Teaching early Jewish-Christian relations: Negotiating the tensions between history and theology

by Ann Conway-Jones


  1. What is it to be ‘Jewish’?
  2. The vexed question of supersessionism
  3. Dealing with rhetoric
  4. Christian appropriation of Judaism
  5. Conclusions
  6. Bibliography

This is a fertile time for scholarship on early Jewish–Christian Relations. Traditional certainties, Jewish and Christian, have been overturned, and new models of understanding developed. Terms as central as ‘Judaism’, ‘Christianity’, ‘religion’, ‘conversion’, ‘church’ … are being questioned and redefined. The diversity of belief and practice in both religious traditions is being recognised, along with the difficulty of drawing clear boundaries between them in the early centuries. The rhetorical bias of the written sources is being uncovered, and more emphasis placed on lived experience. The aim of such scholarship is an unbiased analysis of history, including a recognition of the complexity of the task. Disseminating it, however, can be tricky, particularly amongst students with an active Christian faith. The difficulties have come sharply into focus for me since becoming involved in teaching biblical studies and Jewish­–Christian relations at a theological college: The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham, where I am associate tutor and honorary research fellow. In this article I share some of my dilemmas, and conclude by suggesting ways in which they may also be relevant when teaching in secular academic institutions.

Students come to Queen’s to be trained for Christian ministry. Their priority is not a disinterested analysis of early Christian history per se. Much interpretation of the New Testament, however, is tied up with historical claims, and students do envisage deepening their knowledge of New Testament background. Some students are aware of the damage caused by supersessionist theology, even if confused about how to move on from it. I often hear the comment, ‘Jesus didn’t come to replace the law, but to fulfil it’, with scant recognition that, as far as Jews are concerned, there is little difference between the two. There is widespread interest in the Jewish roots of Christianity, and I see students clutching The Jewish Annotated New Testament (Levine & Brettler 2011). Their future ministry will involve preaching on the New Testament, which is almost impossible to do without mentioning Jews and Judaism. They may also become involved in Jewish–Christian dialogue ­– working with rabbinic colleagues to improve community relations. Some have a concept of mission which involves the conversion of all non-Christians, but, on the whole, I have encountered interest, openness, and a willingness to see the New Testament, and ongoing Jewish–Christian relations, in a new light. However, deep-seated assumptions are hard to shift, particularly when tied up with faith claims. Students tend to think in theological and essentialist terms, having difficulty with the particularities, not to say vagaries, of history. Most students have yet to move from a supersessionist narrative to a ‘parting of the ways’ model, let alone to an appreciation of the confused historical situation envisaged by current academic scholarship. In what follows I examine four topics which have given me particular difficulty.

1. What is it to be ‘Jewish’?

The first problem is simply what is meant by ‘Jewish’, particularly given talk of the ‘Jewish roots’ of Christianity. Asking the question opens a can of worms, and the literature is vast. I have experimented with distinguishing between four definitions/uses of ‘Jewish’, found in both the New Testament and modern authors:[1]

  • Firstly, ‘Jewish’ as ‘worshipping the God of Israel and reading the Israelite scriptures’; as opposed to ‘pagan’ (people worshipping many gods ­– Greek or otherwise). On this definition, early Christians were ‘Jewish’, even if (especially as time went on) they were also influenced by pagan philosophies (as indeed were Jewish writers like Philo). As Joan Taylor (1990, 317) says,

The notion of a Christ is a Jewish concept. The Christian God is the Jewish God. The division between what is somehow exclusively Christian and what is Jewish is an impossible one to make in the early Church.

In an exception to the typical use of ἰουδαῖος in John’s Gospel, Jesus self-identifies as Jewish in conversation with the Samaritan woman, ‘You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews’ (4:22). And when, according to Luke, Jesus interprets ‘in all the scriptures the things concerning himself’ to the disciples he meets on the road to Emmaus (24:27), said scriptures are Jewish. James Dunn (1991, 258) ascribes theological importance to this:

The more divine significance we Christians recognize in Jesus, God’s self-revelation in fullest form possible within humanity, the more we need also to recall that this incarnation took place precisely in a Jew – Jesus the Jew.

  • Secondly, ‘Jewish’ as ‘ethnically Judean, and observing Judean ancestral customs, such as kashrut, Shabbat and circumcision’; as opposed to Greek, Roman, Egyptian, or Syrian. As Steve Mason (2007, 511) observes,

The Ioudaioi of the Graeco-Roman world remained an ethnos: a people associated with a place and its customs – no matter how far, or how long, they had been away from Judaea.

