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Basic Worldview:
104 Why Christianity?


Judaism and Christianity Introduction and History

Judaism and Christianity Introduction and History
History of Judaism Continued
Scholarly Objections and Historicity of Daniel (P. 1)
Historicity of Daniel (P. 2) & Judeo-Christian Syncretism
A Few Words on Gnosticism
Christianity - A Sect of Judaism (P. 1)
Christianity - A Sect of Judaism (P. 2) & Prophecy in Judaism
Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 1)
Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 2)
List of Messianic Qualifications & the Resurrection of Jesus (P. 1)
The Resurrection of Jesus (Part 2)
Study Conclusions and Overall Comparisons

Additional Material
The Sufferings of Eyewitnesses
Comparison of Mystical Religions to Judeo-Christianity
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 1)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 2)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 3)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 4)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 5)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 6)

Introduction
| Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3




Introduction

At last, we have arrived at the last stage of our study. Having previously examined and dismissed the various forms of Propositional Mysticism and now having dismissed the claims of Islam, we will now turn our attention to Judaism and Christianity and demonstrate why the Judeo-Christian tradition should be accepted by theists as the correct understanding of God.

We will begin our study of Judaism and Christianity by establishing the historicity of each religion. After that we will proceed with an examination of the evidence offered by Judaism and Christianity to see if it substantiates their claims about God, the universe, and man. The first step in this verification of evidence will be very similar to the approach we took in studying Islam.

In our study of Islam one of the fundamental questions that had to be covered is whether or not Islam did come from and complete the Judeo-Christian tradition as it claimed to. We determined that Islam was not, in fact, compatible with this tradition and this became one of our reasons for rejecting its claims.

Likewise, in examining Judaism and Christianity we must first ask whether or not Christianity is right to associate itself with Judaism in the same manner that Islam associated itself with the Judeo-Christian tradition. If Christianity cannot be permitted by Judaism then we would have to reject its claims as we did those of Islam. However, what we will find instead is that Judaism not only permits Christianity, it requires it. As we investigate this question we will simultaneously be answering whether or not modern Judaism is correct in its rejection of the New Testament Christian teachings.

Throughout this part of the verification process the Jewish sacred scripture, known as the Torah (or Tanakh or Tanach), will be our authority. The Jewish scriptures are contained within the Christian Bible. Christians refer to the Jewish Torah as the Old Testament. They are held by Christians to be the divinely inspired Word of God.

(NOTE: The term Tanakh or Tanach is a Hebrew acronym, which is used to refer to the Jewish scripture. The acronym is composed from the three main sections of the Jewish Bible: the Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim. Torah means teaching. Neviim refers to the prophets. And Ketuvim means writings. However, the term "Torah" is also used to designate the entire Hebrew Bible, alternately known as the Tanakh or Tanach.)

"Torah - in Judaism, in the broadest sense the substance of divine revelation to Israel, the Jewish people: God's revealed teaching or guidance for mankind. The meaning of "Torah" is often restricted to signify the first five books of the Old Testament, also called the Law or the Pentateuch...The term Torah is also used to designate the entire Hebrew Bible. " - Britannica.com

"Old Testament - the first part of the Christian Bible containing the books of the Jewish canon of Scripture." - Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

"Old Testament - Christian name for the Hebrew Bible, which serves as the first division of the Christian Bible (see New Testament). The designations "Old" and "New" seem to have been adopted after c.A.D. 200 to distinguish the books of the Mosaic covenant and those of the "new" covenant in Christ. New Testament writers, however, simply call the Old Testament the "Scriptures." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Old Testament - Among contemporary Christians, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes as deuterocanonical several books that are consigned to the Old Testament Apocrypha by most Protestant bodies, whose canon conforms to that of the contemporary Hebrew Bible. There the books follow the order of the Palestinian Hebrew canon, which appears to have been adopted by c.A.D. 100, although most of the books had clearly received canonical status well before this time." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Old Testament - At the Reformation, Protestant bodies withdrew recognition of the canonicity of those portions of the Old Testament that appeared in the Vulgate but not in the Masoretic canon, although the English church considered them (i.e., the deuterocanonical books) suitable for instruction and edification, but not for establishing or confirming doctrine. To set these books clearly apart, the translators who produced the Authorized Version (see Bible) assembled them in the Apocrypha as an appendix to the Old Testament. Thus the Protestant canon became exactly like the Masoretic, except that it retained the order of the books as they appeared in the Vulgate." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

Since therefore both Judaism and Christianity agree on the authority of the Old Testament (or Torah) as God's word we can determine, which one has a correct understanding of God's Word by examining the Old Testament scriptures. In this way we will determine whether New Testament Christian teaching is the correct Jewish view or simply a Jewish heresy.

