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Hasidism

(528 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Peter
The term “Hasidism” (from Heb. ḥāsı̂d, “devout, pious”) is a general one for various popular movements in Judaism that historically bore no relation to one another. 1. There was first the “assembly of the devout” (synagogē asidaiōn), which came on the scene at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt (1 Macc. 2:42) and was distinguished for strict adherence to the Torah (vv. 29–38). It is conjectured that the Essenes (Qumran) and Pharisees had their roots here. 2. There was then Ashkenazic Hasidism, in Germany in the 12th and 13th centuries. Perhaps influenced by the …

Circumcision

(553 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Peter
The practice of circumcision, or the cutting off of the foreskin, was not confined to Israel and Judaism but was common among other peoples (e.g., in Egypt; see Jer. 9:25–26). It probably arose in prehistoric times as an apotropaic act and was originally performed shortly before puberty (see Gen. 17:25). The OT refers also to the circumcision of adults (Josh. 5:2–9; Gen. 34:13–26). Only in P is circumcision made mandatory on the eighth day after birth. It thus acquires wide-ranging theological significance as a sign of the covenant (Gen. 17:10–14). In early Judaism circumcision was…

Hekhalot Literature

(500 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Peter
[German Version] The Hekhalot literature is the corpus of literary texts from Late Antiquity in which a mystical movement in Judaism is obvious for the first time (Mysticism: III). The term Hekhalot, from the Hebrew hekhal (porch before the Holy of Holies in the temple), denotes the heavenly “palaces” or “halls” that the mystic traverses in order to reach the divine throne. More precisely, the divine throne as the goal of the mystic's heavenly journey (usually situated in the seventh heaven) is the chariot throne ( kisse, later merkabah) described in Ezek 1 and 10. The adept who un…

Bar Kokhba Revolt

(529 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Peter
[German Version] The Bar Kokhba Revolt was the second Jewish war against Rome (132–135 CE), named after its leader Simon bar Kosiba whose name has been interpreted both positively (bar Kokhba – “Son of the star”: Num 24:17) and – after the failure of the rebellion – negatively (bar Koziba – “Son of the liar”). The official designation of Bar Kokhba was the title “Nasi” (prince) that goes back to Ezek 37:24ff. and the Qumran tradition and is known from coins depicting the uprising and from documents from the Judean desert. It is uncertain whether Bar Kokhba regarded himself as a Messiah ( y. Taan.

Golem

(380 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Peter
[German Version] The tradition relating to the golem reaches back as far as the Hebrew Bible, where it designates the curled-up and as yet unformed human embryo (Ps 139:16). From this conception, rabbinic Judaism first began to develop the notion of a human being created by humans themselves ( b. Sanh. 65b and 67b). While the rabbis dismissed such creative activity as improper competition to God's almighty creative power and made ironical comments (the artificial human being cannot speak), it gained increasing importance in Jewish mysticism (III). The latter tradition extends from the S…

Gallus Revolt

(308 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Peter
[German Version] A Jewish uprising in 351 ce under Gallus Caesar (Caesar of the East under Constantius II, from 351–354) that allegedly broke out in Sepphoris and spread throughout the whole of Galilee and the coastal regions. According to the principal Latin sources (Aurelius Victor, De Caesaribus 49.9–12), its leader was an otherwise unknown Patricius. Since the important Jewish manufacturing centers of Tiberias and Lod/Diospolis were involved, the causes of the uprising have been suspected in the edicts of Constantius against the keeping…

Anti-Semitism/Anti-Judaism

(9,075 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph | Schäfer, Peter | Schaller, Berndt | Thierfelder, Jörg | Frey, Christofer
[German Version] I. Definitions and Problems - II. Greco-Roman Antiquity- III. New Testament (Primitive and Early Christianity) - IV. Christian Antiquity to the Beginning of the MiddleAges - V. The Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period - VI. German Anti-Semitism in Recent History - VII. Systematic Theology I. Definitions and Problems The term “anti-Semitism” in its narrowest sense relates to a racist ideology that emerged in France and Germany in the last decades of the 19th century and de…

Spirit/Holy Spirit

(8,121 words)

Author(s): Stolz, Fritz | Oeming, Manfred | Dunn, James D.G. | Ritter, Adolf Martin | Leppin, Volker | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies and History of Philosophy The dogmatic definition of the Holy Spirit as a person within the one divine substance (Trinity/Doctrine of the Trinity) presupposes not only a particular philosophical context but also a religio-historical horizon. A formative influence on the conceptualization of the Holy Spirit was exercised by the various anthropomorphic interpretations of elemental anthropological or normative qualities in the context of polytheistic interpretations of …