Learning with Rabbi Wright.
The New Testament narrative presents the ideas, belief systems, trends, and rituals of the “Judaisms” during the late Second Temple period. The narrative also provides details about the development of Rabbinic Judaism, the democratization of Jewish sects, Jewish life under Roman authority, and meaningful Jewish rituals that we continue to observe today. By studying the New Testament, learners will gain greater insight into the origins of first-century “Judaisms” Therefore, the New Testament can expose and help contemporary Jews understand Judaism as practiced today more deeply. For example, New Testament Literature introduces the ritual of giving a boy his name during his circumcision:
“Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that God had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, ‘No, he is to be called John’” (Lk. 1:57-59).
Moreover, the New Testament also introduces the ritual of passing around the Kiddish Cup for Shabbat and other Hagim meals:
“Then he [Jesus] took a cup, after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this [the Kiddish Cup] and divide among yourselves’” (Lk. 22:17).
The Gospel According to Luke chronicles the first historical record of these two Jewish rituals; evidence of these rituals remains unknown in Talmudic literature. Therefore, Jews can appreciate the New Testament as a source that offers Jews insight into a period where Judaism underwent expansive changes. As such, the narrative can deepen our understanding of Jewish praxis, piety, and expression today.
This class teaches adult learners in a congregation setting the different models of Jewishness in the New Testament narrative. Learners will understand how New Testament literature serves as a primary source for Jews to understand the late Second Temple period, rather than as a foreign source that speaks only about Early Christianity and Christians. More specifically, this curriculum guide explores the following themes and topics:
1. The Greco-Roman Environment and its Influence of Jews in Judea and the Communities in the Diaspora
2. Models of Jewish Expression in the New Testament Narrative
3. Jewish Life and Identity in the New Testament
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