NOTE: Rather than referring to Christianity as the successor to Judaism as some do, we feel it is more accurately to refer to Christianity as a particular Jewish view among other Jewish views. This is because Christianity was at its onset simply a Jewish sect, started in Jerusalem by a Jewish man who taught other Jewish men drawing on ancient Jewish teaching, and spreading at first to a Jewish community who for several decades constituted the majority of its membership. Additionally, as we will later demonstrate there are and have been several major Jewish groups and leaders who have believed in various known false Messiahs, yet this belief has not led the Jewish community to reject their Jewishness or to consider them non-Jewish. With this in mind we will proceed with our study of determining whether Christianity is the most legitimate and accurate Jewish understanding or is simply a heretical Jewish sect.

NOTE: We have qualified Christian teaching with the words New Testament in order to point out that what we are interested in the authentic teaching of Jesus, His apostles, and the early Christian community, which are preserved in the New Testament. We are not interested in any form of Christianity that has developed after the New Testament Church and teachings and deviated from the original and authentic form of Christian teaching and the Christian faith. At least one reason for this is that the academic standard for historicity (which we have consistently employed in this article series) necessarily establishes the New Testament record of Jesus Christ as the authentic record of his life and teaching. (For more on this topic please see our articles on "The Foundation of Our Theology" and the Introduction to the Church Ethic section of our website.)

After we have demonstrated that Christianity is not distinct or prohibited by Judaism, but rather that the two are one religion, with Christianity being a particular view within Judaism, we will then go on to complete our study by answering two questions simultaneously. The first is whether or not Jesus is truly the Jewish Messiah. The second is whether or not the evidence offered by Judeo-Christianity substantiates its truth claims and thus, whether or not Judeo-Christianity should therefore be accepted as accurate. Having now outlined our approach we will proceed with our analysis of the historicity of Judaism and Christianity.



The Historicity of Judaism and Christianity

As we begin our investigation of Jewish and Christian historicity it is first useful to revisit the criteria for historicity that we stated early on in this study. At that time we found that historicity was defined as:

"Historicity - n (1880): historical actuality." - Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition

In order to determine what is required for figures and events to be considered historical actuality we looked at several non-controversial figures and events. To see what kind of historical documentation was sufficient to conclude that a person or event had lived or occurred in history we looked at examples like Alexander the Great and the Gallic Wars.

In order to determine what it took to conclude that a writing or a teaching actually originated with the author or teacher it is accredited to, we examined the historical documentation for Plato's Republic, Homer's Illiad, Aristotle's Poetics, Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, as well as the writings of the ancient historians from whose records we owe a great deal of our knowledge of ancient history. These historians included Xenophon, Herodotus, Thucydides, Lucretius, Polybius, Tacitus, Seutonius, Pliny the Elder, Plutarch, Flavius Josephus, Sophocles, and Euripedes.

From our examination of the historical documentation behind these historic, actual persons, events, and writings we discovered the requirements that are used by historians to determine if a person lived in history, if an event occurred in history, or if a work of literature or could be attributed to a supposed author. These requirements were:

1. That at least two copies of supposed original manuscripts must survive into modern times.
2. Surviving copies of the original manuscripts must be written within 1400 years or so after the figures and events they describe.
3. The supposed original documents can be written by people who were first, second, or third-hand witnesses to the events, or who were more than two generations or even five hundred years removed from the actual persons or events that they are describing.

If the above three criteria were met, then a person is said to be a historical figure, an event is said to have occurred in history, and a work of literature, teaching, or philosophy is attributed to the author it is credited to.

