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Transcript
Jewish Traditions
Jeffrey L. Richey, Ph.D.
REL 117
Introduction to World Religions
Berea College
Spring 2005
1
WHO IS A JEW?
•
•
Jew = from Hebrew Yehudi
(descendants of Judah, son
of Biblical patriarch
Jacob/Israel); originally
ethnic, not religious, label
Since 6th century BCE,
denotes person who is a
physical and/or spiritual
descendant of Jacob/Israel,
either by having a Jewish
mother or converting to
Judaism
2
ANCIENT ROOTS OF
JUDAISM
•
•
•
Kingdom of Israel (1020-722
BCE) traces its history back to
Abraham, Hebrew native of Ur
(southern Iraq) who settled in
Canaan (Israel/Palestine), c.
1950 BCE
Abraham inaugurates tradition
of covenant (contractual/love
relationship) between Jews
and Yahweh (“I am”) -supreme, exclusive, male deity
Tanakh (Hebrew Bible or “Old
Testament”) preserves oral
traditions concerning Yahweh
and his covenants with Israel
3
ISRAELITE TRADITIONS
(1600-722 BCE)
•
•
•
•
Abraham’s grandson, Jacob (renamed
Israel as sign of covenant with
Yahweh) = ancestor of Hebrews who
relocate to Egypt (c. 1600 BCE),
where they become enslaved by
ruling class
Hebrew leader Moses organizes
“exodus” (departure) from Egypt)
and makes new covenant with
Yahweh (c. 1280 BCE)
David, descendant of Israel, becomes
king of independent Hebrew state (c.
1000 BCE)
David’s son and successor, Solomon,
builds Temple in Jerusalem (c. 950
BCE), which becomes sacred center
of Israelite religion and primary point
of communion between Israelite
priests and Yahweh in temple ritual
4
CONQUEST AND EXILE
(722-539 BCE)
• Kingdom of Israel splits into
1.
2.
•
•
•
•
two (922 BCE):
Israel (northern half)
Judah (southern half)
Israel is conquered by Assyrian
Empire (722 BCE)
Judah is conquered by
Babylonian Empire (586 BCE)
Temple is destroyed
Babylonians capture many
survivors and resettle them in
Babylon as “exiles” (586-539
BCE)
•
•
•
Prophets (Amos, Isaiah,
Jeremiah) interpret disasters
as Yahweh’s punishment for
violating covenant
Prophetic writings predict
appearance of Messiah
(“Anointed One”), human
being chosen by Yahweh to
restore the kingdom of Israel
and reconcile the Hebrews to
Yahweh through new
covenant
Prophets question centrality
of Temple in Hebrew
relationship with Yahweh
5
POST-EXILIC TRADITIONS
(539 BCE-70 CE)
•
•
1.
2.
3.
Persians conquer Babylon in 539
BCE and orchestrate return of
Hebrew exiles to Palestine,
where new kingdom and Second
Temple are established
Resumption of foreign rule
(Greeks, Romans) after 332 BCE
leads to religious change:
Decreased emphasis on Temple
and priesthood
Increased emphasis on local
religious assemblies (synagogues)
and teacher-prayer leaders
(rabbis)
Preservation of oral tradition in
written form (Tanakh), including
Greek version (Septuagint)
6
DESTRUCTION AND
DIASPORA
•
•
1.
2.
3.
•
•
Jewish rebellions against Roman rule
lead to destruction of Second Temple
(70 CE) and massive dispersion
(diaspora) of Jews throughout
Europe, northern Africa, and western
Asia
Post-Temple Judaism based on:
Torah (combination of Tanakh and
Talmud, record of post-exilic
rabbinical commentaries)
Synagogue worship
Preservation of distinct ethnic and
religious identity through
maintenance of tradition and refusal
to assimilate or intermarry
Jews frequently oppressed and/or
massacred in diaspora settings
No independent Jewish state after 70
CE until creation of Israel in 1948 7
•
•
•
•
“THE WHOLE TORAH
WHILE STANDING ON ONE
FOOT”
A Gentile (non-Jew) asked Rabbi
Hillel (1st century BCE) to teach
him the whole Torah while
standing on one foot
Hillel’s answer: “That which is
hateful to you, do not do to your
neighbor [Leviticus 19:18]. That
is the whole Torah; the rest is
commentary. Go and study it.”
All forms of Judaism share belief
in Yahweh – the one, true, eternal,
and just deity who expects human
greatness
Varieties of Judaism differ on how
to interpret and practice Jewish
traditions
8
TRADITIONAL JEWISH
GOALS FOR LIVING
•
1.
2.
•
•
Yahweh has given human
beings two basic drives:
Yetzer hatov (impulse toward
good -- selflessness)
Yetzer hara’ (impulse toward
evil -- selfishness)
Use yezter hara’ wisely by
channeling it toward
constructive ends: marriage,
family, career, prosperity
Use yezter hatov to curb
excess self-interest and build
up community and personal
relationship with Yahweh
•
•
•
•
Yahweh provides mitzvot
(commandments) and
Halakhah (code for living) in
Torah to save Jews from sin
Yahweh provides conscience
to save all other peoples
Those who repent of their sins
(alienation from Yahweh
through domination of yezter
hara’) will be forgiven and
reunited with Yahweh after
death
Those who fail to repent of
their sins will be punished by
Yahweh after death
9
10