Their Intent Our Interpretation

One final but unrelated point demands attention Do I think that the Christian theologians and Judaic sages intentionally undertook the confrontation that I impute to them I have no opinion about matters of intention. We cannot show, and therefore do not know, that the sages who framed the Judaism expressed in the fourth-century documents determined as a matter of articulated intent to define a Judaism that would confront the issues made urgent and critical by the triumph of Christianity. So we...

Lvviii

And Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac, and he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place which God had told him (Gen. 22 3) B. Said R. Simeon b. Yohai, Love disrupts the natural order of things, and hatred disrupts the natural order of things. C. Love disrupts the natural order of things we learn from the case of Abraham '. . .he saddled his ass.' But did he not have any number of servants...

Lvlix

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son (Gen. 22 13) B. What is the meaning of the word for behind C. Said R. Yudan, 'Behind' in the sense of 'after,' that is, after all that happens, Israel nonetheless will be embroiled in transgressions and perplexed by sorrows. But in the end, they will be redeemed by the horns of a ram 'And the...

Sifre to Numbers and the Judaic Exegetical Tradition

The intellectual program of the exegetes of Sifre to Numbers, so far as I can define it whole, just as, with Kelly's help, I have briefly defined Jerome's intellectual program whole, emerges from the confluence of form and meaning, structure and sustained polemic. Here I find myself on firmer ground (see Neusner 1968b, 1 1-43). On the face of it, the framers of Sifre to Numbers proposed to write a sustained commentary on passages from the book of Numbers. For that is-precisely what they did...

T Miqvaot 711

A cow which drank purification-water, and which one slaughtered within twenty-four hours B. This was a case, and R. Yose the Galilean did declare it clean, and R. Aqiba did declare it unclean. C. R. Tarfon supported R. Yose the Galilean. R. Simeon ben Nanos supported R. Aqiba. D. R. Simeon b. Nanos dismissed the arguments of R. Tarfon. R. Yose the Galilean dismissed the arguments of R. Simeon b. Nanos. E. R. Aqiba dismissed the arguments of R. Yose the Galilean. F. After a time, he Yose...

Iiv

Yohai, The matter may be compared to a king who had an only son. Every day he would give instructions to his steward, saying to him, 'Make sure my son eats, make sure my son drinks, make sure my son goes to school, make sure my son comes home from school.' B. So every day the Holy One, blessed be he, gave instructions to Moses, saying, 'Command the children of Israel,' 'Say to the children of Israel,' 'Speak to the children of Israel.' We now come to the statement of how...

Lxviilxii

Bar Qappara taught on Tannaite authority, There is no dream with B. 'That there was a ladder ' refers to the ramp to the altar. C. ' set up on the earth ' that is the altar, 'An altar of dirt you will make for me' (Ex. 20 24). D. '. . . and the top of it reached to heaven ' these are the offerings, for their fragrance goes up to heaven. E. '. . . and behold, the angels of God ' these are the high priests. F. '. . . were ascending and descending on it ' for they go up and go down on the ramp....

Y Sanhedrin 69111

One of his children had passed away from him. R. Jonah and R. Yose went up to confront him . When they called on him, out of reverence for him, they did not express to him a word of Torah. He said to them, May the rabbis express a word of Torah. B. They said to him, Let our master teach us. C. He said to them, Now if in regard to the government below, in which there is no reliability, but only lying, deceit, favoritism, and bribe taking D. which is here today and gone...

The Talmud of the Land of Israel and Israels Messianic Crisis

In my view the Christian challenge is what stimulated sages' thought to focus upon the messiah theme. The Mishnaic system had come to full expression without an elaborated doctrine of the Messiah, or even an eschatological theory of the purpose and goal of matters. The Mishnah had put forth (in tractate Avot) a teleology without any eschatological dimension. By the closing of the Talmud of the Land of Israel, in contrast, the purpose and end of everything centered upon the coming of the...

