Minutes of Meeting

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Date: September 10, 2000

Location: University of Dayton, Alumni Hall

Meeting Topic: Separation between Judaism and Christianity in the First Century of the Common Era

Facilitator: Prof. Vincent Branick, Univ. Of Dayton, Dept. Of Religious Studies

Host: Harold & Sophie Rubenstein

PRESENT: Felix Garfunkel, Chair; Abraham Avnit, Judith Baker, Arlene Branick, Vincent Branick, Alan Gabel, Erika Garfunkel, Agnes Hannahs, Eugene Hannahs, Jack Kelley, Ken Lotney, John Magee, Eileen Moorman, Bill Rain, Harold Rubenstein, Sophie Rubenstein, Pat Searcy, Bob Silverman, Bill Youngkin.

Felix called the meeting to order at about 7:55 PM. Harold delivered the devotional which included a reading from the Selichot service. The Selichot service is held near midnight on a day just before or between the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). This year Selichot will be on September 23. It includes prayers of penitence, and is part of an effort to attune the human heart to an attitude of contrition during the High Holidays. The prayers of Selichot summon us to probe our lives, and are the most stirring expression of man's penitence in all of Jewish liturgy. Harold read a brief paragraph from the Selichot prayers which included the following: "In the stillness of the night, have we come to pour out our devotion to You. Purify our hearts with the cleansing power of your truth."

Ken referred the meeting attendees to a number of items. He passed around a review of a provocative new book by Norman Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering. The book makes the case that the Jewish American establishment exploits the Holocaust to defend Israel and to extort money from nations and companies that participated in the Holocaust. Mr. Finkelstein is himself the son of Holocaust survivors. Although Ken did not agree with Mr. Finkelstein's conclusions, he felt the Dialogue members should be made aware of the book. Ken also passed around a statement of the National Jewish Scholars Project, entitled "A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity," released September 10, 2000. The statement, signed by a large interdenominational group of Jewish scholars, makes the case that in light of the beneficial transformation of the view of many Christian sects toward Judaism in the last few decades, Jews should reconsider their own viewpoints about Christianity and relations with Christians. The statement includes a number of affirmations about the common direction and purposes of Christianity and Judaism. Ken also passed around some materials about the Abraham Geiger College which is being established in the area of Berlin and Potsdam, Germany. This college is the first rabbinic seminary in Central Europe since the Holocaust which will train Liberal rabbis for central Europe. Ken also passed around the newsletter of the Christian Jewish Dialogue of Augsburg, Germany, entitled Ma Nishma? (Was gibt's Neues?; What's New?).

Eileen Moorman said that last Sunday (September 3), Rev. William Joseph Chaminade was beatified in Rome. Almost 200 years ago, he started the Society of Mary (Marianist Order) which later founded the University of Dayton. Rev. Chaminade lived during the French Revolution and afterward. He was persecuted by the Revolutionary authorities. Later, he started orders to educate the people. The Society of Mary (men) was formed along with the Daughters of Mary Immaculate (women). Rev. Chaminade also founded the Family of Mary which included lay men and women, whose purpose was to grow in the knowledge of God and to serve the community. Father Bert is in Rome to help celebrate the beatification. He will concelebrate (lead a mass) at one of the side altars at St. Peters. Later in the week, he will concelebrate at the main alter for the International Mariological Society. Bert is the outgoing president of the Mariological Society in the United States which is a part of the International Mariological Society.

Following up Eileen's comments, Jack Kelley noted that there are only about 10,000 Marianist around the world, including laypeople. He distributed copies of the Flyer News (University of Dayton campus newspaper) which reported on the pilgrimage to Rome by many people from Dayton for the Chaminade beatification. Jack noted that five people were beatified which included Rev. Chaminade. A negative side was that one was the very controversial Pope Pius IX. This pope authorized the kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, a Jewish boy, from a Jewish family. The boy was raised as a Catholic. On another matter, Jack reported on an article by Deborah Sontag in the New York Times today on the Jewish tradition of Shmita. This requires that in the seventh year, there should be no harvest of fruits and vegetables. There is a controversy in Israel concerning Shmita. Rabbi Avnit said that it was always observed in the religious Kibbutzim. However, the Orthodox want to extend it to the secular economy. Erica asked how we know this is the seventh year. Erica also said that this is a very sane commandment since resting the land is good for the soil.

Prof. Branick's Presentation

Eileen then introduced the speaker, Prof. Vincent Branick. Eileen met Dr. Branick in the 70's when she was working on a master's degree at the University of Dayton. She did an off-campus readings on St. Paul with Dr. Branick. Later, he required her to take this course on campus. Dr. Branick brought his wife Arlene with him to tonight's presentation. He is the father of three children. Eileen noted that Dr. Branick is actively working on developing the new doctoral program in the University of Dayton Department of Religious Studies.