Because a specific recap of these historical examples will be helpful as we look at the historical documentation for Jewish and Christian figures, events, and writings, we will list one now. Each entry in the list begins with:
a) the figure, event, or work of literature in question, followed by...
b) the historical dating for when a person lived, an event occurred, or a work of literature was written followed by...
c) the number of available historical documents, which inform us of that event, followed by...
d) the length of time between the figure, event, or writing and the origin of the available historical documentation followed by...
e) the historical conclusion based upon the available documentation

1. a) Alexander the Great
b) lived: 356-323 B.C.
c) number of documents: five (2 are considered to be comprehensive)
d) These five documents, which tell us of the life and accomplishments of Alexander the Great, were written at least 300-400 years after Alexander lived.
e) Alexander the Great did actually live and accomplish what he is credited with between 356-323 B.C.

2. a) Plato's Republic
b) written: 427-347 B.C.
c) number of documents: seven copies of this work
d) These seven copies of Republic were all written 1300 years after Plato wrote the original.
e) Republic was actually written by Plato between 427-347 B.C. The ideas contained in Republic originated with Plato.

3. a) The Gallic Wars written by Julius Caesar about his campaign against the tribes of Gaul.
b) occurred in: 100-44 B.C.
c) number of documents: ten copies of this work
d) These ten copies were all written around 1000 years after the Gallic Wars occurred.
e) The Gallic Wars actually occurred as recorded by Julius Caesar in 100-44 B.C. Julius Caesar is the actual author of The Gallic Wars. And though he was writing about himself we accept that Caesar's description of the events is historically accurate.

4. a) Aristotle's Poetics
b) written: 343 B.C.
c) number of documents: five copies of this work
d) These five copies were all written around 1400 years after Aristotle wrote the original.
e) Aristotle wrote Poetics and it was written in 343 B.C.

5. a) The Illiad written by Homer
b) written: 900 B.C.
c) number of documents: 643 copies of this work
d) The most ancient fragments date from 500 years after the original is said to have been written by Homer. However, most of the copies date from nearly 1400 years afterward.
e) Homer is the author of the Illiad and it was written in 900 B.C.

6. a) Anabasis (or March Up Country) written by Xenophon
b) written: between 431 B.C. and 354 B.C.
c)
d) The earliest manuscript of Anabasis that we have today is dated to 1350 A.D.
e) Xenophon did write Anabasis during the 4th century B.C. and his account of the events it records is accurate.

7. a) Herodotus' History
b) written: between 485-425 B.C. about events that took place 50-125 years earlier in 546-478 B.C.
c) number of documents: eight copies of his work
d) the earliest of the eight copies that we have was written 1400 years or so after the life of the author and the events described.
e) Herodotus did write History in the 5th century B.C. The events he describes did occur.

8. a) Thucydides' History
b) written: between 430-425 B.C. The events that he describes took place 0-30 years before this.
c) number of documents: eight copies of this work
d) the earliest of these eight copies is from 1300 years after the author and the events he described.
e) Thucydides did write History in the 5th century B.C. and the events he describes did occur.

9. a) Lucretius' On the Nature of the Universe
b) written: between 99-55 B.C.
c) number of documents: two copies of his work
d) These copies were written between 1100-1400 years after his life and writings.
e) Lucretius is credited as the author of On the Nature of the Universe.

10. a) Polybius' History
b) written: between 240 B.C. and 122 B.C. His work, entitled History records events that occurred between 220-168 B.C.
c)
d) The earliest copy of Polybius' History that we have today is from 1100 years or so after Polybius and the events he wrote about.
e) Polybius did write History. It was written in the 2nd century B.C. The events it describes did occur.

11. a) Tacitus' History (or Annals)
b) written: between 56-120 A.D. The period of world history that Tacitus was writing about is from 14-68 A.D. meaning events that took place 30-100 years before he recorded them.
c) number of documents: 20 copies of this work
d) The earliest manuscript we have of Tacitus' History comes from 750 years after the events he describes occurred and after Tacitus lived and wrote the original text.
e) Tacitus did write History. It was written in the 1st century A.D. The events it describes did take occur.

