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Posted by Harvey on October 11, 2002 14:55:15 UTC


I would be very surprised if many modern Jews announced a strong religious affliation with the first century Qumran community (who might have split from the Essenes), Ebionites, Nazarenes, Osseans, Essenes, Zealots, or even the Sadducees. In fact, according to my understanding, early Christianity is considered by most scholars to be part of this early trend in Israelite religious. The group that Judaism is affiliated is the Pharisaic school.

For example, here is a link to a Jewish site that published an article on what the Dead Sea scrolls indicate about early religions in Palestine:

As you can see from the article, what really looks like one religion actually came from a diverse gathering of religious ideas and traditions of the Palestine area.

***Jews claim that Judiaism began with Abraham.***

This is probably your more fundamentalist crowd. Biblical scholars have trouble even verifying the existence of David (even though it looks like he did exist as kind of Israel), but unfortunately there isn't too much evidence for the Exodus. It appears from the scholarly books and publications that I have read that Israel is a conglomeration of peoples in the highlands who eventually settled in the farmlands of Judea combining with the populations in those regions (i.e., archaeological evidence suggests more peaceful transitions than what is indicated in the book of Joshua). There were probably influxes of immigration from the Sinai and Egypt which is where some scholars suspect the tradition of coming out of Egypt arose. The combined melting pot of diverse peoples took on the myths and traditions of an Israel nation. Instead of each Israel tribe being descendants of each son of Jacob, they were different tribes that had been in the area for hundreds of years and gradually formed nation-state alliances. The Israel to the north, and Judah to the south, were separate nations and they could not unify their cultures and traditions. Israel to the north is attributed with a strong Moses tradition, and Judah to the south is attritubed with a strong Aaron tradition. After/during the Babylonian captivity these traditions were melted into one tradition which eventually became the Torah. In any case, this is a popular scholarly redition. There are many different changes in emphasis, etc, but the archaeology of Palestine is helping to fill in some of the facts behind Israel's evolution.

***Do you claim that Moses was not Jewish, or David, or Jesus?***

I don't know if Moses actually existed, at least as one person. He probably existed, but we are so far removed from the historical person that I fear that we cannot know if he lived anywhere near the land of Palestine. He might have been a Sinai holy man, or Egyptian rebel leader, etc. David appears to be an early Israel king, but I don't know if you can call him Jewish (depending how you define the term). I believe he was from the tribe of Benjamin (from biblical references) belonging to the southern kingdom of Judah (which is where the term 'Jew' apparently originated). Hence, David could be considered Jewish. Jesus was a Northern Israelite from Nazareth, but the northern kingdom had been destroyed and taken captive by the Assyrians. Nevertheless, he comes from what was then part of the Jewish state at the time, so he was Jewish.

***It seems to me that you definition of Judiaism verges on being anti-semitic.***

That's a very nice term to throw around lightly. This is a matter of archaeological and historical facts. Perhaps scholarly interpretation is in error, but there is no intended disrespect to any religious beliefs. Keep in mind, special creationists are being contradicted by scientific theories, and one could say that scientific theories are anti-Christian (which is presumably just as bad as being anti-Semetic, right?). However, this is not the case at all. Scientific theories and hypotheses (ideally) should be to get at the truth and not be concerned about offending a religious 'truth'. If religious 'truths' stand in the way of science, then I see no hope for science. Fortunately, science has been able to continue despite the occasional conflicts with religion. My hope is that religion is big enough, and tall enough, to accept scientific research and adapt accordingly. That's my perspective of religion, and I know it's not easy (I've had to accept the impact of science to my religious beliefs as much as the next guy).

Let's try to avoid applying nasty labels to each other.

Warm regards, Harv

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