Lecture Eight The Symbolic World of Torah

Scope: Judaism in the first century was a vibrant and complex phenomenon. Rooted in ancient Israelite religion, it had developed new manifestations shaped by diverse geographical locations, linguistic expressions, and social settings. Diaspora and Palestinian Judaism show distinct characteristics, but even Palestinian Judaism was internally divided. Despite their differences, all Jews shared the same basic story, convictions, symbols, and practices, which, taken as a whole, can be called the symbolic world of Torah. The religious life of Jews in Palestine revolved around three main loci. The most public and powerful was the Temple, the center of sacrifice and prayer and the gathering place of the people on great feasts. More central to the transmission of the traditions of Torah was the synagogue located in every village. And in the home, the observance of the Sabbath marked the distinctive identity of Jews.

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