Genesis Rabbah and Israels Historical Crisis

To place into proper perspective the sages' thought, expressed in Genesis Rabbah, on the nature and meaning of history, we had best begin with a look backward, toward the place and meaning of history as expounded in the pages of the Mishnah.1 The Mishnah, promulgated two hundred years prior to the composition of Genesis Rabbah, set forth a theory of how events are to be interpreted and what meaning is to be inferred from them. That theory lay in the background of all thought on the same...

Christianity and the Roman Empire in the Age of Constantine

In the age of Constantine important Judaic documents undertook to deal with agenda defined, for both Judaism and Christianity, by the political triumph of Christianity. Christian thinkers, represented here by Eusebius and Chrysostom on the Roman side, and Aphrahat on the Iranian,1 reflected on issues presented by the fourth-century revolution in the political status of Christianity. Issues of the interpretation of history, the restatement of the challenge and claim of Christ as Messiah against...

Judaism in the Land of Israel

The documents that record the Judaism we consider, that is, the system of views held at the end of the fourth century, report the opinions of a single, small sector of Israel, the Jewish people, in the Land of Israel. That sector bears the honorific title rabbi, and falls into the category of sage or clerk it was the learning of men (no women among them) that qualified them for positions of authority within the Jewish nation in the Land of Israel. What sort of government did sages staff It was...

Vviii

Yohai taught, How masterful are the Israelites, for they know how to find favor with their creator. E. Said R. Hunia in Aramaic , There is a tenant farmer who knows how to borrow things, and there is a tenant farmer who does not know how to borrow. The one who knows how to borrow combs his hair, brushes off his clothes, puts on a good face, and then goes over to the overseer of his work to borrow from him. The overseer says to him, 'How's the land doing ' He says to him, 'May...

Y Berakhot 24 Translated by T Zahavy

A Once a Jew was plowing and his ox snorted once before him. An Arab who was passing and heard the sound said to him, Jew, loosen your ox and loosen the plow and stop plowing. For today your Temple was destroyed. B The ox snorted again. He the Arab said to him, Jew, bind your ox and bind your plow, for today the Messiah-King was born. C He said to him, What is his name E He said him, And what is his father's name F The Arab said to him, Hezekiah. G He said to him, Where is he from H He said to...

Lxivii

But to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts, and while he was still living, he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country (Gen. 25 6) B. In the time of Alexander of Macedonia the sons of Ishmael came to dispute with Israel about the birthright, and with them came two wicked families, the Canaanites and the Egyptians. C. They said, Who will go and engage in a disputation with them D. Gebiah b. Qosem the enchanter said, I shall go and engage in a disputation with...

The Christian Canon in the Fourth Century Old and New Testaments

First, we want to know if Christian theologians and Judaic sages understood the same thing when they engaged in the task of identifying authoritative writings and rejecting spurious ones And, second, we ask whether the result of the work of the one group in any way runs parallel to the result of the work of the other. We raise the question of whether, by canon, the two groups even meant the same thing at all, and whether the Bible of Christianity and the one whole Torah of Judaism constitute...

Iiiv

Returning to the matter (GWPH) Speak to the children of Israel (Lev. 1 2). B. R. Yudan in the name of R. Samuel b. R. Nehemiah The matter may be compared to the case of a king who had an undergarment, concerning which he instructed his servant, saying to him, 'Fold it, shake it out, and be careful about it ' C. He said to him, 'My lord, O king, among all the undergarments that you have, why do you give me such instructions only about this one ' D. He said to him, 'It is because this is...

Who Is Israel

The legacy of ancient Israel consisted not only of Scriptures but also of a paramount social category Israel, God's people and first love. The Church from its origins in the first century confronted the task of situating itself in relationship to Israel, and Paul's profound reflections in Romans constitute only one among many exercises in responding to that question. For the society of the Church, like the society of the Jews, required a metaphor by which to account for itself. And revering the...

The Enduring Confrontation

The political circumstances of the fourth century ascendant Christianity, a still political Judaism hardly could remain stable. By the turn of the fifth century the state was firmly Christian and its successors in Europe would remain so for fifteen hundred years. The sages' framing of a Judaic system attained the status of a norm. So far as Christianity in all of its European forms raised challenges to Judaism in its one, now normative, form, answers found in the fourth century retained for...

