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Development of Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity Examined at B’nai Sholom

A new course at B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany will look at how Second Temple Judaism gave birth both to early Christianity and rabbinic Judaism and will examine the events that ultimately led to their parting of ways.
“Siblings: Second Temple Judaism and the Development of Early Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism” will be taught 12 Tuesday mornings beginning January 7 from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at B’nai Sholom, 420 Whitehall Road, Albany.

This course will begin with the destruction of the First Temple, the re-establishment of authority, the building of the Second Temple, the coming of Hellenism and the beginnings of sectarian Judaism.  It will explore the origins and development of various sects within Second Temple Judaism – Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Dead Sea Scrolls sect, Zealot party – after which the focus will center on the two sects that survived the Roman conquest and the destruction of the Temple.  In the aftermath, Second Temple Judaism gave birth to both early Christianity and its somewhat younger sibling, rabbinic Judaism.  Later sessions will explore the roots of both, their responses to the First and Second Revolts against Rome, their early development and their ultimate divergence from each other.

Steven Stark-Riemer, the course instructor, studied anthropology at City College of New York, where he specialized in archaeology, and received his degree in 1972.  He conducted field work at the Tell Gezer excavations in Israel under the direction of William G. Dever, director of the Hebrew Union College Biblical and Archaeological School at the time.  Stark-Riemer continues to pursue his interest in the archaeology, history and religion of the ancient Near East.

“Siblings” is open to the public.  Fee for the 12-session course is $72 ($48 for B’nai Sholom members), and registration is required.

For more information, visit  or contact the B’nai Sholom office at 518-482-5283 or

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