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Why the Jews Believed in an Inviolable Jerusalem and What the Prophets Said the Contradicted That Theory

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The Apostle Paul is, next to Jesus, clearly the most intriguing figure of the 1st century of Christianity, and far better known than Jesus because he wrote all of those letters that we have [as] primary sources.... There are many astonishing things about him. For example, in modern scholarship, we have tended to divide various categories

There are gentiles, and there are Jews. There are Greek speaking people and there are Hebrew speaking people. There's Palestinian Judaism, which includes apocalypticism. There's Rabbinic Judaism and there's Hellenistic Judaism, which has derived deeply from the Greek world. Paul seems to fall into several of these categories, therefore confounding our modern divisions. So he's an intriguing and puzzling character in some respects.

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The sacred books that make up the anthology modern scholars call the Hebrew Bible - and Christians call the Old Testament - developed over roughly a millennium; the oldest texts appear to come from the eleventh or tenth centuries BCE. War songs such as Exodus 15 and Judges 5 are very archaic Hebrew and celebrate Israelite victories from the time preceding the Israelite monarchy under David and Solomon. However, most of the other biblical texts are somewhat later. And they are edited works, collections of various sources intricately and artistically woven together. The five books of Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy), for example, traditionally are ascribed to Moses. But by the eighteenth century, many European scholars noticed problems with that assumption. Not only does Deuteronomy end with an account of Moses' death (a tough assignment for any writer to describe his or her own demise), but the entire Pentateuch shows anomalies of style that are hard to explain if only one author is involved. By the nineteenth century, most scholars agreed that the Pentateuch consisted of four sources woven together. This notion of four sources came to be known as the Documentary Hypothesis, and, in various forms, it has been the prevailing theory for the past two hundred years. Israel thus created four independent strains of literature about its own origins, all drawing on oral tradition in varying degrees, and each developed over time. They were combined together to form our Pentateuch sometime in the sixth century BCE. By this time, many of the other biblical books were coming together. Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings form what scholars call a "Deuteronomistic History" (because the work's theology is heavily influenced by Deuteronomy), a history of the Israelite states over a five-hundred-year period. This work contains much of historical value, but it also operates on the basis of a historical and theological theory: i.e., that God has given Israel its land, that Israel periodically sins, suffers punishment, repents, and then is rescued from foreign invasion. This cycle of sin and redemption shapes the work's way of writing history and gives it a powerful religious dimension, so that even when the sources behind the biblical books are "secular" accounts in which God is far in the background, the theology of the overall work places history in the service of theology. The last edition of the Deuteronomistic History, the one in our Bible, comes from the sixth century BCE, the time of the Babylonian Exile. In this context, it offers an explanation for Israel's poor condition and implicitly a reason to hope for the future. Another section of the Hebrew Bible consists of the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the twelve "minor," i.e., brief, prophets). Here again, it's important to understand how these developed. In the book of Isaiah, from which Jesus quotes, the original Isaiah of Jerusalem lived in the eighth century BCE in Jerusalem, and much of Isa 6-10 clearly reflects the political and social events of his time

Another part of the book, however, comes from a prophet who lived two hundred years later: Isaiah 40-55, famous in the New Testament (early Christians thought the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 was Jesus) and prominent in Handel's Messiah, speaks of the Persian king Cyrus the Great (d. 530 BCE), and so the text must come from that time. Other parts of the book of Isaiah are even later, and the entire book was carefully edited together, perhaps by the fifth or fourth century BCE. The extraordinary poetry of the book offers the reader hope in a God who controls historical events and seeks to return his people Israel to their own land.

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These first "Jewish" entrepreneurs owed as much to their "Jewishness" and their Judaism as Christian entrepreneurs owed to their Christianity. Jews were drawn into the capitalist orbit in the same way as Christians were. As capitalism penetrated central Europe, and began to appear in eastern Europe, entrepreneuriallygifted Jews, like entrepreneurially-gifted Christians, took advantage of the new opportunities

Nonetheless, the spread of capitalism did establish a special relation between Jews and capitalism, and between Judaism and capitalism. We only have to follow the path of capitalist development from Holland, to England, France, and Germany, to see that wherever capitalism spread and triumphed, Jews were emancipated. In no instance did Jews gain emancipation before the capitalist transformation of their society. Furthermore, the degree of emancipation of the Jews was directly related to the degree of capitalistic transformation. That society least hampered by pre-capitalist ways, namely the American, was that in which Jews had never to be formally emancipated by federal law (Gustavo Gutierrez, 1973). They were singled out neither for inclusion nor exclusion. It was also in America that the Jews came to enjoy an equality of status and opportunity in practice which no other society in history had extended to them. The relation between Judaism and capitalism, however, is highly complex. Judaism of the Middle Ages was a Judaism which proclaimed that God had revealed His will in the Bible and in the teachings of the rabbis, and that the goal of human endeavour was to believe in God, keep His commandments, and look to salvation in the world to come (J. H. Oldham, 1937).

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In a word, the Qur’an includes many references to Jewish and Christian literature and considers the narratives of biblical figures such as Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus to be descriptive of divinely inspired prophets, of whom Muhammad was the last and greatest. Supplementing the Qur’an are hadiths and the Sunna. Hadiths, which may be classified according to various levels of authenticity by Muslim scholars, are written traditions of Muhammad along with scholarly commentary. The Sunna is a term describing the path or practices of Muhammad, as revealed through both written hadiths and oral traditions. Much of Islamic eschatology derives from hadiths.

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J. H. Oldham, ed. The Oxford Conference (Official Report), Chicago and New York: Willett, Clark and Co. 1937, pp. 100- 102.

Gustavo Gutierrez. A Theology of Liberation. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1973, p. 238.

"Reinhold Niebuhr's Social Ethics: The Later Years," in Christianity and Crisis, April 12, 1982.

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