The One Ring, Sin, and Tolkien's Catholic Imaginative Influence

SirJushiro

New Member
Hello everyone,
Initially, I must apologize. This topic may have already been covered in recent episodes of the podcast. I would not know as I am still putting in the work of catching up to the current production. I began listening late this summer and just began the Council of Elrond this morning. However, I was encouraged by an attendee of TexMoot2022 to post a few questions I have been mulling over since the podcast has hit its stride. Additionally, these questions come from a seminarian, so they are quite influenced by a theological tilt.

While this may seem ancillary, I think it is important to be capable of reading Tolkien's work in light of his various influences, including the Catholic imagination. We see throughout the series that Tolkien will repeatedly appeal to Medieval themes and understandings of the world. In light of these influences, I think the Ring provides an especially fascinating study of the intersection of Medieval thought, Catholic imagination, and Tolkien's fantasy world-building. So far in the class sessions the focus of conversation around the Ring has been directed toward "Ring-induced monologues." The consistent observed theme of these monologues and impulses has been a tendency toward isolation. This is also noticeable in the behavior of those who possess the Ring (see esp. the behavior of Gollum).

Individuals who find themselves in possession of the Ring seem to gradually put off or shun community, though sometimes this shunning appears to be a mutual practice between member and community. Community is arguably an important, if not essential element of Medieval life, especially Medieval Christian life. For instance, see the devastating impact of the shunning of the lepers in Medieval times and what their excommunication and symbolic death meant for their survival. So what does this have to do with the Ring and sin? Well, one of the many ways that sin is described is frequently through its tendency to fracture community. This is evident in the Fall and then re-imagined throughout the broad picture of Scripture. The Catholic Church redoubles this emphasis with their description of sin in reference to mortal and venial sin and the role of Eucharist in establishing community. Those who are able to receive the Eucharist at Mass are identified as physically part of the community of Christ in the Church. Those who cannot are physically illustrated as outside (either permanently or momentarily) the Church.

So, to what degree is Tolkien pulling from Medieval Catholic conceptions of sin when he conceives of the way that the Ring impacts those who wield it and fall under its sway? Frodo is shown as actively shunning fellowship and community when he is most fully under the sway of the Ring (see the events at Bombadill's house). Gollum breaks off and is cast out from his society for his actions. After this Gollum flees from what is good and the light and seeks to live in permanent isolation, except when he might feed off of the rewards of extinguishing other lives. (I have also heard interesting parallels between Lembas bread and Eucharist.) Does understanding the impact of the Ring in terms of Medieval understandings of sin and community allow readers of The Lord of The Rings to find further depth in the text? If so, how do we speak of this depth? And, even more, how do we communicate about this depth with those who are not familiar with either the Christian tradition, or its Medieval postures toward sin and community?
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
So, to what degree is Tolkien pulling from Medieval Catholic conceptions of sin when he conceives of the way that the Ring impacts those who wield it and fall under its sway? Frodo is shown as actively shunning fellowship and community when he is most fully under the sway of the Ring (see the events at Bombadill's house). Gollum breaks off and is cast out from his society for his actions. After this Gollum flees from what is good and the light and seeks to live in permanent isolation, except when he might feed off of the rewards of extinguishing other lives. (I have also heard interesting parallels between Lembas bread and Eucharist.) Does understanding the impact of the Ring in terms of Medieval understandings of sin and community allow readers of The Lord of The Rings to find further depth in the text? If so, how do we speak of this depth? And, even more, how do we communicate about this depth with those who are not familiar with either the Christian tradition, or its Medieval postures toward sin and community?

There was once an interpretetion of the word "sin" as being connectet to the word "sunder", even if it is now rejected - as far as I am aware of. But still there was the general idea that sin causes alienation on all levels.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
So the word most often translated as sin in the Old Testament, including the first usage of it, is 'khata'. It is actually a very normal ancient Hebrew word and, at its core at least, is not a moral/spiritual term. It essentially means 'to miss' or 'to fail'.

It is used in the Bible to describe Benjamin's warriors using slings and being able to aim at a single hair and not 'khata'. So to 'khata' it is a failure to hit a target. This analogy is thus used to described the lost potential of humanity.

