By Ed Whitt

Benchley, October 11, 2017

  • What did the Pharisees believe? (continued)
    • High degree of dedication to law and prophets
    • Held oral traditions as equally important
      • Interpretations by noted rabbis
      • Given and relayed by word of mouth
      • Committed to writing around 70 AD and after
      • Pharisees developed many purity rituals that went far beyond the law. They taught that purity rituals the law required of priests must be followed by all in case a priest ate with someone who had not purified themselves and became unclean.
        • Matthew 15:1-11; 23:25-26
        • I Peter 2:4-5 – The priesthood is no longer physical. Holiness is not outward but inward.
    • Positions developed in schools of law
      • Hillel – humane and lenient
      • Shammai – strict and severe
    • Good motivation, misguided methods
      • Talmud: seven kinds of Pharisees
        • Shouldering Pharisee – wears good deeds on shoulder (Matthew 6:5)
        • Delaying Pharisee – makes everyone wait while he does a good deed
        • Bruised Pharisee – walks into a wall to keep from looking at a woman
        • Pestle Pharisee – walks head down in false humility
        • Ever-reckoning Pharisee – keeps mental balance sheet of good and bad deeds he has done
        • Fearful Pharisee – in constant fear of God
        • Loving Pharisee – loves God and seeks to keep His commandments
  • Some specific beliefs
    • Purification applies to all – Mark 7:1
    • Interpretation
    • Resurrection of the dead
    • Divine intervention
    • Hellenism
    • Free will of man
    • Inspiration of oral Torah, Talmud, Mishnah
    • Spiritual beings – Colossians 2:18-19
  • Essenes
    • Pharisees on steroids
    • Believed in spiritual afterlife, but no resurrection
    • Considered temple eternally impure – did not eat meat
    • Most lived communally – I Timothy 4:1-5 could be referring to Essenes
    • Best-known community was by Red Sea
      • Dead Sea Scrolls believed to have been written by Essenes
    • Refused to recognize proselytes and descendants
    • Marriage
      • Some groups practiced celibacy
      • Some required 3-year engagement before marriage
  • Communal life
    • No ownership or property or servants
    • Three-year probation period for new members
    • Shared many beliefs with the Pharisees
      • More meticulous about purification rituals
      • Held to the Torah, Talmud, and Mishnah
    • Similar groups in behavior, but not in belief
      • Nazareans – law and prophets were fraudulent
      • Ossaeans – much like Nazareans
  • Sadducees
    • Probably named for Zadok
    • Upper-tier priests – Acts 4:1-2; 5:17-18; John 1:19-24
    • Ruling class
  • First appearance as political force
    • Supporters for Onias III
    • Much of the priesthood joined in
  • Pharisees often prevailed in public matters

By Ed Whitt

Benchley, October 4, 2017

[Sorry, no audio available for this lesson due to technical difficulties. -MRW]

  • First persecution of the church
    • Happened soon after Pentecost
    • Result of Stephen’s stoning
    • Saul eager participant
    • Church was scattered
    • Went everywhere preaching Christ
    • Acts 8:1-8
  • Conversion of Saul
    • Completes the circuit on the Diaspora
    • Paul appointed apostle to the Gentiles
    • Jews are everywhere
    • Paul not first to teach the Gentiles
    • Followed by Christians in some places
    • Paul comes with apostolic authority
    • Acts 11:19-26
    • Acts 13:13-52 – Paul preaches to the Gentiles
  • The religious sects of the Jews
    • A Jew is not a Jew is not a Jew is not …
      • Just being a Jew was not the complete picture
      • Different divisions of beliefs and practices
      • The two major divisions were at odds
      • Unity was only attained via outside pressure
  • The Pharisees
    • “Separated ones”
      • Possibly derogatory term
      • Called themselves “great”
      • Embraced the name “Pharisees” after a time
  • Began in the early Hasmonean Dynasty
    • John Hyrcanus was a Pharisee
    • Lead to the civil war under Alexander Jannaeus
    • Pharisees made gains under Alexandra Salome
  • What did the Pharisees believe?
    • High degree of dedication to law and prophets
    • Held oral traditions as equally important
      • Matthew 15:1-20 – Jesus rebukes their tradition
      • Matthew 23:25-26
      • I Peter 2:4-5 – Our purity is internal, not external.
      • Interpretations by noted rabbis
      • Given and relayed by word of mouth
      • Committed to writing around 70 AD and after

