Second Temple Judaism

Second Temple Judaism is Judaism between the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, c. 515 BCE, and its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE. The development of the Hebrew Bible canon, the synagogue, Jewish apocalyptic expectations for the future, and the rise of Christianity, can all be traced to the Second Temple period.


Modern reconstruction of what the Second Temple would have looked like after its renovation during the reign of Herod I


(Note: dates and periods are in many cases approximate and/or conventional)

Jerusalem and Yehud

The period of the First Temple ended in 586 BCE when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple of Solomon, and deported the elite of the population to Babylon (the "Babylonian exile").[1] In 539 BCE Babylon itself fell to the Persian conqueror Cyrus, and in 538 BCE the exiles were permitted to return to Yehud medinata, as the Persian province of Judah was known.[2] The Temple is commonly said to have been rebuilt in the period 520–515 BCE, but it seems probable that this is an artificial date chosen so that 70 years could be said to have passed between the destruction and the rebuilding, fulfilling a prophecy of Jeremiah.[3][2][4]

The end of the Persian period is conventionally dated from Alexander the Great's conquest of the Mediterranean coast in 333/332 BCE. His empire disintegrated after his death, and Judea, including Jerusalem, fell to the Ptolemies, the descendants of one of Alexander's generals who ruled Egypt. In 200 BCE Israel and Yehud were captured by the Seleucids, the descendants of another Greek general ruling Syria. Around 167 BCE, for reasons that remain obscure, the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes attempted to suppress Jewish worship; this provoked a Jewish revolt (the Maccabean Revolt) that eventually led to the effective end of Greek control over Jerusalem.[5]

Hasmonean Judea was a client kingdom of the Romans,[6] and in the 1st century BCE the Romans first replaced them with their protege Herod the Great, and, on Herod's death in 6 CE, made Judea a province under Rome's direct rule.[7] Heavy taxes under the Romans and insensitivity towards the Jewish religion led to revolt (the First Jewish–Roman War, 66–73 CE), and in 70 CE the Roman general (and later emperor) Titus captured Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, bringing an end to the Second Temple period.[8]

The diaspora

The Jewish exiles in Babylon were not slaves or prisoners, nor were they badly treated, and when the Persians gave permission for them to return to Jerusalem the majority elected to remain where they were.[9][10] They and their descendants formed the diaspora, a large community of Jews living outside Judea, and the 1st century CE historian Josephus reported that there were more Jews in Syria (meaning the Seleucid empire) than in any other land.[11][12] There was also significant Egyptian diaspora, although the Jews of Egypt were immigrants, not deportees, "...attracted by Hellenistic culture, eager to win the respect of the Greeks and to adapt to their ways" (John J. Collins, "Between Athens and Jerusalem).[13] The Egyptian diaspora was slow to develop, but in the Hellenistic period it came to outstrip the Babylonian community in importance.[14] In addition to these major centres there were Jewish communities throughout the Hellenistic and subsequently the Roman world, from North Africa to Asia Minor and Greece and in Rome itself.[15]

The Samaritans

The separation between Jews of Jerusalem and those of Samaria was a long and protracted process.[16] For most of the Second Temple period Samaria was larger, richer, and more populous than Judea—down to about 164 BCE there were probably more Samaritans than Judeans living in Palestine.[17] They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim near Shechem and regarded themselves as the only true Israel, the remnant left behind when Israel was deceived by the wicked priest Eli to leave Gerizim and worship at Jerusalem.[18] Second Temple Judeans regarded them as foreign converts and the offspring of mixed marriages, and therefore of impure blood.[19] Relations between the two communities were often strained, but the definitive break dates from the destruction of the Gerizim temple and of Shechem by a Hasmonean king in the late 2nd century BCE; before that the Samaritans seem to have regarded themselves as part of the wider Jewish community, but afterwards they denounced the Jerusalem temple as completely unacceptable to God.[20][21]