In the Biblical perspective, humans are meant to be governor's of the Earth but ruling by listening to the directive of Yahweh, often expressed as his personified Voice/Breath/Spirit/Wind. When they attempt to rule in their own right they 'khata'. They miss the point of what it is to be fully human. Every act of 'sin' then is a loss of potential for what a person is designed to be - a benevolent ruler of the physical space we were placed into as guided by Yahweh who blessed humanity with that privilege. It's less a moral judgement and more a statement of fact in the Ancient Hebrew cosmological sense.

It then can be personified as a crouching beast waiting to consume prey because humans frequently fail to live up to our own potential. I think that simple statement alone is quite a unifying belief for theists, atheists and antitheists.

I feel that lost potential to be all you could be by following the wrong voice is very applicable to the Ring in that sense.

However, that is taking into account the original cosmology, worldview and imagery of the Biblical authors not later Western interpretation or Catholic specific understanding.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Another minor example of how the Ring reinforces isolation would be how Bilbo would put it on to disappear when he wanted to avoid the Sackville-Bagginses.
 
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Halstein

Active Member
Another minor example of how the Ring reinforces isolation would be how Bilbo would put it on to disappear when he wanted to avoid the Sackville-Bagginses.
Putting on the ring to avoid the Sackville-Bagginses is merely choosing the lesser of two evils.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
However, that is taking into account the original cosmology, worldview and imagery of the Biblical authors not later Western interpretation or Catholic specific understanding.
This is so important. I've recently been realizing how Euro-centric our understanding of the Bible is. The Bible world is eastern and southern - North Africa, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, and the part of Europe on the Mediterranean. Your post made me think for the first time how limited the part of Arda is that LOTR is concerned with. There are whole continents (perhaps) to the east and south that are simply ignored that have their own cultures and histories - what about the other six houses of dwarves, for example? And elves and men who did not move westward? It's a European view of world history - and largely a Christian one.

(Sorry for the digression.)
 

SirJushiro

New Member
This is so important. I've recently been realizing how Euro-centric our understanding of the Bible is. The Bible world is eastern and southern - North Africa, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, and the part of Europe on the Mediterranean. Your post made me think for the first time how limited the part of Arda is that LOTR is concerned with. There are whole continents (perhaps) to the east and south that are simply ignored that have their own cultures and histories - what about the other six houses of dwarves, for example? And elves and men who did not move westward? It's a European view of world history - and largely a Christian one.

(Sorry for the digression.)
I appreciate what both you and Rob have brought to the conversation. I could easily quibble concerning the understanding of sin portrayed in New Testament texts and the Early Church, but I think that truly is a digression. Hamartiology (the study of sin) is a specialization of Christian theology.

In Tolkien's world and time historical-critical method concerning the Bible and especially the person of Jesus had hit a speed bump. Following the First Quest for the Historical Jesus (which ended in the early 1900's), a scholar by the name of Schweitzer published a text in 1906 summarized thusly by Kooi, "Schweitzer's volume was at once a monument for this research and its tombstone. The search suffered from a perennial weakness, Schweitzzer said; the various biographies of Jesus all tended to conspicuously reflect the ideal view of humanity held by the biographers themselves" (Kooi, 388). This stopped much of the research into the historical context of Jesus which resumed only after the middle of the 20th century.

I think there is a degree to which scholars must be prepared to encounter texts within their own specific culture and setting, their sitz im Leben. If a text is addressed with anachronistic expectations, there are few, if any, texts which will be able to stand without correction in the modern day. In my eyes, I am not surprised by how Euro-centric Tolkien's works may seem. It is my understanding that he was an incredibly capable philologist as well as an expert in Norse myth. This places him squarely within an academic specialty dedicated to Western history. It is of little surprise that his fantastical writings are influenced by the academic world that he was enmeshed in. I would push back against thoughts that this ought to be held against him. I would not expect an individual from the Global South, her church, and specializing in her language and history to write a fantastical novel drawing on Western mythical or historical traditions.

Regardless, I think it is fair to consider how the Medieval church understood sin and various other themes when we consider the Christianity operating behind the scenes of The Lord of the Rings. In addition, it would be an interesting study to examine the underpinnings of the series to illustrate where Tolkien adhered to the more modern Catholic faith and where he appealed to Medieval sensibilities.

I am incredibly thankful for the responses which I have seen thus far. Thank you for your contributions.