The Judaic Canon in the Fourth Century The Written and Oral Torah

The reason that the issue of the canon places us squarely into the age of Con-stantine is very simple. That issue addressed to the Mishnah, joined by the doctrine of the dual media of revelation, first surfaces in the writings of the late fourth century. Specifically, it was in the Talmud of the Land of Israel that the conception of the dual Torah, one in writing, the other preserved in memory and handed on orally, first served to explain the status of the Mishnah. Documents that reached...

The Issue of History Events Patterns Proofs

The scriptural record of Israel, shared by both parties to the dispute, took as its premise a single fact. When God wished to lay down a judgment, God did so through the medium of events. History, composed of singular events, therefore spoke God's message. Prophets found vindication through their power to enunciate and even (in the case of Moses) to make, and change, history. Revealing God's will, history moreover consisted of a line of one-time events, all of them heading in a single...

Xcviiixiv

I hope for your salvation, O Lord (Gen. 49 18) B. Said R. Isaac, All things depend on hope, suffering depends on hope, the sanctification of God's name depends on hope, the merit attained by the fathers depends on hope, the lust for the age to come depends on hope. C. That is in line with this verse 'Yes, in the way of your judgments, O Lord, we have hoped for you, to your name, and to your memorial, is the desire of our soul' (Is. 26 8). 'The way of your judgments refers to suffering. D. '....

Lxxvi

A. so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God (Gen. 28 20-22) B. R. Joshua of Sikhnin in the name of R. Levi The Holy One, blessed be he, took the language used by the patriarchs and turned it into a key to the redemption of their descendants. C. Said the Holy One, blesesd be he, to Jacob, 'You have said, Then the Lord shall be my God. By your life, all of the acts of goodness, blessing, and consolation which I am going to carry out for your descendants I...

Demonstration Nineteen Against the Jews on account of their saying that they are destined to be gathered together

The voice of the Holy One was heard by Moses. He sent him to take his people out of Egypt, out of the house of Pharaoh, the bondage of the Egyptians, saying to him, Say to Pharaoh My son, my first-born in Israel. I say to you Send out my son to worship me (Ex. 4 22-3). When he took them forth from Egypt with signs and wonders, with a mighty hand, with a high arm, and with great visions, he brought them through the wilderness and led them there forty years. He led them to the...

Y Taanit 11IX

Levi, If Israel would keep a single Sabbath in the proper way, forthwith the son of David would come. Y. What is the Scriptural basis for this view 'Moses said, Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord today you will not find it in the field' (Ex. 16 25). Z. And it says, For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, 'In returning and rest you shall be saved in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. And you would not' (Is. 30 15). Here, in a single saying, we...

Chrysostom Jewish Unbelief Christian Wavering

John of the golden tongue, Chrysostom, takes pride of place in the confrontation between Judaism, as represented in sages' documents, and Christianity, as represented by substantial theologians, because he addressed the issues head-on. His principal point was that Christians cannot believe in Christ and also worship in synagogues and observe Judaic rites. Judaism is over, offering no salvation, as the fiasco of the rebuilding of the Temple had just proved. In stressing these two points,...

Y Avodah Zarah

IV E Saturnalia means hidden hatred sina'ah temunah The Lord hates, takes vengeance, and punishes. F This is in accord with the following verse Now Esau hated Jacob Gen. 27 41 . G R. Isaac b. R. Eleazar said, In Rome they call it Esau's Saturnalia. H Kratesis It is on the day on which the Romans seized power. K Said R. Levi, It is the day on which Solomon intermarried with the family of Pharaoh Neccho, King of Egypt. On that day Michael came down and thrust a reed into the sea, and pulled up...

The Messianic Crisis

Every page of Eusebius's writing bears the message that the conversion of Constantine proves the Christhood of Jesus his messianic standing. History the affairs of nations and monarchs yields laws of society, proves God's will, so that matters now speak for themselves. For Judaism the dramatic shift in the fortunes of the competing biblical faith raised a simple and unpleasant possibility perhaps Israel had been wrong after all. Since the Jews as a whole, and sages among them, anticipated the...