And, as Paula Fredriksen (2007, 29) explains,

What we think of as religion, ancient people, whether Jews or non-Jews, identified as ‘ancestral custom’. … One did not ‘believe’ or ‘believe in’ these customs; one ‘respected’ them, meaning that one kept them and (perhaps just as important) one was seen to keep them.

When Paul wrote, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek … you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Gal 3:28), he was assuming ‘Greek’ and ‘Jew’ to be as incompatible as ‘male’ and ‘female’ or ‘slave’ and ‘free’. Fredriksen (2014, 36) argues that Paul’s ‘principled resistance to circumcising gentiles-in-Christ’ preserved these ethnic distinctions: unity in Christ existed only kata pneuma. Jesus and the first disciples may have been Jewish, but ‘in sheer demographics, the Jesus movement was overwhelmingly non-Jewish in its constituency by the end of the first century, and in that sense was a largely Gentile religion’ (Harlow 2012, 416).

  • Thirdly, ‘Jewish’ as ‘not believing in Jesus as Messiah’ – clearly not a Jewish self-definition. But this is how, in the vast majority of cases, ἰουδαῖος is used in John’s Gospel – for example, in John 9:22: ‘they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue’. And as we move further into Christian history, the polemical opposition between Jew and Christian is proclaimed more and more stridently, as, for example, by John Chrysostom (Homilies against the Jews3.6; Harkins 1979, 78-9):

The difference between the Jews and us is not a small one, is it? … Why are you mixing what cannot be mixed? They crucified the Christ whom you adore as God.

Chrysostom and others may have pointed out differences so vehemently because some of their flock, often referred to as ‘Judaisers’, did not recognise the boundaries they were imposing. Daniel Boyarin (2009, 28) argues that

there is no nontheological or nonanachronistic way at all to distinguish Christianity from Judaism until institutions are in place that make and enforce this distinction, and … there is at least some reason to think that, in fact, vast numbers of people around the empire made no such firm distinctions at all until fairly late in the story.

Leonard Rutgers (2009, 121-2), by contrast, suggests that, as members of a new, fairly self-isolated, religious movement, early Christians would have had little day-to-day contact with Jews, making most Jews in Christian texts ‘hermeneutic Jews’ – one dimensional literary constructs against which to define Christian identity. Only during the course of the fourth century, as Christianity ‘became a major societal and numerical force’, ‘ever closer to those who set the imperial agenda’, did Jews all of a sudden become ‘no longer a textual, but also a very actual reality’. Debates about the social context of Christian texts will continue, but John’s Gospel demonstrates that already from the end of the first century some Christ-believers were defining themselves over against Jews.

  • Fourthly, ‘Jewish’ as ‘rabbinic’. This is obviously not applicable to the New Testament per se, although traditionally both Jews and Christians have assumed that the Pharisees were forerunners of the rabbis (a claim which is difficult to substantiate). Jonathan Sacks (2016, 216-7) articulates Jewish self-understanding with his description of the changes brought about by the events of 70 and 135 C.E.:

After the disastrous rebellions against Rome, the entire framework of existence of the Jewish people underwent a change. The world of kings and high priests, the Maccabees and the Hasmoneans, of military victories and all that went with them, was over. The world of the rabbis had taken its place, a culture of study and scholarship, in which words had replaced swords and the most important battles were intellectual ones.

Some elements of Second Temple Judaism (such as the Septuagint, or Philo’s writings) became absorbed into Christianity and not into rabbinic Judaism. What Boyarin (2004, 122) calls ‘the various second-God theologies of Jews, including Logos, Memra, Sophia, Metatron, and others’ were declared heretical by the rabbis. Conversely, the foundational documents of rabbinic Judaism, the Mishnah, Talmud and midrashim, were yet to come into existence in the first century. The discontinuities mustn’t be overstated, but Christians need to realise that Jesus did not sit down to a rabbinic Passover Seder. And even if the Pharisees were proto-rabbis, they were not, contrary to much loose talk in Christian sermons, the authoritative religious leaders of the time. It would be centuries before rabbinic Judaism became normative. The added complication here is that, in saying this, academic scholarship undercuts Jewish as well as Christian assumptions. The Jews that Christian ministers meet in Jewish–Christian dialogue may well not be au fait with the diversity in Second Temple Judaism, or with the Greek-speaking Diaspora communities of Late Antiquity.

