NT Intro PPT

Introduction to the NT
The Intertestamental period
The Structure
Old Covenant (Testament)
New Covenant (Testament)
Torah (Pentateuch, 5 books of
Nevi’im (Prophets: Former and
Kethuvim (writings: Poetry,
wisdom, etc.)
Four Gospels (Story of Jesus)
Book of Acts (church history)
Letters of Paul and other church
Book of Hebrews & General Epistles
Apocalypse (Revelation)
There is a big jump between the OT and NT (Remember, we are using a
Christian perspective when we refer to the Hebrew scriptures as the Old
Babylonian exile around 600 BCE
The OT ends 200-400 years before the beginning of the NT.
A popular, though probably not quite true belief is that th Torah was
canonized circa 400 BCE, the Prophets circa 200 BCE, and the Writings
circa 100 CE
Israel was never independent since the Babylonian Captivity in 6th Century
BCE until the 20th century.
Babylonian and Assyrian exile spread Judaism which in turn, influenced
Three Centers of Judaism
Eastern Judaism-Aramaic
Often called the “Eastern Diaspora” or “Eastern Dispersion”
Under the Persian/Assyrian King Cyrus, many exiles returned to
Palestine/Judea/Israel, and many did not. It was safer and easier to stay in
Babylonia under King Cyrus’ benevolent rule.
The Babylonian/Persian/Assyrian period is also called the silent period
Their principle language changed from Hebrew to Aramaic (Related like
Spanish and Portuguese)
The Torah was probably completed in Babylon by the exilic community
Jewish tradition says it was Ezra, a Babylonian-Hebrew scribe (Ezra 7:6),
who brought Mosaic Law back to Judea.
It is clear that there was intense study of Hebrew Scriptures in the Eastern
This is probably the beginning of local centers in each community for the
study of the Torah (later called the “synagogue”).
Egyptian Judaism-Greek
Egypt has played the role of both villain (The Exodus) and
A place of refuge during trouble (Abraham, Joseph, Baby Jesus) (Also 2
Kings 25:26)
Greater more unity in the East, especially under Alexander the Great in the
4th century means more freedom and ease of travel (safety for travelers,
common language).
For a time, Palestine and Egypt were under the same rule of Alexander the
Great’s general, Ptolemy and his heirs.
Alexandria was a great Hellenistic city where Greek was spoken and it
attracted many Jews.
The practice of allegorizing Hebrew Scripture also seems to have begun
with the Jewish community in Alexandria. This technique originated with
Greeks in the 6th century to explain the contents of the Iliad and Odyssey.
Jesus applies this technique extensively to the Jewish Scripture.
Egyptian Judaism:
The Septuagint
Produced in Alexandria.
Hebrew scripture’s translation/reinterpretation into Greek.
They seem to have made it say what they supposed the Hebrew writers
would have written had they lived in later times.
– Example of Esther where the Hebrew scriptures mention neither God nor religion
directly. The Greek translation slips in a few passages that make reference to
God and religion.
• Translation choices were made,
– The Hebrew word “Torah” (teaching) was translated as nomos (law). This made
Judaism appear more like a legal system. Even now, we refer to the Torah as
Mosaic Law, rather than “Moses’ Teaching”
– God’s proper name yhwh was translated as a title: kurios (“lord”). This was
already an oral tradition.
Palestinian/Judean Judaism
Small area near rebuilt temple, but with the most religious conflict.
Many Jewish sects: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Scribes, Zealots.
Opposing groups saw themselves as the true heirs of ancient Israel:
– the “sons of exile” and
– those who stayed in the land during the exile.
– Samaritans a “mixed” group. Jewish name (shomeronim) means “people of
Samaria” Their name for themselves (shamerim) means “Keepers [of the
Covenant].” They had their own version of the Torah.
Josephus says: “To understand the Jews one must first understand that
they did not constitute a monolithic community.
– Josephus was a Jewish priest in the first century who fought the
Romans in the first Jewish War. He later became a Roman citizen and
governor, and most notably a Jewish historian who survived and
recorded the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. His works give an
important insight into first-century Judaism
Changes in Judaism
Belief in resurrection.
– Unambiguous reference to conscious life after death is not seen the OT.
– Sheol is a shadowing underground place mentioned in the OT where all people
go when they die
– Resurrection of the dead helps answer the problem of suffering in the present life
(because there will be rewards in the next)
– Resurrection is seen in 2 Maccabees (written in Egypt around 125BCE) as a
reward for Martyrdom.