By Ed Whitt

Benchley, September 13, 2017

  • Last lesson
    • Women in Jesus’ ministry
    • Social strata of Jerusalem and Judea
  • This lesson
    • Continue with social strata in Judea
      • Who were these people?
      • What made them tick?
  • What was the 1st century social scene?
    • Farmers, farmers, farmers, and fishermen
      • Farmers included shepherds, and lots of them
      • All had long days, hard work
      • Most formed the base of the social strata
      • Matthew 4:18-22; Luke 5:1-11
      • John 21:1-8 – Jesus appears to the disciples in a similar manner to the way in which He first called them.
      • John 5:2 – There was a gate near the temple used for bringing sheep in for sacrifices. Sheep were important!
    • Merchants
      • Distributed goods to/from other parts of the world
      • Ran markets where farmers, shepherds, fishermen sold
      • Generally better off than most agrarians/fishermen
      • One rung up from the agrarians/fishermen
      • Matthew 25:14-30 – Most merchants had servants. They needed their servants to help them make money or they would go out of business.
  • Somewhere in the middle
    • Tax collectors (publicans)
      • Bought position
      • Assessment arbitrary
      • Fill quota
      • Shaky heritage
      • High net worth
      • Very low esteem with all
      • Matthew 5:43-48
      • Matthew 18:15-17
      • Matthew 9:9-13
      • Luke 18:9-14

By Ed Whitt

Benchley, September 6, 2017

  • Last lesson
    • What changed going into the 1st century
    • How that contrasted with Jesus’ ministry
  • Question from last week
    • First century treatment of women
      • Sounds like what Muslims teach today
      • Where did they get those teachings?
    • Mohammed grew up in the trade caravans
      • Encountered many Jews and Christians
      • Islam is a hodgepodge of adaptations from both
      • Borrowed from Hellenism on treatment of women
        • Mistook Jewish tradition with scriptural mandate
        • Saw conflicts as indication that scripture was corrupt
  • This lesson
    • Women in Jesus’ ministry
    • Social strata of Jerusalem and Judea
    • Intro into the Diaspora
  • More about women
    • Luke 7:36-50
    • Luke 10:38-42 – This directly contradicts teaching from rabbis that said women should not be taught.
      • Mary had the ability to make the choice to be a disciple and she made the right choice.
      • Acts 22:3
    • Luke 8:1-3
    • Luke 8:40-56
  • What’s the point?
    • Status and dignity of women eroded
      • By culture
      • By religious tradition
    • Jesus did not regard either
      • John’s message was of a return to God’s Word
      • Jesus adds to that road-paving message
      • The choice is ours, but the Truth is unchanging
      • Matthew 11:28-30
  • What was the first century social scene?
    • Farmers, farmers, farmers, and fishermen
      • Farmers included shepherds, and lots of them
        • Sheep were a staple, used for both food and clothing
      • All had long days, hard work
      • Most formed the base of the social strata