In practice, people slide from one meaning of ‘Jewish’ to another.  But teasing out underlying assumptions introduces students to the complexity of early Jewish–Christian relations. Simplistic talk of Christianity’s ‘Jewish roots’ is called into question. Depending on how ‘Jewish’ is understood, early Christians can be seen as members of a Jewish sect; or as members of a movement which was minority Jewish, majority Gentile; or as defining themselves over against Jews; or as living before Judaism as we know it today had come into existence. I realise that I am being vague about what I mean by early Christians here, but each of those statements could be applied in relation to at least parts of the New Testament.

2. The vexed question of supersessionism

As a description of the historical relationship between Judaism and Christianity, supersessionism (the doctrine that the Church has replaced the Jewish people) has been discredited. Jewish communities did not die out following the Christian proclamation of Jesus as Messiah. Rutgers (2009, 122-3) argues that

much of the rhetoric of the Church Fathers in the fourth and fifth centuries was fuelled by this realization: their anger is a function of the level of integration enjoyed by the Jews of their own time and of the societal respect such Jews were still able to command among large segments of the population.

As a theological model too, it has been renounced in Church statements:

It is true that the church is the new people of God, yet the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy scripture. (‘Nostra Aetate: Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions’, Second Vatican Council, 1965, 4)

We affirm that the church, elected in Jesus Christ, has been engrafted into the people of God established by the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Therefore, Christians have not replaced Jews. (‘A Theological Understanding of the Relationship Between Christians and Jews’, 199th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., 1987, 2)

We firmly reject any view of Judaism which sees it as a living fossil, simply superseded by Christianity. (‘Jews, Christians, and Muslims: The Way of Dialogue’, Lambeth Conference 1988, 16)

The tortuous ways in which this renunciation is sometimes expressed, however, demonstrates its dissonance with key Christian teachings:

The Church does not replace the people of God of Israel, since as the community founded on Christ it represents in him the fulfilment of the promises made to Israel. This does not mean that Israel, not having achieved such a fulfilment, can no longer be considered to be the people of God. (‘The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable’, Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, 2015, 23)

An alternative model has emerged, referred to as ‘the parting of the ways’, in which Christianity and rabbinic Judaism are envisaged as siblings, their common parent being Second Temple Judaism. This

clear yet benign metaphor … 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 (Jacobs 2008, 170).

However, as Jacobs goes on to argue, it ‘rests on several contestable presuppositions’. It fails to recognise the diversity within both Jewish and Christian groupings in Late Antiquity; the complex interactions between them, with ‘partings’ happening in different ways in different places (sometimes followed by rapprochements); and the lack of central ‘orthodox’ authorities to police the boundaries until the fourth century. As Judith Lieu (1994, 110) says, ‘apparently neat theological patterns may hide much messier social experience’. It gives the impression of two equivalent religious identities, whereas, as Megan Hale Williams (2009, 40) points out, ‘Jews and Christians occupied quite different positions in society and thought in terms of different categories’. According to Lieu (1994, 117),

the Christianization of the Empire under Constantine and the insecurities occasioned by the reign of Julian forced both sides to address common questions: the status of ‘Israel’, the coming of the messiah. Before then they were talking about different things to different people.

And although the benign nature of the model ‘fits well with contemporary ecumenical concerns, providing a foundation for inter-religious dialogue’, it plays down the enmity in Jewish–Christian interactions (Becker & Reed 2007, 16). As Rutgers points out, ‘the world of Late Antiquity was not a peaceful place’, and all religious groups ‘were involved in the violence-ridden process of identity formation’ (2009, 5). The values of toleration and mutual respect we expect in interreligious relations today cannot be projected back onto early Christian texts.