In recent decades it has become increasingly common among scholars to assume that much of the Hebrew bible was assembled, revised and edited in the 5th century BCE to reflect the realities and challenges of the Persian era.[22][10] The returnees had a particular interest in the history of Israel: the written Torah (the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), for example, may have existed in various forms during the Monarchy (the period of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah), but it was in the Second Temple that it was edited and revised into something like its current form, and the Chronicles, a new history written at this time, reflects the concerns of the Persian Yehud in its almost-exclusive focus on Judah and the Temple.[22]

Prophetic works were also of particular interest to the Persian-era authors, with some works being composed at this time (the last ten chapters of Isaiah and the books of Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and perhaps Joel) and the older prophets edited and reinterpreted.The corpus of Wisdom books saw the composition of Job, parts of Proverbs, and possibly Ecclesiastes, while the book of Psalms was possibly given its modern shape and division into five parts at this time (although the collection continued to be revised and expanded well into Hellenistic and even Roman times).[22]

In the Hellenistic period the scriptures were translated into Greek by the Jews of the Egyptian diaspora, who also produced a rich literature of their own covering epic poetry, philosophy, tragedy and other forms. Less is known of the Babylonian diaspora, but the Seleucid period produced works such as the court tales of the Book of Daniel (chapters 1-6 of Daniel - chapters 7-12 were a later addition), and the books of Tobit and Esther.[23] The eastern Jews were also responsible for the adoption and transmission of the Babylonian and Persian apocalyptic tradition seen in Daniel.[24]

Worship and the Jewish community

Israel as a holy community

The Hebrew Bible represents the beliefs of only a small portion of the Israelite community, the members of a tradition that insisted on the exclusive worship of Yahweh, who collected, edited and transmitted the biblical texts, and who saw their mission in a return to Jerusalem where they could impose their vision of genealogical purity, orthodox worship, and codified law on the local population.[25][26] In the earliest stages of the Persian period the returnees insisted on strict separation between themselves ("Israel") and the Judeans who had never gone into exile ("Canaanites"), to the extent of prohibiting intermarriage; this was presented in terms of religious purity, but there may have been a practical concern for land ownership.[27] The concept of the Jewish people as a people chosen by God gave rise to innumerable break-away movements, each declaring that it alone represented Jewish holiness; the most extreme example was the Qumran sect (the Essenes), but Christianity too began as a Jewish sect that saw itself as the "true Israel".[28]

Textual Judaism: priests and scribes

Second Temple Judaism was centered not on synagogues, which began to appear only in the 3rd century BCE, but the reading and study of scripture, the Temple itself, and a cycle of continual animal sacrifice. Torah, or ritual law, was also important, and the Temple priests were responsible for teaching it, but the concept of scripture developed only slowly. While the written Torah (the Pentateuch) and the Prophets were accepted as authoritative by the 1st century CE, beyond this core the different Jewish groups continued to accept different groups of books as authoritative.[29]

The priesthood and the autonomy of Yehud

The priesthood underwent profound changes with the Second Temple.[30] Under the First Temple the priesthood had been subordinate to the kings, but in the Second Temple, with the monarchy and even the state no longer available, they became independent.[31] The priesthood under the High Priest (a position largely unknown in earlier times) became the governing authority, making the province of Yehud in a sense a theocracy, although it seems unlikely that it had any more autonomy than was typical of the empire as a whole.[30] In the Hellenistic period the High Priest continued to play a vital role with both cultic and civic obligations, and the office reached its height under the Hasmoneans, who made themselves priest-kings.[32] Both Herod and the Romans severely reduced the importance of the office, appointing and deposing High Priests to suit their purposes.[33]

Intellectual currents


There was a sharp break between ancient Israelite religion and the Judaism of the Second Temple.[34] Pre-exilic Israel was polytheistic;[35] Asherah was probably worshiped as Yahweh's consort, within his temples in Jerusalem, Bethel, and Samaria, and a goddess called the Queen of Heaven, probably a fusion of Astarte and the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, was also worshiped.[36] Baal and Yahweh coexisted in the early period, but were considered irreconcilable after the 9th century.[37] The worship of Yahweh alone, the concern of a small party in the monarchic period, only gained ascendancy in the exilic and early post-exilic period,[35] and it was only then that the very existence of other gods was denied.[38]

