Presentation on theme: " Monotheism – a belief in one god. Polytheism – a belief in more than one god. Judaism is the oldest monotheistic religion in the world, dating from."— Presentation transcript:
Monotheism – a belief in one god. Polytheism – a belief in more than one god. Judaism is the oldest monotheistic religion in the world, dating from around 1900 BCE. The Torah (Jewish Law) is the main document of Judaism, although there are many Jewish sacred writings. The Torah did not appear until around 1250 BCE, when it was ‘given’ to the Jews by Moses. When historians encounter religious doctrine or dogma in sources, they must be careful to remain objective. As historians we do not debate whether or not a person’s god is real. Instead, we look at the social, political and economic consequences of religious beliefs.
Abraham is considered the father of Judaism. He promoted a belief in one god – Yahweh – at a time when all Middle Eastern religions were monotheistic. Modern scholars talk about the ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition – a tradition of monotheistic cultural influence that began with the story of Abraham nearly 4000 years ago. The descendents of Abraham became known as the Israelites. The Israelites travelled the desert looking for the Promised Land, but were enslaved in Egypt. The nomadic Israelites were known as Hebrews – from the word meaning to ‘pass over’ or to ‘travel’, because they were travellers. A Hebrew prophet, Moses, appeared to lead the Israelites out of slavery.
The Israelites reached the Promised Land and established an Israelite Kingdom in Canaan (Israel). The Israelites established an independent state in Canaan, but were eventually taken over by the Babylonians, Assyrians, and eventually the Romans. The Romans revamped Jerusalem, Roman-style. A strained relationship existed between the Roman governors and the Jewish patriarchs of the province.
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The Ten Commandments, as written in the Torah, are: Worship no other God but me. Do not make images to worship. Do not misuse the name of God. Observe the Sabbath Day (Saturday). Keep it Holy. Honour and respect your father and mother. Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not accuse anyone falsely. Do not tell lies about other people. Do not envy other's possessions.
A Galilean Jew named Jesus probably existed between 7- 2 BCE until around 30 CE, and lived in Galilee and Judea – provinces of the Roman Empire. After the death of Jesus, a variety of Jesus Groups (followers of Jesus, but styling themselves as Christians rather than Jews) begin to spread out across the Mediterranean world. The trade and military routes of the Roman Empire, along with the relatively safe roads and ports of the provinces, resulted in the rapid spread of Christianity throughout the Empire. By the fourth century CE, Rome was a Christian empire.
Judaism had far fewer followers. The Jews were persecuted by the Romans, and Judea’s Jewish population scattered around the Mediterranean, Middle East and Europe. The ‘scattering’ of the Jews is known as the Diaspora (DIE-AS-PRAH).
The Romans separated the province of Judea from Syria, and ordered the inhabitants of Jerusalem to pay a tax to the Temple of Jupiter in Rome. This made the Jews in Judea particularly unhappy. During the reign of the emperor Trajan (96-117 CE), large Jewish revolts took place throughout the provinces of the Empire. The revolts were quashed, but when Hadrian became emperor in 117 CE, he regarded the Jews in Israel as a problem that needed to be quickly and decisively crushed in order to avoid further problems.
It is probable that Hadrian banned circumcision in Jerusalem prior to the revolt – effectively, banning the practice of Jewish religion. The revolt began as a guerilla struggle against Rome in 132 CE. The Jewish rebels, led by Simeon bar Kosiba, took Jerusalem. Simeon bar Kosiba was given the name ‘Bar Kokhba’ meaning ‘Son of the Star’. Hadrian managed to crush the revolt completely by 136 CE, and for some time banned Jews from living in Jerusalem. The name ‘Judea’ was changed to ‘Palestina’, after the Philistines. This was an insult to Jews in Judea.
Many Jews were forced to leave the Land of Israel as a result of the attempts to regain independence in the first centuries. Thus, Jewish communities became part of European, North African, and Southwest Asian societies during the Middle Ages. As a religious minority Jews were vulnerable to anti-Semitism.
After the fourth century, when Christianity had gained a hold throughout the Empire, and theologians attempted to categorise the various beliefs and doctrines, the idea of ‘replacement theology’ arose. ‘Replacement theology’ is the belief that Judaism was an unfinished religion, and that Christianity is the ‘end result’ – therefore why would Jews not convert to the final, perfect religious product? This idea, combined with a growing lack of religious tolerance amongst Christian leaders, led to a belief that Jews were inferior to Christians.
Under medieval laws, Jews were treated as resident foreigners, not citizens. As the Christian Church became more and more powerful, European Jews became more and more marginalised. As currency became increasingly important, the role of Jews as moneylenders became more visible – and led to them being a target for Christian persecution.
In 1204 the papacy ordered that Jews wear distinctive clothing to show their status. In the 1340s, Jews were blamed for the spread of the Black Death – some were put to death, many Jewish communities were banished from England, France and Spain. Jews remained on the periphery of society for much of the Middle Ages. Their insular culture made them a regular target for racism and persecution.