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Understanding the Bible Completed by University of 1. Discuss how Moses has remained an authoritative figure from the Hebrew Bible to the New Testament. The earliest of the great world religions is represented by the figure of Moses, whose life story and teaching are enshrined in the Hebrew Bible, and whose religious community is embodied in the historic people of Israel and the ongoing Jewish community s illustrated in the New Testament. The criteria of being an authoritative figure from the Hebrew Bible to New Testament are met by the imposing figure of Moses himself, whose authoritative teaching is preserved in the Hebrew Bible, and successful survival of the religious community deriving from the Exodus from Egypt and the Wilderness Wandering all the way to New Testament. Judaism views Moses as the person who led his enslaved people out of Egypt, and gave them the divine laws that serve as the basis of Jewish life and practice, as its founding figure. In spite of the fact that Judaism is a complex phenomenon about which it is difficult to make generalizations, since one is almost always sure to find in the wealth of Jewish writings proof texts to support opposed contentions, it can be claimed that the Jewish Moses does not attain the divine status accorded Jesus in the Christian tradition. Although the figure of Jesus is in part based on that of Moses, and although later Jewish tradition has often conceived of Moses in terms that may have been borrowed from Christianity, Judaism has maintained the distinction between the object of worship, namely, God, and the major source of the revelation concerning the divine. Hence, Judaism (just like Christianity) is not a religion based on the worship of Moses, but on the worship of God. Moses may have been the first and greatest mediator of divine revelation, but Jewish tradition is quite clear concerning his humanity, perfect in its imperfection.
2. Discuss how the Gospel of John differs from the synoptic Gospels. The Gospel of John is the fourth gospel written in the series of New Testament. Similarly to the other three gospels it tells about Jesus and his teachings, yet it differs from the synoptic gospels in ethos and theological accents. The Gospel of John stands in a class by itself. Its author was a highly creative theologian. It was produced among a group of early Christians which was quite different from the Christian communities for which the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written (Harris 1996). It would not be inexact for us to think of John’s community as a sort of sect of early Christians who were on the fringes of the Christianity that produced the first three Gospels. There is an interrelatedness between the first three Gospels that John does not share. That interrelatedness is due partly to similar theological views and beliefs. But it owes most to the literary dependency of the three, as we will see later on. The similarity between the three is so pronounced that scholars have grouped Matthew, Mark, and Luke together as the Synoptic Gospels. They may be set side by side and viewed together (that’s what ‘synoptic’ means) in a comparative way. The Gospel of John is a good example within the New Testament of the adaptation of stories of Jesus which originally circulated as oral traditions. The community composed its modified version of the story of Jesus independent from the Synoptic Gospels. It was not intended to replace any one of them. 3. What is the main theme throughout the Epistle to the Romans?
The Christian doctrine of justification (salvation) is generally regarded as the main doctrinal subject of Romans (Epistle to the Romans). The text which best expresses this predominant idea is 1:16. ‘The Gospel . . . is a power of God bringing salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first but no less to the Greek. Paul intended to teach that the grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ had come for all. It is true, that St Augustine by speaking of grace instead of justice (justness) changed St Paul’s terminology. But it is equally true, that justifying grace (sanctifying grace) has become the Catholic term for what is the predominant idea of Romans (Harris 1996). Hence it may simplify the understanding of Romans for a Catholic reader if he keeps to the term with which he is familiar. In addition to this main doctrinal theme of Romans there is a second major doctrinal topic: the defense of the new Christian doctrine of salvation against the objections from Israel, the chosen people of old (the church of old) which rejected that doctrine as an innovation contradictory to the Established Torah (the Law of Moses). This secondary theme of Romans is, however, so closely connected with the first that it may well be called correspondent to it. 4. Explain the relationship between the call of Abraham (Gen 12: 1- 3), Nathan’s Oracle (II Sam 7: 12-16), messianic expectations, and Luke’s Christology in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts of the Apostles. Genesis 12:1-3 deals with the God’s covenant with Abraham. The content of the blessing is spelt out in three ways. Abraham’s descendants will become so many that they will not be able to be numbered, will have dominion over their enemies, and will be a widespread expression of blessing.
There is a consistent emphasis on Abraham’s descendants, as distinct from Abraham himself as in the initial blessing (12:1–3). Of particular interest is the third element of the promise, and all peoples of the earth shall bless themselves by Abraham’s descendants (Harris 1996). There are interesting exegetical and interpretative issues at stake, where semantics and the history of interpretation are so intertwined, that an approach from the historic use of the text is probably most fruitful. God’s promise to David in II Sam 7: 12-16 is very similar to those promises Abraham’s receives. David wanted to build a temple for God and the Lord expressed his works through the prophet Nathan. The prophet told David that his [David’s] offspring will build a strong kingdom and will be loved by God forever. This part is very similar to Abraham’s promise that God gave him. However, in Genesis 12.1–3 its effect is trivial in God’s address which is seriously increased . The accepted interpretation must therefore remain. It is like ‘a command to history – Abraham is assigned the role of a mediator of blessing in God’s saving plan, for all (Harris 1996). Throughout Jesus’ Galilean ministry and his long ‘journey’ to Jerusalem, the Lukan conflict boils down to the inability of the would-be experts in the law to accommodate aspects of Jesus’ teaching and ministry, aspects which Luke’s readers nevertheless know to be appropriate in virtue of their privileged overview of Jesus’ life and of his place in the plan of God. This gap between Luke’s Christology (as exhibited in his account of Jesus’ ministry) and what the religious authorities are willing to accept continues to provide the logic for the conflict which guides the plot of Luke’s story into the next major section — Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem and the temple (Harris 1996).
It has become customary for students of the conflict in the Third Gospel to focus on the differences between how Luke describes this conflict before and after Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. Thus, it has been noted that Jesus’ opponents are no longer the Pharisees and their associates but rather the priestly group (the ‘chief priests’ in particular). Also, a change has been noted in the intensity of the conflict. As for the issues between Jesus and his opponents, they are said to be no longer related to Torah observance, but rather to the question of authority and, more specifically, the issue of control over the temple. With regard to the Luke’s Christology in other New Testament writings, we have already seen that the first part of the Book of Acts, the very part which contains Jewish Christian traditions, twice (Acts 3.22.; 7.37) mentions the saying that Jesus is the prophet foretold by Moses in Deut. 18.15 (Harris 1996). We know that this very important Old Testament passage played a decisive part in establishing the Jewish faith in the eschatological Prophet. In the second part of Acts, which deals with the missionary activities of Paul, and also in the letters of the New Testament, the concept of the Prophet applied to Jesus does not occur at all. Except for the Gospel of John and the first (Jewish Christian) part of Acts, no New Testament writing considers Jesus the eschatological Prophet who prepares the way for God. The solution to the riddle of the person and work of Jesus by means of the expectation of the Prophet of the end time was not long common, although it did at first circulate among the people. Other solutions soon took its place.