Sunday, December 31, 2006

Jewish Resources for the Christian Mind

In my posts on biblical marriage, divorce, and remarriage I've learned of the importance of the Jewish bedrock of Christianity. Some of the OT is abrogated in the NT, e.g. circumcision, and dietary restrictions. However how we think and act as Christians are based on Judaic features. Here is a recent story on Jews in the nativity in Newsweek:

David Instone-Brewer had this interesting tidbit on Greco-Roman as opposed to Judaic marriages in the 1st century AD:

  • In Greek contracts there was almost an expectation that the marriage would end in divorce rather than death. In Jewish contracts, especially Aramaic and Hebrew ones, there is an expectation that the marriage will end in death (as seen below).

Whose ideals of marriage do Christians aspire? The Greco-Roman world practiced serial monogamy, something that should ring familiar to Christians in the 21st century.

Jews kept a written record of rabbinical debate in the Talmud which was used by Instone-Brewer in his exegesis of Matthew 19 and Mark 10. Here is a complete works of the Talmud. The Gittin from which the word 'get' or a Jewish certificate of divorce is of keen interest in this discussion. The works of Philo and Josephus also recorded the rabbinical debate that involved Jesus as recorded by Matthew 19 and Mark 10.

Finally the Jewish Encyclopedia is an excellent resource. It has an interesting and critical discussion of Paul and Jesus from a non-believing perspective.

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