The New Testament Times

The Jewish religious world is considered to be one of the major themes during the New Testament times. In order to fully understand the New Testament, one must have a clearer understanding of what are the possible similarities or possible differences between the Jewish religious world and non-Jewish religious world during the time of Christ.

The core focus during the instant of the Old Testament was the law and the covenant, but during the time of the New Testament, it was Jesus Christ. Let us first consider the non-Jewish religious world as the Christian world.

The main similarity between the Jews and the non-Jew, particularly the Christians, is that they believed in the same God and both groups have acknowledged the authority of the Old Testament. However, one of the main differences between the Jews and the Christians lies in each cluster’s perception of the “messiah”. It has been said that long before the time of Jesus Christ, most Jews have already hoped for the coming of the “messiah”, a powerful, successful conquering king from the blood lineage of King David.

This king is said to be the one who would lead Israel to the peak of glory, with peace and victory all over the state. However, during Christ’s time, his disciples had already acclaimed Him as the “Messiah”. Consequently, Christians regarded the “messiah” as their means of spiritual salvation because of Christ’s nature as Son of God. Contrasting to what the Jews have believed, Christ had not lived to be a great political figure but a sacrificing, crucified individual who made radical statements, some of which is contradictory with the Jewish religious world.

These radical statements lead to the acceptance of Gentiles or non-Jews into the community. Jesus taught that the basis for God’s acceptance is faith. The church embraces Jews and non-Jews alike. Conflicting with the idea, the Pharisees believed that God is particular with obedience of the law from the Old Testament. They supposed that the practice of high moral ideas will make them rightfully religious. Thus, they considered themselves as holier than non-Pharisees.

During the New Testament times, Christianity spread to Asia Minor and Greece. The Jews also spread and had large populations in cities around the world.

With the Christians and the Jews compared and contrasted, let us now consider the non-Jewish religious world as the Greco-Roman religious world, also during the same period.

One great difference between the Jewish religious world and the Greco-Roman religious world is the number of gods in which each religious world recognizes. The Jews believed in only one God, the same God of the Christians. However, the Greek and the Romans have venerated a number of deities. The Greek and Roman religion is said to have merged during the time of the New Testament. This resulted to different cults with one god or goddess being patronized. Contradictory with the high moral standards of the Jewish religious world, these cults are said to conduct festivals in honor of their god or goddess in which they engage in “immoral” activities.

The Cult of Attis, as an example, involves many orgies. Another example is the Cult of Bacchus in which its followers, during the festive days, engage in drunken frenzies to commemorate the gift of life.

Reference:

Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge. Vol. 3. USA: Grolier Incorporated. 2002. pp.102-106

Key Elements of the Background to the New Testament.  Available: May 6, 2006

 

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