Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins: Diversity, by George W. E. Nickelsburg

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By George W. E. Nickelsburg

Within the 19th and primary half the 20th century, Christian students portrayed Judaism because the darkish spiritual backdrop to the freeing occasions of Jesus' existence and the increase of the early church. because the Nineteen Fifties, besides the fact that, a dramatic shift has happened within the examine of Judaism, pushed by way of new manuscript and archaeological discoveries and new tools and instruments for interpreting resources. George Nickelsburg the following presents a vast and synthesizing photograph of the result of the prior fifty years of scholarship on early Judaism and Christianity. He organizes his dialogue round a couple of conventional issues: scripture and culture, Torah and the righteous lifestyles, God's task on humanity's behalf, brokers of God's job, eschatology, ancient conditions, and social settings. all of the chapters discusses the findings of latest learn on early Judaism, after which sketches the consequences of this study for a potential reinter-pretation of Christianity. nonetheless, within the author's view, there continues to be a huge Jewish-Christian time table but to be constructed and applied.

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Torah in the Hebrew Scriptures In order to assess the character and role of Torah in Jewish religion, we must highlight two major factors in the Hebrew Scriptures' understanding 52 A n c i e n t Judaism and C h r i s t i a n O r i g i n s of Torah—factors not always fully appreciated by Christian exegetes and theologians. First, the commandments of the Torah are not simply col­ lections of laws; they are an integral component of a covenantal struc­ ture. Second, concern about the Torah is not limited to the Pentateuch; the Hebrew Scriptures as a whole are pervaded by the imperative to obey the divine will or its implications, whether or not one appeals explicitly to the Torah.

I8 n A n c i e n t Judaism and Christian O g i n s Second Isaiah depicts the Servant as an ambiguous figure who reinter­ prets older traditions. 47 He is both a personification of Israel and God's agent vis-a-vis Israel. Although he is a collective entity, he is described in personal terms. In this respect he is reminiscent of a suffering prophet like 48 Jeremiah or Moses. In other aspects he is characterized by traits and ter­ minology that earlier applied to the Davidic king (Isa 42:1-4; 11:2-4; 49:2; cf.

It is a precursor to rabbinic haggadic exegesis. The term "Rewritten Bible" is probably anachronistic, because we cannot always be certain that what was rewritten was consid­ ered to be "Bible" at the time it was rewritten. 18 One of the earliest examples of this type of recast narrative occurs in 1 Enoch 6—11, which elaborates and transforms the fragmentary story of the 19 sons of God and the daughters of men in Gen 6:l-4. Two tendencies are at work in the retold version of the story. (1) Motifs that Greek myth associated with Prometheus, the revealer of technology, are interwoven with the main narrative thread about the mating of divine beings and mortal women.

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