Jewish Literature in New Testament Times

The Dispersion


Who were the Jews of the Dispersion?

Jerusalem Temple CoinThe Dispersion is the term given to the Jews living outside of Israel. Very many of them chose to remain in the lands of the Captivity. In the Inter-Testament period Jews outside Israel came to be far more numerous than those in Israel. There grew to be strong colonies of Jews in every land and in all the chief cities of the civilized world: Babylon, Assyria, Syria, Phoenicia, Asia Minor, Greece, Egypt, North Africa and Rome. The three main divisions of the Dispersion were Babylonian, Syrian and Egyptian. In the time of Christ the number of Jews in Egypt was estimated at a million. And there were strong populations in Damascus and Antioch. So, in the Providence of God, captivities turned out to be for the benefit of the nations among whom they were scattered. The Jews influenced the thought of the nations, and also were influenced by the thought of the nations.

Map of the Jewish Dispersion 
Jewish Communities of the Dispersion

Ancient Capernaum Synagogue Ruins
Capernaum Synagogue Ruins

Also see Synagogues


Jewish Literature

Esther Scroll

John 10:34 "Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law.."

Rabbinical Literature and Second Temple Judaism

Jerusalem Temple CoinThe Rabbinic Writings, The Mishnah, and the Talmud. During the first century A.D. the Pharisaic rabbis created many commentaries on the Torah. When Jesus began his ministry He attacked the Pharisees for putting their traditions above the word of God. All the writings and commentaries of the first two centuries A.D. were compiled and organized into a collection by a man named Judah Hanasi around 200 A.D. forming a collection called the Mishnah. The Pharisaic rabbis were known as the "Tannaim" which in Hebrew is translated teachers, and these men were the teachers who regulated the law. There was another collection of their commentary which was much smaller, it was known as the Tosefta which in Hebrew means "enlargement". The later commentaries on the Mishnah were made by "expositors".

Brief Historical Background

The Jews and Torah
The Holy Scriptures
The Apocrypha
The Apocryphal Literature
The Oral Law
The Mishnah
The Gemara
The Halakah
The Haggadah
The Midrash
The Zugoth
The Tannaim
The Amoraim
The Tosefta
The Baraitha
The Talmud
The Tractates of the Mishnah
The Palestinian Talmud
The Babylonian Talmud

The Purpose and Heart of the Law - A Heart Message
Rabbinical Writings Chart

Historical Timeline

The Persian Period 430-332 B.C.
The Greek Period 331-167 B.C.
The Period of Independence 167-63 B.C.
The Roman Period 63 B.C. to the time of Christ
The Old Testament Canon
The Apocrypha
Other Writings
The Septuagint
The Text of the Old Testament
The Aramaic Language
The Targums
The Talmud
The Great Synagogue
The Sanhedrin
The Dispersion
Preparation for Christ




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