Types of Authority in Formative Christianity and Judaism

By Bruce Chilton; Jacob Neusner | Go to book overview

PREFACE

This partnership of an Anglican/Episcopalian priest and a rabbi (bearing no denominational affiliation) aims at making possible a new approach to the analytical study of Orthodox, Catholic Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism in late antiquity, when both took shape as the West would know them. We regard as insufficient the study of formative Christianity out of communication with Rabbinic Judaism, or of formative Judaism out of phase with Christianity. Since both heirs of the same Scripture formed, each for itself, a category-formation in important aspects corresponding to that of the other, neither can be fully understood in its broadest context wholly on its own. So here we continue a project in the systematic comparison and contrast of kindred religions.

We do so by reason of two convictions. First, religions are best studied in a comparative framework, not in isolation from the rest of the world of religious history and culture. Second, religions that are compared and contrasted have to begin with to intersect, and Judaism and Christianity are joined together from their mutual origin in Scripture and never really part company. Hence our work of comparison of history, religion, and theology, in a set of systematic studies. We maintain that since both religious traditions took shape in response to the same Scripture—“the Old Testament” of Christianity, “the written Torah” of Rabbinic Judaism—they not only share a common heritage but also take up a joint set of concerns, dictated by Scriptural imperative to them both equally. Accordingly, studying their formative history ought to require a constant encounter of each with the other in a systematic labor of comparison and contrast. We mean to provide academic, descriptive ways of studying the formation of Christianity in the framework of the formation of Rabbinic Judaism, of gaining perspective on that

-vii-

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