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Five Question(s) – confirming my general understanding, Maimonides and Oral tradition and additional markings, and what are some ways Christianity has reinterpreted the Tanakh?

So I am a Christian, who has some questions about Judaism. I also come here trying to learn more, because I feel that being a good Christian means understanding Judaism (religion, history, language, society, and culture), since Christianity did grow out of Judaism, and was seen by the Romans as this new sect of Judaism, based around a charismatic preacher. I’m also a bit of a nerd who likes learning all sorts of new things, and I’m naturally curious. I went to a Christian college for some time, left for complicated reasons I won’t get to, and I took an Old Testament class, and I learned a lot about Jews (religion, history, language), as well as how Christianity reinterprets it, but I never really learned the original interpretation(s). In addition, I’d read the Bible with an annotated ESV, and an annotated, archeological NIV side by side to get a full understanding. That is all to say I’m a bit of a nerd and I think I have some understanding of this stuff, although I have attempted to read other threads here, and I got lost as I can’t read Hebrew. I also had a Jewish friend growing up, he would celebrate Yom Kippur with a double bacon cheeseburger, breaking 3 kosher rules at the same time (ground beef uses the entire cow; mixing dairy with milk; and eating pork), and whenever I’d ask him about Judaism, he wouldn’t really know the answers, and he told me I knew more lol.

So that preface aside, I have three general questions. I’ve tried reading other threads here, but I can’t read Hebrew, and I got lost.

1, general impressions, please correct if I’m wrong.

More context: I learned about Maimonides in my California public school education. I learned that the Tanakh is the central book of Judaism, and that the Torah gets extra attention/praise by some groups within Judaism. I learned about the three major branches, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. But what are the similarities/differences, I’ve kind of forgotten lol. My understanding is that after the destruction of the temple and expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem and the formation of the diaspora, that impacted Jews, both the religion and the people. My understanding is that prayer was substituted for sacrifices. In addition to the Tanakh, there are many commentaries, such as the Talmud(s), composed of the Mishnah, Gamara. Thus Judaism has developed a rich tradition of commentary and debate, thus leading to many sects.

  1. Oral law,

I learned that in Judaism there is the written law (the Tanakh), and the oral law (given to Moses/Moshe). The latter was passed down orally, and eventually written down and codified. But to what extent does the former override the latter or latter override the former? Like how are potential contradictions dealt with? How do you know the oral law is the actual law that should be given the same weight as other law? Is it tradition or history? Is there a hierarchy of laws? Are there codification system(s) of them, and are some considered better than others? How/when/why was the oral law written down?

  1. This one is the broadest, so I’m going to rely on your interpretation of what’s the most important part to discuss, but how has Christianity re-interpreted Judaism stuff (traditions, texts etc… keeping it broad).

  2. What are the additional markings on Hebrew that the Masoretes invented called, and what are they? A quick glance through Wikipedia tells me they are the Niqqud, Gemination marks, and Cantellation marks. (not sure if those are the proper terminology). But what are those/please tell this uninformed mind about them.

  3. It seems that Maimonides is respected more by some groups than others? Is it based on conservatism or not? My impression seems to be that he wrote some summaries of earlier works. I’ve read bits and pieces from various Jewish websites, and I’m honestly not sure about their credibilities or biases or not. But something about his authority comes from the fact that he considered everything and wrote about everything and summarized everything? Also something about the Sanhedrin? Does the authority of him come from some rules/tradition about the judiciary? Is he just respected and receives authority because he wrote a lot about the original Tanakh and did a good summation about them

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