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Jewish Groups and Views of the Messiah. Samaritans. Great variety in beliefs amongst Jews Samaritans Religion was similar to Judaism; believed temple belonged on Mt. Gerazim , at capital of Samaria; John Hyrcanus , a Hasmonean king, destroyed the temple

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samaritans
Samaritans
  • Great variety in beliefs amongst Jews
  • Samaritans
    • Religion was similar to Judaism; believed temple belonged on Mt. Gerazim, at capital of Samaria; John Hyrcanus, a Hasmonean king, destroyed the temple
    • They only followed the five books of Moses, which were edited in places. For example, Isaac is almost sacrificed on Mt. Gerazim rather than Mt. Moriah (the site of the Jerusalem temple).
samaritans1
Samaritans
  • Example of passage in the Samaritan Pentateuch – this is an addition to the Ten Commandments
    • “And it shall come to pass when the Lord your God will bring you into the land of the Canaanites where you go to take possession of it, you shall erect large stones unto me, and you shall cover them with lime, and you shall write upon the stones all the words of this Law, and it shall come to pass when you cross the Jordan, you shall erect these stones which I command you upon Mount Gerizim, and you shall build there an altar unto the Lord your God, an altar of stones, and you shall not lift upon them iron, of perfect stones shall you build your altar, and you shall bring upon it burnt offerings to the Lord thy God, and you shall sacrifice peace offerings, and you shall eat there and rejoice before the Lord your God. That mountain is on the other side of the Jordan at the end of the road towards the going down of the sun in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the Arabah facing Gilgal close by ElonMoreh facing Shechem.”
samaritans2
Samaritans
  • They had a type of Messianic belief; they believed Moses would one day return to lead them to freedom. In AD 36, a Samaritan claimed to be Moses, and the Samaritans began to revolt. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, put down the revolt violently. The Roman emperor, Tiberius, disliked his harsh treatment and recalled him to Rome, ending his governorship of Judea and Samaria.
  • Their origin is unclear, with three major theories.

1) The Samaritans themselves believed they descended from a remnant of Israelites which remained faithful after most of Israel stopped following God after the Ark of the Covenant was lost in battle (1 Sam 4:3-11).

2) They were half-Jewish, half-foreigner. This view holds that, after 722 BC, when the northern nation of Israel was taken into captivity, their Assyrian conquerors followed their usual policy of taking half of one conquered nation and half of another conquered nation, and switching them. This view was popular for a long time, but has recently been largely rejected by scholarship.

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Samaritans

3) The dominant view in scholarship today is that the Samaritans didn’t begin to exist until a few centuries before Christ, when a group of Israelites moved north from Jerusalem to resettle the area around Shechem and Mt. Gerazim. They brought their own priests with them and established a priesthood which was separate from the one in Jerusalem. Over time, the Jews and Samaritans drifted further apart.

