From Messianic Judaism to Rabbinic

When I first googled "messianic judaism", some years ago and in response to my learning of a Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls, I found nothing of the period. All Google could offer was modernity. Since then - in just a few years - this changed.

It was learning of Jewish Messiahs in the first and second centuries (of our modern era) that crystallised my thinking.The Poor, led by James and a Messiah - then Christianity had to be in parody, even without knowing the many parodies within the New Testament.

Since then, I have written on this in my main site and via answers in Quora.


Here is a related answer I wrote in Quora:

How did Judaism change from what it was to the New Testament?
I told this answer a few years ago to a Jewish friend who took Jewish history seriously and visits Israel frequently; he said it was total nonsense and without a shred of truth.
However, since then, I have learned more and my answer is essentially the same. Here it is.
We must begin with these two facts, as context
  1. In Second-Temple Judaism there was a strong strand of Messianism. That sect known popularly as the Essenes and in the Dead Sea Scrolls as The Poor, was Messianic and had at least one messiah at a time in the early-first century of the modern era. We know this because they said so and also because of a written tablet found ca. 2000, which also says so: A Qumran messiah to rise from the dead in three days. The last messiah is a known, historical figure: Simon bar Kokhba
  2. Imperial Rome set about annihilating this sect - their faith, their leaders and followers; some felt that Messianism undermined the authority of the deified Emperor. The result was the three Jewish-Roman Wars with accompanying holocausts and slavery, followed by the destruction of the Temple and its replacement by one to Jupiter; the destruction of Jerusalem and its replacement with Aelia Capitolina; the eradication of Judea and its replacement with Syria Palestina; this then was followed by pogroms and legislation targeting Jews.
The remaking of Judaism began after the first war:
In about 30 C.E., the Great Sanhedrin lost its authority to inflict capital punishment. After the Temple was destroyed, so was the Great Sanhedrin. A Sanhedrin in Yavneh took over many of its functions, under the authority of Rabban Gamliel. The rabbis in the Sanhedrin served as judges and attracted students who came to learn their oral traditions and scriptural interpretations. From Yavneh, the Sanhedrin moved to different cities in the Galilee, eventually ending up in Tiberias.
i. the Sanhedrin which was dissolved in 358 AD by the edict of the Byzantine emperor. [Though 358 was last formal meeting, There is no record of when it was actually dissolved and by whom, nor any reference to the last nasi's execution.]
ii. The dissolution of the classical Sanhedrin
By the end of the Second Temple period, the Sanhedrin achieved its quintessential position, legislating on all aspects of Jewish religious and political life within the parameters laid down by Biblical and Rabbinic tradition.
After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the Sanhedrin was re-established in Yavneh by agreement between Yochanan ben Zakai and Roman Emperor Vespasian. Vespasian agreed in part due to the perception that the Pharisees had not participated in the first revolt to the extent that other groups had. Thus the Sanhedrin in Yavneh was comprised almost exclusively of pharisaic scholars. The imperial Roman government recognized the Sanhedrin. They regarded the head of the Sanhedrin as their own paid government official with the status of Prefect. Roman legislation severely reduced the scope of its authority, but confirmed the body's ultimate authority in religious matters. In an attempt to quash revolutionary elements, Rome in effect declared one form of Judaism to be the only recognized form of religion. This led to persecution of sectarian groups, and attempts by these groups to find fault with the Sanhedrin before the Roman government.
The Sanhedrin moved from Yavneh to Usha under the presidency of Gamaliel II in 80. In 116 it moved back to Yavneh, and again back to Usha. It moved in 140 to Shefaram under the presidency of Shimon ben Gamliel II, and to Beth Shearim and Sephoris in 163, under the presidency of Judah haNasi. Finally, it moved to Tiberias in 193, under the presidency of Gamaliel III (193-220) ben Judah haNasi, where it became more of a consistory, but still retained, under the presidency of Judah II (220-270), the power of excommunication.
During the presidency of Gamaliel IV (270-290), it dropped the name Sanhedrin, and its authoritative decisions were subsequently issued under the name of Beth HaMidrash.
This was the erasure of Second-Temple Judaism and the making of Rabbinic Judaism. As we see, it was the product of Imperial Rome, beginning with the Flavian dynasty, specifically Vespasian and Titus.
I see the story of Johanan ben Zakai and his escape from Jerualem as indicative of two things:
a. He was working with the Romans from the start (as was Josephus); and
b. the parody within the New Testament of the story of Lazarus:
The anticipated stench of Lazarus, thought to be dead (or actually dead but soon-to-be-revived) derives from another reek arising from a tale of Johanon ben Zakkai, who made his escape from Jerusalem, being passed through the Roman lines as a corpse in a coffin. To simulate the stench of decomposition, the Rabbi had to carry a mouthful of dung. But, despite the stench, he sprang alive from the coffin. The filthy smell reminds us of Paul’s reckoning his former, spotless record of Torah-observance as mere dung (Philippians 3:8) when compared to Christian devotion without the law. The latter would be symbolized by the perfume with which Jesus is anointed, and which fills the “house” (i.e., the inhabited world) with the anointer’s fame. And of course, unenlightened Jews can be expected to recoil at the sweet savor of gospel preaching as if it were the stench of decomposing flesh (2 Cor.2:14-16). Again, when we read of Jesus filling the pallid Jewish ablution jars with heady Christian wine in John 2:6-11, we are to think of the many cisterns filled in a time of drought by the rain-making prayers of the hasid Nakdimon. Not bad, but not wine.
Rabbinic texts indicate that following the Bar Kokhba revolt, southern Galileebecame the seat of rabbinic learning in the Land of Israel. This region was the location of the court of the Patriarch which was situated first at Usha, then at Bet Shearim, later at Sepphoris and finally at Tiberias.[11]
The Great Sanhedrin moved in 140 to Shefaram under the presidency of Shimon ben Gamliel II, and to Beit Shearim and Sepphoris in 163, under the presidency of Judah I.
Sepphoris synagogue:
In the centre of a zodiac is Helios with his quadriga:

More and more of such zodiacs are being discovered, prompting the question: what was Judaism becoming as a result of Roman policy?
Here is a Christian zodiac:
And under the Vatican:

This is all imperial policy at work.

From my answer in Quora.

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