Vince thanked the Dialogue for inviting him to speak. He felt that he was given a very difficult topic. He was given an article.1 He was asked to review the article and give his interpretation of how Judaism and Christianity were separated.

In his recent article, John Gager suggests a double covenant theory in Paul's theology of the Law and specifically of the law of circumcision. According to this theory, Paul intended a freedom from the Law only for Gentile Christians. According to Gager, Paul's exclusive concern was the new status in Christ of Gentiles. He does not even imagine "salvation for Jews occurring through their acceptance of Jesus . . .[who] was not the Messiah of Israel"2 –a line Gager borrows from Lloyd Gaston. This idea of parallel but separate lines of "salvation" would then explain Paul's apparent waffling in his statements about the validity of the Law.

Gager's position is very attractive. It pulls the foundations out of a certain "classical" position, one often associated with German racist idealism, but one rooted in a far wider and far older Western perspective.3 According to this position the separation between Judaism and Christianity is quite simple. God chose Christians to replace Jews. The new Gentile covenant replaces the old Jewish covenant, and the continued existence of the Jewish Synagogue is simply an irritating anomaly. With the transference of the covenant from Israel to the Church, the Jewish religion should have lost its reason for existence. With this conclusion, we are only a few steps away from the horrors of a long history of Christian oppression of Jews.

This classical position is untrue to both Christian theology and historical facts. But Gager's suggestion is also untrue to Paul's statements. Paul is very clear about the universal significance of Jesus for all humanity. In Rom 9-11 Paul directly picks up the issue of the place in God's plan of non-Christian Israel. Paul starts the discussion by accenting the "great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart" (Rom 9:2). This is not the language Paul uses when discussing diversity as a result of diverse gifts from God (cf. 1 Cor 12). More explicitly writing about the paradox of Jesus' crucifixion as a "folly" to Gentiles (Greeks) and "weakness" to Jews, Paul proclaims "but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1:24). Paul's point here is to insist on the relevance of Christ for both Jews and Gentiles, a relevance that cuts across this important classification of humanity.

On the other hand Paul is quite clear that "all Israel will be saved" (Rom 11:26). He is referring to both Christian and non-Christian Jews, and he is not referring to a Jewish conversion to Christianity. At the basis of this position is Paul's theology of salvation and justification as a gift of God. Paul's repeated insistence "a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law" (Rom 3:28) is nothing other than "all are justified freely by his [God's] grace" (Rom 3:24). Christian confession does not become the one good work that can manipulate God's free grace of salvation. All is gift. Faith for Paul is simply letting the gift be gift. And there are plenty of hints in Paul that he thinks God excludes no one from that gift.

Later theology would develop the idea of the supremacy of individual conscience. One must follow the path perceived to be correct. This is a modern view based on the understanding that all reality is understood in the human mind from a perspective, which in turn leads to different understandings. In this sense, of course, sincere Christians follow one covenant and sincere Jews another. This is a "no brainer" for anyone who accepts the supremacy of individual conscience.

Modern philosophy has often taken this "perspectiveness" in human understanding as evidence of an absolute relativism of all truth. In this view there would be nothing to measure the adequacy of our perspectives. But in the end such a position destroys human discourse. The "naive" concerns of Paul about who is right reminds us of the need to search in principle for the truth that lies beyond our perspective, even if this search echoes the myth of Sisyphis. But then life often seems to be a chaotic "chase after the wind."

Theology is a rather presumptuous "chase after the wind." Even historical theology, which focuses on the multiple historical perspectives which have governed the chase, ultimately reaches for the truth of God which is one. In this paper I want to describe the New Testament perspectives that wrestled with the chaotic relationship of Christians and non-Christians, and how in that first century perspective the "separation of Judaism and Christianity" appeared. Neither the simple idea of dual track covenants nor the triumphalist idea of Christianity replacing Judaism appear in those perspectives, and this silence might guide our own "chase after the wind."

In this paper examining the separation of Christianity and Judaism from the perspective of New Testament and contemporary texts, I hope to show a much more complicated process than that suggested by either the dual tract or the replacement theories. I want to follow the lead of recent theologians who have described the developments of this first century, not as any clear separation of Christianity from Judaism, but rather as an internal family struggle within the parameters of Judaism..4 In this view, the development of Christianity must be seen as the development of a Jewish "sect," and that the conception of Christianity prevalent in the subsequent centuries as a separate religion is a distortion of the self-consciousness of the early first-century Christian faith.

I will sketch this proposal in two parts. First I want to direct attention to three issues involved in a theology of replacement or a theology of dual tracts. Then I want to point out the historical indicators in the text that mark the progressive gap that grew between Christians and Jews in the first century.

