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Tuesday, September 17, 2019


The book I'm reading on first century Judaism fascinates me, "Reflecting On the Rabbis, Sage Insight Into First Century Jewish Tbought." As you may know, the first century has been one of my focuses. What happened and what didn't happen? What was life like? How can I understand these times?

One of the chapters in the book I'm reading is on Yeshua (Jesus). It seems he acted and taught as a Pharisee of his time and place, especially along the line of Hillel. At the time, there were seven different Pharisee schools, broadly in agreement and debating fine points only.

Yeshua's followers behaved much like the students of other Pharisee sages. They lived with him, ate with him, questioned him, tried to emulate him.

He  taught Torah, extended parts of it, such as thought and not just action was to be brought into alignment (love your enemy, don't think with lust). He used storytelling and parables to make points, just as other Pharisee sages did also.

He debated other Pharisees, as was common practice. He was not fond of Sadducees, nor were the other Pharisees. In fact Caiaphas, the leader of the Sanhedrin that condemned Yeshua and turned him over to the Romans, was not only a Roman appointee, he was a Sadducee. Yeshua numbered Pharisees among his friends, such as Nicodemus/Naqdimon and Joseph/Yosef of Arimathea. His followers are reported to have called him rabbi.

Yeshua's followers, after he left, called themselves followers of The Way, and continued to meet in synagogues. There are various estimates of when they split and separated from the synagogues. John Shelby Spong says 88 CE. The book I am reading right now states there are records of followers of Yeshua's in attendance at synagogues and participating at high holy days as late as 387 CE!

Yeshua was way more thoroughly Jewish than most people think. Perhaps we need to revise and update our thinking. Perhaps with broader understanding, we can stop the tide of antiSemitism that seems to be rising currently.

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