral discernment  The story of Adam and Eve is ‘etiological’ because it offers explanation to causes or reasons behind our present circumstances  It is important to note that ‘the original sin’ (as Christianity refers to it) did not have only negative consequences  Among the positive is that moral capacity to choose good and keep God’s law   2. PROPHETS (NEVI’IM)  3. WRITINGS (KETUVIM) SACRED HISTORY (pp. 72-82)  History of Israel is recorded in the Torah o It is the history of people as they understand and follow a God who has chosen then to serve as his instrument  CREATION STORIES (Both these stories found in Genesis)  1. “COSMIC”: CREATION OF ORDER OUT OF CHAOS (Genesis chp.1)  2. ADAM AND EVE (Genesis chp.2)  GARDEN OF EDEN (TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL)  NOAH (COMMONALITY OF FLOOD MYTH IN MESOPOTAMIA)  The Israelite Narratives: The first 11 chapters in the book of Genesis explains why God had to choose a specific people and establish a covenant with them to convey his ideas on the human race  Humans have repeatedly shown how badly they govern themselves and because the earth was so full of violence God needed to find away to destroy their evil society  The story of the flood became virtually universal and the Hebrews merely adopted the theme. In the dominant Mesopotamia accounts, the gods caused the flood because they were disturbed by human life. In the Hebrew version, the flood came to punish the evil that humans have perpetuated and clear the way for a fresh start, so God flooded the earth allowing only Noah and the creatures in his ark to survive  Human judgment was still no better after the flood. It is not until Genesis 12 that there seems to be hope for humanity. It is in this chapter that God chose Abraham to serve as an example of righteous life.  THE WORLD OF THE PATRIARCHS AND MATRIARCHS  The tribal ancestors of the Hebrews and marks the transition from imaginative paradigms of myth to anecdotal detail of legend  ABRAHAM  COVENANT central concep(CIRCUMCISION)  Means the same thing as a ‘contract’ today  The purpose of life for those bounded in the contract had a special contractual relationship which there was first Abraham, Jacob, Moses and the Israelites  God promised Abraham and his descendants will have the land of Canaan as their own it was however not a free gift. Both sides had specific obligations.  The theme of obedience is emphasized when Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering and as he was grasped the knife an angel appeared and told him to spare his son and sacrifice an animal instead  This showed Gods opposition to human sacrifices that was been practiced by the Canaanites  REWARD/PUNISHMENT The ultimate reward was offspring and a homeland, and in addition Abraham himself was assured of a long life and a peaceful death  ISAAC (Abrahams son-made covenants with God HEBREW LINEAGE  ISHMAEL (Abrahams son) ARABS  JACOB (Isaacs son-made covenants with God) (“ISRAEL”)  ISRAELITES  MOSES AND THE LAW  Moses was considered a leader and a lawgiver in Exodus  2 KEY EXPERIENCES  1. BURNING BUSH Chapter 3 of Exodus relates to the encounter that Moses has with God during a visit to the wilderness before his people escaped Egypt Moses had a vision of God as a flame in the bush that burns without been consumes—God identifies himself as the God of patriarchal lineage—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and gives his personal name, represented in Hebrew by the four letters YHWH (conventionally written as ‘Yahweh’) ‘Jehovah’ is only used in Christianity circles; it gained significance in the 16 century (when Protestants started campaigning against the abuses of the Church of Rome)  2. MT. SINAI Moses meets God and receives the 10 commandments as the core of Israel’s law, written on stone tablets ‘with the finger of God’  EXODUS  The Hebrews are in Egypt working on a construction project (slave labor) when the Exodus story began  God tells Moses to request the Hebrews get released from the Egyptian pharaoh, when he refused God sends on a plagues but spare the Hebrews  This enabled them to escape and cross the Yam (translated as ‘Red Sea’, but literally means Reed Sea)  It swamps their pursuers and they reach Sinai Peninsula  In time all Jewish would come to understand the metaphor of this story as a transition from slavery to freedom with the guidance of God with a destiny and a purpose. They show respect for this event during the Passover festival  TEN COMMANDMENTS Presented in Exodus and Deuteronomy (‘second law’), and are stipulations of a covenant There was a covenant renewal in Deuteronomy and all the people took an oath not just the leaders that swore to obey its terms  ARK OF THE COVENANT As the Israelites wondered the dessert Moses brother Aaron becomes a priest. In the absence of a temple they worshiped God in a tent called the Tabernacle  A chest called the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the