The Theological Issues

Naming the Parties

In any discussion of human life and in particular in any discussion of faith, names are very important. For instance, the very posing of the question of a replacement or of the parallel tracts of "Judaism" and "Christianity" often starts in a bad way, i.e., naming the parties as if they were clearly identifiable religious entities. Which Judaism are we talking about? The Judaism of the Pharisees, of the Sadducees, of the Essenes? That of the Home Land or that of the Diaspora? Which Diaspora community? The Acts of the Apostles suggests the existence in Jerusalem around 33 C.E. of at least five divergent synagogues mostly according to geographical backgrounds, those "of the Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, of the people from Cilicia and Asia" (Act 6:9). A multitude of synagogues existed in Alexandria at this time.5 The 3rd century C.E. synagogue excavated at Dura Europos likewise contained frescoes that contradicted prescriptions of pharisaic rabbinic writing and calls into question any "normative rabbinic Judaism" historians have supposed for that time.6

Which Christianity are we talking about? The Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of Paul suggest at least three groups distinguished by their attitude toward the Law: one group thoroughly committed to Jewish Law and observance for all including the practice of circumcision (cf. Gal 2:4; Act 15:1.5), a group which allowed uncircumcised Gentiles to remain uncircumcised but which insisted on certain purity rules for all, especially in regard to food (cf. Act 15:23-29; Gal 2:12), and a group which saw no binding significance in the food rules or on circumcision (Paul himself in Gal 3-5). 7 The animosity we see among these Christian groups parallels the animosity we see later between Christians and Jews.

I think it is also interesting to see that the earliest Christians did not know what to call themselves. In the first generation of followers of Jesus, there were no "Christians." In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke mentions that the term, christianoi, was used of these followers for the first time in Antioch some time probably in the early 40s (Act 11:26; cf. also 26:28; 1 Pet 4:16). The form of the noun suggests a term which outsiders would coin to designate a political faction (cf. e.g. herodianoi), possibly related to the political unrest of the 40s under Caligula or Claudius.8 The earlier designation "the sect of the Nazoreans" (he ton Nazoraion hairesis) on the other hand corresponds to common Jewish usage (ha nosrim) and alludes to the Galilean background of Jesus (Act 24:5). It is Ignatius of Antioch, the Gentile Christian bishop, writing in the first decades of the 2nd century C.E. who first uses the term "Christian" in a regular manner9 and speaks of "Christianity" as distinguished from "Judaism."10 About the same time Pliny writes to the emperor Tajan about the Christiani as a superstitio nova et malefica.11

The self-designations of Christians in the New Testament remain vague and very Jewish. Luke's distinctive expression "the way" suggests a new halakhah. Paul generally identifies his Christian readership in terms of religious posture simply as "those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 1:2) probably an echo of Joel 3:5 or simply "the holy ones" or those "called to be holy" (Rom 1:7; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1) echoes of Dan 7:27.12 Paul's custom of addressing his readers by the term "the church of [some geographical area] (1 Thess 1:1; Gal 1:2) or "the Church of God" (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1) is less a designation of a religious posture than of simply the act of assembling,13 yet still with an echo of the Jewish image of qahal or synagoge. The believers in Jesus saw themselves as a purified or restored people of God for the end times in a way very parallel to the Jewish Essenes.14

Christian theological distinctiveness

Proponents of the replacement view might agree that the self-identification of early Christians was slow to develop. However, these proponents would suggest that the theological positions of early Christians were drawn so as to be incompatible with traditional Jewish faith and that therefore a separation was inevitable. Paul is often named responsible for the development of an incompatible distinctiveness because of his massive syncretism or adoption of contemporary pagan practices and views. When we look carefully, however, we see the early distinctive Christian positions as rooted in Jewish traditions, traditions modified by a powerful Persian and later Hellenistic influence of the last four centuries B.C.E.

1. The Christian open acceptance of Gentiles taps into Deutero-Isaiah. Exilic and post-Exilic Judaism seems to have struggled with its relationship to non-Jews. On the one hand, the traditions behind the book of Ezra show a defensive view pushing for exclusion of Gentiles (cf. Ezra 9). On the other hand the Deutero-Isiaian tradition proposes an openness to Gentiles. I the Servant of Isa 49:6 will be made "a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." Recall the invitation to eunuchs and foreigners to "join themselves to the Lord, ministering to Him" so that the temple "shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples" (Isa 57:3- 8). The final editor of the Book of Isaiah probably contemporary with Ezra ended the collections with a divine oracle proclaiming openness to Gentiles, "I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory. . . . Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the Lord" (Isa 66:18-21). Also belonging to this period, the book of Jonah is a clear protest of Jewish exclusion of Gentiles, while the book of Job is set in Edom.

