Development of Doctrine in Judaism?

Cardinal Newman once wrote An Essay on Development of Doctrine In The Catholic Church (begun when he still was an Anglican bishop).
Has any Jew studied and written any such a detailed thing on development of doctrine in Judaism?

What do you mean by that? What do you mean by ‘doctrine’?

Each single thing Judaism has been teaching from its beginnings to this day.

Teachings and beliefs that everyone who is of that faith must accept as being true. Examples in Judaism might be the beliefs that God exists, God is one, God is incorporeal.

Tenets, misvoth and other teachings…
Like that sin will have severe consequences on you and your descendants to the 4th generation; that only the sinner will have to answer for his own sin; that if he sinned but then repent from having done it, his life will be spared… things like that (and not just about the matter of sinning, mind you!) Is this more clear?

In that case, libraries full of it.

I often think that the best analogy to use in discussions with Christians is the ‘United States’.

It starts off fairly simply with a Constitution/Bill of Rights and English Common Law.

This then develops into a huge body of law and precedent, schools of law, libraries full of essays on jurisprudence, commentaries by important jurists etc, etc, etc.

When a new case comes up, there is intense discussion within that whole context and decision is made, appealed and even new precedent set.

Judaism kind of works like that - we started off with ‘The Law’, comments from ‘Prophets and The Writings’ (the rest of the Tanakh, in other words) and the legal argument tradition (Oral Torah) and this carried on, with important insights from leading figures (like the famous Maimonides).

What we don’t have is a Pope/Magisterium, what we do have are rabbinical courts (there being no guarantee that they’ll agree).

That to a Catholic may seem a great problem but the thing is that Judaism tends to focus on the nuances of ‘justice’ and ‘actions’ of everyday life and the ‘here and now’, being far, far less concerned about ‘correct belief’ than Christianity.

It’s one of the reasons why we tend to say ‘Yes, well, err, um’ and ‘it rather depends what you mean by’ when asked specific questions. Things are rarely that simple and, if you concentrate, as Christians, on questions of Jewish ‘belief’ you’ll often miss the point.

Heck, I don’t mind joining a Catholic Forum and learning a bit about Judaism along the way.

Kaninchen, on “nuances”, is not the fact that Chabad Lubavitch is one of the fastest growing bodies in Judaism and the fact that many of its followers believe the late Rebbe Menachem Schneerson to be the “messiah” not more a difference of FACT as opposed to merely nuance. I mean Chabad is proselytizing among Jews, secular and non, everywhere. The fact that many of them believe they know who the Messiah is surely would seem to be more than just a simple question of nuance?

On the rabbinical courts, surely the fact that Israel’s rabbinical courts do not even recognize Reform, Conservative and some Orthodox marriages done in the diaspora would also appear to be more than a question of nuance? I mean we are talking marriage not some simple question on rabbinical differences on interpretations of angels, or something. These 2 issues would surely seem to rise above the level of nuance, would you not agree?

Or am I wrong?

God Bless! :slight_smile:

I think Maimonides’ 13 Principles of Faith are widely regarded as the closest thing Judaism has to a Creed:

  1. The existence of God
  2. God’s unity
  3. God’s spirituality and incorporeality
  4. God’s eternity
  5. God alone should be the object of worship
  6. Revelation through God’s prophets
  7. The preeminence of Moses among the prophets
  8. God’s law given on Mount Sinai
  9. The immutability of the Torah as God’s Law
  10. God’s foreknowledge of human actions
  11. Reward of good and retribution of evil
  12. The coming of the Jewish Messiah
  13. The resurrection of the dead

You will find differences among Jews in regard to the resurrection with some of the Chasidim believing the soul after death reincarnates or transmigrates.

On the messiah, see my post above re: Chabad.

I think on the nature of evil you may also find differences among Jews with the ones leaning more towards Kabbalism believing somehow that there is no separate thing such as evil outside creation but somehow in a pantheistic sense everything is of God. (This is a gigantic simplification I realize).

I could go on but this is my limited goyim interpretation. :wink:

Somebody whose Jewish please correct me if I’m wrong.

And since I’m still awake, here is a link to Chabad’s take on evil. What it reminded me of is that Chabad Judaism concentrates a lot on the “Divine Attributes” of God and gives them actual names and numbers them. I think a lot of non-Chabad Jews have problems with assigning specific attributes to God. Hence, another philosophical difference within Judaism just as we Christians have philosophical differences at times. Here’s the link. Interesting reading.

Oh sorry. Mind is still humming on this. I always remember personally thinking to myself that these growing Kabbalistic (i.e. Chabad) movements in Judaism have many similarities with the gnostic beliefs some Christian sects had when our religion started. (Indeed, if some Church Fathers are to be believed some of these early Gnostic sects were admixtures of Judaism and Christianity in the early centuries A.D).

I’ve always noticed this Rationalism (Maimonides) vs Mysticism (perhaps Nahmanides, Rashi, Baal Shem Tov) dynamic to Jewish history.