Messianism and the end times

The Persian period saw the development of expectation in a future human king who would rule purified Israel as God's representative at the end of time – that is, a messiah. The first to mention this were Haggai and Zechariah, both prophets of the early Persian period. They saw the messiah in Zerubbabel, a descendant of the House of David who seemed, briefly, to be about to re-establish the ancient royal line, or in Zerubbabel and the first High Priest, Joshua (Zechariah writes of two messiahs, one royal and the other priestly). These early hopes were dashed (Zerubabbel disappeared from the historical record, although the High Priests continued to be descended from Joshua), and thereafter there are merely general references to a Messiah of (meaning descended from) David.[39][31]

Wisdom and the Word

Wisdom, or hokmah, implied the learning acquired by study and formal education: "those who can read and write, those who have engaged in study, and who know literature, are the wise par excellence" (Grabbe, 2010, p.48).[40] The literature associated with this tradition includes the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon, the so-called Sapiential books.[40]

The emergence of Christianity

Christianity emerged within Judaism, the key difference being the Christian belief that Jesus was the resurrected Messiah.[41] Judaism is known to allow for multiple messiahs, the two most relevant being Messiah ben Joseph and the Messiah ben David. The idea of two messiahs — one suffering and the second fulfilling the traditional messianic role— was normal in ancient Judaism, and in fact predated Jesus.[42][43][44][45] Alan Segal has written that "one can speak of a 'twin birth' of two new Judaisms, both markedly different from the religious systems that preceded them. Not only were rabbinic Judaism and Christianity religious twins, but, like Jacob and Esau, the twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca, they fought in the womb, setting the stage for life after the womb."[46]

The first Christians (the disciples or students of Jesus) were essentially all ethnically Jewish or Jewish proselytes. In other words, Jesus was Jewish, preached to the Jewish people and called from them his first disciples. Jewish Christians regarded "Christianity" as an affirmation of every aspect of contemporary Judaism, with the addition of one extra belief — that Jesus was the Messiah.[47] The doctrines of the apostles of Jesus brought the Early Church into conflict with some Jewish religious authorities (Acts records dispute over the resurrection of the dead, which was rejected by the Sadducees, see also Persecution of Christians in the New Testament), and possibly later led to Christians' expulsion from synagogues (see Council of Jamnia for other theories). While Marcionism rejected all Jewish influence on Christianity, Proto-orthodox Christianity instead retained some of the doctrines and practices of 1st-century Judaism while rejecting others, see the Historical background to the issue of Biblical law in Christianity and Early Christianity. They held the Jewish scriptures to be authoritative and sacred, employing mostly the Septuagint or Targum translations, and adding other texts as the New Testament canon developed. Christian baptism was another continuation of a Judaic practice.[48]

Recent work by historians paints a more complex portrait of late Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity. Some historians have suggested that, before his death, Jesus created amongst his believers such certainty that the Kingdom of God and the resurrection of the dead was at hand, that with few exceptions (John 20: 24-29) when they saw him shortly after his execution, they had no doubt that he had been resurrected, and that the restoration of the Kingdom and resurrecton of the dead was at hand. These specific beliefs were compatible with Second Temple Judaism.[49] In the following years the restoration of the Kingdom, as Jews expected it, failed to occur. Some Christians began to believe instead that Christ, rather than simply being the Jewish messiah, was God made flesh, who died for the sins of humanity, marking the beginning of Christology.[50]

While on one hand Jesus and the early Christians had all been ethnically Jewish, the Jews by and large continued to reject Jesus as the Messiah. This was a source of embarrassment for the Church and affected early Christianity's relationship with Judaism and the surrounding pagan traditions. The anti-Christian polemicist Celsus criticised Jews for deserting their Jewish heritage while they had claimed to hold on to it. To the Emperor Julian, Christianity was simply an apostasy from Judaism. These factors hardened Christian attitudes towards Jewry.[51]

