The Family in Global Transition

By Gordon L. Anderson | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
THE FAMILY IN THE JEWISH TRADITION*

Richard L. Rubenstein

Few subjects have been the object of as much reflection by Jewish religious teachers over millennia as marriage and the family, the fundamental unit of society in Judaism. In spite of the transformations experienced by the Jewish people since biblical times, there have been important elements of religiosocial continuity, especially in the traditional attitudes towards the marital relationship.1 Paradoxically, we can best understand these views if we first consider the differences between Jewish and Christian attitudes as the latter were formulated by Paul of Tarsus.

Paul's views are useful because he began his adult career within the movement in Judaism out of which normative rabbinic Judaism arose and became dominant, namely, the Pharisees. Moreover, it is evident from Paul's writings that he was learned in the traditions of the Pharisees.2 After conversion, Paul was distinguished from the Pharisees by the conviction that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Messiah, and that by his conversion he had partaken of both Christ's crucifixion and his resurrection. Paul tells us, "I have been crucified with Christ, and I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives within me" ( Galatians 2:19).

Paul believed that Christ lived in him and every Christian, because in baptism Christians had died to their old selves in a

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