Music in the Worship of the Old Testament

Music was an important element of both temple and synagogue worship. Undoubtedly this music and its forms influenced the form and use of music in the early Christian church. Both Jews and Christians revere a transcendent God and both give honor to Scripture. For these reasons and others, Jewish synagogue worship and modern Christian services are similar in content and spirit.

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Teaching and Preaching in the Synagogue and Early Church

Preaching in the Jewish synagogue instructed members in faith and practice but also could be intended for indoctrination and proselytizing. Christianity first spread through the preaching of Paul and others who traveled from city to city, preaching Jesus and the Resurrection and calling Jews to conversion in Christ.

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The Influence of the Synagogue on Early Christian Worship

The New Testament records that Jesus and his disciples, as well as early Christian preachers such as Paul and Barnabas, attended the synagogue assemblies. The true influence of the synagogue on early Christian worship, however, is difficult to assess. Contacts between Christians and Jews continued up to the fourth century; thus, in the post–New Testament period Jewish influence can be seen in the development of Christian prayer and the Christian calendar.

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Scripture Reading in the Old and New Testaments and the Early Church

In the assemblies of the early church, the Scriptures were read to the congregation by a lector, or reader. This practice was modeled on that of the synagogue, wherein the Old Testament Scriptures were read aloud every Sabbath by a reader appointed from the congregation. The practice of the synagogue, in turn, had developed from the ancient concept of a literary document as something recited, rather than something read silently from a manuscript.

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Officers of the Synagogue

Like any religious institution, the synagogue developed various leadership functions. Over the centuries the roles of the synagogue officers have altered as the needs of the Jewish community have changed. The most important development has been the emergence of the office of rabbi.

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Origin of the Synagogue

The history of the synagogue as an institution among the Jews is difficult to trace to its source. Its origins seem to lie outside Palestine and apart from that sector of Jewish life that governed the nation and shaped the Old Testament. By the time of the New Testament, the synagogue had become established as the central institution of local Jewish life.

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Worship in Acts and the Epistles

The book of Acts and the Epistles reflect continuing involvement of Christians with the institutions of Jewish worship. However, with the Gentile mission and increasing separation from the temple and synagogues, the churches had to develop their own forms of common worship. Even Jewish Christians came under increasing pressure as persistent evangelism aroused the hostility of the ecclesiastical authorities.

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