Wednesday, 6 September 2017

How it Felt to be Galilean

In the first century AD, Galilee was kinda sorta part of Israel, but kinda not really too. It was a long way away. Separated by Samaria in-between. It bordered on Gentile cities. It probably had a high Gentile population. They had a different accent to the Judeans. They were picking up some Gentile ways. They were mostly wealthier than the Judeans.

When a Galilean visited Judea (especially the religious city of Jerusalem) he felt a bit different to the locals, and they treated them as a bit different. Jesus was Jesus of Nazareth - the Galilean. So not just a Galilean, but also from a city a bit despised even by Galileans.

Among other things, this shows that there wasn't quite a united idea in first century Israel of what it meant to be true Israel. There wasn't even a united idea of how Judaism should be practised; or of who would qualify to be in the kingdom of God; or what Messiah would look like.

A unified form of Judaism was arguably more of a later development after the second-temple period, when surviving Pharisees morphed into Rabbinic Judaism. Phariseeism survived the destruction of the temple and city better than other forms of Judaism did (such as the Essenes) because Phariseeism was in some senses more flexible.

But today's 'Hebrew Roots' people seem to think there always was a unified form of Judaism, and concept of who truly constituted 'Israel'. First-century Judaism already consisted of supercessionist movements! Movements which defined Israel in their own way; and painted their own picture of the Messiah and how His kingdom would come about. So we shouldn't think it unusual that the church, following Christ whose ministry followed John the Baptist's, was also a movement that taught what it meant to truly be Israel, and taught Who Messiah was, and taught how God's kingdom-scheme was to come about.

Virtually all forms of Judaism in the first century AD were sort of doing that in its own way to one extent or another. Paul was no different - and he was following Christ.

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