Ch. 16 - The World of the New Testament
We go over the various religious groups in the Holy Land both when Jesus was born and when he went about his ministry at approximately the age of 30. In order to understand Jesus and his ministry clearly, we need to first look at the historical environment in which he lived. We begin by examining the reign of King Herod the Great (37 to 4 B.C.). Who was he and what was he up to with his massive building projects (e.g. the Temple)? Then, we examine his three sons who each ruled over a part of his kingdom after his death. First we have Archelaus who ruled over Idumea, Judea, and Samaria; then there is Herod Antipas who reigned over Galilee and Perea; finally, there is Philip who reigned over the northern Transjordan region (east of the Jordan river).
This session covers the identity of the Pharisees and the two main divisions among them: the Shammaites and the Hillelites. We also look at the nature of the Sadducees as well as the Essenes. By understanding each of these different ways of being "Jewish," we are able to understand the Gospels and the New Testament better. We take the time to understand what Saint Paul meant when he said "works of the law" (in Greek: ergon nomos), and why these works of the law were so important to zealous Jews in his day.