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A look into the jewish culture and religion through the books of the bible

Today we start a journey that millions of Hebrews and Christians have taken over the last 3000 years. We are going to study the Torah, which is the first and oldest section of the original Hebrew Bible.

Old Testament Studies

The Torah is the Hebrew name for the first 5 books of our Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Why would we do that? Sinai, around 1400 BC. Though we typically think of Moses receiving only the 2 stone tablets of the 10 commandments from God while leading the Israelites out of their bondage in Egypt, in fact the 10 commandments were just a tiny piece of all that Moses received in those several trips up and down that mountain.

Moses actually received all that is now the first 5 books of what we call the OT. And, they began applying the term Torah to all manner of religious writings to the point that Judaism, in general, has become a religion based far more on the doctrines of men, than the Word of God. Over a hundred years ago, a company in Atlanta, Georgia wanted to join in the new and growing market for flavored, but non-alcoholic, beverages.

It was called Coca-Cola, and it was a hit. Although originally marketed as a stimulant, its real niche was simply as a great tasting beverage. Coca-Cola so dominated the soft drink market that a curious thing happened: And, even more appropriate for our purposes is that Coke became so dominant that Coke no longer simply meant a specific brand of Cola drink, it came to be a name applied generically to ALL soft drinks. A common conversation you might have engaged in yourself sounds something like this: Now, any American would perfectly understand that dialogue and not find it at all odd.

They know full well that a Coca-Cola and a Root Beer is not the same thing. Torah is the same way. Even though the Hebrews now had three separately defined groups of scriptures: Sinaiin common everyday conversation, at some point they began referring to ANY of the holy scriptures as Torah. But, wait, it gets more complicated. It was also known as Oral Law, Oral Tradition, or Oral Torah Oral because, rather than being written down, for a long time it was handed down verbally.

So, as time rolled along, the Hebrew doctrine, these Oral Traditions, Oral Torah, started carrying more and more weight among the religious leaders. Tanakh is an invented word: The Tanakh and the OT are exactly the same thing, except in some cases the books are arranged in slightly different order. Over the centuries, the Traditions that had been handed down by word of mouth were eventually formalized and written down.

And, although these thoughts and rulings of the ancient Rabbis are still held in great esteem, this body of thought is constantly undergoing additions. The best way to think of all these Traditions is as commentary by religious leaders; commentary that consists of rulings and teachings.

The fully compiled works of Tradition, or Oral Torah, became what is now called the Talmud. And, to further complicate matters, there are two major competing versions of Talmud: The Babylonian Talmud, and the Jerusalem Talmud.

Each are enormous works that a look into the jewish culture and religion through the books of the bible many volumes. So, let us be clear: The Torah is but the first 5 books of the Tanakh OT. One of curious conditions of modern Christianity is that the OT has been all but forgotten.

  • Indeed, the Church has accepted as inspired by God all the writings contained in the Hebrew Bible as well as those in the Greek Bible;
  • Their list comprises 73 books, which were accepted as sacred and canonical because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, 46 for the Old Testament, 27 for the New;
  • There are many matters in the Bible that are simply left open ended;
  • It can also happen that a biblical text is not definitive and must give way to a new dispensation; in that case, the New Testament uses the Greek aorist tense, placing it in the past.

The common statement from the church today is, we are a NT Church. In other words, the implication is that either the OT is not for us, its for another people…. Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, the title of OT is purely man-made, and is a relatively modern title given to that portion of the Bible.

And, the NT refers to the covenants between God and mankind in general through Christ. So, if one is inclined to think that way, it would be better to think of the Biblical division as earlier and latter testaments, rather than old and new. And, by the way, testaments means covenants. See, the newer ones have not replaced the original covenants, but some have been transformed.

Look in MATT 5: Go check any good concordance and it will tell you it means to fill up, to accomplish. But, in our modern English vernacular fulfill gives the sense of something that is ended. Pleroo would be a good word to tell the attendant at the gas station if there WERE such things anymore ….

You mean to give you all he can. That gives you an idea of what the word pleroo means.

  • These reminiscences are numerous, but their identification often gives rise to discussion;
  • Torah Class will not answer every question you have about God.

You cannot separate them as has been attempted for centuries. The OT is the foundation of the Bible. The Old Testament sets the stage for the NT. The Old Testament lays down all the premises by which we understand the New Testament. They are completely intertwined.

