Four Major Sects Of Judaism Essay

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“Judaism of the second temple period, from the fifth century BC to the first century AD, is key to understanding Jesus’ life and work” (Wenham & Walton, 2011, p. 25). Maintaining their identity, socially and religiously, was intrinsic to their existence after their release from captivity. Core beliefs and practices remained, but over time, varying understandings of how to live out their faith life became evident among various groups. This essay will define the purpose of the synagogue in 1st century of Judaism, describe the characteristics and beliefs of four major sects of Judaism, and describe their expectations regarding the coming of the Messiah.
The purpose of the synagogue was a meeting place for worship that focused primarily on reading of the Torah and prayer. During the time of the Babylonian exile, temple worship was not possible.
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43). While there were a number of groups who fell into this category, true zealots were those attributed to the Jewish War from 66 AD forward who were committed to violent revolution against the Romans (Wenham & Walton, 2011, p. 43).
A number of pieces of literature exist that coincide with the awaited messiah as noted above. The Pharisees anticipated a messiah of earthly king stature, and militarily “he may purge Jerusalem from nations that trample her down” [Pss Sol. 17:23f] (Wenham & Walton, 2011, p. 38). However, the Essenes beliefs resonate closely with the following passage: “They shall depart from none of the counsels of the law to walk in the stubbornness of their hearts (…) until there shall come the Prophet and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel” [1QS 9:10f] (Wenham & Walton, 2011, p. 38).
Defined by their past, Jews in the 1st century fought to maintain their core identity. However, there were differences in beliefs causing the formation of a number of dominant sects within
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