See also



  1. ^ Grabbe 2010, p. 2.
  2. ^ a b Coogan, Brettler & Newsom 2007, p. xxii.
  3. ^ Grabbe 2010, p. 2–3.
  4. ^ Davies 2005, p. 89.
  5. ^ Grabbe 2010, p. 5–17.
  6. ^ Nelson 2010, p. 256–257.
  7. ^ Malamat & Ben-Sasson 2010, p. 245–246.
  8. ^ Malamat & Ben-Sasson 2010, p. 299–303.
  9. ^ Albertz 2003, p. 101.
  10. ^ a b Berquist 2007, p. 3-4.
  11. ^ Coogan, Brettler & Newsom 2007, p. xxv.
  12. ^ Hegermann 1990, p. 146.
  13. ^ Collins 2000, p. 5.
  14. ^ Hegermann 1990, p. 131.
  15. ^ Strayer, Joseph R. ed. (1986). "Jerusalem" Dictionary of the Middle Ages. 7 New York:Charles Scribner's Sons. p.59.
  16. ^ Cohen 2014, p. 169.
  17. ^ Knoppers 2013, p. 1-3.
  18. ^ Cohen 2014, p. 168.
  19. ^ Knoppers 2013, p. 1–3.
  20. ^ Cohen 2014, p. 168-169.
  21. ^ see also: Jonathan Bourgel, "The Destruction of the Samaritan Temple by John Hyrcanus: A Reconsideration", JBL 135/3 (2016), pp. 505–523
  22. ^ a b c Coogan, Brettler & Newsom 2007, p. xxiii.
  23. ^ Coogan, Brettler & Newsom 2007, p. xxvi.
  24. ^ Coogan, Brettler & Newsom 2007, p. xxvxxvi.
  25. ^ Wright 1999, p. 52.
  26. ^ Nelson 2014, p. 185.
  27. ^ Moore & Kelle 2011, p. 443-447.
  28. ^ Flusser 2009, p. 8.
  29. ^ Grabbe 2010, p. 40-42.
  30. ^ a b Moore & Kelle 2011, p. 448.
  31. ^ a b Albertz 2003, p. 130.
  32. ^ Grabbe 2010, p. 47.
  33. ^ Grabbe 2010, p. 47-48.
  34. ^ Moore & Kelle 2011, p. 449.
  35. ^ a b Albertz 1994a, p. 61.
  36. ^ Ackerman 2003, p. 395.
  37. ^ Smith 2002, p. 47.
  38. ^ Betz 2000, p. 917.
  39. ^ Wanke 1984, p. 182-183.
  40. ^ a b Grabbe 2010, p. 48.
  41. ^ Cohen 2014, p. 165-166.
  42. ^ Daniel Boyarin (2012). The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ. New Press. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  43. ^ Israel Knohl (2000). The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls. University of California Press. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  44. ^ Alan J. Avery-Peck, ed. (2005). The Review of Rabbinic Judaism: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 91–112. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  45. ^ Peter Schäfer (2012). The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other. Princeton University Press. pp. 235–238. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  46. ^ Alan F. Segal, Rebecca's Children: Judaism and Christianity in the Roman World, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986.
  47. ^ McGrath, Alister E., Christianity: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing (2006). ISBN 1-4051-0899-1. Page 174: "In effect, they Jewish Christians seemed to regard Christianity as an affirmation of every aspect of contemporary Judaism, with the addition of one extra belief — that Jesus was the Messiah. Unless males were circumcised, they could not be saved (Acts 15:1)."
  48. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Baptism: "According to rabbinical teachings, which dominated even during the existence of the Temple (Pes. viii. 8), Baptism, next to circumcision and sacrifice, was an absolutely necessary condition to be fulfilled by a proselyte to Judaism (Yeb. 46b, 47b; Ker. 9a; 'Ab. Zarah 57a; Shab. 135a; Yer. Kid. iii. 14, 64d). Circumcision, however, was much more important, and, like baptism, was called a "seal" (Schlatter, "Die Kirche Jerusalems," 1898, p. 70).
  49. ^ Fredricksen 2000, p. 133-134.
  50. ^ Fredricksen 2000, p. 136-142.
  51. ^ Edward Kessler (18 February 2010). An Introduction to Jewish-Christian Relations. Cambridge University Press. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-1-139-48730-6.