2. Paul's polemic against the written Law and against the necessity of circumcision sounds like a radical break from Judaism. A Judaism without circumcision sounds like a contradiction, but Josephus writes of a Jewish community in Adiabene which did not require circumcision of all its Gentile converts, a practice which horrified a later pharisaic missionary.15 Philo makes mention of a Jewish group that saw the written Law only as a symbol of invisible intellectual matters.16

Paul certainly held to the Law of Exodus 20. We see this in his anger at the moral failings of the communities he founded. The command of Leviticus 19:18 is the key to Paul's understanding the Law:

He cites parts of the decalogue in another place where he makes the same insistence:

    The one who loves another has fulfilled the Law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in the saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Rom 13:8-9).

Paul describes this interpretation of the Law as "the Law of Christ" (Gal 6:2), "the Law of faith" (Rom 3:27) or "the Law of the Spirit of Life" (Rom 8:2).

For Paul's interpretation of the need for circumcision, the key is Jeremiah's description of a circumcision of the heart, which in turn connects to the theology of Deuteronomy (cf. Jer 4:4; 9;25; Deut 6:4-5; 10:16; 11:8; 30:6). Again the stress is on observation of the Law from the heart:

    Circumcision, to be sure, has value if you observe the Law; but if you break the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Again if an uncircumcised man keeps the precepts of the Law, will he not be considered circumcised? . . . One is not a Jew outwardly. True circumcision is not outward, in the flesh. Rather, one is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit, not the letter (Rom 2:25-29).

In this view Paul is clearly rooted in text of Jeremiah about "a new covenant" written "in the heart" (Jer 31:31-34; cf. 2 Cor 3).

3. Even developing christology of the New Testament in its trajectory toward Incarnation–a trajectory to which Paul himself contributed–has its roots in Jewish traditions, particularly in the late Wisdom traditions (cf. Prov 8; Sir 24; Wis 7) and in apocalyptic themes (cf. the divine like character of Enoch or the "Son of Man" in 1 Enoch 70-71; 3 Enoch 12:5). We could also find parallels in the Logos of Philo or the Melchizedek of 11 QMelch.17

The issue of animosity

What does not fit at all in the irenic hypothesis of Gager is the early intense animosity between "Christians" and "Jews." On the other hand, proponents of the incompatibility of Judaism and early Christianity, however, point to this animosity evidenced in the New Testament between the followers of Jesus and those of orthodox Jewish belief (if this latter is even a valid concept designating any definable group). If "first generation Christianity" was all that Jewish, why was there such hatred generated, why such deliberate attempts to wound and destroy?

It is very difficult to reconstruct the history of Jesus from the Gospels, which reflect far more the issues and attitudes of the communities writing these documents than the details of the career of Jesus of Nazareth. Hence the descriptions of the conflict between Jesus and the Jewish authorities are almost certainly projections back to the time of Jesus of the conflict between later followers of Jesus and some Jewish authorities. Thus when we read in Matthew's gospel of Jesus denouncing the scribes and Pharisees as evildoing hypocrites and legalists, (Matt 23), what we really hear is the animosity of the Matthean Christians against the pharisaic leadership of the 80s. The conflict develops sharper and sharper into the 90s as we read of the mutual accusations in John 8:39-59 of demonic power. The Book of Revelation explicitly relates this demonizing to the "Christian-Jewish" conflict of the last decade of the first century with its reference to the Jews of Smyrna as "the synagogue of Satan" (2:9). Does this sound like an inner-Jewish family dispute?

Actually the intensity of a "family dispute" can easily be seen in the Christian tradition. Catholics burnt many of their Protestant brothers and sisters at the stake. Massacres on both side of the reformation took place in the name of protecting the family inheritance.

Parallels in the Jewish tradition, can be traced back to Amos and Amaziah (Amos 7:10-17) or Jeremiah and Hananiah (Jer 28), or perhaps all the way back to the "zeal of Phinehas" (Num 25:7). Written around the turn of the first century B.C.E., 1 and 2 Maccabees depicts the deadly struggle of the Hasmoneans not only against the Gentile Seleucid government, but also and more poignantly a deadly struggle of Jew against Jew (cf. 1 Macc 1:11-15). Second Maccabees especially portrays the struggle against Hellenizing Jewish leadership. It depicts therefore the struggle of Onias the high priest against the leadership of Jason and later Menelaus (2 Macc 4). Although depicted in 2 Maccabees as a struggle of good against evil, the battleground consisted of two diverse interpretations of the Law, one promulgated by Onias the other by Jason, who by the way were brothers. In a reflection on the irony of this inner family conflict, the author of 2 Macc describes an attack by the Hellenizing forces:

The Hasmoneans, especially under the leadership of Judas Maccabaeus prevail. Around the year 140 B.C.E. Judas' brother, Jonathan, receives the title "high priest" to consolidate his power (1 Macc 10:20). The author of 1 Maccabees seems to have no problem with this usurpation of the Zadokite prerogative. However the sectarians, we know today as the community of Qumran with their "Dead Sea Scrolls," have a much different and antagonistic attitude toward this situation. They refer to the "wicked priest" of Jerusalem and the total desecration of the Temple because of the changes in cult, apparently brought about by the Hasmonean reform (1 QpHab 8-11).18 Examples of this intra-family antagonism could be multiplied with citations of the Pharisaic opposition to the Sadducees or Josephus's condemnation of the Zelot's revolt against Rome and his approving descriptions of pro-Roman Jews slaughtering anti-Roman Jews. As Dieter Giorgi puts it,

The sad but pertinent point to be made by this survey, is simply the recognition of the intensity of hatred which intra-family conflicts can reach. The foreigner can be dismissed, but the sister or brother must be chastised. Why is this? Perhaps to some degree, the passion of the conflict is a testimony to the passion for truth on the part of the conflicting parties. One expects more from a brother or sister than from a stranger. It is relatively easy to dismiss the error of someone foreign to our values. Yet it is a mystery how the disappointment caused by the family member can generate such intense anger and even hatred. Perhaps the fear of being wrong arises much more when a sister or brother insists you are wrong.20

The hatred evidenced between "Christians" and "Jews" shows that these groups did not see themselves simply on parallel tracts. This intensity is best understood as that among members of the same family. A rebellious daughter has threatened the family. The adamant mother reacts in anger. In turn the daughter slams the door on the mother.

Subsequent Separation

Through the texts of the New Testament read critically, we can detect moments in the separation of "church" and "synagogue," the daughter from the mother. We need to see that groups in different locations and different periods of the first century did not react in the same way. Above all we need to distinguish between the events in Israel and in the Diaspora. In both arenas the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. is an important dividing point.

Home Land Israel

The separation from Home Land Judaism is somewhat discernible from remarks in the Acts of the Apostles where Luke describes the Jerusalem Christian community. The discernment of evidence, however, is difficult since the stories are clearly told from the perspective of the Luke writing in the 80s from some place outside of Israel.

The story of Stephen in Acts portrays an early stage (Act 6-7). Stephen represents leadership in a Hellenist branch of a thoroughly Jewish Christian group sometime in the 30s. We do not know exactly what distinguished this Christian group from the Apostolic group in Jerusalem, but we but we do read of tension between these two Christian groups (6:1). We also read of the Sanhedrin's anger provoked by perceived threats "against the holy place and the Law" (6:13). The anti-Temple theme shows up in the reconstructed speech of Stephen (7:47) and is explicitly tied into the Deutero-Isiaian questioning of the need for a Temple:

This theme has echoes also in the Jewish polemic about the Temple built at Leontopolis, a city in Egypt around 160 B.C.E. by the high priest Onias III (cf. Josephus. Wars, 1.33; 7.427-32; Antiquities, 13.65-73). This dispute internal to the Jewish family provoked by the Hellenist Jewish Christian group leads to the death of Stephen and the persecution of this particular group of Christians. The text of Acts points out that the persecution did not affect "the apostles," representing apparently a non-Hellenist or "Hebrew" branch of Jewish Christianity (Acts 8:1; cf. 6:1).

Around the year 44 C.E. antagonism flared again against the Hebrew apostolic group in Jerusalem with the execution of James the apostle and the arrest of Peter (Act 12:1-5). We have no details describing the nature of this hostility, but it did not seem to touch the church of "James the brother" (12:17) who remains in Jerusalem in a leadership position until 62 C.E. (cf. Acts 21:15-26). During this period we see the development of a Christian sanhedrin of "elders" (cf. Act 15:2.6.22; 21:18), presumably responsible for enforcing observance of the Law (cf. Act 15:1; Gal 2:12). During this period we know of no antagonism between the Jewish Sanhedrin and this Christian group under James. Josephus himself shows some admiration for this James and blames his death in 62 C.E. on the envy of the high priest, Ananus II, a death which Josephus claims provoked a wave of protest from the Pharisees (Antiquities, 20.9.197-203).

The major event, however, in the separation of Home Land Judaism from the Jewish Christians was the Roman war and ensuing destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. The probability that Jewish Christians in Jerusalem opposed the war appears in the warnings written as the war was breaking out and retrojected into the mouth of Jesus, "Nations will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom . . . Those in Judea must flee to the mountains" (Mark 13:14). Later tradition speaks of a migration of Jewish Christians at this time to Syria.

