Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy


David M. Maas


Second Temple Judaism, Jewish Diaspora, Jewish Identity, Messianic Expectations, Jewish Proselytizing, Gentile Response to Judaism




Scholars debate the purpose of Israel after the Babylonian exile. Many argue that God’s promise made to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3) was conditional on Israel’s obedience. Their disobedience caused them to be removed from the Promised Land and marked the end of the Abrahamic covenant. There is sufficient biblical evidence to demonstrate that the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles were the result of Israel’s disobedience. God warned the Israelites that the punishment for disobedience was exile (Deut 28), and He continued to warn them through the prophets. However, God used exile for a greater purpose. The thesis of this dissertation is that the purpose of the Second Temple period Jewish diaspora was to prepare the nations for the arrival of Christ. Millions of Jews were dispersed across Babylon and the Mediterranean region, where they formed communities. Instructed to live as a distinct people (Exod 12:5-6) and to be God’s witness to His past and future redemption (Isa 43:10), the diaspora Jews attracted both a negative and positive response from their gentile neighbors. This centripetal approach drew gentiles to the synagogues, where they became God-fearers and proselytes. By the time of Jesus, God-fearers and proselytes attended synagogue and were prepared to receive the message that the promised Messiah had arrived.

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