Citation of Kooi:
Kooi, Cornelis van der, and Gijsbert van den Brink. Christian Dogmatics : an Introduction. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2017.
 
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Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
This is so important. I've recently been realizing how Euro-centric our understanding of the Bible is. The Bible world is eastern and southern - North Africa, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, and the part of Europe on the Mediterranean. Your post made me think for the first time how limited the part of Arda is that LOTR is concerned with. There are whole continents (perhaps) to the east and south that are simply ignored that have their own cultures and histories - what about the other six houses of dwarves, for example? And elves and men who did not move westward? It's a European view of world history - and largely a Christian one.

(Sorry for the digression.)
From another perspective, if you were telling a story of the experiences of one particular company of Polish soldiers in North Africa during World War II, you wouldn't expect to hear much, if anything, of the happenings in North or South America.

So, for LOTR, perhaps it's safer to describe it as a limited view of world history, rather than a European view.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
One of the best analogies I’ve heard of Biblicsl study I think also applies to Lord of the Rings. The core ideal it attempts to ingrained is that the Bible is an ancient Middle Eastern text. Which seems obvious but isn’t always truly taken into account.

So, imagine going on holiday and expecting everyone will speak your language, act like you, understand your references and have advice specifically for your day to day back home. That’s unfair and unrealistic. Your asking the people you meet to fit what you want them to be. You may still enjoy your journey and you’ll still enjoy these wonderful sights abs experiences, but to get the most from your trip, to understand what matters to those you encounter, you’d need to learn some language and customs before you go.

And just knowing the language isn’t enough. A translation to English from a foreign text doesn’t make it automatically make sense.

Much like ‘Let’s get out of Dodge’ is made of English words, understanding is only possible if you know context and get the imagery and the reference being deployed.

Tolkien’s legendarium, by its design, is presented as being an equally cross-cultural reading experience. It is meant to be approached as if it is written by another people from another time in another place. Much like the Bible, these people, places and times no longer exist in the same form. So any ideas of cosmology or worldview or even morality we may hold can be transplanted onto the text. We instead have to approach it on its own terms and try to find the writers’ paradigms.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
This is so important. I've recently been realizing how Euro-centric our understanding of the Bible is. The Bible world is eastern and southern - North Africa, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, and the part of Europe on the Mediterranean.

(Sorry for the digression.)
You forget how important the Levant is for European prehistory. The European neolitic revolution originates in the area and it is the basis of European substenance and basic culture far more than the original hunter-gatherers or even the steppe herders. As such the adoption of a "Levantine religion" was easy, as the culture was already proned for it. See e.g. the importance of bread in European culture - where does it come from? - the Levant. https://static.scientificamerican.com/sciam/assets/Image/2020/saw0720Spin31_d.png

[EDIT: The adoption of Christianity was a little like adopting a software from the same company (Levant) as your previously bought hardware (the neolithic agricultural package - that has already proven its worth.) It made a lot of sense on a lot of levels. - I actually assume it was a return to a Levantine religion after the old one brought from Anatolia has been overridden by the Indo-European steppe-herders. The languages and culture were changed by force but still the old Neolithic farmer livestyle prevailed, and after many centuries the "new" steppe-herders Indo-European panteon of the conquering and mostly male elites became gradually too detached from the farmers reality on the ground. - As such Christianity fitted the mixed European farming cultures to a greater extend, but it has "levantinized" them further. That the Levant changed after that - that the agriculture there lost some of its culture-building importance - e.g. so that grain has now to be imported into the Levant from Europe - that is another matter.]

When you read most European texts and compare them to e.g. the Illiad vs the Bible - you will instatly see they are far more influenced by the biblical logical structure than the "original European" traditions. As such the ancient Levantine ideas are what has influnced what modern Europe is far more that the other way round.

[Imho Tolkien's elves go back to a tradition which contains distorted elements of the cultural memories of the original European inhabitants - the Western Hunter-Gatheres https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Hunter-Gatherer https://vividmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Western-Hunter-Gatherer.png https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/when-the-first-farmers-arrived-in-europe-inequality-evolved/ as the farmers coming from Anatolia experienced them when coming into Europe - mysterious, dangerous, understanding wild animals and native plants, fair-eyed, dark-haired forest-living hunters who from time to time intermarried, but were doomed to vanish in the end.]
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
... Your post made me think for the first time how limited the part of Arda is that LOTR is concerned with. There are whole continents (perhaps) to the east and south that are simply ignored that have their own cultures and histories - what about the other six houses of dwarves, for example? And elves and men who did not move westward? It's a European view of world history - and largely a Christian one.

