Jewish Responses to Early Christians: History and Polemics, 30-150 C.E.

Jewish Responses to Early Christians: History and Polemics, 30-150 C.E.

Jewish Responses to Early Christians: History and Polemics, 30-150 C.E.

Jewish Responses to Early Christians: History and Polemics, 30-150 C.E.

Synopsis

What were Jews saying and doing about the followers of Jesus in the first two centuries? In this provocative and comprehensive study, Claudia Setzer argues persuasively that Jews saw the early followers of Jesus as Jews for some time after the Christians viewed themselves as separate from the larger Jewish communities.

This book provides historical context and nuanced exegesis of texts that continue to be "trouble spots" in Jewish-Christian relations. It illuminates the diverse strands of early anti-Judaism while providing the reader with some surprises.

Excerpt

Overworked undergraduate professors should never underestimate their impact on students. This book, I now realize, began in an introductory New Testament course I took at Macalester College in 1973. Calvin Roetzel taught me the tools of critical study, as well as rehabilitated the image of the Pharisees and early Judaism in my eyes. These two interests—New Testament and early Judaism— guided me through graduate school and have dominated my subsequent teaching and scholarship.

When I was experimenting with ideas for a dissertation topic, my adviser Raymond E. Brown suggested I gather all the explicit statements about what Jews and Christians were saying and doing about one another. As my work evolved, it proved unwieldy. Since many others had considered Christian attitudes toward Jews and Judaism, I chose to leave aside that half of the equation. Jewish attitudes toward Christians, however, have not received a systematic treatment. Because of the paucity of early sources directly from Jews and Judaism, few have ventured into this area.

I have joined the few Jewish sources with information of Christian (and occasionally pagan) provenance to identify a spectrum of trends in Jewish attitudes toward early Christians. I do not automatically discount (or accept) Christian testimony of Jewish responses, but consider issues of bias, theological and literary utility, and external corroboration. My hope is to provide a useful sourcebook for the field, as well as to contribute nuance to our understanding of early Jewish-Christian relationships.

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