12. a) Seutonius' Lives of the Twelve Caesars
b) written: between 70-130 A.D. The people and events he describes took place between 50 B.C. and 95 A.D., 25-170 years before he wrote of them.
c) number of documents: eight copies of this work
d) The earliest of the eight copies that we have of his work are dated 750-1500 years after the events occurred.
e) Seutonius did write Lives of the Twelve Caesars He wrote a history of the twelve caesars from Julius to Domitian.

13. a) Pliny the Elder's Letters
b) written: 110-112 A.D.
c) number of documents: seven copies of this work
d) The earliest manuscript that we have from Pliny is from nearly 750 years after Pliny's life and the events he recorded.
e) Pliny the Elder is the author of Letters. Letters was written between 110-112 A.D.

14. a) Plutarch's Parallel Lives of the Famous Greeks and Romans
b) written: between 46-130 A.D. His work discusses persons and events from 500 B.C. to 70 A.D.
c)
d) The earliest copy of this work that survives into modern times is from 850-1500 years after the lives and deeds of the persons Plutarch wrote of in his original and around 800 years after Plutarch himself lived.
e) Plutarch did write Parallel Lives of the Famous Greeks and Romans.

15. a) Flavius Josephus' Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities
b) written: between 37 A.D. and 101 A.D. He wrote about events, which occurred between 200 B.C and 65 A.D., 10-300 years before he wrote of them.
c)
d) The earliest copies of these two documents date from around 900-1300 years after the events described and the life of the author.
e) Flavius Josephus is the author of Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities.

16. a) Sophocles' various plays and works of literature
b) plays written: between 496 and 406 B.C.
c) number of documents: We have 193 copies of his works
d) These 193 copies date from 1400 years after his life and writings.
e) Sophocles is considered the author of these works of literature.

17. a) Euripedes' various plays
b) plays written: between 480-406 B.C.
c) number of documents: We have nine copies of his works
d) All nine of these copies are dated at least 1300 years after his life and writing.
e) Euripedes is credited with having written the works attributed to him.

The question of whether or not the figures, events, and writings of the Jewish and Christian Bible can be said to have lived, occurred, been written by the authors they are attributed to and written when they are said to have written is simply a question of whether or not the historical documentation for these books fits within the standards that are employed for the figures, events, and writings listed above.

If the figures, events, writings, and teachings of the Judeo-Christian scriptures meet the three qualifications then we have to conclude that they are historical. One of the most important aspects of this is whether or not the books of the Judeo-Christian Bible were written by their supposed author during the timeframe they are said to have lived and wrote. So, without further delay here are the three qualifications for historicity followed by the historical documentation for the Jewish and Christian scriptures.

1. That at least two copies of supposed original manuscripts must survive into modern times.
2. Surviving copies of the original manuscripts must be written within 1400 years or so after the figures and events they describe.
3. The supposed original documents can be written by people who were first, second, or third-hand witnesses to the events, or who were more than two generations or even five hundred years removed from the actual persons or events that they are describing.



Historicity of Judaism

We will begin our analysis of Judaism's historicity with a quote from Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary and then follow with an overview of Jewish history, including the main figures and events along with their dates. After this we will be able to compare the available historical documentation to see if it meets the above requirements for concluding that these figures and events are historical.

The history of the Jewish people is described to us in the Jewish scripture, called the Torah.

"Torah - 1: the five books of Moses constituting the Pentateuch 2: the body of wisdom and law contained in Jewish Scripture and other sacred literature and oral tradition 3: a leather or parchment scroll of the Pentateuch used in a synagogue for liturgical purposes." - Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

"Torah - Hebrew name for the five books of Moses—the Law of Moses or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. The Torah is believed by Orthodox Jews to have been handed down to Moses on Mt. Sinai and transmitted by him to the Jews. It laid down the fundamental laws of moral and physical conduct. The Torah begins with a description of the origin of the universe and ends on the word Israel, after the story of the death of Moses, just before the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites. In a wider sense the Torah includes all teachings of Judaism, the entire Hebrew Bible and the Talmud." - Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

The Torah describes figures and events that were orally kept until the time of Moses.

