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Summary of The Rabbis – M. Satlow
Summary of The Rabbis – M. Satlow

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Religion & Culture
Holly Pearse

The Rabbis – M. Satlow  Almost all modern Jewish movements are heirs of the Rabbis  640 CE most of the vast literary production of the Rabbis had reached closure  Second temple period came to end with destruction of Jerusalem temple  Josephus attempts to exculpate Romans from charge of destroying temple: Jewish infighting and god’s will that temple is destroyed o Destruction of temple had profound practical and theological ramifications o Temple was central religious institution  Stood on nexus of heaven and earth  Actual house of the deity  God thought to have live in the temple  Two reasons on why God would allow his home to be destroyed o God lost, foreign gods were stronger o God had abandoned the Jews  Deuteronomy o God never deserts Israel, even when people have been disobedient, because of his covenant  God punishes if they’ve sinned, but promises to restore His people to their promised land o 586 BCE, prophets used this to explain destruction of first temple o When second temple fell, Jews fell back on some version of this story  Destruction of the temple is a sign of the approaching end of the world  Rabbinic Foundation story o Portrays destruction as opportunity rather than catastrophe o Yavneh (rabbinic academy) rose out of the ashes of the Temple  Focuses on Torah, not ritual sacrifices  Rabbis in charge, not priests  Historically, no rabbis during second temple period o Rabbi – “my teacher”  Did not become formal title until destruction of Temple o May not have been a large school, but small group of scholars finding new conception of their tradition  Rabbis may have had some connection to the Pharisees, who disappear in 70 CE o Both groups  Interpret law  Maintain traditions outside Torah  Believed that free will/divine omniscience could coexist  Adhered to purity restrictions outside Temple  Earliest stage of rabbinic movement involved scriptural interpretation and clarification of Torah law - - - - - - - -  Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135CE) o Changed rabbinic movement o Bar Kosiba led widespread revolt against Rome o Supporters called him Bar Khoba - son of a star The Rabbis – M. Satlow  Viewed as a messianic figure o Detractors called him Bar Hoziba – son of a lie  Romans started pacification o Slaughter and eviction of Jews o Consecration of Temple as holy place for Jupiter o Edicts against some Jewish practices o Shifted Jewish population to lower Galilee and Jordan Valley  Mid 2 ndcentury to start of 3d o Rabbis continue developing program if interpretation and clarification and collect rdal discussions  Beginning of 3 century o Rabbi Judah the Prince brought power, prestige and resources to rabbinic movement  Liaison between Jews and Roman authorities  Was not a national leader of any significance  Rabbis saw this ascension as significant  Played bigger role as patron within rabbinic movement than outside it  Rabbinics claimed their interpretations of the Will of God was the “truest” o Asserted anyone could achieve ability to participate in this process, not limited by genealogy  Emphasized that they had to not only memorize, but interpret as well  Elevated act of study to status of divine service o “and you will repeat them to your children” (Deuteronomy 6:7)  One must teach one’s children the literal words  Rabbis shaped not only by past, but by their present o Aware of foreign influences, especially Greek  Talmud Torah looks similar to Greco-roman philosophy as it was understood at the time o Saw study of texts and training of mind/body as path to development and perfection o If Talmud Torah equivalent to Greco-Roman philosophy, then Rabbis are the philosophers  Rabbi Judah the Patriarch – framer of the Mishnah o Mishnah – signally audacious text  Asserts authority independent of scripture  Implicit theological claim that God gave two Torahs on Mt. Sinai o One was the written Torah, the other was an oral Torah  Has equal authority to written Torah  Conceptually, Oral Torah is similar to the “Holy Spirit” in Catholicism o Conceptual mechanism allowing divine to act in changing world o Guides one’s understanding of the unchanging text o Difference - Works as a human processes rather than discrete moments of revelation  Mishnah – snapshot of Oral Torah at one moment in time The Rabbis – M. Satlow o Rabbi Judah’s mishnah carefully edited, organized collection of many rabbinic positions o Intended as legal guide or textbook, starting point for discussion o Contains 6 orders  Seeds
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