Judaism in the New Testament: Practices and Beliefs

Judaism in the New Testament: Practices and Beliefs

Judaism in the New Testament: Practices and Beliefs

Judaism in the New Testament: Practices and Beliefs

Synopsis

Judaism in the New Testament explains how the writings of the early church emerged from communities which defined themselves in Judaic terms even as they professed faith in Christ. These two extremely distinguished scholars introduce readers to the plurality of Judaisms of the period. They show, by examining a variety of texts, how the major figures of the New Testament reflect distinctly Judaic practices and beliefs.This important study shows how the early movement centred on Jesus is best seen as 'Christian Judaism'. Only with the Epistle to the Hebrews did the profile of a new and distinct Christian religion emerge.

Excerpt

Before we can define “Judaism” for the purpose of our study of the New Testament, we had best say what we mean by any religion, the genus of which Judaism forms a species (and, we shall argue, with earliest Christianity as a subspecies of that same species of religion). Defining religion comes before defining a particular religion, just as defining a particular religion takes priority over defining how two or more religions relate. Alas, as many definitions of religion circulate as there are those who have proposed to define religion.

One responds to the context of definition: for what purpose do we wish to define a religion? Since Christianity and Judaism address not isolated individuals but the entirety of the social order, and since both religions insist that matters of behavior, not only belief, make a great difference, the cases with which we deal dictate a general definition. It is, a religion sets forth a theory of the social order, for which divine or supernatural warrant is claimed, that defines what people are to do and explains how and why they are to do it: a way of life, a world-view, and a definition of the social entity - holy people, church, nation, for example - that embodies the way of life and appeals in explanation to the world-view. That definition presupposes that when we speak about a religion, we refer to a social group, that is, people who form a supernatural community by reason of their shared convictions, attitudes, and actions. So we see religion as fundamentally social, a mode of organizing humanity in community. Others may prefer to define religions as sets of beliefs that people share, still others may choose to emphasize the encounter with God as the starting-point for the definition of religion, and with them we have no argument.

But from our perspective, definitions that focus upon the intellectual or the psychological dimensions of religion pay insufficient attention to religion’s power to create community and explain it; and we see as definitive of the religious reality the religious community, not the radically isolated individual facing God quite alone or the questing intellectual, sorting out God’s truth. Hence our definition deliberately subordinates the intellectual and the experiential to the communal and the social.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.