Early Jewish Opposition to Jesus-Devotion
By the end of the first century, among the matters in dispute between Christians (Jewish and Gentile) and Jewish religious authorities, Christian devotion to Jesus had become prominent.1 In particular, it is commonly recognized today that the Gospel of John (ca. 90–100 c.e.)gives us evidence of sharp conflict in the late first century between Johannine Christians and Jewish authorities over Christological claims, although this conflict appears in John's narrative as one between “the Jews” and Jesus over claims he makes for himself. Perhaps especially in light of J. L. Martyn's influential study, scholars today commonly see John's Gospel as reflecting a bitter polemic between Jewish synagogues and Johannine Jewish Christians that led (at some point) to the expulsion of Johannine Jew
1. The separation of “Christianity” and “Judaism” has received considerable attention
especially in recent years. See, e.g., A. F. Segal, Rebecca's Children: Judaism and Christianity in
the Roman World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986); Jews and Christians: The
Parting of the Ways a.d. 70 to 135, ed. J. D. G. Dunn (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr “Paul Siebeck”,
1992); Dunn, The Partings of the Ways: Between Judaism and Christianity and Their Signifi-
cance for the Character of Christianity (London: SCM Press; Philadelphia: Trinity Press,
1991); and S. G. Wilson, Related Strangers: Jews and Christians, 70–170 c.e. (Minneapolis: For-
tress Press, 1995). Scholarship has tended to focus on Christian developments, but see C. J.
Setzer, Jewish Responses to Early Christians: History and Polemics, 30–150 c.e. (Minneapolis:
Fortress Press, 1994). See also Setzer, “'You Invent a Christ!': Christological Claims as Points
of Jewish-Christian Dispute,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review 44 (1991): 315–28.
This chapter was published as an article in the Journal of Theological Studies 50 (1999): 35–58,
and reprinted by permission of Oxford University Press. I thank the editor and publishers
for permission to reproduce the essay here, slightly edited.