Biblical And Religious Studies

n this homework assignment, we will look at texts related to second-temple Judaism. The second-temple period spanned roughly 536 BCE to 70 CE, which is the time when thesecond temple was standing in Jerusalem. However, scholars refer to the second-temple literary period as the period of Jewish literature between 200 BCE and 200 CE (we will talk about the reasons for this in class). The below texts are Jewish (rather than Christian) writings that come from this literary period, and reflect Jewish thought from that time. This is relevant to our course because Christianity and the texts of the New Testament emerged during the second-temple literary period, and reflect this historical-cultural context. So if we learn about the second-temple Jewish period, it will help us better understand Christianity and the New Testament.

1.  2 Maccabees is a Jewish text written in the late 2nd or 1st century BCE, which describes events that occurred in Palestine in the 2nd century BCE. Read 2 Maccabees 7 (NOAB, pp. 1613-16), which pertains to Jewish persecution under the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Disclaimer: This passage describes torture in some detail.

a.  Summarize this passage in a brief paragraph.

b.  What values do you see reflected in this story?

c.  Look at the quotations from the seven brothers and their mother. What hopes do these statements express?

2.  4 Ezra (contained within 2 Esdras) is a Jewish text written around the end of the 1stcentury CE, and is thus later than most or all of the New Testament books. It is written from the perspective of Ezra, who was a noted Jewish figure from many centuries earlier. Read 2 Esdras 7:1-44 (NOAB, pp. 1690-92), which is located within a lengthy dialogue between Ezra and an angel named Uriel.

a.  Summarize this passage in a brief paragraph.

b.  What sort of future hope(s) does this passage express?

c.  What problem(s) does this future hope appear to solve?

d.  What function does “the Messiah” serve in this passage?

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