Tertullian, On Idolatry and Mishnah Avodah Zarah

Questioning the Parting of the Ways between Christians and Jews


This work studies and compares systematically the text of Tertullian, an African Church Father of the third century CE, on idolatry with the rabbinic Mishnah Avodah Zarah, on the same subject, dating roughly from the same period. Similarities and differences between the Jewish and Christian approaches to idolatry are examined and accounted for. The research is inscribed in the wider framework of discussions on the “parting of the ways” between Jews and Christians. It also addresses related questions such as the role of the rabbis in second and third century Judaism in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora; relations between Jews living in those places; interactions between Jews and pagans, Christians and pagans, Jews and Christians...
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Biographical Note

Stéphanie E. Binder, Ph.D. (2009) in Classical Studies, is Lecturer in Classical Studies at Bar-Ilan University (Israel). Her field of research is the relations between Jews, pagans and Christians from the time of the Second Temple to the early Middle Ages

Review Quote

"...this book presents an erudite and interesting contribution to the study of the shared world of Jews and Christians in the Roman Mediterranean and will be of value to a wide range of readers interested in the dialogue between the two." – Mira Balberg, Northwestern University, in: BMCR 2013.10.13

Table of contents

Introduction Part 1: General Background Christians in Carthage Jews in Carthage: between Palestine and the Diaspora The “Parting of the Ways” Scholarship on the Possible Jewish Influence on Tertullian’s Texts Part 2: Direct Context Tertullian’s Heresies Tertullian’s Place among Other Christian Authors: Views on Idolatry in Comparison Generalities The Character of the Speech on Idols Other Common Themes Tertullian in a Graeco-Roman World The Issue of the Jews’ Involvement within the Wider Graeco-Roman World Part 3: Tertullian and the Jews on Idolatry Comparison Contribution of the Comparison: Jews and Christians in Contact Conclusions


Students and scholars of patristic literature, especially the study of Tertullian, and those interested in Judaism. Anyone interested in the theories of the "parting of the ways" between Judaism and Christianity; historians of Christianity and Judaism; Talmudists.