The Setting of Hymns in the Greco-Roman World

Singing hymns to deity was an established practice in the Greco-Roman world long before the emergence of Christianity. Christian hymns differed from pagan hymnody, however, in celebrating a redemptive historical event; they have a “prophetic” quality.

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Elements of Synagogue Worship

Synagogue worship consisted of three main elements: praise, prayer, and instruction. The earliest Christians, who were Jews, would have been familiar with this pattern, which in Christian worship gave shape to what is called the service of the Word.

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Worship during the Intertestamental Period

Prior to the first Christian century, Judaism began to develop traditional interpretations of the Law that would eventually be written down to regulate Jewish life and worship. Judaism was influenced by Greek culture, resulting in the rise of a class of scribes and segments of the Jewish community which was more thoroughly Hellenized. The groupings formed during this period set the stage for the various sectarian movements within Judaism of the early Christian era.

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Worship during the Exile and Restoration

The return of Israel after the Exile brought renewed interest in worship; the temple was rebuilt and sacrifices were reinstated. The synagogue, originated during the Exile, now became the focal point of a non-sacrificial worship.

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