Sunday 4 May 2014

Some historical notes on the New Testament from Rota and Main

Some interesting historical notes on the New Testament gathered by one of our professors here from the STS Cultural Initiative, Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne Anniversary, 3 May 2014, mainly from the talks of Olivier Rota and Emmanuelle Main.

Paul never taught that the Law had been abolished.  Rather, he affirmed that it was not an alternative or a replacement for faith in Christ.  He understood how demanding the Law was and had little faith in the Galatians’ ability to keep it properly.  One needs to be brought up in a halakhic mentality and begin the learning process right from childhood.  Better to be righteous gentiles than Jews of poor observance.

Christianity and Rabbinical Judaism were both children of Biblical Judaism.  (Perhaps one other sibling died young at Qumran?)  The events of 70 CE occasioned a kind of metamorphosis: what would Judaism without a Temple, cult and priesthood look like?

Early Christianity and early Rabbinical Judaism were like two people in the same room, with everything that implies.  Each would like to have complete autonomy and independence, but many things are conditioned by the presence of the other.  Competition is practically inevitable, and one’s identity is greatly determined “in relation to” the other.  Both experienced the same milieu in different ways.

Jesus’ prayer during the crucifixion, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing,” may have been pedagogical for the early Church (and for perpetuity!)  Christians were not to take Jesus’ death as a reason to hold anything against Jews or against soldiers or servants of the Empire.

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