(Sorry for the digression.)
The point is that Tolkien's view is focussed on England (which cultural tradition is actually basically the same as for most of Europe - the nuances are just in the relatively small differences in the proportions of the same ingredients) so he looks back on it "with his back to the rest of the world" and wonders about how hat he sees came to be and struggles to understand it. As such he is of course "euro-centric" as the subject of his study are English (European) myths.

And he knew even less about their origin that we know as of today, as at his time the Indo-Europeans only were a really known entity (but yet not with complete surety associated with steppe-herders - as we do know it now) - but the below laying layers of Anatolian farmers and the even older layer of Western hunter-gatheres were in this form unknow to him yet.

He recognised the different detached mythological elements in what has survived to the present and played with them to create something coherant and new out of them. As such he could only be euro-centric as he worked with mostly old and even some very ancient European material. How could he have been expected to have been otherwise?
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I once saw a map of the ancient world that showed the Mediterranean almost an inland sea surrounded by land, so that North Africa was not considered part of another continent. This made sense in a world where trade largely depended on water routes. Egypt was as much part of the Biblical world as Mesopotamia or Persia. This also accounts for the migratory routes of Jews and later Muslims across North Africa to Spain. The Levant, the Near East, North Africa, and the southern coast of Europe were not seen as parts of three separate continents.

And I realize that as a Jew, my idea of the Biblical world is a lot older than the Christian - our Bible stopped hundreds of years before Jesus lived - the Greeks were already a few centuries post-Biblical. The Roman world looked quite different.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I once saw a map of the ancient world that showed the Mediterranean almost an inland sea surrounded by land, so that North Africa was not considered part of another continent. This made sense in a world where trade largely depended on water routes. Egypt was as much part of the Biblical world as Mesopotamia or Persia. This also accounts for the migratory routes of Jews and later Muslims across North Africa to Spain. The Levant, the Near East, North Africa, and the southern coast of Europe were not seen as parts of three separate continents.

And I realize that as a Jew, my idea of the Biblical world is a lot older than the Christian - our Bible stopped hundreds of years before Jesus lived - the Greeks were already a few centuries post-Biblical. The Roman world looked quite different.
Still if you go the Early Farmer route the Levantine influence it predates all of this. Bread predates milk, the cow predates the horse, great men and stone builders of the huge passage graves predate the Indo-European kurgan warriors.

See the great palace building Minoans or today's Sardinians who are almost totally Early Farmers (originating in Anatolia around Göbekli Tepe - an area where Abraham's family is said to have lived - Harran is right there) with their worship of the bull (like in the "golden calf").

The people directly descendent form the early farmers were the one who build Stonehenge. The Lavantine influence goes farther North than the Mediterranean and farher back in time than ancient Greece - which is Indo-European and as such a steppe-herder "novelty".

The post-exilic Judaism and far later the Muslim are later developements.

Even Rome was gradually becoming too agralised for the Indo-European pastoralist's patheon to carry a society based mainly on agriculture. As such Rome experimented with many levantine cults before accepting Chistianity, which has strong agricultural elements, with bread, spring and community in the center stage while at the same time still aknowledging pastoralist and some warrior elements - a perfect mix for the now more thoroughly mixed Europe. As such the Levantine religion has been recognised as more familiar and adequate by the now mixed European culture that the Indo-European pantheons - especially by the more numerous lower social classes which had less steppe-herder conquering elite ancestry anyway - but soon also those elites were bound to follow their bread-winning subjects.

As such you have to look far more back in the past.

Abraham the pastoralist priest-warrior prince among the agrarian societies of Canaan and later Edom - this is something the Roman society understood perfectly - it mirrowed their own semi-counscious half-forgotten past. As they did understand the Holy Bread hold up high like a rising Sun - but no longer understood their own Indo-European bloody sacrifice of e.g. the October Horse and others.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I was saying that the Jewish Bible predates Greece by several centuries - and goes back at least 2000 years before the Romans.

