Jews and Christians

Andrew S. Jacobs

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199271566
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Jews and Christians

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  • Religion
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  • Religion in the Ancient World


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A concise narrative of the split between ancient Judaism and Christianity persists in modern scholarship. This narrative has its roots in a theologically conditioned, supersessionist reading of the New Testament, in which the messianic salvation rejected by the Jews was taken up by Gentile believers and became the distinct religion of ‘the Christians’. The ‘parting of the ways’ is a clear yet benign metaphor which allows each religion to maintain a robust history and a common genealogy, just connected enough to justify ongoing, friendly relations, but not so connected that the distinctive tradition of each religion becomes too blurred. The present challenge for the historian of early Jewish–Christian relations is to juggle the rhetorical bias of the sources with the academic desire for an unbiased analysis of history.

Keywords: ancient Judaism; Christianity; New Testament; messianic salvation; rhetorical bias; Gentiles

Article.  7734 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Christianity ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Religion in the Ancient World

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