Jewish Christianity remained an important influence in the East through the third century. Its influence can be found in the Didascalia Apostolorum (from the first half of the 3rd cent.), the Pseudo-Clementines, and some texts of the Nag Hammadi documents. Toward the end of the second century, however, the sense of diversity within Christianity had diminished and Gentile Christianity in the West moved to declare Jewish Christianity a heretical sect. (Cf. Irenaeus of Lyons and Hippolytus of Rome.) In the late fourth century, Jerome who had personal knowledge of Jewish Christianity stated the problem of Jewish Christians, "As they want to be Jews and Christians, they are neither Jews nor Christians."21

Diaspora Israel

Outside of Israel the conflict and separation between "Church" and "Synagogue" before 70 C.E. can be traced only in the letters of Paul. If indeed as is commonly thought, 1 Thess 2:14-16 is a later interpolation,22 the earliest text dealing with this relationship is 2 Cor 3:12-16 where Paul writes of the inability of "Israelites" "to this present day" having a veil over their hearts as they read the writings of Moses, presumably preventing a correct understanding of the Torah. Writing from Macedonia around 56 C.E. Paul is writing a free wheeling midrash on Exodus 24. The Church of Corinth had begun with Jewish Christians, some like Prisca and Aquilla apparently expelled from Rome by Claudius in 49 C.E.

Around 58 C.E. from Corinth, Paul writes the letter to the Roman Christians, where he frequently alludes to Jews, often with the expression "Jew first, and then Greek" (1:16; cf. 3:9; 9:24). As in Galatians the main topic is the role of the Law in God's salvation of humanity. Unlike Galatians, however, Paul here insists on the abiding significance of the Law, insisting that human sinfulness has crippled the power of the Law (cf. 7:13). Chapters 9-11 of this letter deal explicitly with the place of "Israel" in God's plan. Paul makes three points. First, he distinguishes the Christian Jews as the remnant which guarantees God's promises to Israel, at the same time insists on a "hardening" of the Jews who do not believe in Jesus (11:1-10.25). Secondly, he describes the Gentile Christian as a secondary graft onto "the rich root of the olive tree," presumably Israel. Paul's point is to condemn all boasting and haughtiness on the part of the grafts against the natural elements of the tree (11:17-24). Thirdly, shifting to the eschatological future, Paul speaks of the branches which were earlier broken off the tree being "grafted back into their own olive tree" (11:24) and "thus all Israel will be saved" (11:25), for "the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable" (11:29).

Paul's rhetoric in these texts is that of conflict and opposition of diverse religious attitudes but not of replacement of one religion by another. With the tree image, Paul seems to be insisting on underlying unity of Christians and Israel. With the "hardening" image, Paul clearly refers to an opposition and struggle regarding irreconcilably different interpretations of truth. The imagery is similar to Isa 6:9-10, where uncomprehending heart of Israel is part of God's larger plan of salvation.

During this period Paul has created or helped to create "assemblies" (ekklesiai) of Christians who apparently meet on the "first day of the week" (1 Cor 16:2). Some of these "assemblies" are led by Jewish Christians such as that of Prisca and Aquila (cf. 1 Cor 16:19; Rom 16:3-4). The most characteristic activity of these assemblies appears to be "the Lord's supper" (1 Cor 11:17- 34) and prophetic style discourse (1 Cor 14).

The remaining texts of the New Testament offer some evidence for the development of Christianity after 70 C.E. Very important are the Deutero-Pauline works. The interpolation of 1 Thess 2:14-16 contains an obscure reference to the destruction of the Temple in 2:16, described as "the final wrath of God." This text connects with Matt 22:7 as an interpretation of the events of 70 C.E. in terms of God's punishment for Israel's sins, specifically some Jewish persecution of Jewish Christians.

A similar animosity governs the passion narration of the Gospel of Matthew with its insistence on the Jewish responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus (cf. Matt 27:15-26) along with the Matthean accounts of verbal controversies between Jesus and the Jerusalem authorities (cf. Matt 23). The Gospel of Matthew, however, stems almost for sure from a Jewish Christian community in or around Antioch in Syria. Against Paul, this Gospel maintains an uncompromising advocacy of the Law (cf. esp. 5:17-20). This Gospel focuses on Jesus' mission to Israel (10:5; 15:24) and on other matters that would have special importance to those of a Jewish background. If we see this interpretation as spoken by members of a Jewish family against other members, the words resemble the words of 2 Chron 36:15-17 as well as the many oracles against Israel and Judah spoken by the prophets. A strong case can be made for seeing the guiding ideas behind the Gospel of Matthew, not those of starting a new religion to replace Judaism, but to present a Jesus- oriented program for the reconstruction of Judaism in the 80s, a program competing with many such programs but directed especially against the pharisaic rabbinic program, which eventually won out.23 Isolated from pharisaic rabbinic Judaism, the Matthian Church either merged with other forms of Christianity or isolated itself in Syria where it eventually was declared heretical.

