In the early stages of Judaism, the rabbis consolidated authority by establishing an apostolic succession and formulating a theology of "realistic messianism," channeling messianic expectations into a this-worldly political framework.
Schisms and Sects
As the rabbis consolidated their power, they fought against internal opponents who either supplemented the Oral Torah with gnostic teachings or replaced it with the biblical literalism of the Karaites.
Missions and Expansion
Following the period of Christian hegemony in 5th-century Palestine, Jews flourished in Babylonia, spread westward to medieval Spain, north and east to Europe, while continually adjusting their cultural bearings.
Exploration and Conquest
Medieval Jews depended upon protection from outside rulers to secure a semi-autonomous political empire, consequently walking a tightrope between persecution and coexistence with their non-Jewish neighbors in exile.
In modernity, Judaism has successfully met the challenges accompanying emancipation, assimilation, and antisemitism by redefining itself as a multiplicity of cultures based on the triad: God, Torah, and Israel.