"Judaism - In any case, the history of Judaism here is viewed as falling into the following major periods of development: biblical Judaism (c. 20th-4th century BCE), Hellenistic Judaism (4th century BCE-2nd century CE), rabbinic Judaism (2nd-18th century CE), and modern Judaism (c. 1750 to the present)." - Britannica.com

"Judaism - The family of the Hebrew patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) is depicted in the Bible as having had its chief seat in the northern Mesopotamian town of Harran —then (mid-2nd millennium BCE) belonging to the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni. From there Abraham, the founder of the Hebrew people, is said to have migrated to Canaan (comprising roughly the region of modern Israel and Lebanon)—throughout the biblical period and later ages a vortex of west Asian, Egyptian, and east Mediterranean ethnoculture. Thence the Hebrew ancestors of the people of Israel (named after the patriarch Jacob, also called Israel) migrated to Egypt, where they lived in servitude, and a few generations later returned to occupy part of Canaan. The Hebrews were seminomadic herdsmen and occasionally farmers, ranging close to towns and living in houses as well as tents." - Britannica.com

"Judaism - The initial level of Israelite culture resembled that of its surroundings; it was neither wholly original nor primitive. The tribal structure resembled that of West Semitic steppe dwellers known from the 18th-century-BCE tablets excavated at the north central Mesopotamian city of Mari; their family customs and law have parallels in Old Babylonian and Hurro-Semite law of the early and middle 2nd millennium." - Britannica.com

"Judaism - Abraham (perhaps 19th or 18th-17th centuries BCE) did not discover this God, but entered into a new covenant relation with him, in which he was promised the land of Canaan and a numerous progeny. God fulfilled that promise through the actions of the 13th-century-BCE Hebrew leader Moses: he liberated the people of Israel from Egypt, imposed Covenant obligations on them at Mt. Sinai, and brought them to the promised land." - Britannica.com

Although the history of the Jewish people begins with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (later named Israel), who are the patriarchs of their nation, the chief development of the people of Israel begins with their Exodus from Egypt under Moses in the 14th or 13th century B.C.

"Judaism - Date: 14th century 1: a religion developed among the ancient Hebrews and characterized by belief in one transcendent God who has revealed himself to Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrew prophets and by a religious life in accordance with Scriptures and rabbinic traditions 2: conformity to Jewish rites, ceremonies, and practices 3: the cultural, social, and religious beliefs and practices of the Jews 4: the whole body of Jews: the Jewish people." - Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

"Moses - Hebrew Moshe Hebrew prophet, teacher, and leader who, in the 13th century BCE (before the Common Era, or BC), delivered his people from Egyptian slavery." - Britannica.com

"Judaism - Tradition gives the following account of the birth of the nation. At the Exodus from Egypt (13th century BCE), YHWH showed his faithfulness and power by liberating Israel from bondage and punishing their oppressors with plagues and drowning at the sea. At Sinai, he made Israel his people and gave them the terms of his Covenant, regulating their conduct toward him and each other so as to make them a holy nation. After sustaining them miraculously during their 40-year wilderness trek, he enabled them to take the land that he had promised to their fathers, the patriarchs. Central to these events is God's apostle, Moses, who was commissioned to lead Israel out of Egypt, mediate God's Covenant to them, and bring them to Canaan." - Britannica.com

"Judaism - The distinctive features of Israelite religion appear with Moses. The proper name of Israel's God, YHWH, was revealed and interpreted to Moses as meaning ehye asher ehye—an enigmatic phrase (literally meaning "I am/shall be what I am/shall be") of infinite suggestiveness. The Covenant, defining Israel's obligations, is ascribed to Moses' mediation." - Britannica.com

After they leave Egypt the people of Israel settle in modern day Palestine along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea north of Egypt (in roughly the same area as Israel is located today) at around the 12th century B.C. There they fought and conquered many of the previous inhabitants including the Philistines. In time the twelve tribes of Israel petition to have a king over them. Their first king, Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin rules in 1020 B.C. However, Saul is soon replaced by David, from the tribe of Judah, who establishes a Jewish dynasty beginning in the year 1000 B.C. After his death, David appoints his son Solomon to sit on his throne. During their reigns the ancient kingdom of Israel peaks in prominence and power.

