Rabbinic Judaism and Biblical Judaism

Israel Shamir writes:

it is a common error to think that Judaism of our contemporaries is the Judaism of the days of Jesus.

The brilliant Israeli scholar, Prof. Israel Jacob Yuval of Hebrew University in his book, Two Nations in Your Womb[i], proved that Judaism we know of (Rabbinic Judaism) came to existence in the end of the first century after Christ. It came out of ruins of the old Temple-centered Biblical Judaism, practically at the same time as Christianity. It is a full answer to the notion of ‘superseding faith’. Christianity actually superseded Biblical Judaism and became the faith of millions. Still, a small band of men challenged its advent, and offered an alternative, Rabbinic Judaism. In the eyes of its followers, Rabbinic Judaism superseded Biblical Judaism.

Rabbinic Judaism has very little in common with Biblical Judaism. It produced its own holy books, the Mishna and Talmud, as Christianity produced the New Testament. Prof. Yuval wrote: The Biblical Judaism died, and two religions claimed to be the legitimate heir, Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism.

Thus, Judaism we know of is a jealous sister, not a mother faith to Christianity. Its adepts are not the people who remained faithful to the ‘old religion’, as the Biblical Judaism with its sacrifices, Jerusalem Temple, ritual purity, tithes and priests disappeared two thousand years ago.

16 thoughts on “Rabbinic Judaism and Biblical Judaism”

  1. Yes, entirely true. Rabbinical Judaism clearly is NOT biblical Judaism. What I understand from within Orthodox Christianity is exactly what is stated in this post, that Rabbinical Judaism emerged at the same time as Messianic Judaism (evolving into Hellenistic Christianity). The logical conclusion of this, I’d never heard expressed the way it is expressed here, but it is also quite true: Rabbinical Judaism and Orthodox Christianity are in sibling relationship, not mother and daughter or elder brother younger brother. This is news to me, but it shouldn’t be. Though one tries to think things through, there’s so much to think through, my puny mind can’t do it all. Thanks for this remarkable insight. It is already starting to have its effects on me.

    By the way, when I write “Orthodox Christianity” I am including all communities subscribing to the Symbol of Nicaea, including those who use the ‘filioque’. Pop religions and cults, well, as far as I can tell, among them, it’s every man for himself.

    1. That’s an interesting view, but as a faithful Mormon I would have to disagree. We believe the Bible to be the word of God and study and follow its teachings faithfully.

      1. Caroline, I agree that the Bible is important to Mormons, but it is monotheistic, and Mormonism implicitly is not.

  2. This is a very interesting article. I am a Christian and I have a Jewish friend who lives in Florida. I have been trying to get more information about Judaism. I thought that modern day Jews practiced the Judaism that is taught in the Old Testament. I also just learned that many Jews do not read the Old Testament Bible, but study the Talmud, etc. This came as a surprise to me.

  3. No, the religion that modern Judaism practices has little to do with what the OT demands. No sacrifice, no Temple, no priesthood, no Levites, no Ark, no Urim and Thummim, etc, etc.

  4. the link between the two is still strong enough to be the same religion…. The Jews themselves, never thought they made an actual break to make a new religion. They continued to listen to their wise elders as they had before.

    The Rabbis themselves, attempted to preserve the religion by accepting the time in the Diaspora is not the same as when the Temple stood. Rabbinical Judaism pushed the bounds in many areas, but its basis remains the same, the Torah, which is not Rabbinic at all… everything Judaism is today must be extrapolated back to the Torah in one way or another. Though they have often stretched this often too far in my opinion, the intention has remained constant. Christianity, in order to “break” from Judaism had to, not interpret the Old Testament differently, but argue its laws no longer apply. Islam did something similar, to both the Old and New Testament. Judaism has always been centered around the laws Moses received at Sinai. Times change and interpretations change, but it remains essentially the same.

    This article here however, points to a very interesting change that goes unnoticed in the shift between Biblical Judaism and Rabbinical Judaism, in the laws of Kashrut.


    1. I disagree. The new religion has little semblance with the old one and the Mishna replaced the Torah’s authority.

  5. G-d’s relationship with the Hebrew people in the old testament does not equate to Judaism or any other religion. I am a Jew by birth who has.come to see Judaism as a false religion. To call it Biblical Judaism is oxymoronic. Christianity fulfills all the.types imbedded in the story of G-d’s covenental relationship with the tribe of Israel. I believe He has miraculously preserved the tribes and that in his timing there Will be a complete salvation for Israel. Until that time comes though Christianity alone holds the truth for Jew and gentile.

  6. I appreciate your comments, cincy. I think there is only one true reliegion–that is the religion from the revelation of God through the Holy Spirit. I view that the early Christiannity as a true Jewish religion. As Romans 9-11 says, the root that supports the Christian faith is the faith of the ancient Israeli saints. We gentiles Christians are one branch of the spirtual Israel, the co-elects with the Jewsih saints. But the apostate elements of the 1st century Jews who rejected Jesus , later became Rabbinic Judiasm; so indeed the Judiasm today who reject the revelation of the OT prophets (i.e. the Messianc teachings in the book of Isaiah and Daniel) as well as the teaching of Jesus and the Holy Spirit through the testimonies of the apostles has to be a false religion. This does not mean that all of Chrisantity are true religion. There are also many false Christianity who reject the authority of the Bible, and put the human tradition and theology above the the scripture. They possess the same spirit as the apostate Judiasm–for example the Roman Catholithism. I found a parallel between papacy and the Rabinic Judism. In Rabbinic Judism, the rabbi assume the aboslute infallable ble authority in the interpretation of the Scripture, while in Roman Catholocism, the pole claim the absolute infallable authority concerning Biblical doctrines. This is the spirit of lawlessness, which is the spirit of antichrist. Indeed, just as the 1st century apopstate Judiasm being the major antiChrist power–after all it was the Jewish leaders who wanted Jesus to be crucified, not the Romans, during the dark ages, the papacy became the antiChrist power.

  7. By the way, from the Christian history book “History of the Christian Church” [Philip Schaff], I know that Islam is also one branch of the apostate Christianity, the early Arianism who reject the Divinity of Jesus. It became Islam in 600 AD. So in this sense, Islam and mordern Judism is really the same in spirit.

  8. In my humble opinion, “Christianity” did not “produce” the New Testament. ALL the books currently accepted into the canon were written by JEWISH men, chosen by the LORD to show the world a different relationship to the TORAH they believed and were devoted to. Even Yeshua (Jesus) stated explicitly He did not come to abolish the “Law” but to “fulfill.” The word translated “Christian” is found in only 2 places in the NT; the early believers were variously “called” Messianic Jews, “followers of the Way,” or “God-fearing Gentiles.” “Name-calling” is not instructive to the beliefs which believers should be living. I do not write to offend; merely to express opinions. Peace be upon you

    1. Fulfilling means the end of the ceremonial law, not the ongoing aspects of the law – thus the conflict with the Judaizers throughout the NT. But the point here is that modern “Judaism” has little to do with Biblical religion.

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