The second half of the Acts of the Apostles narrates the work of Paul in Asia Minor and Greece. Here the growing animosity between "Christian" and "Jew" appears in the pattern Luke uses to describe the preaching of Paul, first an unsuccessful preaching to Jews, then a successful preaching to Gentiles, often followed by a persecution instigated by Jews (13:45.50; 14:2.19; 17:5.13; 18:12). Especially in the early years of Paul's missionary work. Luke, however, mentions several sympathetic hearings (not conversions) on the part of Jews and other persecutions instigated against Paul by Gentile pagans (13:8. 43; 14:1; 16:19; 17:4.10; 19: 23-40).

The intensity of hostility is greater than in the letters of Paul. Yet it is interesting that Luke has the Roman proconsul, Gallio, describe one confrontation between Paul and Jewish authorities in this way, "Since it is a question of arguments over doctrine and titles and your own law, see to it yourselves" (18:15). Luke also remembers the final hostility of the Jews against Paul as opposition to Paul's preaching "against the people, against the Law, and against the Place" as well as Paul's introduction of "Greeks into the temple" (21:28). These are specific points of theology internal to Judaism wherein diversity of position can be documented in the prophets. Furthermore, Luke contrasts this perception of Paul's heresy with James' description of "many thousands of believers from among the Jews [who] are all zealous observers of the Law" (21:20) who likewise share an antagonism against Paul (21:21). As perceived by Luke from the perspective of the 80s, the hostility is real, but Luke still seems to making efforts to depict this hostility as an inner-Jewish struggle.

In John's Gospel edited in its final form probably around the 90s, the break between "church" and "synagogue" seems definitive. Jesus has come to divide existing unities and to create a new unity. Chapters 9 and 10 best illustrate these movements. The story of the man born blind and given sight by Jesus depicts a Jew who is eventually expelled from the synagogue (9:34; cf. 9:22) for his expressions of faith in Jesus. The story of the "good shepherd," chapter 10, then directly connects with this expulsion and describes Jesus as the shepherd who enters "the court" (he aule) and leads his own out (10:1-5). This story is presented as a riddle (paroimia) in the deciphering of which "other sheep that do not belong to this court" are mentioned as to be added. The result will be "one flock, one shepherd" (10:16) clearly separated from the Temple.

This gospel seems to reflect a consciousness of a "church" seeing itself as distinct from Judaism, in effect, a new religion. This is the gospel that in the story of Cana depicts the "new wine" created by Jesus from "Jewish ceremonial water" (2:1-11). In the stress on unity, one faith has replaced another.

The community responsible for the Gospel of John apparently faced serious difficulties after the final editing of the Gospel. A large group of members–perhaps the majority–gradually moved toward a Gnostic interpretation of Jesus. This is the movement out of which the bishop Marcion appears in his declaration around 130 C.E. that the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, was evil and needed to be replaced by the Gospel of Luke and twelve letters of Paul. The Christian movement reacted quickly against Marcion, but nevertheless seems to have accepted the idea of a separate collection of Christian Scriptures.

The time period of this Gospel corresponds to the "Jamnia movement" in Judaism, when pharisaic rabbinic leaders were attempting to reconstruct Judaism on the basis of clarity of scripture canon and on conformity in doctrinal matters. During the last decade of the 1st century and into the 2nd century, "mainstream" (i.e. rabbinic) Judaism was developing its identity at the expense of other Jewish groups. On the Jewish side, the "Eighteen benedictions" from this time includes the curse on "hanozrim" and "the heretics."24 Meanwhile, "mainstream" Christianity was likewise developing a homogeneous identity as diverse groups either merged into "the church catholic" or were declared heretical. Increasingly the two sides, Judaism and Christianity, saw each other as competing or dangerous interests. The gap developed. The mother's anger was flaring against the rebellious daughter. And the daughter decides to move out in a declaration of independence.


Understanding this complicated relationship of Christianity and Judaism in the first century has enormous significance for Christian theology. First of all, Christian theologians are warned against presuming an essentially syncretistic nature of Christianity, according to the early 20th century trends of Christian theology. Christian theology can better be understood in terms of developments from Jewish faith as it was variously expressed at the time of Jesus. As Paul put it, Gentile believers have been introduced into God's saving love for his Jewish people. They draw their life and holiness from the "the rich root of the olive tree" and therefore must not "boast" against the existing branches of that tree (11:17-18).

