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Historical and cultural context of the time of jesus

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  • 1. The Historical and CulturalContext of the Time of JesusChristianity
  • 2. Jewish People• Culture was religious• Life centred around the covenant with G_d• The Ten Commandments were the conditions of the covenant• Covenant was sealed by sacrificing an animal• Ten Commandments kept in an ark (box)• The Ark of the Covenant was housed in a tent while the Israelites travelled through the desert
  • 3. Jewish People• The tent was called the Tent of Meeting• The Ten Commandments with the first five books became known as The Torah or The Law• The first five books are also known as the Pentateuch• The Torah is the Jewish people’s way of life from the days in the desert on the way to Canaan up to today• Obeying the commandments showed the Jewish people’s love for G_d
  • 4. Jerusalem• Made the capital city of Israel by King David• Home of the Ark of the Covenant• Solomon had the Temple of Jerusalem constructed to house the ark• The Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE• The people lost the centre of their faith with the destruction of the Temple• The Temple was rebuilt by King Herod, the Roman ruler of Jerusalem in 20 BCE – it was still being rebuilt during Jesus’ day
  • 5. Temple• Regarded as the house of G_d• Priests were in charge – the High Priest was the most important figure• Men and boys would sit on benches in the centre of the hall• Women and girls would sit behind a screen in a gallery on either side and at the rear• No sacrifice was carried out in Temple services
  • 6. Synagogues• Most families could only afford to journey to Jerusalem once a year• Synagogues were constructed in every Jewish town• Synagogues were meeting houses for prayer and study of the Torah• People went to the synagogue for Shabbat• Laity were in charge of proceedings• Same seating arrangements used as in the Temple• Focal point was the Ark of Law – an opening where the long scrolls of parchment were housed
  • 7. Shabbat• Commemorates seventh day of creation• Begins at sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday• A synagogue attendant blows the shofar (ram’s horn) to signify the start of Shabbat• In the synagogue, the Law was read and explained, books of the prophets read, prayers said, hymns and psalms sung• Shabbat began with the lighting of the menorah (seven branched candlestick)
  • 8. Shabbat• Two blessings• Reading of the Tenach from scrolls taken from the Ark in Hebrew – usually translated into the local language for the ordinary townsfolk (Aramaic was the local language of Jesus’ town)• Prayer, Eighteen Benedictions, read by one of the older men• Reading from the prophets• Final blessing
  • 9. Sacrifice• Central act of worship in the Temple (but not conducted during Temple service)• Expressed feelings for G_dTypes of sacrifice• Holocaust – animal completely burnt and offered to G_d• Communion – part of animal burnt and the rest eaten by those who offered it• Expiation – animal sacrificed to atone for sinfulness and express regret for past sins
  • 10. Sacrifice• Cereal offerings – food burnt• Incense offerings – sweet smelling substance offered to G_d• Daily routine – 2 lambs offered as holocausts (one in the morning and one in the evening), cereal offering, pouring of wine and incense offering• Shabbat – 2 lambs in the morning and 2 lambs in the evening• First day of each month – 2 bulls, a ram, 7 lambs, a goat offered for sins plus other offerings and pouring of wine
  • 11. Prayer• Jewish people faced toward the Temple (synagogues built facing the Temple) when praying• Pious adherents prayed three times a day (dawn, noon and evening)• Wore a tallit (prayer shawl)• The Shema, a prayer, said everyday (mentioned the commandments to love G_d and love neighbour)
  • 12. Feasts• Shabbat – recall that G_d made a covenant with His people• Pesach – commemorate the Exodus• Shavuoth – recall the covenant sworn with G_d at Mt Sinai• Feast of Weeks – originally celebrated the harvest, but also celebrated the covenant with G_d• Feast of Tabernacles – commemorated the journey through the desert during the Exodus• Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement
  • 13. Sickness and DeathSickness• Illness was seen as punishment for a person’s sins or their father’s sins• People with serious illnesses were regarded as possessed and were considered as outcastsDeath• When a person died, they went to Sheol• Changed to acknowledge that the just Israelite would be resurrected to a new life by G_d
  • 14. Messiah• Means the anointed one• Hebrews were waiting for a messiah to save them and set up G_d’ Kingdom on EarthDifferent images of messiahs• Messiah King• Suffering Messiah• Messiah Priest• ‘More than ordinary’ King• Warrior King• Wonder worker
  • 15. Messiah• Many ‘messiahs’ appeared after the return from Babylon in 537 BCE as the Israelites longed for the re-establishment of the Kingdom of David• An increase in ‘messiahs’ after Pompey conquered Palestine in 63 BCE• There were at least 25 individuals claiming to be the messiah at the time of Jesus• Some people claimed that Bar Kokbha was the messiah as he led a revolt against the Romans (he was executed in 135 CE)
  • 16. Cultural• Diet – olives, wheat, barley, sycamore figs and dates• Population – approximately 100 000 in Jerusalem• Irrigation – water supplied by aqueducts• Language – Greek and Aramaic were popular; some Jews still used Hebrew; Latin was introduced by the Romans• Clothes – tunics, usually white, and cloaks; women wore veils; leather sandals• Money – Greek drachma, leption and talent; Roman denarius; Jewish perutah
  • 17. Roman Rule• Pax Augusta – enforced peace administered by the Romans over the Empire• Provinces administered by governors representing the Roman Emperor and Senate• Procurator lived in Caesarea on the coast, but stayed in Jerusalem for major events• Jews exempted from court summons on Shabbat• Two levels of taxation – local taxes collected by local officials and public taxes for the Romans• Emperor Augustus Caesar ordered a census about 8 or 6 BCE
  • 18. Roman Rule• Jews did not generally cause trouble although some groups organised attacks• Romans were fairly lenient – allowed the Jews to worship G_d, stayed clear of the Temple, allowed most Jewish religious laws• Crucifixion was used to administer the death penalty• A person could be declared divine anywhere in the Roman Empire except Israel
  • 19. SocietySadducees (Priestly class)• Concerned with politics• Outspoken supporters of the Roman administration• Had power in Roman court• Regarded themselves above other Jews• Political enemies of Pharisees• Did not believe in the idea of resurrection
  • 20. SocietyScribes• Scholars and intellectuals whose specialty was the Torah• Second in prestige, but first in influence• Teachers and interpreters• Preserved the traditions in writing before the Babylonian Captivity (587 BCE)• Added the 613 commandments• Transcribed, interpreted and edited the traditions• Recite passages from memory
  • 21. SocietyPharisees• Opposed Roman presence in Israel• Insisted the Torah be interpreted literally• Allied with the scribes (many scribes were Pharisees)• Imposed more laws, rituals and observances as a protection against breaking the Torah• Believed in resurrection
  • 22. SocietySanhedrin• Council of 71 members• Elders, Priests and Scribes• High Priest was the President• Sadducees very influentialZealots• Wanted Israel for Jewish people• Began in 6 CE when a group led by Judas, a Galilean, revolted against the Roman legate, Quirinius
  • 23. SocietyEssenes• Helped Jews overcome Greek rule• Lived in the desertSamaritans• Mutual hatred between Jews and Samaritans• Built a temple on Mt Gerizim to rival Jerusalem (Jews destroyed it in 128 BCE)• Desecrated the Jerusalem Temple before Pesach in 6 BCE• Ambushed Jews who travelled to Jerusalem for special feasts

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