  1. Jesus spends much of his time discussing Torah and the Pharisees, as every Christian knows.
  2. They are not 'law' in a modern Western sense. God created everything from nothing.
  3. More than the other Gospels, he uses midrashic stories in his narratives the infancy gospel, the episode of Judas' death, the intervention of Pilate's wife. Second, we are going to read every single word of the Torah.
  4. They have a positive outlook towards them and regard them as the foundation on which they themselves rest. In this way, the canon of the New Testament was gradually formed within the apostolic Tradition.

We may well get something out of it. But, we are just as likely to take the part we see in the wrong context, and come to some conclusions that are several degrees off course. But, let me tell you something that you might have never considered: Let that sink in for a moment.

The admonition we get in NAS 2 Timothy 3: While I have no problem at all in accepting the NT as holy, inspired of God, and entirely belonging in our Bibles… that statement from Paul to Timothy was in no way referring to something that did not even exist yet.

It was not meant to be prophetic…Paul was not speaking to a future time.

The Hebrew Bible: The Sacred Books of the Jewish People

He was speaking about the Torah, the writings, and the prophets. We would gain far more understanding of the Bible if we could dispense with the term Old Testament and call it what Jesus and all the apostles called it…… the Scriptures. So, by all rights, our modern Bibles consist of two portions: I hope this makes the impact on you that I intended. While it has been a look into the jewish culture and religion through the books of the bible mode of the church for centuries upon centuries to imply, if not outright state, that the OT is of no value to a modern Believer……that the OT principles no longer apply since the advent of Christ….

And, that is because the Gospel message is an OT message. He simply fulfilled that which was previously written about…. Listen to what Jesus says in John 5: Moses, the Law, and the Torah were all interchangeable terms to the Jewish people.

Even someone who has never studied the Bible is aware that Genesis is the story of beginnings…. Now, let me set up a few ground rules. That is, the basis on which our Torah study will proceed.

First, I am not here to persuade anyone about the truth of the Holy Scripture. While seekers are most welcome here, this is not a seekers class whereby we attempt to show that the Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, I have no intention of justifying the Holy Scriptures by offering scientific proofs about God creating the world; science is utterly inferior to God.

Or whether the Big Bang Theory is correct. In other words, this is not a class on Creation Theory. I may touch on this VERY lightly, incorporating some interesting facts, but only by way of explanation, not trying to prove anything.

God created everything from nothing. He did it exactly the way He wanted to and is fully able to do so. Second, we are going to read every single word of the Torah. I will read the verses out loud, and ask you to follow along in your Bibles; these lessons are being recorded and since the Holy Scripture is what this is all about, I need to be sure it can be heard on the recording. This is an extremely in-depth study that, I promise you, will challenge your thinking……and build your faith.

Third, I will read, mostly, out of the Complete Jewish Bible. And, that is intentional. This class is not about teaching denominational traditions and doctrines. Let me be perfectly clear that you do NOT have to have this same Bible in order to do just fine in this class……any competent, standard version that you have is good.

  • Among the Gospels, Matthew shows greatest familiarity with the Jewish techniques in utilising Scripture;
  • With regard to form and method, the New Testament, especially the Gospels, presents striking resemblances to Qumran in its use of Scripture;
  • This is what Matthew often expresses in the infancy narrative, later on in Jesus' public life16 and for the whole passion Mt 26;
  • We would gain far more understanding of the Bible if we could dispense with the term Old Testament and call it what Jesus and all the apostles called it…… the Scriptures;
  • They are not 'law' in a modern Western sense;
  • Closing the gap, the New Testament was written in the second half of the first century CE.

This may also sound slightly different than your version because the Complete Jewish Bible is taken from the original Hebrew texts. Many translations today are taken from the Septuagint, which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew, done over 2 centuries before Christ was born.

But, let me stress, it is absolutely NOT necessary. Fourth, at times I will show you certain words in Hebrew that we need to examine, because they add a great deal to our understanding. But, those are just the tip of the ice burg. The other thing to realize is that just as many important Hebrew words in the Scriptures do not have a good English equivalent, they also do not have a good GREEK equivalent.

So, when the Bible was translated from Hebrew to Greek, then from Greek to Latin, then from Latin to English, much depth and understanding was lost. Fifth, my goal is that we have continuity. When studied properly, the OT flows like a beautiful river.

Too often the OT is presented as a series of interesting stories, and it can be hard to put it together. Actually, the OT is very much though not entirely in chronological order and, if I may make a generalization, a good way to look at the OT is as God presenting Himself to us, but through the history of Israel.