As with the Tanakh, teaching or studying the New Testament is complicated by the difference between modern and ancient worldviews. In order to understand the stories in the New Testament, readers must first familiarize themselves with the culture, society, and assumptions of the Greco-Roman world. In order to understand the stories about Jesus, they must be placed in their first-century context to understand how first-century pagans and Jews make sense of these stories.
While under political crises during the rule of the Hasmoneans, issues of what it really meant to be Jewish arose.
1 – Discuss how the ancient Jews understood what it meant to be Jewish in terms of how the basic principles of their religion united them.
2 – How did differences in interpretation of the Law splinter them into a number of sects.
3 – Name the fundamental religious beliefs they all shared.