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1. How has the history of Judaism influenced the Jewish people's understanding of themselves?
The Encyclopedia of Religion describes religion in the following way:
"In summary, it may be said that almost every known culture involves the religious in the above sense of a depth dimension in cultural experiences at all levels ? a push, whether ill-defined or conscious, toward some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life. When more or less distinct patterns of behaviour are built around this depth dimension in a culture, this structure constitutes religion in its historically recognizable form. Religion is the organization of life around the depth dimensions of experience ? varied in form, completeness, and clarity in accordance with the environing culture." (1)
Specifically, Judaism is the monotheistic religion e.g., belief in one God, of the Jews, tracing its origins to Abraham (about a 4000 year history) and having its spiritual and ethical principles embodied chiefly in the Hebrew Scriptures (Torah) and the Talmud. For the Jewish people, it is about conforming to the traditional ceremonies and rites of the Jewish religion. It is seeing herself or himself as a people, as a community (Judaism). Thus, the history of Judaism is the history of the Jewish people, faith, and culture, e.g. social practices. Indeed, Judaism and the Jewish history encompass nearly four thousand years and hundreds of different populations. (3)
Judaism in all its variations has remained tightly bound to a number of religious principles, however, which impact how the Jewish people see themselves and how they act in daily living.
For example, the most important of which is the belief that there is a single, omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, transcendent God, who created the universe and continues to be involved in its governance. According to traditional Jewish belief, the God who created the world established a covenant with the Jewish people, and revealed his laws and commandments to them in the form of the Torah. The practice of Judaism is devoted to the study and observance of these laws and commandments, as written in the Torah.
Clearly, this belief in Judaism impacted the Jewish identity at every level of existence. For example, the Jewish people believed they have entered into covenant with Yahweh God through the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, and that they are the chosen people of God. This sets up tasks for the Jewish people to comply, such as observing the holy days, which were the Sabbath, Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkoth; and circumcision, dietary laws, and laws pertaining to dress, agriculture, and social justice characterized the structure of the biblical religion. (3) The Jewish history is therefore Yahweh's history, and Yahweh using the Jewish people throughout the history of Judaism, all moving toward the promise of messianic redemption. In fact, Yahweh is using the Jewish people to usher in the coming of the Messiah. The Jewish people are to be examples to the world as the chosen people of the one and only God, Yahweh; God is so sovereign to the Jewish people, they do not speak his name. The God of Israel. The Jewish people demonstrate their unique position in the world as the chosen people through daily customs, such as prayer, holidays, daily living, and the likes Judaism is a therefore religion, but it is also a way of ...
This solution explains how the history of Judaism influenced the Jewish people's understanding of themselves. It also details some of the most important events in their history.
History of Judaism and Divisions
Early Jewish Religion & its Neighbors: Clearly, Judaism did not develop within a religious "vacuum" but in fact was part of a rich religious life on the Fertile Crescent. With reference to Genesis, what kinds of stories seem to have been shared between Judaism and its neighbors? With reference to Abraham, Moses, and David, were there any stories and elements that made it unique?
Judaism and Zoroastrianism Certain core religious concepts and perennial themes are equally essential to understanding both the ancient Judaism of the Biblical period, as well as the subsequent Rabbinical Judaism of the contemporary world. Do you think that some of the beliefs from Zoroastrianism might have made their way into early Rabbincal Judaism and into modern Judaism?
The Sects of Modern Judaism When we encounter Judaism today, we might be surprised that there are "denominations" within it and divisions, just like there is in Christianity. What are they and what is the difference between them? Which sect or denomination of Judaism in your mind, is best able to retain the essence of Biblical and Rabbinical Judaism as a viable alternative to "modernity"? Why? Do you think that a religious/spiritual alternative to modernity is a good thing? Why or why not?View Full Posting Details