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Scripture in Classical Judaism

(4,873 words)

Author(s): Green, William Scott
The Hebrew Bible had a fundamental place in classical Judaism (for modern examples, see figs. 136–138) and constituted an important component of its conceptual background: indeed, no Rabbinic document could have been written without knowledge of Scripture. And yet, the rabbis' exegetical interest in Scripture was not comprehensive. Although they absorbed nearly the whole of Scripture, they commented only on selected parts. Thus, large portions of Scripture, including segments of prophecy and the…

Rabbi in Classical Judaism

(5,991 words)

Author(s): Green, William Scott
All attempts to describe the rabbi—the religious virtuoso of ancient Judaism—must begin with the nature of the sources and, first and foremost, with the recognition that virtually all of our information about these figures comes from documents formulated, written, and redacted within their own circles (fig. 127). Fashioned and molded by rabbis, these texts constitute the material remains of Rabbinic Judaism and are the primary evidence for its existence. A precise understanding of Rabbinic textu…

Messiah

(9,705 words)

Author(s): Green, William Scott | Silverstein, Jed
Probably no religious idea seems more fundamental to Judaism or more essentially Jewish than that of the messiah , Israel's eschatological redeemer. It is widely supposed that Judaism is a messianic religion and that hope for the messiah's appearance is the major focus of, and driving force behind, Jewish religious belief and behavior. Indeed, two commonplaces of western history are that, in first century Palestine, enhanced Jewish anticipation of the messiah's arrival was t…

Life Cycle in Judaism

(9,556 words)

Author(s): Green, William Scott | Mishkin, J.
Judaism defines a divinely ordained system of required behaviors, referred to as mitzvot , fulfillment of which expresses acquiescence to the divine will. Among these behaviors, life cycle ceremonies enhance worship of God by elevating otherwise ordinary moments into opportunities to fulfill God's demands. Even as life under foreign rule and over a period of thousands of years has created many distinctive Jewish cultures, through life cycle rituals, the Jewish people have maintained and…