Did Torah-observant Judaism originate less than 200 years before Christ?


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Yonatan Adler, an Israeli professor of archeology, presents archeological evidence of Torah-observance in ancient Israel. His conclusion is there is copious evidence of observance from the first century AC, there is no evidence of widespread observance of the laws of the Torah before about 150 BC.

Examples of archeologic evidence that confirm Torah observance include:

Stone cups that are not subject to ritual impurity rules that apply to vessels of pottery or wood
Pools for ritual immersions
Synagogue buildings
Removal of images of humans and animals from coins
Absence of the bones for non-kosher meat

All these things are common in Israel in the first century AD but appear to be absent before the mid second century BC. While the text of the Hebrew Bible is far older, there is no evidence that the Jewish laws were actually implemented until much later. The period when Jewish observance first appears corresponds to the beginning of Hasmonean dynasty and times recorded in 1 and 2 Maccabees.

Interestingly Hebrew Bible includes many laments about Jews failing to follow the Jewish laws. The first written example that I am aware of martyrdom by Jews who refused violate the law appears in 2 Maccabees 7, which describes the torture and murder of Jews who refused to eat pork. This story is the likely source for this verse from Hebrews:

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Hebrews 11:35

Does the Hebrew Bible predate Judaism by several centuries? Or is the Hebrew Bible actually much newer than generally assumed?

Is the practice of orthodox Judaism much newer than what is generally assumed?

The word "synagogue" comes from Greek, and the oldest evidence for a synagogue dates to 3rd century BC in Egypt, which is also around the time of the first translations of the Torah into Greek. Did Jewish observance originate outside of Israel before it became common in Israel?
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American Gothic

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observance of the laws of the Torah before about 150 BC.

the rightful Zadok priests were deposed around 175ish BC
certainly must have been proper Law observance before that

  • Onias III, son of Simon II, (?-175 BC), murdered 170 BC
    • Onias IV, son of Onias III, fled to Egypt and built a Jewish Temple at Leontopolis (closed between 66-73 AD)
  • Jason, son of Simon II, 175-172 BC (the last of the Zadokite dynasty)
  • Menelaus, 172-165 BC
  • etc

a distinction should be made between Zadok "way"/Essenes eventually based at Qumran and their followers
and Sadducees/Pharisees and what eventually became Orthodox "Judaism"

I think the Hebrew Bible canon was complete in the time of Ezra
and the Dead Sea Scrolls say how many works are in it
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American Gothic

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the archeological might reflect -

Hasmonean-Sadducee/Pharisee/Essene conflicting cultures

the Sad controlling the Temple (building ritual immersion sites, pushing rituals for priests on Everyone)
the Phar controlling the Synagogues (building them around the country, limiting images of Hellenism)
the Zad continuing their priestly style ritual purity activities in their new location/s
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American Gothic

Well-known member
the Oral law, and debates about it between factions should be
significant in the origins of what became post-Temple Judaism

the Oral law seems very important to today's "Torah-observant" Judaism
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