Removing supersessionist blinkers has facilitated new interpretations of the New Testament, with particularly vigorous debates in Pauline studies. While some scholars (see, for example, Westerholm 2004) continue to advocate versions of the traditional Augustinian–Lutheran paradigm, with Paul being seen as converting from Jewish works righteousness to Christian justification by faith, new perspectives, and radical new perspectives, take Paul’s ongoing Jewish context much more seriously. They differ over the extent to which he is at odds with that context: Was he preaching a reformist message, a critique of Jewish ethnocentrism (new perspective), or was his own identity as a Jew never compromised, his mission and teaching ‘grounded in typical Jewish ways of theologizing’ (radical new perspective; Eisenbaum 2009, 216)? Some New Testament books, however, are harder to reinterpret than others; and treating supersessionism as a dirty word hinders an honest appraisal of the dynamics of early Christian texts, encouraging attempts to ‘explain away’ embarrassing evidence. As Adele Reinhartz (2014) says, regarding suggestions that ἰουδαῖοι in John’s Gospel should be translated as ‘Judeans’:

To be sure, translating ioudaioi as Jews risks perpetrating the rhetorical hostility of the Gospel itself. But to use Judean instead of Jew whitewashes the Gospel of John and relieves us of the difficult but necessary task of grappling with this gospel in a meaningful way.

Terence Donaldson (2010, 25) is right that ‘supersession’ is ‘a rather blunt instrument for differentiating the range of ways in which Christians defined themselves with respect to Israel and Judaism’. However, his subsequent analysis of key NT texts, discussing whether or not they should be viewed as antisemitic, anti-Judaic and/or supersessionist, seems to me to miss the point. It reads like rear-guard action to absolve the NT of what we regard as ‘sins’. Better to acknowledge from the start that these are biased, polemical texts. As Donaldson (2010, 154) recognises, they ‘all ascribe ultimate significance to Christ’, and ‘present Christ’s person and work as the goal and culmination of the story of Israel’. Nowhere are we going to find the respectful ‘let’s agree to disagree’ of contemporary dialogue, or a fair hearing being given to those who do not recognise Jesus as messiah. The question then becomes: how can supersessionist anti-Jewish rhetoric be faced up to without being bought into?

3. Dealing with rhetoric

As Philip Alexander (2013, 6) observes, in the secular academy,

Rhetoric is viewed with suspicion, particularly if it is used to mask weakness in evidence or argument. Emotion and raw conviction are irrelevant. Reasons have to be given: unsupported opinion has no validity. All judgements must be evidence based.

Jacobs (2008, 169) characterises the challenge for the historian of early Jewish–Christian relations as being ‘to juggle the rhetorical bias of the sources with the academic desire for an unbiased analysis of history’. Whilst at college, ministerial students are expected to write evidence-based essays conforming to academic standards. This should involve analysing the rhetorical moves of early Christian texts. As Lieu (2002, 2-3) puts it:

The texts do not simply reflect a ‘history’ going on independently of them, they are themselves part of the process by which Judaism or Christianity came into being. For it was through literature that the ideas were formulated, a self-understanding shaped and articulated, and then mediated to and appropriated by others, and through literature that people and ideas were included or excluded. What the texts were doing is sometimes as, if not more, important that what they were saying.

A writer’s strategies should not be confused with a description of reality (see Hodge 2015, 170). Naming what is going on in a text can be liberating, and provides opportunities for nuanced engagement with its stance. But many students struggle with, as they see it, contradicting the Bible, when it is pointed out that Matthew made up a proof text (2:23), or that there is no evidence of Pharisees being any more hypocritical than anyone else (contra Mt 23:13), or that it is ‘unlikely that Jews would have been excluded from the synagogue for believing Jesus to be the Messiah’ (contra John 9:22; Reinhartz 2011, 153). And once they have left college, they will be writing not essays but sermons – creating their own rhetoric, and constructing a Christian identity for today. Consciously or unconsciously, the ways in which they deal with Jewish characters and Jewish ideas in the New Testament will help shape contemporary Jewish–Christian relations. So as well as taking texts apart, they need strategies for producing constructive messages for contemporary congregations. Given that ‘the parting of the ways’ is a fait accompli, can they avoid getting caught up in New Testament polemic whose aim is to establish distinctions between Christ-believers and others? Is there a way of honestly facing up to the rhetoric: understanding the dynamics of the time, but challenging its relevance for today? Reinhartz (2009, 386, 387, 392) proposes four ways of reading John’s Gospel, providing a useful model. She labels them ‘compliant’ – ‘in that it accepts the view of the world that is presented in the text’; ‘resistant’ – adopting ‘the point of view of those who are vilified by the text’; ‘sympathetic’ – taking into account ‘the particular circumstances within which the gospel was written’; and ‘engaged’ – addressing ‘theological issues … head on’. It is notable that her ‘engaged’ reading largely consists of questions; such as: How does one uphold the sanctity of a text whose ideology denigrates those who do not share its worldview? As she acknowledges, the same question can be asked of the Hebrew Bible and other authoritative Jewish texts, particularly as regards their attitudes towards outsiders and the role of women. So

the challenge for those of us whose communities of faith have a sacred canon is as follows: can we be so bold as to reject some aspects of our Scriptures as ‘ungodly’? Is the valuing of a sacred Scripture an all or nothing proposition? (Reinhartz 2009, 392).