– If there is resurrection of the dead, who is it for and how does it work?
Loss of a commanding prophetic voice.
– Messiah comes from the Hebrew mashiah (in Greek, it is christos) which means
“anointed one.”
– The Hebrew word was applied to Kings like Saul, David, and Solomon as well as
Cyrus the Great.
– It does not mean a hoped for rescuer or universal savior in the Hebrew scripture.
– This idea seems to have developed during the intertestamental period and can
be seen in apocryphal books such as 1 Enoch.
– It doesn’t appear to have been a widespread concept before Jesus.
Prominent Jewish sects
• Major groups of Jewish religious people.
• However most people didn’t belong to any of
these groups. The common people were
sometimes looked down upon as unteachable
“sinners.” These sinners were the main
audience for Jesus’ teaching.
Believe in a coming day of judgment
Resurrection of the dead
A future life of rewards and penalties based on deeds in this life
Existence of angels, demons, and other inhabitants of unseenworld
Devoted to study of scripture, they were not dependent on temple
worship or promised land.
Accepted the three parts of Hebrew scripture and “oral law”
traditions (Mark 7:3)
Small in number but the most powerful religious force
Very strong standards of religious piety and commitment
Emphasized progressive reinterpretation of the scripture to fit the
More conservative religiously and politically than the pharisees
Members of Jewish upper class
Sons of Zaddok (high priest under David and Solomon 1 Kings 1:26)
They were the officiating priests at the Jeresalem temple
None of their writing survive, so hard to know as much about them
Caiaphas, who condemned Jesus, was a Sadducee.
On good terms with Roman government, wanted a stable society
Rejected the oral law of the Pharisees
Rejected Pharisee’s belief in afterlife, angels, demons, etc.
They died off as a group with the destruction of the temple.
• Jews at Jesus’ time regarded the Samaritans as alien
people who practiced a false version of Judaism
• Whereas Jews worshipped at the Jerusalem temple on
Mt Zion, Samritans viewed Mt Gerizim, near Shechem
as God’s approved holy place (John 4:20).
• They recognized the Torah, but not The Writings or the
• They are treated nicely by the NT writers.
• Jesus was called a Samaritan on one occasion (John
• A small community of religious Samaritans still exists
• Essenes flourished from 140BCE-68CE
• One main community was Qumarn near the northwest corner of the
Derad Sea.
• They were a monastic group- gave up worldly life including
• Lived in an isolated desert community, they were awaiting two
– A priestly Messiah descended from Aaron
– A kingly Messiah descended from David
• They wrote and hid the Dead Sea scrolls before they were
annihilated by the Romans.
• A few (not many) scholars think Jesus may have spent his “lost
years” in an Essene community.
• John the Baptist seems a lot like an Essene
Essenes & the Dead Sea Scrolls
• Dead Sea scrolls discovered in 1947—Pottery jars full of ancient
• A shepherd boy in the area threw a rock and heard the sound of
pottery breaking.
• Composed during 200BC-100CE
• 1. Oldest surviving copies of parts of the Hebrew Bible
– There is a complete Isaiah text, 900 years older than any other surviving
Isaiah text and it is almost exactly the same, but others differ
• 2. Apocryphal books, such as 1 Enoch, Tobit, Book of Jubilees.
• 3. Commentaries on canonical books
– Shows that Essenes, like later Christians thought of many scriptures as
full of prophecies
• 4. Many of their own documents such as rules for how to live and
outlines of Essene rituals, and hymns.
Modern site of Qumran
Two of the 12 caves where scrolls
were found
Scroll jar and scrolls
• Passionately committed to Jewish religious and political
• Dedicated to evicting Rome from Palestine
• In 6CE Judas the Galilean led a revolt that Rome easily
– Jesus is compared to this Judas (Acts 5:37-39)
• Simon, one of Jesus’ disciples is called a zealot.
• According to Josephus, the Zealots’ blind nationalism
forced the Palestinian Jews on a suicidal course.
• They wouldn’t surrender, even after Jerusalem fell
compelling Rome destroy the temple.
Messiah expectations
• Deliver the covenant people from their
Gentile oppressors
• Reassemble Jews after the diaspora
• Reestablish the Davidic kingdom
• Establish universal peace
• Suffering servant Isaiah 53: bears pain
and humiliation for others
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