Odola, can you send a link to your sources - I don't follow what you are saying, don't know that way of looking at pre-history/early history.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I was saying that the Jewish Bible predates Greece by several centuries - and goes back at least 2000 years before the Romans.
What do you mean by "Greece"? The migration of the Hellenes into the Hellas? And? They were there before just higher up in the Balkans and mixed when coming South with the much older Minoeans who were already there. And both of them were for the most part descendants of ancient Anatolian farmers:
"The ancient Mycenaeans and Minoans were most closely related to each other, and they both got three-quarters of their DNA from early farmers who lived in Greece and southwestern Anatolia, which is now part of Turkey,"
https://en.protothema.gr/the-greeks-really-do-have-near-mythical-origins-ancient-dna-reveals/

Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least three-quarters of their ancestry from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean
https://www.nature.com/articles/nature23310

So what should this prove? Both population had mostly "Levantine" roots at that time already.

The situation with the Etruscans and the Italic tribes - the later Romans included - is very much similar, any differences are cosmetic at most and come from the time of the Roman Empire when "new blood" was added to the ancient mix.
https://www.sciencealert.com/dna-has-finally-revealed-the-mysterious-origins-of-the-ancient-etruscans https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abi7673#F1
(This "new blood" (Iran, Caucasus, Africa) in Italy was actually reducing the Indo-European steppe-herder Yamnaya component in Italians while the older WGH (Western Hunter Gatherers - original Stone Age Europeans) stayed stable and Anatolian Farmers component still remained the dominant one. [All Europeans are considered a mixture of WHG, Anatolian Farmers and Indo-European Yamnaya steppe-herders - differing mostly in the proportions of those three main ingredients] while most speak an Indo-European language. The pagan panteons of Europe that we know of were mostly Indo-European and as such became less and less fitting the status quo as the Yamnaya element melted down into a mixed European population with a life style based almost exclusively on agriculture - a life style which in Europe came - both culturaly and geneticaly- from the Levant)

[here in the graphs above, in its bottom part you can see the Anatolian farmers making over a half the genetic makeup of the Etruscans and then still staying the most important stable component in the genetic makeup of Italians - still over one third. And the way of live they brought with them - the agrarian lifestyle originating in the ancient Levant- remainded only very little changed over millenia untill the industrial revolution.]

Odola, can you send a link to your sources - I don't follow what you are saying, don't know that way of looking at pre-history/early history.
One example of Roman Indo-European rites:

One example of Romans experimenting with Levantine religions:

Origins of European Farming in the Levant far predating the Indo-European invasion into Europe - in the very area of the Levant traditionally connected to the origin of Abraham's family (as such the Abrahamic traditions stem from the same geographical area which before gave rise to European farming, which - even after the Indo-European migration into Europe - remained the basic way of European life):


Just as an overview and starting point.
 
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Forodan

Active Member
I once saw a map of the ancient world that showed the Mediterranean almost an inland sea surrounded by land, so that North Africa was not considered part of another continent. This made sense in a world where trade largely depended on water routes. Egypt was as much part of the Biblical world as Mesopotamia or Persia. This also accounts for the migratory routes of Jews and later Muslims across North Africa to Spain. The Levant, the Near East, North Africa, and the southern coast of Europe were not seen as parts of three separate continents.

And I realize that as a Jew, my idea of the Biblical world is a lot older than the Christian - our Bible stopped hundreds of years before Jesus lived - the Greeks were already a few centuries post-Biblical. The Roman world looked quite different.
I think I know what map you are referring to, but I cannot find it online right now. It's oriented facing east instead of north, so that Jerusalem is at the 'top' of the Mediterranean with Europe on the left, Africa on the right, and Asia (what Medieval Europeans knew of it) at the top...