Paul Johnson, a great friend to the Jews, and perhaps the most prolific English-speaking Catholic historian and writer had this to say of the kabbalah with which so many Chasidim now identify:

"…kabbalah not only introduced gnostic concepts which were totally alien to the ethical monotheism of the Bible, it was in a sense a completely different religion: pantheism. But its cosmogony - its account of how creation was conceived in God’s words - and its theory of divine emanations led to the logical deduction that all things contain a divine element. In the 1280s, a leading Spanish kabbalist, produced a summa of kabbalistic lore, the Zohar, which became the best-known treatise on the subject. Much of this work is explicitly pantheistic: it insists repeatedly that God ‘is everything’ and everything is united in Him, ‘as is known to the mystics’. But if God is everything, and everything is in God, how can God be a single, specific being, non-created and absolutely separate from creation, as orthodox Judaism had always emphatically insisted? There is no answer to this question, except the plain one that Zohar-kabbalah is heresy of the most pernicious kind…mystic pantheism"
(Paul Johnson History of the Jews pp.188-89

Hence, all those Chabad beliefs in divine attributes of God and named divine emantions and mystical levels of creation, are obviously not believed in by all Jews. Paul Johnson is a good friend to Jews and counts the editor-at-large of the most widely read Jewish Journal of Opinion in the English-speaking world, Commentary Norman Podhoretz among friends.

What Johnson’s History of the Jews teaches is that Jewish doctrine is not merely the interpreting of the Tanakh and Talmud and the nuances therein, but that there are deep divisions within Judaism within the belief system itself, maybe even more significant than some of the Catholic/Protestant metaphysical divisions as no one major respected Christian Church has ever argued for pantheism to my mind.

To argue that Judaism is basically involved with legislating on the nuances of day-to-day existence and keeping Torah somewhat simplifies the great “cosmic” (and I know Kaninchen did not purposefully use this word but attributed it to Christianity) arguments and divisions within the branches of Judaism itself.

God Bless! Hope have not offended anyone. :slight_smile:

There is also the eerily familiar conflict between some Jews on whether to accept the belief in Tzadiks - the concept of a righteous spiritual rebbe and miracle worker. I say familiar because to Catholics the argument about the doctrinal supportability of belief in tzadiks sometimes looks like the Catholic/Protestant arguments about saints.

While it not may be mentioned enough (because of all the false messiahs) Jews throughout history have clung to the belief in a coming messiah, whether it was Simon Bar Kokhba in 132 A.D. (recognized as the messiah by the most learned rabbi of the time Akiva) or whether it was Shabbetai Zevi in the 1660s who was accepted by many Jews as the true Messiah. Zevi was soon riding around Gaza on horseback, as a king, appointing ambassadors to summon all the tribes of Israel. This lasted until a Polish Kabbalist finally denounced him as an impostor to the Turks who had him arrested. The euphoria of the Jewish world collapsed.

One way of filling this gap of discredited messianism occurred when the famous Baal Shem Tov (Besht) a bit after this time revived the old idea of the tzadik: a righteous Jewish person who was not the messiah but not quite an ordinary human being.

At this point the anti-hasidic gaon of Vilna finally became fed up with the Hasidic stress on mysticism and Besht’s belief that in order to pray properly a Jew takes his prayer book and concentrates all his mind on the letters so that the letters’ shapes dissolve while the divine attributes concealed in the letters become spiritually visible! The gaon argued vigorously against the Hasidim’s claims to ecstasy, miracles and visions. To the gaon, the idea of the tzadik was idolatry and the worship of a human being. (which sounds like what some non-Catholics say about Catholic saints).

One hears denouncements by many Jews of this “worship” of tzadiks as many Jews (to use a modern example) could not comprehend why Lubavitch followers of that Tzadik Menachem Schneerson would actually wait for morsels of food to fall from his kitchen table just so they could keep some crumbs from the Rebbe - a great tzadik.

To some Jews, this doctrine of idolizing a tzadik was heresy.

So here again, the point of doctrinal differences within Judaism which perhaps rise above the degree of mere difference in nuance. :slight_smile:

Kaninchen, where are you? I was hoping for a “bunny” response to where I may be wrong. I’m no expert. :slight_smile:

The thing about Judaism is that it used to have something like the Mageristerium: the Sanhedrin (“Council/Assembly”). The Sanhedrin was a judical body, of two types: the Lesser, which included judges for each city in Israel, and the Greater, which included judges for the whole nation of Israel. The Sanhedrin was headed by the Nasi (“President/Prince”), who acted like the Bishop for his diocese and the Pope for the whole Church. The Lesser Sandhedrin (23 judges) would normally take care of judical matters, but in graver matters (such as a declaration of war), the Greater Sanhedrin (71 judges) would take care of it. The Romans recognized the Nasi as an offcial title, calling it “Patriarch of the Jews”, and required a tax to be paid on it.