Focussing on early Jewish–Christian relations feeds into a process whereby students learn to question and challenge Scripture. The Bible remains authoritative not because it hands down the right answers, but because through engaging with it in a variety of ways, including resistance, Christians find inspiration. Getting behind New Testament rhetoric to explore how Christ-believers interacted within their Jewish and Gentile societies throws up all sorts of questions – some of them of purely historical interest, and some with contemporary resonance. Such resonance can be picked up in sermons, and shared with the congregation; but the answers to what it means to be a Christian in 21st century Britain cannot be read straight off the New Testament page. Historical scholarship provides the necessary distancing to acknowledge that the context of Jewish–Christian relations has changed completely.

4. Christian appropriation of Judaism

Among Jules Isaac’s recommendations (1965, 18), in 1947, was the demand that Christian teaching ‘state very explicitly, so that no Christian can be ignorant of it, that Jesus was a Jew’. This as he saw it, would be an essential corrective to ‘l’enseignement du mépris’ (‘the teaching of contempt’; Isaac 1965, 8-9). In academic circles, the Jewishness of Jesus is now taken for granted, and the question of Paul’s Jewish identity, even after his ‘conversion’, is being taken much more seriously. As Lieu (2002, 2) writes,

Some of the most important insights into the nature of ‘early Christianity’ in recent study have arisen out of a recognition of its Jewishness; continuities provide the framework within which discontinuity can be explored. Growing awareness of the rich variety of ‘Judaism’ at the end of the Second Temple period, an awareness fuelled by discoveries such as that of the Dead Sea Scrolls but also by renewed interest in literature other than that of developing rabbinic Judaism, has made it possible to locate the early ‘Christians’ within that diversity.

In the Christian popular consciousness too, it seems to me, Jesus (though not Paul) is firmly established as Jewish. Dare I caution that the pendulum could swing too far the other way? Because once the Jewish roots of Christianity are emphasised, Christians start appropriating Jewish texts and traditions, even those originating long after Jesus’ time. When I take ministerial students to a Shabbat morning service at a progressive synagogue, they return full of enthusiasm, often talking about using synagogue prayers or rabbinic midrash in their own worship or sermons. They realise that Jewish worship makes no mention of Christ, but they don’t experience what is distinctively Jewish as incompatible with Christianity. (Admittedly, on a visit to an orthodox synagogue, differences are more conspicuous.) Part of the problem is the Christian desire to find an overarching structure, a divine plan, which accommodates both Judaism and Christianity. There is an imperialistic instinct to coral Jews and Judaism into a Christian theological framework, with little recognition that the two traditions have distinct, incompatible identities, neither of which is static. Pamela Eisenbaum (2005, 235-6), writing in the context of Pauline studies, criticises

the quest for the essence of Judaism. Whether this essence is negative as in the traditional model (legalism), or whether it is positive as in the New Perspective (covenantal nomism), Judaism still ends up looking like a form of Christianity without Christ.

She insists that ‘the social and ideological reality we call Judaism is an elusive, multifaceted, and moving target’. The same might be said of Christianity, which is defined not only by its Jewish roots, but also by the ways in which it parted from the Jewish community. Lieu (2002, 2) situates her work within

new attempts to understand not just how and why Christianity emerged as a separate religious tradition from Judaism, but why that separation was accompanied by such negative, even vitriolic, and often caricaturing, language and images.

On a more positive note, Sebastian Selvén (2017, 275) suggests ‘acknowledging, even celebrating, the fact that Christianity did not just grow out of Judaism but also out of Greek, Roman, and many other religious traditions’. Christianity is not the fulfilment of Judaism, both because Judaism has an ongoing independent identity, and because Christianity, which from very early on became majority Gentile, has absorbed all sorts of influences. A key tenet of contemporary interreligious dialogue is that people be allowed to speak for themselves. Recognising the Jewishness of Jesus and other key NT figures is a positive move; a more difficult task is to treat with respect those Jewish characters who reject messianic claims about Jesus, be they synoptic Pharisees and Sadducees, or John’s Jews. The challenge is not to find a single theological model embracing both, but to respect difference and diversity.

