Matthew Thiessen

in Contesting Conversion

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199793563
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199914456 | DOI:

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The introduction focuses on the role circumcision played in constructing Jewish identity in antiquity. It demonstrates that ancient Jews disputed not only the function of circumcision but also how one determined a person’s Jewishness. Who was a Jew? How could one become a Jew? Could a non-Jewish person become a Jew? Ancient Jews disputed each of these questions, demonstrating how variegated Judaism was in this period. Consequently, it is not surprising that early Christians also disagreed about whether Gentile believers in Jesus could benefit from undergoing circumcision and attempting to become Jews. It argues that modern scholarship on ancient Judaism and early Christianity has wrongly described early Jewish perceptions of circumcision.

Keywords: conversion; circumcision; Jewishness; identity construction; Judaism

Chapter.  5427 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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