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Midrash

(3,287 words)

Author(s): Tomson, Peter J.
Midrash is a rabbinic scribal term denoting “study” or “exposition” – that is, of the Torah or Bible. The Hebrew term is not found in extant early Christian sources. A number of modern scholars think, however, that the concept is relevant because exegetical techniques similar to rabbinic midrash are seen at work in texts pertaining to Jesus, Paul, and other key figures of the early stages of Christianity. A topic of special interest for the relation between Jews and Christians concerns the exposition of the practical commandments.Lexical and Historical AspectsEssentials have been st…
Date: 2020-12-17

Halakhah

(4,158 words)

Author(s): Tomson, Peter J.
The word halakhah means “law” and is used in rabbinic literature to denote the law or custom accepted in Jewish practice and formulated in rabbinic tradition, in the sense of both an individual law and of the prevailing law. The concept is relevant to early Christianity insofar as it evidences elements of Jewish law.VocabularyAccording to a popular etymology, the phrase halakhah derives from the Hebrew verb halakh, “to go,” and means “the walk in which one goes.” More probably, however, it derives, along with its Aramaic equivalent hilkheta, from Akkadian alaktu, “course, sign, decre…
Date: 2020-12-17

Rabbi

(1,616 words)

Author(s): Tomson, Peter J.
The Hebrew and Aramaic רבי/ rabbi (lit. “my master”) appears in the ancient sources as a polite phrase addressing a Jewish sage or teacher. In addition, it came to be used as the standard title of a Torah scholar accredited in the rabbinic movement, or in other words a “rabbi.” The import of the New Testament is twofold: it is the oldest extra-rabbinical document to use the term, and it is also the focus of the Christian trend to denigrate “rabbinism.”Outside rabbinic literature, the main ancient sources for the phrase rabbi are the Gospels of Mark, John, and Matthew, totaling 15 occ…
Date: 2020-12-17

Sabbath/Sabbatical Year

(6,503 words)

Author(s): Safrai, Zeev | Tomson, Peter J.
“Sabbath” and “sabbatical year” or “Sabbath year” are closely associated items in some of the pertinent biblical passages, which is why they are dealt with together in this article. This does not imply more than a terminological similarity, however, and in actual practice it concerns two different subjects that require separate discussion.The Sabbath is a central institution in Judaism and a main element of Jewish tradition. As such, it plays an important role also in early Christianity, both as an element of Jewish and Jewish-Christian life and…
Date: 2020-12-17