Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins: Diversity, by George W. E. Nickelsburg

By George W. E. Nickelsburg

Within the 19th and primary half the 20 th century, Christian students portrayed Judaism because the darkish spiritual backdrop to the releasing occasions of Jesus' lifestyles and the increase of the early church. because the Fifties, notwithstanding, a dramatic shift has happened within the learn of Judaism, pushed by means of new manuscript and archaeological discoveries and new tools and instruments for reading resources. George Nickelsburg right here presents a large and synthesizing photo of the result of the previous fifty years of scholarship on early Judaism and Christianity. He organizes his dialogue round a few conventional subject matters: scripture and culture, Torah and the righteous lifestyles, God's job on humanity's behalf, brokers of God's job, eschatology, historic situations, and social settings. all of the chapters discusses the findings of up to date study on early Judaism, after which sketches the consequences of this learn for a potential reinter-pretation of Christianity. nonetheless, within the author's view, there is still an important Jewish-Christian schedule but to be built and applied.

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The second major set of narrative additions elaborate on the Genesis stories about Abraham. The beginning of the cycle of stories explains why Abram left Ur of the Chaldees (11:3—12:21). The son of an idolatrous priest, he came to understand that there was only one living God, and so he set the idol's temple on fire (Hebrew 'Ur) and fled the country. Abram's speculation about God also led him to recognize the folly of astrology (for which Chaldea was famous). Taken together, these stories recount how the conversion of an idolater led to the foundation of the chosen nation of Israel, which Jubilees repeatedly contrasts with idola­ 25 trous and impure Gentiles.

Tertullian refers to the patriarch as a prophet, quotes a passage from 1 Enoch, and uses material from others. Other allusions to Enochic traditions appear in the writings of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, PseudoClement, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and other authors of the sec­ 68 ond to fifth centuries. While none of this justifies the conclusion that the books of Enoch were universally considered to be on a par with the books of the Hebrew Bible, it does indicate the substantial influence of these texts, and it suggests that, as in other matters, we must posit considerable variety in the early church.

It followed from this that one person or one community could reject the other's teaching or practices because they did not accept the authority of a given book or textual reading, or because they considered a particular interpretation to be incorrect or implausible. We shall see specific instances of this in subsequent chapters. In the first century, specific nuances that the early church found in scriptural texts or particular christological interpretations o f those texts could be rejected by some Jews on the same grounds that non-Christian Jews could disagree with one another's interpretations.

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