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Anti-Judaism on the Way from Judaism to Christianity

Series:

Peter Landesmann

The differing beliefs that emerged between Christianity and Judaism, especially in the first two centuries AD, were mainly caused by the introduction of heavenly beings in the Jewish religion. This resulted in the predominance of a messiah, who will be sent by God as salvator mundi. Mainly Paul preached and practiced the conversion of pagans to Christianity, without obligating them to practice the Jewish law. In the course of time the baptized pagans represented the mainstream of Christianity which caused a conflict between them and those Jews who practiced the Jewish law but also believed in Jesus as the Messiah. The development of these tendencies is described in this book.

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8. The doctrine of wisdom and the term "logos"

Extract

The Jewish doctrine of wisdom first started emerging in the early years of Ro- man monarchy and was influenced by Oriental and Egyptian doctrines. This doctrine was then vastly enriched during the period of Hellenism. Even as far back as the 5th century BC, the leading religious figures among the Israelites are assumed to have become aware of the teachings of Greek philosophers. The Greek word "philosophy" means "love of wisdom" and could have marked the starting point for the esteem in which wisdom is held. The verb "to philosophize" is first used by the Greek historian Herodotus (484 - 425 BC) (The Histories I,30,2). Heraclides Ponticus, a student of Plato who lived around 390 - 322 BC, passed down an account of Pythagoras apparently saying that only a God possessed true sophía, whereas "man" could only strive to achieve it. In this respect, sophia already refers to a metaphysical being. The credibility of this re- port by Heraclides, which has only been passed down indirectly and in frag- ments, is disputed among researchers. It is not until Plato, 428/427 - 348/347 BC, that the terms "philosophy" and "philosophies" are clearly used in the sense con- veyed by Heraclides, and here especially in Plato's dialogue with Phaedrus (278d), where it is ascertained that anyone can strive for wisdom (philosophies) but only God is entitled to possess wisdom. These Greek doctrines were adapted to the Jewish faith, and "wisdom" as- sumed a widespread significance in Jewish philosophy. The...

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