The Donme

Zinovy Zinik writes of traveling to Turkey to:

retrace the steps of the self-proclaimed Messiah Shabbatai Zvi, A Turkish Jew from Izmir, who, having created in 1666 an atmosphere of apocalyptic hysteria across the entire Jewish world, suddenly, after a prolonged audience with the Sultan, converted to Islam. Shocked and amazed by his conversion, thousands of adherents saw in it some mysterious and arcane act of self-sacrifice, and followed his example. Thus was created a fascinating sect of Jewish Muslims whose descendants may still be found in modern Turkey. […]

They are still known in Turkey under the pejorative name Donme, which means both converts and turncoats. The Jews accused them of apostasy, while some nationalist Turks suspected them of being Jews in disguise, those who hide the yarmulke under the fez. No wonder they eventually embraced the European Enlightenment and created a network of the best secular schools in Turkey.

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 Christianity actually superseded Biblical Judaism and became the faith of millions.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 In the eyes of its followers, Rabbinic Judaism superseded Biblical Judaism.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.

The Talmud in Calvinism

Writing in Christian Hebraists and Dutch Rabbis, Aaron Katchen discusses the Dutch Calvinist appropriation of the Talmud in Biblical exegesis. He quotes the the famous Dutch theologian Johannes Coccejus, as saying:
…it is a new thing I am attempting, namely, to show that a knowledge of the Talmud and of the talmudic writers is of extraordinary help in the elucidation of the New Testament.
Before that, though, quoting Grotious’s view from the De jure that:
the Hebrew writers can contribute not a little to our understanding of the meaning of the books belonging to the old covenant,
Coch continues by saying that the Talmud, the “Doctrinalis,” or the “authorized teaching” of the Jews, as he refers to it at this point, has its usefulness for the understanding of the law in all its facets: ceremonial, natural, and that fixed by convention (“positivus”).
Where, but the Jewish Talmud, can the learned traditions handed down by our forefathers be sought? Indeed, these are relevant, whether for a fuller understanding of Mosaic law, ritual as well as judicial and moral; or for an illustration of exotic (?) laws; or for shedding light on accounts of the Jewish commonwealths [e.g, Josephus(?)]; or, what is most important, for confirmation of the account in the Gospels, where there is abundant mention of Jewish customs, law and traditions.
Katchen, 68-69