By Ed Whitt

Benchley, August 30, 2017

  • Last lesson
    • How women were regarded in Old Testament times
    • What changed going into the 1st century
  • This lesson
    • What changed going into the 1st century
    • How that contrasted with Jesus’ ministry
  • Rabbinical justification
    • What???
      • Rabbis were not mentioned in the Old Testament. It was not an office created by God.
      • Matthew 15:1-9
    • Sometimes scripture, sometimes “reasoning”
    • Examples
      • Psalms 45:13 – Interpretation: A woman’s place is in the home.
      • Deuteronomy 4:9 – Interpretation: Don’t teach your daughters the law.
      • Rabbi Jose ben Johanan – Don’t talk to women!
      • Rabbi Rabbah – Women are to stay at home.
      • Rabbi Erubin – Women are to be covered and shut up at home.
      • Women’s court in the temple
        • Women limited to only the women’s court in the temple.
    • Contrasting tradition with gospels and epistles
      • Women not relegated to the home
        • Workers in the home, yes – Titus 2:3-5
        • But no mandate to exclusivity – Acts 16:11-15, 40
      • Women present in much of Jesus’ ministry
        • Not part of the 12 or of the 70
        • Almost constantly present during His ministry
        • Never chided or degraded in New Testament writings
    • The woman at the well
      • John 4:1-45
      • Brings up rift between Jew and Samaritan
      • Jesus proves His perfect knowledge
      • She decides to use that knowledge
      • Leads her to the knowledge that Jesus is the Messiah
      • She takes the message to the village
    • More about women
      • Matthew 12:46-50
        • Women included
        • Could be disciples
      • Luke 7:36-50
    • Coming weeks
      • Social strata of Jerusalem
      • Religious sects
      • Temple
      • Priesthood

By Ed Whitt

Benchley, August 23, 2017

  • Last lesson
    • Status of women in Old Testament times
      • Scriptural limitations
      • Roles filled by women
  • This lesson
    • How women were regarded in Old Testament times
    • What changed going into the 1st century
  • How women were considered in Old Testament times
    • Included in the covenant – Deuteronomy 29:9-12
    • Sources of wisdom – II Samuel 14:1-21
    • Wisdom personified as feminine – Proverbs 7:4; 8:1-6
    • Having great prudence – I Samuel 25:23-42
    • Wife is a very good find – Proverbs 19:L14; 18:22
  • How women considered – continued:
    • Life of a women on par with life of a man – Exodus 21:22-29
    • Books of Ruth, Esther, Song of Solomon
    • Book of Judith (uninspired)
      • Apocryphal book that tells the story of a rebel named Judith
  • Status of women in Old Testament
    • Marriages were arranged
      • Between father and prospective husband
      • Love was not a factor
      • Maintenance of tribal inheritance was
    • Emancipated widows free to seek their own
      • Ruth a good example
      • Wise woman of Tekoa presumably made choice
    • Beyond that, status was what she made of it
  • Cultural changes approaching 1st century
    • Encroachment of Hellenism throughout society
      • Embraced by some
      • Abhorred by others
      • Unavoidable by any
      • Numbness brought about by time
    • Gradual acceptance of cultural “norms”
      • Included many aspects of society
      • One change was women’s status
  • Effects of Hellenization on women
    • Neither seen nor heard
      • Harem system had roots in Hellenism
      • Woman’s place was in the home
      • Women not to be educated or to teach
      • Women to be “hidden” in public
    • Diminished legal standing
      • Could not testify in court
      • Disallowed from owning property

By Ed Whitt

Benchley, August 16, 2017

[Many thanks to Larry Bunch for catching me up on the notes I missed for this lesson. -MRW]

  • Last lesson
    • Role of women in 1st century Jewish society
      • Start with status in Old Testament times
      • Finish next week
  • Question from last week:
    • Did Josephus mention demon possession?
    • Answer:
      • Yes
      • Antiquities chapters 2, 5, 8, 45-48
      • Wars of the Jews chapter 7.6.3
      • Bizarre references to a root “described” by Solomon
      • “Eyewitness” account
      • No mention with regard to Jesus or disciples
  • Status of women in Old Testament times
    • Women’s main purpose
      • Promulgate God’s blessing on Abraham
        • Genesis 22:15-19
        • Psalms 105:24
      • Continuing the family line – Deuteronomy 25:5-10
      • Shame of being barren – I Samuel 1:1-11
    • Limitations of women
      • Scriptural (Old Testament) limitations few
      • Innovative limitations were multitudinous
  • Range of women’s activities in Old Testament times
    • Shared in the teaching of their children – Proverbs 1:8
    • Performed chores outside home
      • Genesis 29:9-10
      • Exodus 2:16
    • Prophetess: Exodus 15:20-21; Numbers 12; Judges 4; 2 Kings 22:14-20
    • Judge over Israel: Judges 4
    • Shadow combatant: Judges 4, 9
  • Women’s Old Testament activities continued …
    • Commerce, real estate, etc. – Proverbs 31
    • Manual labor – Exodus 35:25; Ruth 2:7; I Samuel 8:13
    • Musicians in the tabernacle/temple – Psalms 68:25
    • Lead women in song of praise – Exodus 15:20-21
  • How women were considered in Old Testament times
    • Included in the covenant – Deuteronomy 29:9-12
    • Sources of wisdom – 2 Kings 22:14-20
    • Wisdom personified as feminine – Proverbs 7:4, 8
    • Having great prudence – I Samuel 25:23-42
    • Wife is a very good find – Proverbs 19:14; 18:22
    • Life of a women on par with life of a man – Exodus 21:22-29
  • Coming weeks
    • Comparing women in Old Testament times to 1st century
    • Social strata of Jerusalem
    • Religious sects
    • Temple
    • Priesthood