  • Regardless of which of these three views is correct, it is clear that, by the time of Jesus, the Jews and Samaritans hated each other. So, even though the land of Samaria was between Galilee and Judea, most Jews would travel around Samaria (lengthening their journey), so they did not have to go through this land. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman in John 4, part of her surprise is that a Jewish man would even be there, let alone speaking to a woman.
sadducees
Sadducees
  • Bible: Only first five books of Moses
  • Did not believe in angels, demons, resurrection; souls die with bodies (so no life after death); rejected concept of fate and accepted the idea of free will, so that God could not be held responsible for evil.
  • Wealthy; only the wealthy supported them
  • Some scholars believe the Sadducees controlled the high priesthood and thus that their power came from Romans; others dispute this.
  • Would sometimes pretend to follow the beliefs of the Pharisees, because otherwise “the multitude would not otherwise bear them.” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.4)
pharisees
Pharisees
  • The origin of the Pharisees is uncertain, though Josephus records they were in existence during the Maccabean/Hasmonean period, as a group which wielded significant influence under the Hasmonean queen Alexandra (76-67 BC)and later under Herod the Great. The Pharisees and Sadducees appear to have always been opposed to one another.
  • Origin of name is debated: probably from Hebrew pesharim (which could mean “separation,” “consecration,” “secession,” “interpretation,” or “specification”).
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Pharisees
  • They weren’t necessarily priests or part of the ruling class. Rather, they appear to have been composed of educated Jews from various professions, united by their common beliefs and practices, and a desire to reform Jewish society to become more obedient to the Mosaic Law.
    • Even with this general unity, however, there were differences. The most important came with the two most important rabbis of the time of Jesus (and, actually, of all Jewish history). The first was Shammai, who was extremely strict in how the Law should be observed. The second was Hillel, who was looser. Most Pharisees followed Hillel. (And, today, much of modern Judaism is based upon the teachings of Hillel.)
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Pharisees
  • Jesus sometimes took the side of the stricter Shammai over the looser Hillel. For example, when asked about his views of his divorce, it is likely that he was being asked to give his opinion about a ongoing debate between Shammai and Hillel. Shammai said a man should only divorce his wife if “he has found her guilty of some unseemly conduct” (which was likely adultery), whereas Hillel said he could divorce her if she was a bad cook. Akiba, a pro-Hillel rabbi, agreed, adding he could divorce his wife if he found a more beautiful woman. (b. Gittin90a)
    • According to Josephus, there were only 6,000 Pharisees in Israel. However, they were very popular with the ordinary Jew in Israel, and thus successful in promoting their reform movement of obedience to the Law.
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Pharisees
  • The Pharisees believed the entire Old Testament was inspired by God. They also believed in an oral law, which they taught had been orally passed down from Moses, and was equally binding as the written law. This oral law wasn’t really different from the written law; rather, it was an expansion on the oral law. So, while the written law said to honor the Sabbath, the oral law gave all the rules about how to honor the Sabbath. This adherence to the oral law was what separated them the most from the Sadducees (who believed only the five books of Moses were inspired by God). The Pharisees also believed they were the only accurate interpreters of the Law. Jesus was, therefore, in direct opposition to the Pharisees on this issue: he taught that his teachings were from God, rather than the oral traditions of the Pharisees.
pharisees4
Pharisees
  • Other aspects of Jewish law that were emphasized by the Pharisees were purity and tithing. Jesus directly addresses all three of these (Sabbath, purity, and tithing) in his teachings, and was likely responding to the Pharisaical teachings on these matters.
  • Other Pharisaical beliefs:
    • Everything that happens is due to fate
    • Souls are immortal, with the righteous being raised again and the unrighteous going to “an everlasting prison.” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.3)
  • Despite all of this, the beliefs of the Pharisees were probably closer to Jesus’ teachings than any other Jewish group.
essenes
Essenes
  • Believed high priest wasn’t real high priest; rather, leader of their group was
  • Many lived in the desert (at Qumran), though others lived in cities throughout Israel
  • Very concerned with purity and daily prayers
  • Most were celibate and did not marry; those who did, did so only for the purpose of procreation, rather than pleasure.
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Essenes
  • Took a vow of poverty; when someone joined the Essenes, he gave all of his possessions to be used by the group as a whole
  • Do not allow Essenes to buy or sell to other Essenes; instead they give to whatever needs something.
  • Eat communally
