A modern Jewish prayerbook is not much help in reconstructing the prayer and worship of first-century Judaism, or in comparing it with later developments in Christian liturgy.Instead of any modern source, I’ve turned to the Mishnah, the compilation of accounts of Temple and synagogue practice in areas of of worship, sacrifice, purifications, observations of appointed times, and so on. 29c.) In any case there was no central authority defining “true Judaism”; in fact there was not even an agreed canon beyond the Torah.May He establish His kingdom during your life and during your days, and during the life of all the house of Israel, even speedily and at a near time.
A new notion: God is not only in the Temple; God is where the is.As Rabbi Hananiah ben Taradyon (c.135AD) said, “If two sit together and the words between them are of Torah, then the Shekhinah is in their midst.” While all Jews knew the Lord was uniquely present in the Holy of Holies, and made pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feasts whenever possible, they also could gather weekly to honor God together with the gathers, by the time of Christ, at least one group of reformers had come to a new conclusion: Believing the Temple priesthood to be corrupt, the Essenes disdained the sacrifical worship at the Temple and denied the validity of the priesthood, retreating to Qumran to pursue a “purified” Judaism until the judgment day which they expected soon.The reading of a portion of the Torah on every Sabbath morning and festival was a regular feature of the synagogue from the outset, and may have constituted the fundamental reason for the emergence of that institution.Portions of the Torah also came to be read at the Sabbath afternoon service and on Monday and Thursday mornings.The Babylonian Talmud prescribed that the entire Pentateuch should be read through in a year, on a consecutive basis interrupted only by special readings on festal days. The Mishnah prescribes twenty-one verses of the Torah as the minimum to be read each sabbath, but specifies no maximum, and consequently different synagogues could have reached different places in the Torah on any given occasion.
At the end of the readings, the worshippers praised God who had just spoken to them, and in an essentially eschatological prayer, they asked Him to hasten His word’s fulfillment: Magnified and sanctified be His great Name in the world which He hath created according to His will.According to the Mishnah, the pronouncing of the Aaronic blessing (Numbers -26) over the people originated in the Temple ritual in connection with the daily sacrifices (Tamid 7.2) So it is possible that it was not transplanted to the synagogue until after 70 AD.Its position in the synagogue service – after the came to be thought of as a substitute for the Temple sacrifices and hence the blessing followed it, as it had in the Temple ritual.The parallel to the Protestant Reformation should not be minimized.This concept also made it possible for the synagogue to replace the Temple after 70AD as the remaining Jewish occasion of corporate worship – a shift the increasingly-Gentile Church had mostly made already.A similar prayer would have done so at the time of Jesus.