It was not long, however, until a different schism was to have markedly different results. Among the sects of the Second Temple period, one of the major controversies concerned the Messianic idea. Whereas many Jews saw the Messianic age as coming in the far off future, others took a more apocalyptic view, expecting the end of days to emerge very soon out of the struggles and suffering of the present age. Such tendencies ultimately helped to foster the conditions necessary for the rise of Christianity.
Early in the first century C.E. there coalesced around Jesus a group of disciples attracted to his teachings and to his expectations of the dawn of a new age. His crucifixion at the hands of the Romans transformed him in the eyes of his disciples into a Messianic figure, whose death in some way paved the way for redemption. As such, his followers, still living as Jews and basically following the mandates of Jewish law, were distinguished only by their belief that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus.
In the aftermath of the destruction, the tannaim attempted to draw… Continue reading
Raphael Golb, a literature scholar and now-disbarred lawyer, was re-sentenced on misdemeanor criminal impersonation and forgery charges that the Court of Appeals upheld, even as it nixed his felony identity-theft conviction and declared an aggravated harassment law unconstitutional.
Golb had been sentenced in 2010 to six months in jail but was free on bail during his appeal. He remains free at least until July 22, as a judge postponed his surrender date so he can ask courts to hold off his jail term while he appeals the case further.
The major sects of the Second Temple period first appear in our sources in the aftermath of the Maccabean Revolt (168-164 B.C.E.). Yet in truth, the process of Hellenization began much earlier. The rise of the Maccabees (Hasmoneans) was occasioned by ferment in Jewish religious thought which led to a crisis regarding the extent and the manner in which the Jews were going to accommodate themselves to Hellenism. The Maccabees settled matters only partially, eliminating extreme Hellenization as a possibility. Yet their successful revolt left open a number of options regarding Hellenism, and also brought to the fore various other issues in Jewish religious thought and in the development of Jewish law. As a result, recognizable groups, known usually by the somewhat inaccurate term “sects,” came to the fore. We will discuss here the major groups, yet it should be borne in mind that numerous smaller and even undocumented sects existed in this period. Further, most of the Jewish population in Palestine was only tangentially connected to the issues these sects debated.
Best known among these groups are the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees… Continue reading