Xxxviiv

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you is Jacob, and he who formed you is Israel (Is. 43 1). B. R. Phineas in the name of R. Reuben said, Said the Holy One, blessed be he, to his world, 'O my world, my world Shall I tell you who created you, Israel is the one who formed you,' as it is written, 'He who created you is Jacob, and he who formed you is Israel' (Is. 43 1). D. R. Joshua b. Nehemiah in the name of R. Haninah bar Isaac The heaven and the earth were created only on account of...

Lviii

He said, Isaac, my son, do you see what I see B. He said to him, Yes. C. He said to the two lads, Do you see what I see D. They said to him, No. E. He said, Since you do not see, 'Stay here with the ass' (Gen. 22 5), for you are like an ass. F. On the basis of this passage we learn that slaves are in the category of asses. G. Rabbis derive proof from the matter of the giving of the Torah Six days you shall labor and do all your work, you . . . your daughter, your man-servant, your...

Leviticus Rabbah Parashah Two HI

Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, when any man of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of cattle from the herd or from the flock (Lev. 1 2). B. Is Ephraim a precious son to me Is he a child that is dandled For as often as I speak of him, I still keep mentioning him (Jer. 31 20). C. Ten were called precious, and these are they Torah, prophecy, understanding, knowledge, folly, riches, the righteous, the death of the faithful, faithfulness, and...

Tosefta Shabbat 135

The books of the Evangelists and the books of the minim they do not save from a fire on the Sabbath , They are allowed to burn up where they are, they and even the references to the Divine Name that are in them. . . . B. Said R. Tarfon, May I bury my sons if such things come into my hands and I do not burn them, and even the references to the Divine Name which are in them. And if someone was running after me, I should escape into a temple of idolatry, but I should not go into their houses of...

Epilogue The Shape of the Initial Encounter and the Enduring Confrontation

Sages' Success in the Initial Encounter Judaism endured in the West for two reasons. First, Christianity permitted it to endure, and, second, Israel, the Jewish people, wanted it to. The fate of paganism in the fourth century shows the importance of the first of the two factors Geffcken 1978, 115-222 . We see, in particular, that it was not the intellectual power of sages alone that secured the long-term triumph of Judaism. It also was the character of the Christian emperors' policy toward...

Leviticus Rabbah and Israels National Crisis

Israel remains Israel, the Jewish people, after the flesh, because Israel today continues the family begun by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and the other tribal founders, and bears the heritage bequeathed by them. That conviction they were Israel never required articulation. The contrary possibility fell wholly outside of sages' and all Jews' imagination. To state matters negatively, the people could no more conceive that they were not the daughters and sons of their fathers and mothers than...

Eusebius and the Beginnings of Christian Historiography

If Eusebius lived today in an American university, he would occupy professorships in departments of political science, sociology, history, religious and theological studies, and, of course, classics. But I think his particular department would be political science. For Eusebius, though the founder of Christian historiography, confronted an essentially political problem and organized his thought in response to it. He turned to history for the same reason that people today study history to...

The Jews in the Land of Israel in the Fourth Century

The crisis of the age and there assuredly was a crisis for Jews began in politics but extended to matters of the mind psychology, theology, and myth gone wrong, most of all. For what happened was something that Jews did not anticipate, the rise to power of the Christian faith, seen by Jews until then as a mere aberration and a heresy. What Jews did anticipate was never to come to pass in the enormous shift of history and politics, the opportunity to rebuild the Temple came and went. These two...

Aphrahat and the People Which Is No People

To see how a fourth-century Christian theologian addressed the question of who is Israel in the light of the salvation of Jesus Christ, we turn to Aphrahat, a Christian monk in the western satrapy of the Iranian empire we know as Mesopotamia, ca. 300-350, who wrote, in Syriac, a sustained treatise on the relationship of Christianity and Judaism. His demonstrations, written in 337-44, take up issues facing the Syriac-speaking Church in the Iranian empire, enemy of Christian Rome. The relevance...