I am a firm believer that understanding the New Testament requires some understanding of its Jewish context. I don’t mean that Judaism is only Christian context, it has great value as a major faith. But the New Testament was written in a Jewish context by (mostly) Jewish authors.
I’m always looking for good resources in this area and was pleased to come across Judaism Before Jesus by Anthony J. Tomasino.
Too many Christians think all they need to know about Judaism is found in the Old Testament. The truth is that the Old Testament is only one influence on first century Judaism and it is so much more complex than that.
Tomasino takes readers on a journey of the development of Judaism. Judaism, like all religions, did not develop in a vacuum. It was shaped by the surrounding historical and cultural forces. In the case of Judaism, these include how the Jews responded to the Hellenistic and Roman influences.
Tomasino introduces readers to the major texts and events that those only familiar with the Old and New Testaments may not be aware of. We can see how Judaism grew from the Old Testament faith to what would become Rabbinic Judaism. It is a fascinating story.
Anyone interested in the origins of either Christianity or Judaism will find Judaism Before Jesus to be a valuable resource.