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Re: Ancient Near Eastern Covenants

Posted by ayrity on January 11, 2005, at 13:26:49

In reply to Re: Ancient Near Eastern Covenants Dinah, posted by MKB on January 9, 2005, at 22:45:34

This thread has been so full of misconceptions about Judaism and the Talmud that I don't know where to begin.

Regarding the "legalism" aforementioned in this thread: Remember that during Jesus' time, religious law = civil law; in otherwords, there was a theocracy at that time. Jewish religious law necessarily evolved to encompass all aspects of religious as well as civil life.

In the Diaspora, Jews were always a small, persecuted minority. Strict adherence to law and observence held the community together and ensured the survival of the Jewish people for the next two milenia.

More importantly, observant Jews do not see Halakah (Jewish law) as a burden, but rather a way of life that enobles existence and sanctifies every moment of the day. In practical terms, observing the laws really isn't that difficult. I kept strictly kosher for awhile and it was not difficult. Observant Jews live near a synogogue and don't have to worry about driving on the Sabbath, etc. See below for more comments-->

> Most of my post was about the Talmud, which is a different matter altogether. The Talmud is not in the Bible.

That is not in keeping with the Jewish view of the Bible and the Talmud. The Talmud is the Oral Law, every bit as valid and binding as the original written scriptures and handed down at the same time on Mt Sinai according to Jewish belief. (see more comments below)

> If my comments sounded disrespectful to you, I'm so sorry. However, I was trying to point out that Jesus did condemn legalism, particularly in his confrontations with the Pharisees. When Jesus was confronting the Pharisees, he was not condemning the Law of Moses; he was condemning the Talmud.

As you are aware, the Talmud as such did not exist as a written document at that time; so Jesus could not have been condemning the Talmud specifically. All of the "legalism" you mention is found directly in the the Torah (5 books of Moses). The Talmud is merely elaboration and commentary on laws already found in the Bible- yes, the "Old" Testament or Torah.

> The main thing I want to clarify is that the Torah is not the same as the Talmud.

Again, that is an incomplete understanding of what the Talmud is. Jews think of the Torah in two forms- the Written Torah (the 5 books of Moses) and the Oral Torah (oral tradition handed down to Moses at Sinai, eventually written down in the Mishnah by later sages and amplified and commented upon in the Gemarah; both the Mishnah and Gemarah make up the Talmud). So, to observant Jews, it is imposible to think of Torah without Talmud. As I mentioned in another thread, see for an excellent explanation of Jewish beliefs regarding the Torah and Talmud.




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