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

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 releasing occasions of Jesus' lifestyles and the increase of the early church. because the Nineteen Fifties, besides the fact that, a dramatic shift has happened within the learn of Judaism, pushed via new manuscript and archaeological discoveries and new tools and instruments for interpreting assets. George Nickelsburg right here offers a vast and synthesizing photo of the result of the prior fifty years of scholarship on early Judaism and Christianity. He organizes his dialogue round a few conventional subject matters: scripture and culture, Torah and the righteous lifestyles, God's job on humanity's behalf, brokers of God's task, eschatology, historic situations, and social settings. all of the chapters discusses the findings of up to date learn on early Judaism, after which sketches the consequences of this examine for a potential reinter-pretation of Christianity. nonetheless, within the author's view, there is still a big Jewish-Christian time table but to be built and applied.

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6 The results of these complex developments are difficult to overesti­ mate. The identity of Jesus was divisive in some circles from the begin­ ning, and the Gospels' portrayal of the Jewish leaders' responsibility for the death of Jesus was linked to their rejection of his status as Messiah and 7 Son of God. Alongside this has been a fundamental distortion of the nature of Judaism as a legalistic perversion of biblical religion and thus 8 incompatible with Christianity. Carried to the extreme, these twin con­ siderations created an anti-Jewish theological climate that comple­ mented and, perhaps for some, justified the anti-Semitism that fueled 9 pogroms and the Holocaust.

The process of inter­ preting the tradition is much older, however. Within the biblical texts themselves, postexilic authors interpret Deuteronomy and Jeremiah to apply to their own time. The prayers in Ezra 9 and Nehemiah 1 employ phrases from the older traditions in order to describe how the covenantal 42 curses predicted in Deuteronomy still pertain to the postexilic Jews. The speakers locate themselves within the punishment phase of the Deutero­ nomic scheme, and the prayers function as a ritual enactment of the repentance that will turn events from punishment to salvation, from curse to the restoration of blessing.

In so doing, these early Christian preachers and teachers were following impulses and practices in place in the Jewish community. Even if their appeal to the authority of Jesus the risen Lord presupposed a sense of their own inspiration, as seems to have been the case, there is an analogy in some of the rewritten biblical mate­ rial, for example, in the Temple Scroll, which recasts biblical law into the first person singular, and in Jubilees, which presents its contents as angelic revelation. 82 18 r A n c i e n t Judaism and C V i s t i a n O " g ' n s Disagreements over t h e Bible a n d Its Interpretation: A Cause for "Unbelief" In Jewish practice, people could disagree as to what texts comprised authoritative sacred tradition, what was its correct text, and what consti­ tuted its correct interpretation.

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