halakah (ha·la·KAH) also halacha, plural halakat (ha·la·KOT). Way, law, or rule as used in the first century CE consisting of the oral interpretation of ordinances derived from the "traditions of the elders" defining an elaborate set of regulations for obeying the Law of Moses; later also the body of Jewish religious law based upon evolving oral rabbinic interpretations of Pharisaic Judaism, especially the legal part of the Talmud. The halakah, or "traditions of the elders" and later the "oral Torah," by which the Pharisees attempted to establish their jurisdiction over all aspects of Jewish life, was the ideology by which the Pharisees sought legitimization of their own religious "authority." The traditions of the elders consisted of practices the Pharisees themselves added but wanted the public to accept as authentic. The halakah of the Pharisees appears to have been self-derived and limited to their own traditions. The Pharisees claimed Moses as their progenitor and the legitimating authority for their customs. The Pharisaic "oral Torah" came to be as highly regarded by later rabbinic Judaism as the written Torah. Subsequently some Jews even considered it more important.
Hanukkah (HA·nuk·kah) or Chanukah (CHA·nuk·ah). A Jewish festival known as the Feast of the Dedication commemorating the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians in 164 BCE and the cleansing and rededication of the Temple at Jerusalem. The eight-day celebration begins Kislev 25. The festival later also became known as the Festival of Lights based upon a Talmudic myth of candles burning without oil during the re-dedicatory celebration.
harmonize scripture (HAR·mon·ize SCRIP·tures).. Application of a principle of exegesis wherein the exegete brings into consonance or accord all the Scriptures that bear on a given subject in their context and setting in order to produce an explication.
Hasmoneans (HAS·mo·NE·ans) also Hasmonaean. A dynasty of Judean rulers and high priests 142-37 BCE.
Hebrew calendar (HE·brew CAL·en·dar). Credit for the invention of the seven day week goes to the ancient Hebrews. Genesis 1 sets forth the seven day week ending with the Sabbath as a cycle. The Hebrews, as many other ancient peoples, observed the beginning of a new day at evening. A day consisted of the night and then the remainder of the day. The Law of Moses required strict physical Sabbath observance by the people of Israel and included the observance of annual high days and festivals as well. Of necessity the calendar used by the Hebrews came into use quite early and under the control of the priesthood. The Hebrew calendar, unlike the Gregorian calendar, has its basis in the lunar cycle measured from one new moon until the next.
Hebrew Scriptures (HE·brew SCRIP·tures). The first division of the Bible, called the Tanach by Jews and the Old Testament by Christians, consisting of the Torah, the Law, Nebiim, the Prophets, and Ketubim, the Writings. The apostles and the early ancient church saw the Hebrew Scriptures as an inspired set of writings and the authoritative word of God. They used them extensively in their teaching, preaching, and writing. The Hebrew Scriptures and the apostolic complement to them, later known as the New Testament, were to assist Christian believers in bringing about Godly change in their lives by informing them of what they are in relation to God and of how they should live their lives. Matthew recorded in his gospel that Jesus said "Man shall live by every word of God" (Matthew 4:4).
Hellenist (HEL·len·ist). As used in Acts a Hellenist referred to those of Jewish descent, originating outside the Roman province of Judea and not Hebrew speaking natives of Judea, who adopted Greek language, ideas, culture, and thought. They were ethnic Jews born and reared in a nation predominately Greek in thought, language, culture, and education.
heresy (HER·e·sy). Beliefs, ideas, and teaching, at variance with the apostles' doctrines as preserved in the New Testament. From haíresos meaning "sect" or "religious party" or "school of thought" and haíresís meaning "opinions". See William Arndt and Felix Gingrich, 1979:23-24. In contemporary usage heresy refers to adherence to religious opinion that is contrary to the established doctrine of a church or religious group. Often people see heresy simply as what other people believe.
hermeneutic Circle (HER·me·NEU·tic CIR·cle). All interpretation involves a circular reasoning structure involving a projection of a fore-structured understanding, rather than the purely objective relation of whole and parts. Any detail, such as an object or word, is understood in terms of the whole, and the whole in terms of the detail. For example, advocates of the Thursday Crucifixion hypothesis interpret every piece of evidence, not objectively from the evidence itself, but understanding it and spinning it in terms of their mindset. Other examples include astrology, dualism, and scientific creationism. People locked in hermeneutic circles normally remain caught therein until faced with irreconcilable, overwhelming evidence to the contrary. People in this logic dilemma often reject all evidence to the contrary and choose to remain deceived. It is perhaps the most fundamental flaw in hermeneutics giving interpretation a limited, dubious role in the search for fact and truth.
