Judaism

.. ng on. Political unrest in this period led to a decisive split in geographic territory, and thus a split in religious views. A group of people left the area of Judah and traveled North to found Israel, where they could be free to practice their own political flavors, and their own religious flavors as well. This sort of behavior has come to be seen as common of oppressed people, and the result is almost always a great deviation in the ways of the old world.

A perfect example of this comes when examining the point in American history where independence was declared from England. Now, mere centuries later, America is as different in its politics, religions, and social forces from England as one could imagine. This was most likely the result when Israel was founded, far back in Biblical history. Communication between the two cities was sparse. The priests and prophets were undoubtedly addressing items pertinent to one group, but not neccesarily the other.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

The influence of foreign traders to each of the two places, as well as the political attitudes of each all would have had enormous impact on a newly-spawned religion. Thus, it can easily be seen that the religion was split into (at least) two major divisions during this time period. Toward the end of the Divided Monarchy, it seems that the prophets began calling for major changes in the basic foundation of the early Jews lives. The kings and priests had no major disputes with the status quo, but apparently the prophets were calling for a reorganization. This sort of turmoil within can do nothing but further split peoples faith. It was is if the question was posed : to follow the kings and the priests, who have guided us and kept us safe? or follow the far-seeing prophets, who are more like us and honestly have our best interests at heart? As the next major historical division occurred this sort of argument would continue, and thus the Jewish people were left to practice their religion in whatever way they felt best : multiple groups of people with varying faith in the many forms of Judaism as it existed toward the end of the Divided Monarchy. Hasmonean / Maccabean and Roman Era This time period in Jewish history is politically tumultuous, leading to high levels of splits and variations in the religion itself. One of the most disruptive types of all wars is a civil war.

And this is exactly what occurs at the outset in the Jewish homeland of Jerusalem. The Jewish civil war was against the extreme Hellenizers (people who tended toward utter reason in their beliefs) and the moderate Hellenizers (people who can see things rationally, but believe there are more items to consider than this — ex. the Maccabean family, who became the Hasmonean kings). So right away, it is apparent that the ideas that the Greeks introduced into Jewish culture have acted as time-bombs of social memes, and have created a major split in the religion. When the violence of the war has subsided, the moderate Hellenizers have won (everything in moderation!) and rule for a short time, until the Roman empire attacks and throws even more kinks into the Jewish society. When the Romans take over, the Hasmonean kings are left in place as puppet kings, which ultimately forces the general population to question their governing body.

When the Romans destroy the temple in Jerusalem, it is made painfully clear that some changes are going to be made. Most obvious, the priests suddenly have no major role in the religion. Their primary purpose had been to tend to the sacrificing of animals, and since it is illegal to sacrifice an animal outside the temple, the priests were in an unsettling position. As can be seen in countless other examples, politics and religion are invariably tied, and people began practicing their own flavors of Judaism after their civilization had been so radically altered. At this point in history, there is really no solid rule to prevent such splits, and for a time a mixed form of Judaism with many varieties flourishes. No one was sure what to do once the heart of Judaism (the temple) had been destroyed, but it soon became apparent that an appealing option was arising.

Two major social groups of the time period were vying for power. The first group, the Saducees were associated with the displaced Hasmonean kings. The second group, the Pharisees, had an idea that would help work around the tragic destruction of the temple. People were split, once again. They could stay with the traditional Saducees (who had the political power, believed in only written Torah, and did not subscribe to resurrection — basically a conservative view), or they could side with the newcomers, the Pharisees (who had religious power, believed in both the written and the oral Torah, and believed in resurrection) and hope to preserve their Jewish heritage by worshiping outside of the temple, in their everyday life.

It was not a hard decision, and the Pharisees eventually gained power, leading the Jewish religion into its next phase of Rabbinic Judaism. It is apparent that in each of the three time periods discussed above that many factions of the same religion were active. Competing philosophies, outside political forces, and geographic isolation are among the most obvious of the dividing forces. However many other influences pound each and every day on a given social institution, subtly forming it and changing it into something it was not. For this reason, the answer to the debate whether Judaism is a single, or multiple religion(s) is an obvious one, depending upon how you choose to look at it. Every religion has many pieces, but as long as there are a few constants (such as the birthplace, the language, literature, etc) it is possible to view the whole as a single force, and still acknowledge variations that will inevitably spring-up.