Jews and Christians in the First and Second Centuries: How to Write Their History


The papers in this volume are organized around the ambition to reboot the writing of history about Jews and Christians in the first two centuries CE. Many are convinced of the need for a new perspective on this crucial period that saw both the birth of rabbinic Judaism and apostolic Christianity and their parting of ways. Yet the traditional paradigm of Judaism and Christianity as being two totally different systems of life and thought still predominates in thought, handbooks, and programs of research and teaching. As a result, the sources are still being read as reflecting two separate histories, one Jewish and the other Christian.
The contributors to the present work were invited to attempt to approach the ancient Jewish and Christian sources as belonging to one single history, precisely in order to get a better view of the process that separated both communities. In doing so, it is necessary to pay constant attention to the common factor affecting both communities: the Roman Empire. Roman history and Roman archaeology should provide the basis on which to study and write the shared history of Jews and Christians and the process of their separation.
A basic intuition is that the series of wars between Jews and Romans between 66 and 135 CE – a phenomenon unrivalled in antiquity – must have played a major role in this process. Thus the papers are arranged around three focal points: (1) the varieties of Jewish and Christian expression in late Second Temple times, (2) the socio-economic, military, and ideological processes during the period of the revolts, and (3) the post-revolt Jewish and Christian identities that emerged. As such, the volume is part of a larger project that is to result in a source book and a history of Jews and Christians in the first and second centuries.

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Biographical Note

Peter J. Tomson retired as Professor of New Testament, Jewish Studies, and Patristics at the Faculty of Protestant Theology in Brussels and is currently Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at KU Leuven, Belgium. His publications include Paul and the Jewish Law: Halakha in the Letters of the Apostle to the Gentiles (1990), The New Testament and Rabbinic Literature (2010, with R. Bieringer, F. García Martínez, and D. Pollefeyt) and Second Corinthians in the Perspective of Late Second Temple Judaism (2014, with R. Bieringer, E. Nathan, and D. Pollefeyt).

Joshua Schwartz is Professor of Historical Geography of Ancient Israel and directs the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies in the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Recent publications include 'When Rabbi Eliezer was Arrested for Heresy' (2012, with Peter J. Tomson), ‘Jews at the Dicing Table: Gambling in Ancient Jewish Society Revisited'(2013), 'Good Dog – Bad Dog: Jews and Their Dogs in Ancient Jewish Society' (2013) and 'The Book’s the Thing: Roll versus Codex and the Marketing of Judaism and Christianity' (2013).

Review Quotes

"It is impossible to do justice to the scope and depth of these essays. Most of the contributors have already published on the topics they address here, but their essays have a cumulative effect. Anyone under the illusion of understanding how Judaism and Christianity came to separate, or what indeed both of these were, exactly, is recommended to read it." – Philip R Davies, University of Sheffield, in: RBL 07/2016
"(...) overall this is a richly documented account that weaves into the cast of these two main groups several others—such as the Essenes, Romans, Sicarii, Zealots—to form a layered history of connected, sometimes shared, experiences (...) for those interested in the historiography of this period, this study is essential reading." – Brian J. Wright, Ridley College, in: Themelios 41/1 (2016)
"(...) an abiding impression is of the unusually high calibre of virtually all indivitual contributions, and of the cumulative force of an argument corroborating for this period a continued close contact and interaction of 'ways not parted', between Jews and Christians inhabiting a shared cutlural, social and religious space of discourse. The editors and contributors deserve our gratitude." – Markus Bockmuehl, Keble College, Oxford, in: Journal of Jewish Studies 57/1 (2016)

Table of contents

I. Varieties of Judaism and Christianity in Late Second Temple Times
Paula Fredriksen, How Later Contexts Affect Pauline Content, or: Retrospect is the Mother of Anachronism
Eyal Regev, Flourishing before the Crisis: Mapping Judaean Society in the First Century CE
Baudouin Decharneux, The Carabas Affair (in Flacc 36-39): An Incident Emblematic of Philo’s Political Philosophy
Huub van de Sandt, The Jewishness of Jude–James–Hebrews in Light of Purity

II. The Period of the Revolts 66-135 CE
James B. Rives, Animal Sacrifice and Political Identity in Rome and Judaea
Steve Mason, Why Did Judaeans Go to War with Rome in 66-67 CE? Realist-Regional Perspectives
Adrian Goldsworthy, ‘Men Casually Armed against Fully Equipped Regulars’: The Roman Military Response to Jewish Resistance 63 BCE – 135 CE
Joshua Schwartz, Yavne Revisited: Jewish ‘Survival’ in the Wake of the War of Destruction
J. Andrew Overman, The Destruction of the Temple and the Conformation of Judaism and Christianity
Zeev Safrai,Socio-Economic and Cultural Developments in the Galilee from the Late First to the Early Third Century CE

III. Post-Revolt Jewish and Christian Identities
John M.G. Barclay, ‘Jews’ and ‘Christians’ in the Eyes of Roman Authors c. 100 CE
Marius Heemstra, The Fiscus Judaicus: Its Social and Legal Impact, and a Possible Relation with Josephus’ Antiquities
Peter J. Tomson, The Didache, Matthew, and Barnabas as Sources for Early Second Century Jewish and Christian History
Adiel Schremer, Beyond Naming: Laws of Minim in Tannaic Literature and the Early Rabbinic Discourse of Minut
Albert I. Baumgarten, The Rule of the Martian in the Ancient Diaspora: Celsus and His Jew
Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Yetser Ha-Ra and Daimones: A Shared Jewish and Christian Discourse