Edited by Matthew Clarke
Chapter 5: Judaism – a cry for justice
Key Jewish figures are familiar to many as they also appear in the sacred texts of Christianity and Islam. However, the exact dates, and indeed the historical authenticity, of the existence of many of these key figures are less clear than that of the key figures of Christianity and Islam and indeed Buddhism. The sacred text of Judaism includes the Torah (the first five books, also known as the Pentateuch, or the ‘Law’), the Nevi’im (Prophets) and the Ketuvim (Writings). Tradition holds that Moses wrote the first five books and in it describes the pre-history that resulted in the Israelites being a nation seeking God’s Promised Land. The Torah contains five books with content addressing two primary issues: (1) the history of the creation of humanity and evolution of a specific nation and people; and (2) divine laws delivered to these specific people. This text presents God’s relationship with the Jews. The first book – Genesis – is a ‘historical’ account that sets out the relationship between the Jews and God, whereas the remaining four books are more ‘contemporary’ accounts. The starting point of Genesis is creation. However, this event is followed by human failure to act according to God’s will, the eventual cleansing of earth by God, and the new Covenant between God and a new people that He has called to be His own. The importance of Genesis is less with its scientific description of the beginning of time or its pragmatic qualities as a creation story, but more so with its providing a direct heritage of the Jewish people to be God’s chosen race.
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