tent as the throne for God’s invisible presence and no image was to be placed to represent him  When Moses discovered that Aaron resisted the demand not to create an image and built a golden calf for the people to worship, Moses proclaims God’s denunciation of such idolatry PROMISED LAND (CANAAN)  Israelites transitioned from nomadic to settle in the land of Canaan under Joshua (Moses successor)  It was no easy task to displace the Canaanites with their army and the book of Joshua recounts these victories over the Canaanites  In the beginning it the Israelites manage to secure a few positions and was tempted to follow the Canaanites in their religious practice of child sacrifice and prostitution promising the Hebrews progeny and long life if they obey TEMPLE JUDAISM (pp. 83-88)  KINGDOM OF JUDAH  Israelites went form monarchy to kingship to deal with the threats of the Canaanites and the Philistines  God was reluctant to choose a King, but the people demanded one  First chooses Saul, then David and David’s successor Solomon from his favorite wife Bathsheba  David was the youngest son of Jesse, an inexperienced youth fit to take care of only the sheep  God strengthened David’s hand and he was able to defeat the Philistines champion Goliath and unify the southern and northern tribes to one people  David also captured Jerusalem form Jebusites and made it his capital (‘the City of David’)  Solomon takes a number of construction project throughout the kingdom including a Temple to Yahweh on the hill called Zion  His built up a central government alienated 10 northern tribes  After Solomon’s death (921 BCE) the kingdom broke up  SAUL DAVID  SOLOMON  DAVID: CAPITAL = JERUSALEM  SOLOMON: FIRST TEMPLE (~950 BCE)  Both Christianity and Islam associate themselves with prophetic insights  Major prophets (all men), whose vision and predictions are preserved in the bible does not begin until 750 BCE  The message that all the prophets delivered were all the same: that people are not living up to God’s covenant and they will soon be punished if they don’t change their ways  Despite the prophets warnings the nation continued to drift towards ruins  Literary prophets recorded the destruction of the northern and southern kingdoms  NORTHERN KINGDOM (ISRAEL)  CONQUERED BY ASSYRIANS (721 BCE)  Became know as the ‘ten lost tribes’  SOUTHERN KINGDOM (JUDAH)  SOUTHERN KINGDOM: CONQUERED BY BABYLONIANS (TEMPLE DESTROYED IN 586 BCE)  The southern kingdom leaders were sent into exile  The exile marks the transition of the Hebrew tradition from national cult of an ancient kingdom to the religious heritage of a widely dispersed people  The exile gave focus to a number of significant social and religious changes  The heritage was no longer a national state but a minority population  They shifted from a formal worship to congregation life  50 YEAR EXILE IN BABYLONIA (586-539 BCE) BEGIN SUBSTITUTIONS FOR TEMPLE (WRITTEN SCRIPTURE; SYNAGOGUES) Cyrus the Persian conquered Babylon in 538 BCE, the Israelites seen him as part of God’s plan Cyrus presented himself as restorer of the ancient regimes destroyed by Babylonians He allowed traditional priest of Babylonia’s God Marduk to practice their own religion and the Jews to go back to Judea and rebuild their temple Cyrus was called the ‘messiah’ (anointed one) designated to serve as the instrument through which Israel’s destiny is fulfilled Not all Jews returned to Judea, many artisans and aristocrats were prospering in Babylon and decided to stay and would play a role in the composition of the Talmud centuries later 540 BCE: RETURN TO JERUSALEM  2 NDTEMPLE BUILT: 515 BCE  Temple never regained its former importance  The Torah became the foundation document of the nation in the period of the second commonwealth in somewhat the same way that the collected body of British law came to serve as the British constitution SECOND TEMPLE ERA (pp. 90-94)  Persian temple fell under Alexander the Great in 331 BCE this marked the end of the Hellenic age and the beginning of the Hellenistic (‘I speak Greek’)  It was then that Greek was adopted remained an important language till the Romans came  The Diaspora of the Jews meant that Judaism had to evolve new ways of understanding and explaining itself  By the early third century, knowledge of Hebrew had to be declined and the Bible had to be translated into Greek (Septuagint)  By contrast Islam holds the only original Arabic Qur’an is authentic; any translation is considered to be only an interpretation)  Editors of the Septuagint to the three divisions of the Hebrew scripture—law, Prophets, and writings—and rearranged them in four genres (law, history, poetry and prophecy)  MACCABEAN REVOLT (167 BCE)  For over a century, Judea was under the control of the Ptolemies—the Greek dynasty (descended from one of Alexander’s generals) the territory was then passed into the hands o
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