Charles A. Gieschen

Charles A. Gieschen is Christian theologian who currently serves as Professor of Exegetical Theology and Dean of Academics at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His Ph.D. is from the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan where he studied the literature of Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity under Jarl Fossum and Gabriele Boccaccini, and alongside April DeConick. Gieschen's dissertation, entitled Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence, was published by Brill Academic Publishers in 1998.

He also holds a Master of Theology degree in New Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied under James H. Charlesworth and Martinus de Boer, and a Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Theological Seminary. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the International Enoch seminar. He is the Associate Editor of the journal Concordia Theological Quarterly and on the American Editorial Board of Henoch, a journal dealing with the literature of Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity.Gieschen teaches courses primarily in New Testament and is a specialist in early Christology. He is also an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and served at Trinity Lutheran Church in Traverse City, Michigan from 1985–1996, during which time he obtained his Ph.D.

Enoch Seminar

The Enoch Seminar is an academic group of international specialists in Second Temple Judaism and the origins of Christianity who share information about their work in the field and biennially meet to discuss topics of common interest. Supported by the Department of Near Eastern Studies of the University of Michigan and the Michigan Center for Early Christian Studies, the group gathers about 200 university professors from more than fifteen countries.

The Enoch Seminar focuses on the period of Jewish history, culture and literature from the Babylonian Exile (6th century BC) to the Bar-Kochba revolt (2nd century AD) —the period in which both Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism have their roots. It is a neutral forum where scholars who are specialized in different sub-fields (OT Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, Philo, New Testament) and are committed to different methodologies, have the opportunity to meet, talk and listen to one another without being bound to adhere to any sort of preliminary agreement or reach any sort of preordained consensus.

The Enoch Seminar was founded in 2000 by Gabriele Boccaccini (University of Michigan), who has chaired it ever since. Boccaccini is professor of Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins at the University of Michigan (USA) and was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal Henoch from 2005 to 2012. Vice-Directors from 2000 to 2011 were the late Hanan Eshel (Bar-Ilan University, Israel) and Loren Stuckenbruck (University of Durham, UK).

The current Board of Directors of the Enoch Seminar includes: Gabriele Boccaccini (chair), Kelley Coblentz Bautch (St. Edwards University, USA), Esther Eshel (Bar-Ilan University, Israel), Matthias Henze (Rice University, USA), Pierluigi Piovanelli (University of Ottawa, Canada), Carlos A. Segovia (Camilo José Cela University, Spain), and Loren T. Stuckenbruck (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany).

Participation at the meetings of the Enoch Seminar is by invitation only and is restricted to University professors and specialists in Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins who have completed their PhD. Papers circulate in advance among the participants and the entire time at the meetings is devoted to discussion in plenary sessions or small groups. Since 2006, to graduate students, PhD candidates and post-doctorate fellows, the Enoch Seminar has offered a separate biennial conference (the Enoch Graduate Seminar).

Veterans and leaders of the Enoch Seminar are Daniel Assefa (Ethiopia), Albert Baumgarten (Israel), Kelley Coblentz Bautch (USA), Andreas Bedenbender (Germany), Gabriele Boccaccini (USA), Daniel Boyarin (USA), James H. Charlesworth (USA), Sabino Chialà (Italy), John J. Collins (USA), Michael Daise (USA), Marcello Del Verme (Italy), Torleif Elgvin (Norway), Yaron Eliav (USA), Esther and Hanan Eshel (Israel), Florentino García Martínez (Belgium), Ida Fröhlich (Hungary), Claudio Gianotto (Italy), Charles A. Gieschen (USA), Lester L. Grabbe (England), Ithamar Gruenwald (Israel), Matthias Henze (USA), Martha Himmelfarb (USA), Michael Knibb (England), Klaus Koch (Germany), Robert A. Kraft (USA), Helge Kvanvig (Norway), Erik Larson (USA), Luca Mazzinghi (Italy), Hindy Najman (Canada), George W.E. Nickelsburg (USA), Andrei Orlov (USA), Pierluigi Piovanelli (Canada), Annette Yoshiko Reed (USA), Jacques van Ruiten (the Netherlands), Paolo Sacchi (Italy), Lawrence Schiffman (USA), Loren Stuckenbruck (Germany), Shemaryahu Talmon (Israel), Eibert Tigchelaar (USA), David Suter (USA), James Vanderkam (USA), Pieter Venter (South Africa), Ralph Williams (USA), Benjamin Wright (USA), and Adela Yarbro Collins (USA). Secretary of the group is J. Harold Ellens (USA).

