The Formation of Christianity in Antioch: A Social-Scientific Approach to the Separation between Judaism and Christianity

By Magnus Zetterholm | Go to book overview

3

THE CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS DIFFERENTIATION

They teased and vilified the Radzymin Chassidim—who made no effort to defend themselves. Why argue with enemies? In the Radzymin study house, no one dared ask questions. Their Radzymin Rabbi, nevertheless, remained constant in his beliefs …

Isaac Bashevis Singer, In my Fathers’ Court


Introduction

It is a sad fact that our knowledge of the Judaism of the first century CE is rather limited. It is true that we know quite a lot about the ideology of different Jewish groups. The pioneering works of C. G. Montefiore, G. F. Moore, R. T. Herford, J. Parkes, and W. D. Davies, for instance, culminating in that of E. P. Sanders, 1 have been of tremendous importance in showing that ancient Judaism was not a legalistic religion in which salvation was earned by merit, but a living religion of grace and forgiveness.

Now, ideology as expressed in literary texts reflects mainly the view of the cultural elite and not that of ordinary people. The connection between these levels is not self-evident. One additional problem is that, when we do find information about how ideology was being transformed into action, namely, in the Tannaitic literature, this is also a product of the religious elite. The conclusion to be drawn is that we possess almost no sources that can provide us with information about how ordinary Jews in Palestine and in the Diaspora gave a concrete form to torah obedience. What is lacking is information about how religiousness may have varied between different groups and places. Can we, for instance, assume that all Jews related to the torah in the same way, or is it reasonable that the halakhic

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The Formation of Christianity in Antioch: A Social-Scientific Approach to the Separation between Judaism and Christianity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures x
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Aim, Method and Perspectives 1
  • 2 - The Setting 18
  • 3 - The Cultural and Religious Differentiation 53
  • 4 - Evidence of Interaction 112
  • 5 - Politics and Persecution 178
  • Bibliography 236
  • Index of Passages 261
  • Index of Subjects 269
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