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Early Judaism: The Exile to the Time of Jesus [Paperback]

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Item description for Early Judaism: The Exile to the Time of Jesus by Frederick James Murphy...

This textbook provides an introduction to the Second Temple period (520 B.C.E.-70 C.E.), the formative era of early Judaism and the milieu of Jesus and of the earliest Christians. By paying close attention to original sources—especially the Bible, the Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Josephus—Frederick J. Murphy introduces students to the world of ancient Jews and Christians. Early Judaism: The Exile to the Time of Jesus, designed to serve students and teachers in the classroom, will also be of great interest to anyone looking for an entree into this pivotal period. It contains suggestions for primary readings, bibliographies, maps, illustrations, glossaries, and indexes.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Hendrickson Publishers
Pages   474
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.02" Width: 6.1" Height: 1.16"
Weight:   1.68 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2006
Publisher   Hendrickson Publishers
ISBN  1598561316  
ISBN13  9781598561319  

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More About Frederick James Murphy

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Frederick J. Murphy is professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.

Frederick James Murphy has published or released items in the following series...
  1. New Testament in Context

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
2Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Judaism
3Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > History of Religion

Christian Product Categories
Books > General Interest > Other Religion > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Early Judaism?

Excellent resource  Feb 14, 2009
This was required reading for one of my grad school classes, and I've used it several times since as a resource. It is well written and informative--a great source for historical information. One of my classmates complained that it isn't written by a Christian author, but I don't think the author's theology affects the quality of the information.
Dogmatic Pronouncements with No Proof  Jan 25, 2009
One of the welcome consequences resulting from the breaking of the scholastic monopoly on the Dead Sea Scrolls several years ago has been the resurgence of studies related to Judaism and Judaic influences on the New Testament world and text. The literature in this field has literally exploded in the last five years with at least a dozen notable works and many more of lesser notoriety.

The author of this present work is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Holy Cross and this work is a completely revised version of his 1991 The Religious World of Jesus: An Introduction to Second Temple Palestinian Judaism (Abington, 1991). Written to supply a text for his courses, the author has the purpose of to "balance the effort to appreciate Judaism for its own sake, on the one hand, and the desire to shed light on Jesus and the early Christians on the other" (p. xiii).

This work is an amazing resource of factual information, well written and structurally well conceived. There are helpful indexes and two helpful glossaries (of terms and of persons). There are several useful charts and the author often places boxes with explanatory information within the text. The chapters progress clearly and logically, covering the history of Israel in survey form from Abraham to the Babylonian captivity and then with a little more detail from the Restoration to the New Testament era. There are separate chapters dedicated to the subject of Apocalypticism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the various Jewish sects, the Roman rule over Israel, the Jewish revolt and the interesting chapter, "Jewish Foundations of New Testament View of Christ."

However, the potential of this book is never realized because of what this reviewer call the "conservative minimalist" view of Scripture of the author and his resultant misunderstanding of the text. By "conservative minimalist" this reviewer means one who take the text of Scripture as simply one of many texts to be examined to construct a theology or reconstruct a history of the Biblical world. Scripture is important, but no more or less important than other texts. The author makes this clear in his introduction:

The canon of Judaism or Christianity is that body of writings accepted as authoritative and normative. Belief and practice are measured and judged by these writings. By choosing to include some writings in the canon and exclude others from it, each religion has defined its contours. The normativity of the included texts is expressed through the notion that they are inspired¬-that is, that God is responsible for them in some way (p. 1).

He further states that, "When we limit our study to the canon of the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament, certain viewpoints and prejudices are reinforced that are supported by the principles of selection that led to the formation of the canon in the first place" (p. 6-7). For the author the concept of canonization are purely a human effort to collect religious writings that support a groups preconceived ideas of how they wanted their theology and worldview to be formed. Inspiration becomes nothing more than a "label" placed on texts by groups to validate their views or manipulate followers into acquiescence. The biblical constructs of inspiration, inerrancy, authority, etc., are explicitly and implicitly denied throughout this book.

In the view of the author the New Testament distorts the Judaism of the era, calling the "treatment of Judaism is, on the whole, biased" (ibid). A key purpose of the author is to present a "more balanced portrait of Jewish society" (ibid) than one receives from simply "analyzing the apostle Paul or the Gospel of Mark."

The author's view of the Old Testament text does not attain to a high level either. He affirms his belief in the compilation JEP theory for the Pentateuch (22) and the Deuteronomistic History theory to the remainder of the historic books (23). The Old Testament, in his view, was the product of redactors and editors and the final version of the majority of the Old Testament books was not finalized until late in the Judean monarchy or after the Babylonian captivity through the Hasmonean era. As a result different sections of the Old Testament are contradictory to each other or express entirely different worldviews (26).

Theologically, the author misunderstands the entire concept of the sacrificial system stating that, "the basic idea of much of the Israelite sacrifice seems to have been that of a gift in thanksgiving for a favor or in hopes of getting God's favor" (48). Prophecy is not predictive in any way, it is simply men writing words of encouragement to an oppressed people utilizing "literary fiction" (163) to display an illusion of prediction, strengthening the encouraging words. Most importantly Jesus is not the divine Second Person of the Trinity (407), He is simply a man on a mission to purify Judaism and speak out against the oppressors of His era, whose followers later ascribe to Him deity (349).

Stylistically the reader is struck by the fact that with all of the author's rather dogmatic pronouncements about history, culture and the interpretation of Biblical and extra-biblical texts, there is not a single footnote or endnote to be found. There are only a few in-text citations in the entire book. At the end of each chapter there is a bibliography (which honestly would be much more useful if it had been collected as a whole), but no one is quoted and almost no references are given for additional study or to check up on the author's work. This being the case it should come as no surprise that the bibliography is bereft of works from conservative or evangelical scholarship.

In the short space of this review it is impossible to list all of the interpretative and theological errors that are compiled herein. While the author often calls himself a Christian (xii) it is impossible to understand what he actually means by that, since he denies or modifies every cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith. This is a book that is an excellent example of a genre of material coming forth from the failed and heretical "Historical Jesus" movement.


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