The Enoch Seminar website, edited by Pierpaolo Bertalotto (PhD University of Bari, Italy), provides not only detailed information about the meetings of the Enoch Seminar (and of the Enoch Graduate Seminar) but also a general picture of the status of studies in Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins and of the history of research in the field.

Hellenistic Judaism

Hellenistic Judaism was a form of Judaism in classical antiquity that combined Jewish religious tradition with elements of Greek culture. Until the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the early Muslim conquests of the eastern Mediterranean, the main centers of Hellenistic Judaism were Alexandria, Egypt and Antioch (now in southern Turkey), the two main Greek urban settlements of the Middle East and North Africa area, both founded at the end of the fourth century BCE in the wake of the conquests of Alexander the Great. Hellenistic Judaism also existed in Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period, where there was conflict between Hellenizers and traditionalists (sometimes called Judaizers).

The major literary product of the contact of Second Temple Judaism and Hellenistic culture is the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible from Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic to Koine Greek, specifically, Jewish Koiné Greek. Mentionable are also the philosophic and ethical treatises of Philo and the historiographical works of the other Hellenistic Jewish authors.The decline of Hellenistic Judaism started in the second century and its causes are still not fully understood. It may be that it was eventually marginalized by, partially absorbed into or became progressively the Koine-speaking core of Early Christianity centered on Antioch and its traditions, such as the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.


Hypsistarians, i.e. worshippers of the Hypsistos (Greek: Ὕψιστος, the "Most High" God), is a term that appears in documents that date from around 200 BC to around AD 400, referring to various groups mainly in Asia Minor (Cappadocia, Bithynia and Pontus) and the Black Sea coasts that are today part of Russia.

Some modern scholars identify the group, or groups, with God-fearers, non-Jewish (gentile) sympathizers with Second Temple Judaism.

James R. Davila

James R. Davila (1960) is an American biblical scholar. He is Professor of Early Jewish Studies and former Principal of St Mary's College, St Andrews. A specialist in Second Temple Judaism and Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Davila is a Participant at the Enoch seminar and a member of the Advisory Board of the Journal Henoch.

Joan E. Taylor

Joan Taylor is a historian of Jesus, the Bible, early Christianity, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Judaism, with special expertise in archaeology, women and gender, and the work of Philo of Alexandria. She is also a novelist. Taylor is the Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism at King's College, London. She identifies as a Quaker.

Jutta Jokiranta

Jutta Maria Jokiranta (née Miettinen; born 14 April 1971 in Salla) is a Finnish theologian and, since 2009, a University Lecturer in Hebrew Bible Studies at the University of Helsinki. Her area of specialization is Qumran studies and Second Temple Judaism. She is currently leader of the team in "Society and Religion in Late Second Temple Judaism" in the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in "Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions" (2014–2019, directed by Martti Nissinen). She was elected president of the International Organization for Qumran Studies (IOQS) at their July 2016 meeting in Leuven.

List of religions and spiritual traditions

While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a

[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic." A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.

Living creatures (Bible)

The living creatures, living beings, or hayyoth (Hebrew חַיּוֹת chayot, from חַיּ chai, "live") are a class of heavenly beings described in the prophet Ezekiel's vision of the heavenly chariot in the first and tenth chapters of the Book of Ezekiel. References to the creatures recur in texts of Second Temple Judaism, in rabbinical merkabah ("chariot") literature, and in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.

Loren Stuckenbruck

Loren T. Stuckenbruck (born 1960) is an historian of early Christianity and Second Temple Judaism, currently professor of New Testament at the University of Munich, in Germany. His work has exerted a significant impact on the field.


