Rabbinic Judaism

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The rabbinic Jewry or Rabbinic time was a rabbinic flow that after the destruction of the second Jerusalem temple (70 n. Chr.) To the main flow of the Jewry . Largely developed and from about 200 n. Chr rite and theology coined.

Characteristic of this movement is, on the one hand, the recognition of the authority less rabbis than decisive for the interpretation of the holy scriptures and, on the other hand, the new cultic order necessary after the destruction of the temple, which no longer consists in the sacrifice of animals, but in the celebration of prayer services.

By the 11th century, the understanding of the content and scope of the written corpora was fundamentally complete, thus laying the foundations for today's Judaism.

The time of consolidation

Talmud students

The destruction of the second temple in 70 was a profound turning point in Jewish history, so that at this point, in spite of the not immediately visible changes within Judaism, the history of rabbinic Judaism begins both in terms of self-portrayal and external representation. The destruction caused two things that made a reorientation of Judaism necessary: ​​On the one hand, the central point of the cult that had existed until then was destroyed and on the one hand the legitimation of certain groups, for example the previous priests or the Sadducees , and on the other hand, too a reorganization of cultic life is necessary. Up to the year 70 the entire cult of Judaism, legitimized by Old Testament theology, was oriented towards the temple and Jerusalem.

The second significant change concerns the political level: Admittedly, after Herod's death, the administration of Judea was organized from Rome. After the defeat, however, Jerusalem, in contrast to Caesarea Maritima , now became the main base of the Roman troops. In addition, was that the war about one-third of all Jews (about 1.1 million) had been killed and beyond the entire land of the Jews in Rome passed.

The rabbinical tradition ascribes the beginning of the new orientation to Yochanan ben Sakkai .

Jochanan ben Sakkai and the Jabne Center

Jochanan ben Sakkai , image field on the large Knesset menorah

In the year 70, according to tradition, Jochanan ben Sakkai allowed himself to be smuggled out of Jerusalem in a coffin and founded a Jewish school in Jabne , which laid the foundation for rabbinical theology. From today's point of view, the traditional scriptures no longer allow a sharp distinction between legend and history, but it is undisputed that ben Sakkai gathered numerous men around him who consisted of all groups within Judaism that were important before the destruction of the temple: priests, scribes. There were also other people who tried to rethink Jewish life without a temple. According to tradition, he and the other early rabbis were primarily concerned with questions of rite and liturgy, which now had to be redesigned without a temple. However, there is no evidence that contemporary Judaism was shaped. The real meaning of the writings from this period only became clear in retrospect.

From the year 80, Gamaliel II took over the leadership role in the Jabne group, which had various consequences: On the one hand, Gamaliel had a better position within Judaism due to his origin and, on the other hand, he did not have the stigma of fleeing from Jerusalem. In addition, various attempts to improve the relationship between the Jews and the Romans can be proven from this time onwards, for example through visits to Syria or through a halfway official embassy to Rome.

The Bar Kochba uprising

The suppression of the uprising in 135 affected the Jews in a similar way as after the end of the second Jewish-Roman war in 70 AD. In addition to the great losses, this time the Romans also banned Jews from entering Jerusalem and erected a statue of Jupiter over the ruins of the second temple . The most striking innovation this time is that many Jews moved to neighboring Syria into the diaspora, which on the one hand had the effect that the rabbis developed a pronounced theology of the merits of Israel, and on the other hand that the Jews in Judea are now a minority so that the center of Jewish life shifted to Galilee, where they were still in the majority.

New beginning in Usha

Since Jabne was no longer suitable as a center of Jewish life in the now orphaned Judea, Usha in Galilee became the new place of rabbinic Judaism. The new beginnings were initially based on the work of Jabne; in particular, attempts were made to improve relations with Rome. The most important content-related innovation from this early phase is the definition of the oral Torah ( Mishnah ).

Judaism in the Christian environment

Another major turning point for Judaism was the emergence of Christianity, first as the early Jerusalem church , then throughout the Roman Empire, and later throughout Europe and beyond.

The Christianization of the Roman Empire

From 324 onwards, under Constantine, there was a change in Roman religious policy that privileged Christianity. In addition to the general consequences, it is particularly worth mentioning that Christians spread in Palestine and especially in the coastal region. In addition, there was a pronounced Christian pilgrimage to the sites of early Christianity . In this context, churches were built in Bethlehem ( Church of the Nativity ) and Jerusalem ( Church of the Holy Sepulcher ). Although this resulted in an economic upswing, this development also meant that the Jews became more and more foreigners in their own country.

The Origin of the Oral Torah

Mishnah, order Sera'im , Vilna 1921 edition, title page

An interpretation of the Torah by scribes has been accepted since the Babylonian exile (see ( Ezra 7,10  EU )), which decisively determined the theology of Judaism. After the destruction of the temple, this literary genre became more important, so that from around 220 a recognized and binding form was available.

See also


  • Pnina Navè-Levinson , Introduction to Rabbinical Theology, Darmstadt 1993.
  • Markus Sasse , History of Israel in the Time of the Second Temple, Neukirchen 2004.
  • Günter Stemberger , The classical Judentum - culture and history of the rabbinical time, first printing Munich 1979, 1st completely revised and updated edition

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rabbinic period. In: Glossary: ​​Basic Concepts in Judaism http://israel-information.net/glossar/ . Retrieved on July 30, 2018 (German).
  2. René Bloch: Ancient Judaism. In: http://www.swissjews.ch . SIG factsheet, September 1, 2009, accessed April 30, 2018 .
  3. ^ Günter Stemberger: Classical Judaism: Culture and History of the Rabbinical Time , Verlag CH Beck 2009, p. 16
  4. ^ Günter Stemberger: The classic Judaism, p. 16
  5. ^ Lamentations of Rabba to Klgl 1,5; Babylonian Talmud Gittin 56ab; Avot de-Rabbi Nathan A4 ; Avot de-Rabbi Nathan B 6.
  6. Günter Stemberger: The classic Judaism, p. 18
  7. ibid.
  8. Günter Stemberger: The classic Judaism, p. 19
  9. Günter Stemberger: The classic Judaism, p. 22
  10. Günter Stemberger, The Classical Judaism, p. 29
  11. Günter Stemberger, The classic Judaism, p. 29f.
  12. ^ Levinson, Rabbinical Theology, p. 1.