By Ed Whitt

Benchley, August 9, 2017

  • Last lesson
    • More aspects of Herod’s rule
    • The temple renovations by Herod
    • How Jerusalem of Herod’s day appeared
  • This lesson
    • Finish Lesson 8!
    • Role of women in 1st century Jewish society
  • Absence from history of killing infants
    • Josephus was not a Christian
    • He was a Pharisee
    • No interest in promoting Jesus as the Messiah
    • What about the Testimonium Flavianum?
    • Was it consistent with Herod’s behavior?
  • How did Jerusalem appear in 1st century?
    • Why might it matter?
    • What is to gain?
  • What do we have to work with?
    • Archaeological finds
    • Verbal descriptions from the time
    • Resultant cartographers’ and artists’ depictions
    • Matthew 23:29-39
    • Matthew 24:1-3
    • Luke 19:36-44
    • II Kings 20:20 – Hezekiah’s tunnel

By Ed Whitt

Benchley, August 2, 2017

  • Last lesson:
    • Adventures of Aristobulus II
    • Herodian Dynasty solidifies
    • The last Hasmonean
    • The reign of Herod the Great, Part 1
  • This lesson:
    • More aspects of Herod’s rule
    • The temple renovations by Herod
    • How Jerusalem of Herod’s day appeared
  • Herod the opportunist
    • Struggle between Marc Antony and Octavius
      • Sides with the loser
      • Might have lost his head
    • Built a city to honor Augustus Caesar
      • Caesarea Maritima – port city where there was no port
      • Extensive construction of deep water port
      • City with temple to all the Roman gods
      • Became regional Roman capital
  • Political moves
    • Made attempts to stay in the Jews’ favor
      • Married Mariamne (II)
        • Daughter of the son of a Zadokite priest
        • Appointed new father in law as high priest
      • Temporary reinstatement of Zadokite priesthood
      • Renovated the temple
    • Heavy-handedness betrayed efforts
      • Secret police
      • Political executions
      • Personal conduct
      • Placation of the Hellenists and Romans
  • Slaughter of innocents
    • Term used to denote killing of infants
      • Matthew 2:1-12
      • Herod had already shows to be paranoid of competition
      • Event not of political importance to Rome
    • Possibly unnoticed by much of Judea
    • Josephus either ignorant or disregarded
      • Pharisee
      • Wrote little outside palace and empire affairs
  • Herod dies shortly after birth of Jesus
    • Matthew 2:13-15 (Hosea 11:1)
    • In Jericho
    • Extremely painful disease
      • Attempted suicide
      • Died a few days later
    • Buried in Herodium
  • Some effects of Herod’s rule
    • Imposed Roman rule
    • Afforded exceptional infrastructure
    • Embittered Jews against him
    • Fomented revolt
  • Coming weeks
    • Role of women in Jewish society
    • Social strata of Jerusalem
    • Religious sects
    • Purification
    • Laws of the Sabbath
  • Homework!
    • Genesis 22:15-19
    • Judges 13
    • I Samuel 1:1-20
    • Psalms 105:24
    • Jeremiah 23:3
    • Ezekiel 36:8-14