The Nephilim (Hebrew: נְפִילִים, nefilim) were the offspring of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men" before the Deluge, according to Genesis 6:1-4.

A similar or identical biblical Hebrew term, read as "Nephilim" by some scholars, or as the word "fallen" by others, appears in Ezekiel 32:27.

When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, "My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.

The word is loosely translated as giants in some Bibles and left untranslated in others. The "sons of God" have been interpreted as fallen angels in some traditional Jewish explanations.

According to Numbers 13:33, they later inhabited Canaan at the time of the Israelite conquest of Canaan.

The Lord said to Moses, "Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites" ... So they went up and spied out the land ... And they told him: "... Yet the people who live in the land are strong, and the towns are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there." ... So they brought to the Israelites an unfavorable report of the land that they had spied out, saying, "The land that we have gone through as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are of great size. There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them."

Origins of Judaism

This article discusses the historical roots of Judaism throughout the 1st millennium BCE. For the origins of the modern-day religion of Judaism, see Origins of Rabbinic Judaism.The origins of Judaism lie in the Bronze Age amidst polytheistic ancient Semitic religions, specifically Canaanite religion, co-existing with a syncretization with elements of Babylonian religion and of the worship of Yahweh reflected in the early prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible. During the Iron Age I, the Israelite religion became distinct from other Canaanite religions due to the unique monolatristic (proto-monotheistic) worship of Yahweh.

During the Babylonian captivity of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE (Iron Age II), certain circles within the exiled Judahites in Babylon refined pre-existing ideas about monotheism, election, divine law and Covenant into a strict monotheistic theology which came to dominate the former Kingdom of Judah in the following centuries.From the 5th century BCE until 70 CE, Israelite religion developed into the various theological schools of Second Temple Judaism, besides Hellenistic Judaism in the diaspora. Second Temple eschatology was significantly influenced by Zoroastrianism. The text of the Hebrew Bible was redacted into its extant form in this period and possibly also canonized as well.

Rabbinic Judaism developed during Late Antiquity, during the 3rd to 6th centuries CE; the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud were compiled in this period. The oldest manuscripts of the Masoretic tradition come from the 10th and 11th centuries CE; in the form of the Aleppo Codex of the later portions of the 10th century CE and the Leningrad Codex dated to 1008–1009 CE. Due largely to censoring and the burning of manuscripts in medieval Europe the oldest existing manuscripts of various rabbinical works are quite late. The oldest surviving complete manuscript copy of the Babylonian Talmud is dated to 1342 CE.

Paul the Apostle and Judaism

Paul the Apostle has been placed within Second Temple Judaism by recent scholarship since the 1970's. A main point of departure with older scholarship is the understanding of Second Temple Judaism, and the covenant with God and the role of works, as a means to either gain, or to keep the covenant.

A central concern for Paul was the inclusion of Gentiles into God's New Covenant, and the role of faith and observances in the inclusion of Gentiles. Paul didn't deem circomcision necessary, as witnessed throughout his writings, but thought that God included Gentiles into His New Covenant through faith in Christ. This brought him into conflict with Jewish Christians, who requested strict observances by Gentile Christians. Eventually the less strict view prevailed, and led to the separation of this fraction of Christianity from Judaism.

Post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus

The post-resurrection appearances of Jesus are the earthly appearances of Jesus to his followers after his death and burial. Believers point to them as proof of his resurrection and identity as Messiah, seated in heaven on the right hand of God (the doctrine of the Exaltation of Christ). There is a strong early tradition that the family and immediate followers of Jesus, as well as Paul the Apostle, had visionary and mystical experiences of Jesus after his death. Several decades later, when the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John were being written, the emphasis had shifted to the physical nature of the resurrection, while still overlapping with the earlier concept of a divine exaltation of Jesus' soul. This development can be linked to the changing make-up of the Christian community: Paul and the earliest Christ-followers were Jewish, and Second Temple Judaism emphasised the life of the soul; the gospel-writers, in an overwhelmingly Greco-Roman church, stressed instead the pagan belief in the hero who is immortalised and deified in his physical body.