hermeneutics (HER·me·NEU·tics). The principles of interpretation consisting of the rules and methodologies applied to data in the movement from exegesis to interpretation and the processes by which they have application to data.
heterodox (HET·er·o·DOX). Holding beliefs or opinions contrary to right teaching. Generally applied in a church doctrine context to people not in agreement with the accepted beliefs of Orthodox Christianity. In the gentile Greco-Roman Christianity of the fourth century Judeo-Christians were rejected as heterodox as they continued with Sabbath observance and observing the Christian Passover on Nisan 14. Judeo-Christians, in kind, saw the Greco-Roman Christians as no more than Christianized pagans.
heterosexuality (HET·er·o·SEX·u·AL·i·ty). Sexual desire, feeling, or behavior toward a person or persons of the opposite sex.
hieroglyphics (HI·er·o·GLYPH·ics). A form of ancient writing employing pictorial symbols to represent and convey both sounds and meaning.
high place (high place). Anciently the summits of hills, mountains, or mounds set aside for cultic purposes. See bama.
high priest (high priest). Under the Mosaic Code the chief priest, with oversight responsibilities overt the other priests. The high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies in the central sanctuary once a year on the Day of Atonement.
holistic (ho·LIS·tic). In anthropology the broad, comprehensive, global perspective in the systematic study of the nature, diversity and similarity of humankind over time through its four traditional sub-fields. The focus of this approach is with wholes and with complete systems rather than with the analysis of parts.
holy communion (HO·ly com·MUN·ion). A contemporary Christian rite during which communicants receive consecrated bread and wine consumed as memorials of Jesus Christ's death, or as symbolic of the realization of a spiritual union between Jesus Christ and communicant, or as the body and blood of Christ. The rite arises out of the Christian Passover rite of the ancient Church.
holy days (HO·ly days) or holydays. Religious holidays. In the Hebrew Scriptures the seven annual Sabbaths, or high days, were holy days. Some authors refer to the annual Sabbaths as holydays to distinguish them from secular and other religious holidays. In a technical sense the weekly Sabbath was also a holy day although the term holyday always refers to annual Sabbaths. Our editorial policy for this website limits the meaning of holydays to the seven annual Sabbaths of the Hebrew Scriptures. Some writers use the term festivals to refer to the annual Sabbaths. This is confusing as the Jews had festivals, such as Purim, which were not annual Sabbaths.
Holy Spirit (HO·ly SPIR·it). In early Christian theology the comforter supernaturally given to Christians by God. According to the apostle John God gave the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit of Truth" (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13) and as a "Helper" (John 14:16, 14:26; 15:26). The apostles taught that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit enables the people of God to live a Christian life.
Homoiousian (HO·moi·OU·si·an). One of those, in the 4th century, holding to the doctrine of the Nicene Creed that the Son is of the same essence or substance with the Father. In other words, the belief, formulated at the First Council of Nicea, that the Son of God was born, not created, consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, in an effort "to protect monotheism against the concept of a separate God-mediator" (Uthemann 1991:994-945).
homosexuality (HO·mo·SEX·u·AL·i·ty). Sexual desire, feeling, or behavior directed toward a person or persons of one's own sex. Homosexual conduct was forbidden in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the New Testament.
horticulture (HOR·ti·CUL·ture). A form of agriculture where the cultivation of plants is by means of human effort and a limited, non-mechanized technology, i.e. simple hand tools.
humankind (HU·man·KIND). In anthropology the defining characteristics of human, that is in this case, anatomically modern Homo sapiens is problematic. The scientific system of classification of life forms, a taxonomy, distinguishes between plant and animal kingdoms. As humans share so many biological characteristics with animals and the scientific explanation for the existence of humans is biological evolution from earlier animal life forms biologists place humans in the animal kingdom. In this context, only humans, have the capacity for culture and symbolic language. In more conservative Christian theologies humans are not animals but created in God's image and exist at a level between angels and animals. This is the apparent view of the apostle Paul and the early Church. Abilities unique to humans include abstract thinking and symbolic language. There are other differences as well and the debate on this subject continues.
hypothesis (hy·POTH·e·sis). In general a hypothesis is a tentative explanation. In science a hypothesis is a testable proposition concerning the relationship between particular sets of variables in collected data.
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