Meet the Rabbis: Rabbinic Thought and the Teachings of Jesus Paperback – 1 Jun 2007
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About the Author
Brad H. Young (Ph.D., Hebrew University) studied under David Flusser and is the author of Jesus and His Jewish Parables and The Jewish Background to the Lord's Prayer. He is the president and founder of the Gospel Research Foundation, which is committed to exploring the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, and is on the editorial board of the Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum. He is a faculty member of the Graduate School of Theology and Missions at Oral Roberts University, serving as associate professor of biblical literature.
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Prof. Young has been one of the voices calling out in the wilderness. I discovered his books in my mid-40s and then began to read other scholarly writers that he cited. I was trying to understand why G-d chose that particular time in history to send the Messiah. To understand the era, I revisited the worship of the First Century Church and Synagogues.
I learned that the Amidah was recited during the time of Jesus in the Synagogues and Temple. These prayers are virtually unchanged from when they were written. If Jesus attended group worship once a week from age 13 to 33, He recited the Amida over 1,000 times. Obviously that is a huge underestimate. More important, he did this shoulder - to - shoulder with the Pharisees! My point is, how can people who profess faith in Christ be so ignorant of what Jesus (and Paul) prayed... and with whom?
Now you do not have to! Brad Young has encapsulated my twelve years of part-time research...and a great deal more, into this wonderful book. Being a Hebrew scholar, he translates many great Jewish writings (including the Amida) into English that is precise and very readable. He explains the difference between the Oral Torah (you have heard that...) and the Written Torah (it is written that...) and explains why writings 400 years after the death of Christ still echo with the teachings of the Intertestament Period. Dr. Young also accurately portrays the Rabbis from 100 BCE to 400 AD as some of the religious and intellectual heavyweights of their time.
I would give this book six stars if I could. If you do not know the differences between the beliefs of Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, and Essenes, I would recommend reading his Jewish Theologian books first. Then be prepared to have all of your preconceived notions about the Pharisees ground into dust.
This book is meant to be an introduction to Jewish religious traditions which are Jesus settings. It is not a comprehensive approach to all the various rabbis, but brief introduction to their views and practices. The book is broken up into three main parts with a fourth that serves as an appendix:
Part I: Introduction to Rabbinic Thought
1. Introduction to Rabbinic Thought
2. Master Teachers and Their Disciples
3. Torah is More Than Law
4. The Great Sanhedrin
5. Parallel Rabbinic and New Testament Texts
Part II: Introduction to Rabbinic Literature
6. Introduction to Early Jewish Writings
7. Ethics of the Fathers
8. The Amidah Prayer
9. Maimonides' Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith
10. Hillel's Seven Principles of Bible Interpretation
Part III: Introduction to the Rabbis
11. Meet the Rabbis
12. Both Torah's Were Revealed on Mount Sinai
13. Utopia or Plan of Action?
Part IV: Study Helps
Of Books, Commandments, Laws, Holy Days, and Lineage
Glossary of Terms
Index of Modern Authors
Index of Subjects
Index of Ancient Sources
In Part I, Brad Young discusses key Hebrew ideals and Jesus within His contemporary settings. One of the most valuable aspects to Part I is found in Chapter 5 where Jesus teachings are shown nearly identical to other rabbis who came before and after His ministry. Nearly all of Part I is discussing topics discussed in the Sermon of the Mount.
In Part II, he introduces the reader to the Mishnah and Talmud; the Oral Tradition. Likewise, the author gives an introduction to the approximate dates for the rabbinic texts. Chapters 8 and 9 are valuable for understanding foundational rabbinical theology and prayer. Next Chapter 10 though only being 7 pages long is a great resource to understanding how the rabbis interpreted the Bible. But the greatest resource in Part II is Chapter 7, Ethics of the Fathers. This chapter is Brad Young's translation (interpretation) of one of the divisions within the Mishnah. "The Ethics of the Fathers is a moral code of conduct, filled with vivid, larger-than-lie personalities. For Christians, it is a valuable source of Jewish teachings that links the spiritual world of the Old Testament with the New Testament era."
In Part III, Chapter 11 is self explanatory. The author is giving a quick introduction to a great many rabbis and a known characteristic for each of them, many of which he has already mentioned. In Chapter 12, there is a bit more of an explanation of the Oral Tradition. And the most valuable Part III is the last chapter where the author is making it known that the Sermon of the Mount is more ethical and moral faithful redemptive obedience in action than wishful thinking of utopia.
Brad Young's book is great work for anyone looking to understand Jesus within His historical settings.
By the way, one other very important thing I must add is that this book is NOT a religious tug of war between Judaism and Christianity. He simply and in very understandable language shows you the Jewishness of Jesus. Thank you, Dr. Young.
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