"Judaism - The loose, decentralized tribal league could not cope with the constant pressure of external enemies—camel-riding desert marauders who pillaged harvests annually or iron-weaponed Philistines (an Aegean people settling coastal Palestine c. 12th century BCE) who controlled key points in the hill country occupied by Israelites. In the face of such threats to the Israelites, local, sporadic, God-inspired saviours had to be replaced by a continuous central leadership that could mobilize the forces of the entire league and create a standing army." - Britannica.com

"Biblical Literature - It was during this period that Israelite assimilation of Canaanite cultural and religious ideas and practices began to be an acute problem and that other invaders and settlers became a threat to the security of Israel. One of the chief threats was from the Philistines, an Aegean people who settled (c. 12th century BCE) on the coast of what later came to be called, after them, Palestine." - Britannica.com

"Judaism - The Benjaminite Saul was made king (c. 1020 BCE) by divine election and by popular acclamation after his victory over the Ammonites (a Transjordanian Semitic people), but his career was clouded by conflict with Samuel, the major representative of the old order. Saul's kingship was bestowed by Samuel and had to be accommodated to the ongoing authority of that man of God. The two accounts of Saul's rejection by God (through Samuel) involve his usurpation of the prophet's authority. King David, whose forcefulness and religiopolitical genius established the monarchy (c. 1000 BCE) on an independent spiritual footing, resolved the conflict." - Britannica.com

"Biblical Literature - The monarchy was initiated during the career of Samuel, a prophet of great influence and authority who was also recognized as a judge and is depicted in varying biblical accounts as either favouring or not favouring the reign of a human king over Israel. In any case, he anointed Saul, a courageous military leader of the tribe of Benjamin, as king (c. 1020 BCE). Saul won substantial victories over the Ammonites, Philistines, and Amalekites, leading the tribes in a "holy war," and for a time the Philistine advance was stopped; but Saul and his son Jonathan were killed in a disastrous battle with the Philistines in central Palestine. His successor, David, a former aide (and also his son-in-law) who had fallen out of favour with him, at first took over (c. 1010) the rule of Judah in the south and then of all Israel (c. 1000)." - Britannica.com

"Samuel - flourished 11th century BC, Israel Hebrew Shmu'el religious hero in the history of Israel, represented in the Old Testament in every role of leadership open to a Jewish man of his day—seer, priest, judge, prophet, and military leader. His greatest distinction was his role in the establishment of the monarchy in Israel." - Britannica.com

"Saul - flourished 11th century BC, Israel Hebrew Sha'ul first king of Israel (c. 1021-1000 BC). According to the biblical account found mainly in I Samuel, Saul was chosen king both by the judge Samuel and by public acclamation. Saul was similar to the charismatic judges who preceded him in the role of governing; his chief contribution, however, was to defend Israel against its many enemies, especially the Philistines." - Britannica.com

"David - born, Bethlehem, Judah died c. 962 BC, Jerusalem second of the Israelite kings (after Saul), reigning c. 1000 to c. 962 BC, who established a united kingdom over all Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital. In Jewish tradition he became the ideal king, the founder of an enduring dynasty, around whose figure and reign clustered messianic expectations of the people of Israel. Since he was a symbol of fulfillment in the future, the New Testament writers emphasized that Jesus was of the lineage of David. He was also held in high esteem in the Islamic tradition." - Britannica.com

"Solomon - flourished 10th century BC Hebrew Shlomo son and successor of David and traditionally regarded as the greatest king of Israel. He maintained his dominions with military strength and established Israelite colonies outside his kingdom's borders. The crowning achievement of his vast building program was the famous temple at his capital, Jerusalem." - Britannica.com

"Biblical Literature - Under David's successor, his son Solomon (reigned c. 961-922), Israel became a thriving commercial power; numerous impressive buildings were erected, including the magnificent Temple (a concrete symbol of the religiopolitical unity of Israel); a large harem of foreign princesses was acquired, sealing relations with other states; the country was divided into 12 districts for administrative, supply, and taxation purposes." - Britannica.com

After Solomon's death in the 10th century B.C. the kingdom of Israel splits into two, the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. The prominence and power declines as the people turn from the protocols of the covenant enacted by Moses in the 13th century and they begin to incorporate the customs of the peoples around them.

