The Second Temple Era Lecture
Little substantial progress in the rebuilding of the Judean state occurred after the edict of Cyrus. Almost twenty years passed until the first exiles returned to the land of Judea in the reign of Darius. Under the governance of Zerubbabel, a scion of the Davidic dynasty, the situation improved only slightly during this first return. However, most importantly, the rebuilding of the Temple appears to have been initiated and completed. The fragile nature of Judean religious-political life continued until the second return under Ezra and Nehemiah.
The roles of Ezra and Nehemiah or the extent of their roles in formulating later Judaism are the subject of much debate. Perspectives on their roles range from that of “fathers of Judaism” to those that seriously question the historical validity of either individual’s role in post-exilic Judea. What does appear straightforward, however, is that the themes of both Ezra and Nehemiah reveal more stringent positions on biblical law adopted during this period. Furthermore, this process appears to have initiated a new phase in Jewish normative self-definition.
Interpretation, according to Joseph Blenkinsopp, became the factor that served to shape alternative renderings of ideas understood to exist in the growing body of biblical law. The existence of groups only brought about the normative expression of the community, typically one group in conflict with the broader community, in competition with one another, each attempting to implement its view of how the community should be understood and formulated.
 E.P. Sanders, Jewish and Christian Self-Definition: Aspects of Judaism in the Graeco-Roman Period (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981), 1-2.
Rabbi Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas where he earned a bachelor of science in electrical engineering. He studied at the Siegal College of Judaic Studies in Cleveland and received a Master of Arts Degree in Judaic Studies. He completed his doctoral studies at the Spertus Institute in Chicago in 2015. He studied at the American Seminary for Contemporary Judaism and received rabbinic ordination in 2011 from Yeshiva Mesilat Yesharim.
Rabbi Bejarano Gutierrez was a board member of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies from 2011-2013. He has published various articles in HaLapid, The Journal for Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto-Jews, and Apuntes-Theological Reflections from a Hispanic-Latino Context, y es el autor de What is Kosher?and What is Jewish Prayer?,Who is a Jew?, Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Judaism, Against the Greeks, He is currently the director of the B’nai Anusim Center for Education at CryptoJewishEducation.com