The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other

The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other

The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other

The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other

Synopsis

In late antiquity, as Christianity emerged from Judaism, it was not only the new religion that was being influenced by the old. The rise and revolutionary challenge of Christianity also had a profound influence on rabbinic Judaism, which was itself just emerging and, like Christianity, trying to shape its own identity. In The Jewish Jesus, Peter Schäfer reveals the crucial ways in which various Jewish heresies, including Christianity, affected the development of rabbinic Judaism. He even shows that some of the ideas that the rabbis appropriated from Christianity were actually reappropriated Jewish ideas. The result is a demonstration of the deep mutual influence between the sister religions, one that calls into question hard and fast distinctions between orthodoxy and heresy, and even Judaism and Christianity, during the first centuries CE.

Excerpt

This is a book about the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism, that momentous manifestation of Judaism after the destruction of the Temple, under the impact of the rise of Christianity in the first centuries C.E. It is about identities and boundaries, boundaries between religions and boundaries within religions; about the fluidity of boundaries and the demarcation of boundaries—identities that are less stable and boundaries that are more permeable than has been previously thought and yet increasingly demarcated in order to occupy territories. It is about the fluidity of categories such as “inside” and “outside,” “orthodoxy” and “heresy,” not least “Judaism” and “Christianity,” shifting paradigms that depend on literary and historical contexts and do not allow of an easy “either/or.” It is a book by a historian who is deeply convinced that differences matter and must not be dissolved in overarching ideas void of any attempt to anchor them in time and place. Its main thesis is that not only the emerging Christianity drew on contemporary Judaism but that rabbinic Judaism, too, tapped into ideas and concepts of Christianity to shape its own identity; that, far from being forever frozen in ingrained hostility, the two sister religions engaged in a profound interaction during late antiquity. Even more, it posits that . . .

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