This historic decline and incorporation of pagan customs gives rise to the Jewish prophets, who advocated a return to the provisions of the Mosaic covenant and warned of strong consequences if they remained unfaithful to their covenant with God. The earliest of the prophets came in the 9th and 8th centuries B.C. with Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah. Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah are considered minor prophets and are the authors of the smaller prophetic books of the Jewish Bible. The Book of Isaiah is a much larger body of work.

"Judaism - Every king of Judah is judged according to whether or not he did away with all extra-Jerusalemite places of worship. (The date of this criterion may be inferred from the indifference toward it of all persons [e.g., the 9th-century-BCE prophets Elijah and Elisha and the Jerusalemite priest Jehoiada] prior to the late-8th-century-BCE Judahite king Hezekiah.) Another serious limitation is the restriction of Kings' purview: excepting the Elijah-Elisha stories, it notices only the royally sponsored cult; notices of the popular religion are very few. From the mid-8th century the writings of the classical prophets, starting with Amos, set in." - Britannica.com

"Elijah - flourished 9th century BC also spelled Elias, or Elia, Hebrew Eliyyahu Hebrew prophet who ranks with Moses in saving the religion of Yahweh from being corrupted by the nature worship of Baal. Elijah's name means "Yahweh is my God" and is spelled Elias in some versions of the Bible. The story of his prophetic career in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reigns of Kings Ahab and Ahaziah is told in 1 Kings 17-19 and 2 Kings 1-2 in the Old Testament. Elijah claimed that there was no reality except the God of Israel, stressing monotheism to the people with possibly unprecedented emphasis. He is commemorated by Christians on July 20 and is recognized as a prophet by Islam." - Britannica.com

"Judaism - Dismay at the dissolution of Israelite society animated a new breed of prophets who now appeared—the literary or classical prophets, first of whom was Amos, an 8th-century-BCEJudahite who went north to Bethel." - Britannica.com

"Amos - flourished 8th century BC, the first Hebrew prophet to have a biblical book named for him. He accurately foretold the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel (although he did not specify Assyria as the cause) and, as a prophet of doom, anticipated later Old Testament prophets." - Britannica.com

"Amos - A native of Tekoa (now a ruin), 12 miles (19 km) south of Jerusalem, Amos flourished during the reigns of King Uzziah (c. 783-742 BC) of Judah (the southern kingdom) and King Jeroboam II (c. 786-746 BC) of Israel." - Britannica.com

"Judaism - Judah was subjected to such intense pressure to join an Israelite-Aramaean coalition against Assyria that its 8th-century-BCE king Ahaz chose to submit himself to Assyria in return for relief. Ahaz introduced a new Aramaean-style altar in the Jerusalem Temple and adopted other foreign customs that are counted against him in the book of Kings. It was at this time that Isaiah prophesied in Jerusalem. At first (under Uzziah, Ahaz' prosperous grandfather), his message focussed on the corruption of Judah's society and religion, stressing the new prophetic themes of indifference to God (which went hand in hand with a thriving cult) and the fateful importance of social morality." - Britannica.com

"Isaiah - flourished 8th century BC, Jerusalem Hebrew Yesha'yahu ("God Is Salvation") prophet after whom the biblical Book of Isaiah is named (only some of the first 39 chapters are attributed to him), a significant contributor to Jewish and Christian traditions. His call to prophecy in about 742 BC coincided with the beginnings of the westward expansion of the Assyrian empire, which threatened Israel and which Isaiah proclaimed to be a warning from God to a godless people." - Britannica.com

"Judaism - The prophecy of Micah (8th century BCE), also a Judahite, was contemporary with that of Isaiah and touched on similar themes (e.g., the vision of universal peace is found in both their books)." - Britannica.com

"Old Testament Literature - The Book of Micah, the sixth book of the Twelve (Minor) Prophets, was written by the prophet Micah in the 8th century BCE." - Britannica.com

During the lives of these early prophets there were a few kings of Israel and Judah who were faithful to the Mosaic covenant, but many were not. Despite the efforts of these few the consequences of unfaithfulness eventually came upon the people of Israel beginning in the 8th century B.C. with the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel. (Nahum the prophet was active at about this time - roughly between 726-698 B.C.)

