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Ancient Jewish Literature

An overview of the texts from classical rabbinic literature and how they relate to the New Testament

Doug Mangum

on 11 October 2013

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Transcript of Ancient Jewish Literature

Ancient Jewish Literature
Rabbinic Literature
Legal Discussions
Interpretive Traditions
Exegetical Explanations
Rabbinic rules on faith and practice
Commentary on biblical laws
Writing down the "Oral Torah"
Compare Mark 7:1-13 (//Matt 15)
Claimed to be interpretive traditions originating with Moses at Sinai (m. Abot 1)
Commentary on the Mishnah
Jerusalem Talmud (AD 425)
Babylonian Talmud (AD 525)
Compilation of legal discussions, stories, and opinions on interpreting the Bible (OT).
Commentary on biblical passages
Verse by verse or phrase by phrase
Often use Scripture to interpret Scripture with word associations or analogy.
Aramaic translations of the OT
Highly interpretive translations with lengthy additions explaining and expanding on the Bible.
AD 100 to 900
AD 200 to 800
AD 200
AD 400-500
AD 200 to 800
Moses received the Torah at Sinai and handed it down to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets. And the prophets handed it on to the men of the great assembly. They said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence around the Torah.
--m. Abot 1.1
Oven of Akhnai
Story of a dispute between prominent rabbis, similar to confrontations between Jesus and Pharisees (i.e., Mark 7).
b. Baba Mesi'a 59
The Moral of the Story
The rabbis are teaching that:
Religious authority in this world is theirs. No new divine command can overrule them.
Divine revelation is complete.
The consensus of the many is superior to the authority of the one, even when accompanied with miracles.
Targum* Gen 4
When was the sacrifice?
14th of Nisan (Passover)
What was Cain's sacrifice?
What were the brothers quarreling about?
Reward and punishment for good and evil
AD 800?
What's Gen 4:8 say in the Bible?
"Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him." (ESV)
What does the
Targum do with Gen 4:8?
Cain says to Abel, "Let's go out in the field." Cain and Abel argue. "Life's not fair," says Cain. "Yes, it is," answers Abel. "No, it isn't," Cain retorts, adding, "God always loved you better." Abel agrees, "Yes, he did because I'm more righteous than you." Cain gets upset. "Hey, what are you doing with that rock?" cries Abel. Cain strikes and kills Abel.
(my paraphrase)
Who were the Rabbis?
Teachers of Jewish religious traditions dating from 2nd Temple period.
The religious descendants of Pharisees, Sadducees, teachers of the law, scribes, etc. mentioned in the NT.
Sample NT Passages mentioning Jewish religious leaders:
Matt 5
Matt 23
Acts 5:17-42, esp. v 34-39
Acts 22:3; 23:1-10
Phil 3:5-6
Adds details the text leaves out:
*In this case, the Jerusalem Targum or Targum Pseudo-Jonathan. There are 3 major targums of Genesis and several fragmentary ones.
The End
created by Douglas Mangum

Genesis Rabbah on Gen 1:1
Interprets Gen 1:1 using Prov 8
Uses rare Hebrew word as "conversation starter"
Justifies linking Gen 1:1 and Prov 8 through shared use of a key word
Jesus in the Talmud
Controversial subject on if and when the Talmud mentions Jesus.
Some traditions are clearly not historical. For example, Joshua b. Perachiah is in the wrong era to have been Jesus' teacher.
Rabbis considered Jesus a heretic.
b. Sanhedrin 107b: “Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and led Israel astray.”
Jesus as teacher: b. Avodah Zarah 16b-17a
Jesus' execution: b. Sanhedrin 43a
The Classic Texts
record of oral tradition on how to keep biblical law.*
commentary on the Mishnah.
rabbinic commentaries on the Tanakh (that's the OT)
*there's also the Tosefta, sort of an alternate edition of the Mishnah.
Did early Christians know or read this material?
Probably not . . .
Then Why are We?
Because it shows us how the rabbis thought about
how to interpret Scripture
who had legitimate religious authority
how they valued tradition over direct revelation
and that can help us understand how they came in to conflict with Jesus and his disciples in the Gospels and Acts
*Meaning“inn” OR “innkeeper’s wife.”

Fine Print
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.
Copyright (c) 2013 Douglas T. Mangum
Translations are mine unless otherwise marked.
Full transcript