Second Temple

The Second Temple (Hebrew: בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי, Beit HaMikdash HaSheni) was the Jewish holy temple which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, between 516 BCE and 70 CE. According to Jewish tradition, it replaced Solomon's Temple (the First Temple), which was destroyed by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE, when Jerusalem was conquered and part of the population of the Kingdom of Judah was taken into exile to Babylon.

The Second Temple was originally a rather modest structure constructed by a number of Jewish exile groups returning to the Levant from Babylon under the Achaemenid-appointed governor Zerubbabel. However, during the reign of Herod the Great, the Second Temple was completely refurbished, and the original structure was totally overhauled into the large and magnificent edifices and facades that are more recognizable. Much like the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and Jerusalem in 70 CE as retaliation for an ongoing Jewish revolt. The second temple lasted for a total of 585 years. (516 BC to 70 AD) Jewish eschatology includes a belief that the Second Temple will be replaced by a future Third Temple.

Second Temple period

The Second Temple period in Jewish history lasted between 516 BCE and 70 CE, when the Second Temple of Jerusalem existed. The sects of Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots were formed during this period. The Second Temple period ended with the First Jewish–Roman War and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

After the death of the last Nevi'im (Jewish prophets) of antiquity and still under Persian rule, the leadership of the Jewish people was in the hands of five successive generations of zugot ("pairs of") leaders. They flourished first under the Persians (c. 539 – c. 332 BCE), then under the Greeks (c. 332–167 BCE), then under an independent Hasmonean Kingdom (140–37 BCE), and then under the Romans (63 BCE – 132 CE).

During this period, Second Temple Judaism can be seen as shaped by three major crises and their results, as various groups of Jews reacted to them differently. First came the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah in 587/6 BCE, when the Judeans lost their independence, monarchy, holy city and First Temple and were partly exiled to Babylon. They consequently faced a theological crisis involving the nature, power, and goodness of God and were also threatened culturally, racially, and ceremonially as they were thrown into proximity with other peoples and religious groups. The absence of recognized prophets later in the period left them without their version of divine guidance at a time when they felt most in need of support and direction. The second crisis was the growing influence of Hellenism in Judaism, which culminated in the Maccabean Revolt of 167 BCE. The third crisis was the Roman occupation of the region, beginning with Pompey and his sack of Jerusalem in 63 BCE. This included the appointment of Herod the Great as King of the Jews by the Roman Senate, and the establishment of the Herodian Kingdom of Judea comprising parts of what today are Israel, Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Sons of God

Sons of the God (Heb: bənê hāʼĕlōhîm, בני האלהים , literally: "Sons of the gods") is a phrase used in the Hebrew Bible and apocrypha. The phrase is also used in Kabbalah where Bene elohim are part of different Jewish angelic hierarchies.


Yahweh was the national god of the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel (Samaria) and Judah. His exact origins are disputed, although they reach back to the early Iron Age and even the Late Bronze: his name may have begun as an epithet of El, head of the Bronze Age Canaanite pantheon, but the earliest plausible mentions of Yahweh are in Egyptian texts that refer to a similar-sounding place name associated with the Shasu nomads of the southern Transjordan.In the oldest biblical literature, Yahweh is a typical ancient Near Eastern "divine warrior", who leads the heavenly army against Israel's enemies; he later became the main god of the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) and of Judah, and over time the royal court and temple promoted Yahweh as the god of the entire cosmos, possessing all the positive qualities previously attributed to the other gods and goddesses. By the end of the Babylonian exile (6th century BCE), the very existence of foreign gods was denied, and Yahweh was proclaimed as the creator of the cosmos and the true god of all the world.


The Zealots were a political movement in 1st-century Second Temple Judaism, which sought to incite the people of Judea Province to rebel against the Roman Empire and expel it from the Holy Land by force of arms, most notably during the First Jewish–Roman War (66–70). Zealotry was the term used by Josephus for a "fourth sect" or "fourth Jewish philosophy" during this period.

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