“Be on Your Guard Against Food Offered to Idols”

David M. Freidenreich

in Foreigners and Their Food

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780520253216
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950276 | DOI:
“Be on Your Guard Against Food Offered to Idols”

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The earliest advocates of the gentile mission could not have imagined the impact that their outreach would have on the composition of the Christ-believing community, its self-definition, and its attitudes toward the Jews and gentiles who remained outside its bounds. Because this mission proved far more successful than efforts to persuade Jews to accept Jesus as the messiah, the Christ-believing community and its leaders increasingly hailed from gentile backgrounds. These individuals rejected the religious traditions of their ancestors, but they did not regard their new religious identity as Jewish either. On the contrary, they understood themselves to be “neither Jew nor Greek,” interpreting Paul's words about faith in God through Christ from a very different perspective than Paul himself had done. They were “Christians,” and over the second and third centuries they created the notion of “Christianity” as a distinct religion. This chapter focuses on the role played in this process by Christian attitudes toward the permissibility of various foodstuffs, especially foodstuffs associated with foreigners. These attitudes reflect the styles in which Christian authorities imagined Jews and idolatrous gentiles, and thus the style in which they defined Christianity as neither the former nor the latter.

Keywords: gentiles; Jews; Christians; foodstuffs; foreign food; food restrictions; Christianity

Chapter.  4054 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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