Attitudes to Gentiles in ancient Judaism and early Christianity

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Did Gentile believers need to convert to Judaism as an essential component of their affiliation with Jesus, or had the appearance of the messiah rendered such distinctions invalid? This volume assesses the viewpoints on attitudes towards Gentiles and the status and expectations of Gentiles in the Christian church. In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library.

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Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study. Gager also finds that Judaism did not fade away after Paul's death but continued to appeal to both Christians and pagans for centuries. Jewish synagogues remained important religious and social institutions throughout the Mediterranean world.

Making use of all possible literary and archaeological sources, including Muslim texts, Gager helps recover the long pre-history of a Jewish Paul, obscured by recent, negative portrayals of the Apostle, and recognizes the enduring bond between Jews and Christians that has influenced all aspects of Christianity. In this delightfully engaging and erudite book, John Gager guides the reader through the interconnected histories of Judaism and Christianity, ranging from the Jewish origins of Christianity to the debates about the apostle Paul in modern Jewish thought.

Annette Yoshiko Reed, University of Pennsylvania A must-read for anyone interested in Christian stereotypes of Jews, who will learn here about the vibrancy and continued appeal of Judaism. This book is a rich source of literary and archeological evidence, as well as illuminating biographical anecdotes, which catch the existential dilemmas of the scholars involved in these burning issues.

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Maren R. Doing so, he shows that the figure of Paul as a radical religious innovator, having rejected all aspects of his previous Jewish identity, is seriously flawed. The last generation of scholars has learned to speak of Jesus the Jew. As Gager convincingly argues, it is now time to recognize that Paul, too, remained a committed Jew.


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John G. Gager reveals the profound Jewishness of early Christianity and reconsiders Paul's role in the formation of Christianity, anti-Judaism in the early Church, and the parting of ways between the two religious faiths.

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With stunning clarity, his book demonstrates how timely and relevant great scholarship can be to our contemporary world. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests. Being a treasured possession is not a passive role. God has a mission for his special people. He assigns the Jewish people to fill the role of priests. In other words, the Jewish people are to serve as intercessors for the nations, mediating at the altar on their behalf.

To serve in this way requires Israel to be a holy people. To be holy means to be set apart and dedicated to the service of God. The prophetic writings amplify this missionary task.

Wrestling with Their Jewish Heritage

Have we always been eager to perform the task? The call of Jonah to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh is a case of a reluctant Jewish missionary. Nevertheless, Jonah was reminded by besetting circumstances that God had commissioned him. Even though he took a circuitous route to obedience, he still preached repentance to the Assyrians and subsequently saw gentiles come to faith in the God of Israel.

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Noted historians and scholars tell us that missionary policies extended well past the biblical era. They trace strong missionary activity on the part of the Jewish community throughout the Second Temple period and beyond, and the Latin and Greek literature substantiate it. The Idumeans, Moabites and Itureans converted in B. According to twentieth-century Jewish historian, Salo Baron, as much as 10 percent of the population of ancient Rome was composed of Jews, many of whom were converts.

It was the standard way that Jews related to the gentile community, and the efforts were intense and organized. As the Jewish center of learning and population shifted to Babylonia, the evidence of intense proselytization continues. The Geonim actually set quotas. We note that Rabbis Judah and Joseph…and Rav Ashi…chided the people for not bringing in sufficient converts. Missionizing that began in Torah times did not end with the Christianization of the Roman Empire. Even in those pockets of paganism surrounded by Christian or Islamic nations, there was unencumbered proselytization.


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Among the pagan converts were the Khazars in the Caucuses eighth century and the Aksunite Kingdom of Ethiopia from whom emerged the Falashas. There is additional documentation that Jewish proselytism continued well into the Middle Ages. The response of the German Tosafists, which was written in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, include the mention of about twenty proselytes to Judaism. There were many impediments and obstacles to Jews seeking proselytes, including external pressures.

The Jewish religion in the 1st century

At best, Jews lived in gentile communities at the suffrage of the people and rulers. The Jewish way of life was one of anxiously watching events in the dominant culture, ready to leave as soon as the tenuous welcome was withdrawn. The Roman Empire seemed to favor the Jewish people over other conquered people; however, that tolerance was always precarious. The Roman leaders realized that Jewish people had a loyalty to their own identity that was far stronger than any allegiance to Rome.

They also realized that a convert to Judaism was not merely voicing a change in his or her religious opinion:. The Romans knew that conversion to Judaism meant adherence not merely to a religion but also to a political state; hence, once Judaea was annexed, conversion had dangerous political overtones the Romans could hardly tolerate. Roman intolerance took two forms, the first of which was simply to expel Jewish people from certain provinces.

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However the Romans rethought that strategy, inasmuch as they did not necessarily wish to lose the benefits that Jewish people normally bring to society. Rather than expulsion, a more workable strategy was to prohibit Jews from making converts. Severus gave no reason for the edict, and the ban was not effective. Jewish missionary endeavors were specifically banned when Rome adopted Christianity as the official state religion.

The punishment was not spelled out, but apparently left to the discretion of individual judges.



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