(BTW, the Pentateuch is older than contact with Greece, but many books of the 'Christian Bible' are definitely influenced by elements of Greek culture, such as Platonic philosophy.)
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
(BTW, the Pentateuch is older than contact with Greece, but many books of the 'Christian Bible' are definitely influenced by elements of Greek culture, such as Platonic philosophy.)
Not just the Pentateuch, but the entire Tanach - what Christians call the Old Testament. Most of Tanakh was redacted and canonized during the Babylonian exile ( circa 598 -538 BCE) , and the last books added are from shortly after the return and the dedication of the second Temple. The whole Second Temple period is post-Biblical for Jews, including both the Greek and Roman periods.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Not just the Pentateuch, but the entire Tanach - what Christians call the Old Testament. Most of Tanakh was redacted and canonized during the Babylonian exile ( circa 598 -538 BCE) , and the last books added are from shortly after the return and the dedication of the second Temple. The whole Second Temple period is post-Biblical for Jews, including both the Greek and Roman periods.
But as you've said before, the Talmud is more relevant for modern Judaism than even the content of the OT and the OT contains amang others elements and traditions from very ancient past which are to a big extent shared with ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and ancient Anatolia - the latter being a main component of the very core of all European cultures - both ancient and modern. That the modern Judaism might no longer be very interested in some of those ancient elements does not mean they are not there.
 
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Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
But as you've said before, the Talmud is more relevant for modern Judaism than even the content of the OT and the OT contains amang others elements and traditions from very ancient past which are to a big extent shared with ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and ancient Anatolia - the latter being a main component of the very core of all European cultures - both ancient and modern. That the modern Judaism might no longer be very interested in some of those ancient elements does not mean they are not there.
Odola, we are talking about different things. I was simply saying that it's jarring to me to hear how Greek and Roman cultures influence Biblical texts because I think of the Biblical period as being well over before those cultures moved into the Middle-east.

As for Talmud, it was written down from about 200 to 500 CE, around the same time as the development of the early Christian Church, and a lot of the theological thought (as opposed to practice) in Talmud is, I think, influenced by the early Church, and perhaps that goes both ways. In a class I'm taking at my synagogue we were talking about theodicy and life after death. There is very little about life after death in the Jewish Bible - it was a Talmudic idea, and I think was influenced by the early Church, though different. I know I have always considered it a Christian concept rather than a Jewish one.

Judaism has always reflected elements of the cultures around it. Many Judeans during the Greek period were attracted to and influenced by Greek thought, for example, but that isn't Biblical. When I was talking about the Biblical world, I was talking about a much earlier time than the New Testament deals with.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Odola, we are talking about different things. I was simply saying that it's jarring to me to hear how Greek and Roman cultures influence Biblical texts because I think of the Biblical period as being well over before those cultures moved into the Middle-east.
Depends, - you cannot deny the influence of the Philisters on the biblical stories from the Judges and Kingdoms' times, and the Philisters were of Mycenean origin at their beginning - even if later dissolved into the local people. So you have very ancient Greek imfluence right there. And there is some mention of Philisters even in the Abrahamic narratives - if not anachronistic - those would be those most "Greek" layers.

As for Talmud, it was written down from about 200 to 500 CE, around the same time as the development of the early Christian Church, and a lot of the theological thought (as opposed to practice) in Talmud is, I think, influenced by the early Church, and perhaps that goes both ways.
Some seem in clear opposition to early Christian thoughs, as some ideas which were present in Judaism before - like the famous "Two Powers in Heaven" idea - started to be considered as outside of orthodox Judaism, while they have been tolerated before.

In a class I'm taking at my synagogue we were talking about theodicy and life after death. There is very little about life after death in the Jewish Bible - it was a Talmudic idea, and I think was influenced by the early Church, though different. I know I have always considered it a Christian concept rather than a Jewish one.
Even if one considers the Maccabees books purely historic they still do show a pre-Christian consideration of those matters in Judaism.

Judaism has always reflected elements of the cultures around it. Many Judeans during the Greek period were attracted to and influenced by Greek thought, for example, but that isn't Biblical. When I was talking about the Biblical world, I was talking about a much earlier time than the New Testament deals with.
Again it depends, Jesus in NT seems to prefer the Abrahamic covenant to the Mosaic one and expresses His view that what was "in the beginning" has precedence. This could imply that He Himself considert the oldest layest most valuable and binding - the "Hebrew" over the "Jewish" so to speak. But this is how it appears to me (and some others) when I read the text - most readers would probably not go that far in their interpretation.

Still, exactly those oldest layes are not unfamiliar to the European cultures at all, actually those are a big part of what European cultures were and are based on.

Even though I do think the influnce was mostly from the Levant into Europe on all levels and the "feedback" was mostly limited - but it was not "foreign" influence - for this to have been so Europe is simply too much and too deeply a "levantinized" culture at its very core.
 
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