Jews and the Jewish Encyclopedia

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Posts 3005
Milkman | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Jan 10 2019 5:45 PM

I'm thinking of picking up the Jewish Encyclopedia, but have a question.

Do the Jews still follow/believe or go by what the Jewish Encyclopedia teaches?



Posts 9914
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 10 2019 5:56 PM


1. Which jews? There's many different groups.

2. The encyclopaedia is largely modern (last few centuries).

3. It doesn't teach; it's mainly a great descriptive source book.

What were you actually wanting?

Posts 18577
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 10 2019 5:58 PM


Do the Jews still follow/believe or go by what the Jewish Encyclopedia teaches?

First, it's an encyclopedia, a reference work; it isn't a systematic theology. So it isn't a prescriptive text for the Jewish religion. It calls itself "a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times." So it's more about history than the present.

Second, it was published in the early 1900s, so even if it were about the "present" it was a present of over 100 years ago.

Third, asking "Do the Jews...follow/believe" thus-and-such is like asking "Do Christians baptize their infants?" Or "Do Christians believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary?" Or "Do Christian women wear head coverings?" Or "Do Christians still read and follow Aquinas?" There's as much variety in the ways of worship and beliefs among the different branches of Judaism today as there is between the different traditions of Christianity.

So yes, some of what's described in this encyclopedia still pertains to what some Jews study and believe and how they worship today, but it is largely historical information: biographies of important people from the past and descriptions of important historical places, publications, practices, etc.

Posts 515
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 13 2019 11:50 AM

Hello Milkman:

From the Anchor Yale Dictionary:

"That framework consists of 4 components: (1) the Temple, (2) Israelite scripture, (3) nonscriptural or extrascriptural tradition, and (4) apocalypticism. These components are all, to some degree, scholarly constructions, but each, except apocalypticism, corresponds to a category or term in the written sources themselves. All the Judaisms of the Greco-Roman period drew on a transformed Israelite legacy comprised of these 4 components. But they did not draw on it in the same way nor from each of the 4 in equal measure, nor in most cases even from all of them. Each Judaism can be analytically described and distinguished from others in terms of these components."

 Overman, J. A., & Green, W. S. (1992). Judaism: Judaism in the Greco-Roman Period. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 3, p. 1038). New York: Doubleday.

So The Temple is gone (Jesus Christ is the New Temple of God). Scripture stays forever, so they may have something to say about it.

Problem is with oral tradition (including extra biblical). Some say that the problem religious authorities had with Jesus is that they unilaterally declared themselves to be "living torah", and when they met the real "Living Torah" (i.e. Jesus Christ), they could not hack it.

Now as expected we must give the benefit of the doubt to some genuine believers in Judaism, so that their insights have some validity.

E.g. Shekinah: the Glory of God, to us charismatic refers to the Holy Spirit, and it is interesting to learn how they treat such theme.

Problem starts when out of alignment with God groups start eiseiesing stuff like the Shekinah is female, etc.

Some concepts are unchanged and key in most orthodox groups: 

God is one, and He is in control, etc.

I like the Jewish encyclopedia, because it does give a different angle to different topics. They just do not have the full revelation of God (namely Jesus Christ).

I would guess that for a more systematic treatment of their modern thought it is better to consult:

And if you want to help them understand progressive revelation:

Kind regards.

Posts 5232
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 13 2019 12:15 PM

You are bound to get some ideas that seem dated. A full scale reversal on an idea is somewhat unlikely but as Christian's ideas change as scholarship leads us to new understanding so that will happen in Judaism. In the two Jewish encyclopedias I have it often times is very hard to compare since they have different focuses and the older is much broader scope. However this seemed to be a fair example of comparison was to look at the articles on Magic and to be fair The Encyclopedia of Judaism article did cover Astrology which was a separate article in the 12 volume set and I did not copy it. But I think you can see the 12 volume set has held up well.



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