"Judaism - The westward push of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the mid-8th century BCEsoon brought Aram and Israel to their knees. In 733-732 Assyria took Gilead and Galilee from Israel and captured Aramaean Damascus; in 721 Samaria, the Israelite capital, fell. The northern kingdom sought to survive through alliances with Assyria and Egypt; its kings came and went in rapid succession." - Britannica.com

"Galilee - In 734 BC much of Galilee's Jewish population was exiled after the victory of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III over the Israelite kingdom." - Britannica.com

"Assyria - In the 8th cent. B.C. conquest was pursued by Tiglathpileser III. He subdued Babylonia, defeated the king of Urartu, attacked the Medes, and established control over Syria. As an ally of Ahaz of Judah (who became his vassal), he defeated his Aramaic-speaking enemies centering at Damascus. His successor, Shalmaneser V, besieged Samaria, the capital of Israel, in 722-721 B.C., but it was Sargon, his son, who completed the task of capturing Israel." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

After the Assyrian conquest came the minor prophet Zephaniah who lived and wrote between 642-611 B.C. Additionally, two other major prophets who both authored books of the Bible, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, lived in the 7th century B.C. along with Habakkuk, a minor prophet of the same time period.

"Judaism - According to Jeremiah (about 100 years later), Micah's prophetic threat to Jerusalem had caused King Hezekiah (reigned c. 715-c. 686 BCE) to placate God possibly an allusion to the cult reform instituted by the King in order to cleanse Judah from various pagan practices)." - Britannica.com

"Jeremiah - born probably after 650 BC, Anathoth, Judah died c. 570 BC, Egypt Hebrew Yirmeyahu , Latin Vulgate Jeremias Hebrew prophet, reformer, and author of an Old Testament book that bears his name. He was closely involved in the political and religious events of a crucial era in the history of the ancient Near East; his spiritual leadership helped his fellow countrymen survive disasters that included the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC and the exile of many Judaeans to Babylonia." - Britannica.com

"Judaism - Their mood finds expression in the oracles of the prophet Habakkuk in the last years of the 7th century BCE." - Britannica.com

"Judaism - Among the exiles in Babylonia, the prophet Ezekiel, Jeremiah's contemporary, was haunted by the burden of Israel's sin." - Britannica.com

"Ezekiel - flourished 6th century BC also spelled Ezechiel, Hebrew Yehezqel prophet-priest of ancient Israel and the subject and in part the author of an Old Testament book that bears his name." - Britannica.com

"Ezekiel - Ezekiel's ministry was conducted in Jerusalem and Babylon in the first three decades of the 6th century BC. For Ezekiel and his people, these years were bitter ones because the remnant of the Israelite domain, the little state of Judah, was eliminated by the rising Babylonian empire under Nebuchadrezzar (reigned 605-562 BC). Jerusalem surrendered in 597 BC. Israelite resistance was nevertheless renewed, and in 587-586 the city was destroyed after a lengthy siege. In both debacles, and indeed again in 582, large numbers from the best elements of the surviving population were forcibly deported to Babylonia." - Britannica.com

"Ezekiel - Before the first surrender of Jerusalem, Ezekiel was a functioning priest probably attached to the Jerusalem Temple staff. He was among those deported in 597 to Babylonia, where he was located at Tel-abib on the Kebar canal (near Nippur). It is evident that he was, among his fellow exiles, a person of uncommon stature. Ezekiel's religious call came in July 592 when he had a vision of the "throne-chariot" of God. He subsequently prophesied until 585 and then is not heard of again until 572. His latest datable utterance can be dated about 570 BC, 22 years after his first." - Britannica.com

(Continued in next section.)


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