5. Conclusions

In the context of a theological college, my aim is to take seriously where students are coming from, and what they have come to college for, but without compromising academic rigour. They need to be guided through a process of de-familiarisation, what Mike Higton (in a private correspondence) has called ‘a necessary form of ascesis’. This involves seeing ourselves from the outside, as others see us. And it undercuts essentialist claims. Historical scholarship has moved from treating Judaism as a belief system to the concrete particularities of Jewish societies. There are no ahistorical definitions of Judaism and Christianity; both are constantly being reinterpreted in the light of new situations. Christianity evolved through a messy process of separation from its Jewish roots, a process in which the rhetoric of supersessionism played a part. The corollary of acknowledging change in this way is that the ‘original’ meaning of an authoritative text can no longer be equated with its ‘authentic’ meaning. There is no escaping the responsibility to shape Christianity anew in each generation. I contend that it is possible to move between analytical historical investigation (an essay) and creative theological reworking (a sermon), but it requires self-awareness. Clear daylight needs to be allowed between authorial intention and contemporary reinterpretation. An essay involves putting aside faith commitment and contemporary concerns – reading a text within its own complex context, alert to manipulative rhetoric. Preachers, by contrast, have always taken words out of context, and reworked them to serve contemporary needs. This can be taken positively: a sermon is not bound by past configurations of the relationship between Christian and Jew. The question then becomes: is this a responsible, creative reinterpretation for today? Unlike the writers of the New Testament, are we willing to let others speak for themselves, and respectfully acknowledge difference?

In the context of a secular academic institution, where students come from a variety of faith traditions, or none, the challenges are different. The ethos of the institution, and the course, may demand detached, objective, historical scholarship; but it may not be so simple for the students. They will bring assumptions about faith, whether positive or negative, into the classroom, including a tendency to think in essentialist terms. Acknowledging difference cuts both ways – is the secular academy able to concede the importance of religious traditions to their adherents, and treat matters of faith with respect? It is good pedagogy to start where students are at, even if one then aims to widen their horizons. For some students, scripture (be that the Tanakh, the Old and New Testaments, or the Quran) is authoritative, and they struggle to treat it like any other historical document. Nuancing their understanding of scriptural authority, by integrating a questioning attitude within a framework of respect, is key to resisting fundamentalism. Definitions of identity, including ancient identities, are a live issue – see the heated discussion about the translation of the Greek word ἰουδαῖος in the Marginalia Review of Books (Law & Halton 2014). As James Crossly (2014) remarks, ‘The ioudaios debate is an especially good example of the impossibility of escaping ideology, no matter how disinterested a given scholar might be and no matter how unware a scholar might be’. One cannot simply ignore antisemitism, including current manifestations on university campuses, when discussing ancient Jewish and Christian texts. It may be possible, thanks to ‘the rules of civil discourse entrenched within the secular academy’ (Alexander 2013, 13), to facilitate dialogue between students of different backgrounds, in which stereotypes are dismantled and the students enabled to appreciate a variety of worldviews. Reactions to John’s Gospel, for example, will depend on where students situate themselves with regard to its rhetoric. Realising how John 8:44 sounds to Jewish readers challenges Christian students to consider the Gospel’s biases. And a Muslim perspective brings more yet angles into a discussion of how religious traditions view themselves with respect to their predecessors. If historical issues with present-day resonances are handled sensitively, the classroom may become a creative forum in which students learn to acknowledge difference and value diversity.

[1] I realise that in the case of early Greek texts I am conflating what ought ideally be a two-stage discussion: firstly, the meaning of ἰουδαῖος, and secondly, its translation. But I am dealing with students who do not know Greek. David Millar (2014, 258-9) argues that, on balance, it is better to translate ἰουδαῖος as ‘Jew’ rather than ‘Judean’. As he observes, ‘“Jew” is associated, in modern parlance, with ethnicity, culture and religion, and the complexity of the modern term closely mirrors the complexity of the ancient term’.