Since the destruction of the Second Temple, a number of Jewish sects fell, until only the Pharisees remained. Because of this, the Pharisees’ beliefs greatly influenced Jews, for better or for worst depending on who you ask. Me, I think it was both good and bad. It was good because it helped Judaism develop itself, study the Torah more, and preserve a number of essential doctrines. It was bad because it raised the memory of the Pharisees to a level highr than they actually were and it paved the way for splits (Conservative Jews, Reformed Jews, Orthodox Jews). If the various schools and sects of Judaism had all been preserved to today, I doubt there would be splits in Judaism - but I can’t guarentee it.

A couple of doctrines in Judaism which have developed over the years are the doctrines concerning the Messiah, atonement, and the Oneness of God. For example, in ancient times God was believed to be One. Than the doctrine developed that God is not only One but His Oneness is a Unity. Than the doctrine developed further that not only is God One and Unity but His Oneness is wholly unique; no unity or onness is like unto God, and some say the oneness and unities of creation are the complete opposite of God’s Oneness-Unity.

You’ve never heard of Shabbat? You google around Chassidic ideas and are so blinded by ‘Holy Sparks’ that you’ve never heard of not working on Shabbat?

Well, KyivAndrew, all those posts rather forcibly remind me of why, after years of being the ‘resident Jew’ on religious message boards doing all the lengthy explaining and parsing of responses – as people like Valke used to do here, I gave it up and determined to talk only in more general terms, try to use analogies in an attempt to get ideas over, try to be brief and to the point, try to be very careful how I express things so as not to encourage cascading responses and questions. Life’s too short, as Mr Kaninchen rather determinedly pointed out at the time.

So, the question is whether anything you’ve said actually negates what I’d said, that the focus in Judaism is more on ‘here and now action’ rather than ‘correct belief’. Well, if one were to pretend that Judaism ‘works’ like Christianity, then, KyivAndrew, what you said might be a devastating rebuttal. The thing is that Judaism doesn’t ‘work’ like Christianity but, looking at the question of Chassids, for example, perhaps I’ll give a Catholic analogy a try in the hope that it might help.

There are ‘traditional’ Catholics, people who believe in multiple appearances of Mary, rather ‘Dantean’ visions of Hell and Paradise, rather attached to the old simple devotion amongst the peasant ‘masses’ (ie people en masse), masses (religious gatherings) in Latin, Gregorian Chant etc, etc, attached to the views of old Popes on various subjects (the teachings where you don’t have to believe but they are supposed to be influential in some way); there are others, quite as ‘orthodox’, who are more impressed by the teaching emphasis of more modern Popes and ‘Vatican II’, who may be personally highly skeptical of spinning-suns at Fatima etc, rather embarrassed by ‘folk devotionality’, prefer vernacular masses and so on. Both sides may get cross with one another from time to time, but they’re all ‘Catholics’ – despite all their apparent differences, they follow the teachings of the Pope and Magisterium. They are not a different religion, more, perhaps, the expression of human creativity and imagination based on a shared orthodox core and discipline – an example of how constraints can have a positive rather than negative effect – which means that Catholicism can hold within itself the sternest intellectual aesthete and the most emotionally-responsive charismatic who just instinctively ‘believes’.

My original family background isn’t the shtetl of rural Eastern Europe, it’s big city Germany and Italy – in some ways, almost more ‘German’ than the Germans and more ‘Italian’ than the Italians (led to rather interesting family gatherings). I may think a lot of Chassid stuff as rather charming and ‘folksy’, even tapping my feet to klezmer bands, and a lot of it as many Catholics might think about other Catholics who get excited about seeing Jesus in a pizza (as I expect they would see me as lacking in ‘spirituality’ and ‘spontaneity’ for want of better words) but they’re Orthodox Jews, Torah-observant Jews. The day they decide to celebrate Passover with Easter Eggs and pork roasts, then that’d be different.

The italics above should give you a clue to the central divisions in Judaism and the question of ‘correct action’ rather than ‘correct belief’.

Perhaps a little googling on that theme might be rewarding.

Kaninchen, I think maybe I phrased myself wrong. I was not looking for a “devastating rebuttal”…I actually wanted to learn a bit more about Judaism. That’s why I posted so much so I could have your thoughts. But O.K. if you think googling is the answer. O.K.

The Sabbath. Of course I knew… I just thought you were in Europe… that’s why.

Anyway, I can see my questions or comments upset you, so I’m closing on this thread.

God Bless you. :slight_smile:

I am in Europe but it’s summer (ie sunset is late) and there is family, there’s watching CSI, Law and Order etc, and this is me checking emails and stuff before bed.

Sunset…I forgot. CSI …you guys too…Haha. Law and Order I like.

I’ve been to Italy and Germany. Should I go again and should we somehow ever meet (small chance) I give you full permission to kick me as hard as you can in my stomach to get all those divine sparks out :)!! :eek:

Even as a Catholic, I often find myself answering, in matters of Catholic faith: “It depends”. Also, Catholics are concerned about the “here and now” too, though you’re right that we see it with the consequences on our fate in the World-to-Come.

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