  • Engaged in scholarly studies, both theology and medicine
  • Flesh is evil; spirit/soul is good. Therefore, death is a release from the sinful body.
zealots
Zealots
  • The Zealots were a group of revolutionaries who desired to gain independence from Rome through rebellion.
  • One subset of the Zealots, the Sicarii, were assassins, particularly targeting any Jews who were supportive of Rome.
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Zealots
  • There are two views about when the Zealots were active in Israel. And then there is my view!
    • First view: Zealots were begun by a man named Judas the Galilean, who died while leading a failed rebellion in AD 6. They were active throughout the first century AD, including during the time of Jesus. In this view, one of Jesus’ disciples was a member (or ex-member) of the Zealots (Simon the Zealot). A few scholars even suggest that Jesus was a Zealot!
    • Second view: Zealots don’t exist until the beginning of the 60s AD, right before the First Jewish Revolt (when the Temple was destroyed)
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Zealots
  • My view: The Zealot movement is not called this until the 60s AD. However, they traced their beginnings to Judas the Galilean. Judas’ sons kept the spark of rebellion alive but the vast majority of the Israelites ignored their existence. Instead, they believed that passive resistance to Roman rule was much more effective than active rebellion. And for the first four decades of the first century, passive resistance worked; every time they tried it, the Roman governor would give in. Eventually, they even end up getting rid of the Roman governor when Emperor Caligula appoints his friend, Herod Agrippa I (grandson of Herod the Great) to be king of Israel in AD 41.
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Zealots
  • However, after Herod Agrippa I died in AD 44, Caligula reinstated a Roman governor over Judea and Samaria, and added the Galilee to this Roman province (removing Herod Antipas in the process). It was at this point that Jews began to listen to the sons of Judas the Galilean. Two of Judas’ sons are executed in AD 46, and in AD 49 the first act of armed resistance takes place. While unsuccessful, these acts began to become more frequent until, 15 years later, the First Jewish Revolt began (one of its leaders was a grandson of Judas the Galilean).
jewish views of the messiah
Jewish Views of the Messiah
  • The last Old Testament prophet (Malachi) lived 400 years before Jesus. Thus, four centuries of silence
  • During this time, Jews had been under foreign rule for 300 of these years, and were currently ruled by Rome at time of Jesus
jewish views of the messiah1
Jewish Views of the Messiah
  • Desperate for a Messiah who they believed would:
    • Win independence
    • Establish an eternal Jewish kingdom
    • Be first king of an eternal dynasty
jewish views of the messiah2
Jewish Views of the Messiah
  • Other First-Century Jewish “Messiahs” (it is not absolutely certain that these men claimed to be messiahs, but it is likely that each of them did)
    • Athronges, a shepherd who set himself up as king (when Jesus was around 10 years old)
    • Theudas, a “magician” and prophet, who called for people to follow him across the Jordan River, which he claimed he would divide like Joshua. He never had the chance, because the Roman governor Fadus sent an army to slaughter many of the Jews, and beheaded Theudas (about 10-15 years after Jesus’ crucifixion)
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Jewish Views of the Messiah
  • Other First-Century Jewish “Messiahs”
    • An unnamed Egyptian Jew, who claimed to be a prophet who would order the walls of Jerusalem to fall down, permitting his followers to take the city. The Roman governor Felix attacked his followers, but the Egyptian Jew escaped and was never heard from again (about 25 years after Jesus’ crucifixion)
jewish views of the messiah4
Jewish Views of the Messiah
  • For more study on the Messiah, begin by reading these passages in Scripture: Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17-19; 2 Samuel 7:11-16; Isaiah 11:1-5; Jeremiah 23:5-6. Then look at the next three passages. After the Bible, perhaps the most influential Jewish writing on the first century views of the Messiah is the Psalms of Solomon. This work is an example of pseudepigrapha (literally: false writing): a work written by an unknown writer who claims it was written by someone famous. This book is modeled after the Book of Psalms. Its date is uncertain, but it was probably written sometime in the first century B.C. or first century A.D.
jewish views of the messiah5
Jewish Views of the Messiah
  • Not only did first-century Jews believe the Messiah would come from the line of Judah (David was also from the line of Judah); many believed he would also come from the priestly line of Levi. Hebrews 7 states that Jesus is a high priest. But instead of being a high priest of Levi, he is of the greater priesthood of Melchizedek. These two passages come from a book called The Testament of the Patriarchs, which is composed of twelve statements which were supposedly given by the twelve sons of Judah. It was probably written in the first or second century A.D.
next four weeks
Next Four Weeks
  • May 25 – Family Sunday
  • June 1 – Jesus’ Ministry in the Galilee
  • June 8 – Jerusalem
  • June 15 – Israel History: From the Jewish War of AD 66-73 to the Modern State of Israel