6. Bibliography

Church Documents

Books and Articles

  • Alexander, Philip. (2013) ‘Personal Reflections on the Role of the Secular Academy in Inter-Faith Dialogue’. Jewish-Christian Relations: Insights and Issues in the Ongoing Jewish-Christian Dialogue [Online]. Available: http://www.jcrelations.net/Personal_Reflections_on_the_Role_of_the_Secular_Academy_in_Inter-Faith_Dialogue.4109.0.html?id=720&L=3&searchText=Alexander&searchFilter=cat_16&pdf=1.
  • Becker, Adam H. & Annette Yoshiko Reed (eds). (2007) The Ways that Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, Minneapolis: Fortress.
  • Boyarin, Daniel. (2003) ‘Semantic Differences; or, “Judaism”/“Christianity”’. In: Becker, Adam H. & Annette Yoshiko Reed (eds) The Ways that Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.
  • Boyarin, Daniel. (2004) Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Boyarin, Daniel. (2009) ‘Rethinking Jewish Christianity: An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category (to which is Appended a Correction of my Border Lines)’. Jewish Quarterly Review 99(1), 7-36.
  • Crossley, James. 26 August (2014) ‘What a Difference a Translation Makes! An Ideological Analysis of the Ioudaios Debate’. Marginalia [Online]. Available: http://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/difference-translation-makes-ideological-analysis-ioudaios-debate-james-crossley/.
  • Donaldson, Terence L. (2010) Jews and Anti-Judaism in the New Testament: Decision Points and Divergent Interpretations. London: SPCK.
  • Dunn, James D. G. (1991) The Partings of the Ways: Between Christianity and Judaism and their Significance for the Character of Christianity. London: SCM.
  • Eisenbaum, Pamela. (2005) ‘Paul, Polemics, and the Problem of Essentialism’. Biblical Interpretation 13(3), 224-238.
  • Eisenbaum, Pamela. (2009) Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle. New York: HarperCollins.
  • Fredriksen, Paula. (2007) ‘Mandatory Retirement: Ideas in the Study of Christian Origins Whose Time Has Come to Go’. In: Capes, David B., April D. DeConick & Helen K. Bond (eds) Israel’s God and Rebecca’s Children: Christology and Community in Early Judaism and Christianity: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado and Alan F. Segal. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press.
  • Fredriksen, Paula. (2014) ‘How Later Contexts Affect Pauline Content, or: Retrospect is the Mother of Anachronism’. In: Tomson, Peter J. & Joshua Schwartz (eds) Jews and Christians in the First and Second Centuries: How to Write Their History. Leiden: Brill.
  • Harkins, Paul W. (1979) Saint John Chrysostom: Discourses against Judaizing Christians. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press.
  • Harlow, Daniel C. (2012) ‘Early Judaism and Early Christianity’. In: Collins, John J. & Daniel C. Harlow (eds) Early Judaism: A Comprehensive Overview. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
  • Hodge, Caroline Johnson. (2015) ‘The Question of Identity: Gentiles as Gentiles – but also Not – in Pauline Communities’. In: Nanos, Mark D. & Magnus Zetterholm (eds) Paul within Judaism: Restoring the First-Century Context to the Apostle. Minneapolis: Fortress.
  • Isaac, Jules. (1965) The Christian Roots of Antisemitism. London: CCJ.
  • Jacobs, Andrew S. (2008) ‘Jews and Christians’. In: Harvey, Susan Ashbrook & David G. Hunter (eds) Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Langer, Ruth. (2017) ‘“Gifts and Calling”: The Fruits of Coming to Know Living Jews’. Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 12(1), 1-10.
  • Law, Timothy Michael & Charles Halton. (2014) Jew and Judean: A MARGINALIA Forum on Politics and Historiography in the Translation of Ancient Texts [Online]. The Marginalia Review of Books. Available: http://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/jew-judean-forum/.
  • Levine, Amy-Jill & Marc Zvi Brettler (eds). (2011) The Jewish Annotated New Testament, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Lieu, Judith. (1994) ‘“The Parting of the Ways”: Theological Construct or Historical Reality?’. Journal for the Study of the New Testament 56, 101-119.
  • Lieu, Judith M. (2002) Neither Jew nor Greek? Constructing Early Christianity. London: T&T Clark.
  • Mason, Steve. (2007) ‘Jews, Judaeans, Judaizing, Judaism: Problems of Categorization in Ancient History’. Journal for the Study of Judaism 38(4), 457-512.
  • Miller, David M. (2014) ‘Ethnicity, Religion and the Meaning of Ioudaios in Ancient “Judaism”’. Currents in Biblical Research 12(2), 216-265.
  • Reinhartz, Adele. (2009) ‘Judaism in the Gospel of John’. Interpretation 63(4), 382-393.
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