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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 7540 Judaism
7540 Judaism

7540 Judaism

Derived from “Judah” (the southern kingdom of the divided monarchy) the term refers to the religion and culture of the Jews from the time of the exile (586 B.C.) onwards.

The exile and the beginnings of Judaism

The people of Judah become known as Jews Ezr 4:12; Ne 4:2; Est 3:6; Jer 32:12; Mt 2:2; Jn 2:6

Jewish communities were formed in many places Jer 44:1; Ezr 2:1 many stayed in Babylon; Jn 7:35; Ac 2:8-11

Far from the Jerusalem temple, the exiles had difficulty in knowing how to worship Ps 137:4 See also Hos 3:4 This prophecy to Israel also expresses the dilemma of the Jerusalem exiles.

New forms of religion after the exile, probably beginning in Babylon

Emphasis on the Scriptures Ne 7:73-8:3

Synagogue worship Lk 4:16-17 Unable to sacrifice in the temple, the exiles would have focused their worship on the Scriptures, a practice which developed into synagogue worship.

Carefully observing the law Ezra went from Babylon to Jerusalem with the express intention of seeing that God’s law was observed: Ezr 7:11,14,25

The temple and sacrifice

The returning exiles recommence the sacrifices Ezr 3:1-6

The temple rebuilt Ezr 3:8; Ezr 6:14-15

The temple as a focus for pilgrims Jn 12:20; Ac 2:5 They had probably come for Passover and were staying until Pentecost; Ac 8:27

The temple regarded with great reverence Mt 26:59-61 pp Mk 14:57-58; Ac 6:13; Ac 21:27-29

Studying and obeying the law

Studying Scripture Jn 5:39

Total obedience essential Mt 23:23; Jas 2:10

Human rules added to God’s law Mt 23:16-18; Mk 7:1-13 pp Mt 15:1-9

High regard for the Sabbath and traditional rules associated with it Mt 12:1-2 pp Mk 2:23-24 pp Lk 6:1-2

Groups within NT Judaism

Pharisees Mk 7:3-4 The Pharisees stressed the fulfilment of the law by individuals. See also Lk 11:38; Lk 18:10-12; Ac 26:5

Sadducees Ac 5:17 A powerful minority group, politically astute whilst theologically conservative, they saw temple worship as the chief purpose of the law. See also Mt 3:7; Mk 12:18 pp Mt 22:23 pp Lk 20:27

Teachers of the law (scribes) They preserved, copied, taught and administered the law: Mt 17:10; Mk 9:14; Lk 2:46; Ac 4:5

Zealots Lk 6:15 They favoured a “holy war” to drive out the Romans.

Non-Jewish converts Mt 23:15; Ac 2:11; Ac 6:5; Ac 13:43

Judaism and Christianity

Conflict between Jesus Christ and the Jewish authorities Mk 14:1 See also Jn 11:45-50

Conflict between the first Christians and Judaism Jn 16:2; Ac 4:1-3; Ac 5:17-18; Gal 1:13-14

Conflict produced by Jewish influence among the first Christians Ac 15:5 See also Ac 15:1-2; Gal 2:11-16 Judaism gave birth to Christianity. After an initial uneasy co-existence a total break finally ensued.

See also

7215exile, the
7245Judah, kingdom of
7464teachers of the law
7468temple, rebuilding
7505Jews, the
7610Council of Jerusalem

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