A triumphalist view of one faith needing to replace and destroy the other is a demonic arrogance proclaiming a vision which is only God's. But the dual track view denies the historical data of the chaotic relationship between "church" and "synagogue" of the 1st century. Early Christianity presented Jesus as relevant for all humanity.

I do believe that truth is one for all of us, that the contradictory positions which oppose us are rooted in an error of some form. Yet identifying that error seems to defy human intelligence. In retrospect and through intense history study, I can detect major errors on the part of my Church. In the present, as we stand personally engaged, it is not so easy. Before the contradictory positions, I prefer to remain silent.

As I presented the ideas of this paper to a friend explaining my image of a "family fight," he added his own personal experience of a bitter feud within his family. He also spoke of a moment of reconciliation. It was not based on an intellectual understanding of the adversarial positions. It was much more simple. The mother of the family was getting on in years and was having a birthday. My friend simply insisted on the need for the family members to have a dinner with the elderly mother. It worked. They started talking to each other again. I do not think anyone budged from their heart-felt convictions, but in their convergence on a common love they overcame some hostility. Who knows where this will lead.

Our faiths are rooted in the unfathomable mystery of God. This side of the kingdom, life is chaotic. Great movements of reform fail. In our zeal for truth and goodness we fail to listen to each other. As members of the same Jewish family we fail to understand each other. All this is great chaos and a chase after the wind, to use a phrase from Ecclesiastes. The more Qohelet in Ecclesiastes tries to understand life, the more chaotic it appears (hevel hevalim). His final advice, "When all is heard: Fear God and keep his commandments" (Qo 12:13).

Can we learn to live with chaos, with our failures to understand each other? Human religion remains the faltering steps of a toddler to walk a path of faith. We did not choose this path of darkness and chaos. It was given to us by a God who proclaims His ways to be above ours as the heavens are above the earth. What is left? I suggest we embrace the chaos of our contradictory creeds, and with our hearts reach out to the common love, to that love which our intellects are incapable of grasping.


Erika suggested an allegory to the laws of heredity. In each group which is separating, a main characteristic becomes dominant in our thinking. Secondary characteristics become unimportant. For example, circumcision becomes a main characteristic for Jews while Incarnation becomes a main characteristic for Christians. Vince said he likes the comparison to heredity. However, he replied to Erika that secondary characteristics ought to be defended as well as main characteristics. He fears moral relativism. Vince feels we must follow our own perspective. Vince would like us to follow our viewpoints intensely but respect the beliefs of others.

Rabbi Avnit complimented Vince on his scholarly approach. He suggested an analogy to the Blacks and Whites under Apartheid. Although they shared a common humanity, Blacks and Whites had to live in separate societies. The social structure makes a fact of differences, no matter how insignificant they are. Rabbi Avnit says that the rebellious son may be punished one day, but he will be loved the next day by his father. There are days for forgiveness. God is compassionate. It is good for people of different groups to live in harmony. It is good that Christians understand that Judaism is the parent religion.

Vince replied that the final action is walking parallel to each other. But that does not mean giving up fundamental beliefs. This is kohellet. We must learn to embrace the chaos. Jack said that the Gospel of John is the breaking point between Christianity and Judaism. John represents a gospel of love, but unfortunately, the emphasis is on loving ones religious cohort, not members of other religions. Jack noted that the horns on the priests in Christian passion plays trace their source in John 84. Eileen commented on the fact that God is so mysterious. She said that if God is mysterious, then she feels she cannot say to another person that their religious views are wrong. Vince replied that he would like to rephrase his position. Vince said that a person should hold on to his position and express it. For example, he talked about Jesus as God and Jesus as man. Felix complimented Vince for his erudite lecture. He noted that most of the conflicts in the world are religious in nature, and asked whether religious arrogance leads to conflict? Vince replied that is very important to know where you stand. People ought to dispute about religion verbally but not physically. Bill complemented Vince on his wonderful presentation.

After the conclusion of the discussion, new attendees to the Dialogue meeting introduced themselves. These included Judith Baker, Alan Gabel, and Arlene Branick. Alan Gabel stated he is running in the upcoming election for the position of judge.

The meeting adjourned at about 9:35 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Ken Rosenzweig, Secretary

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1 John G. Gager, "Paul's Contradictions; Can They Be Resolved?" Bible Review, December, 1998, pages 32-39.

2 Ibid., p. 39. Cf. Lloyd Gaston, Paul and the Torah (Vancouover: University of British Columbia: 1987), p. 15.

3 Cf. F. C. Baur and the Tübingen school.

4 Cf. Dieter Georgi, "The Early Church: Internal Jewish Migration or New Religion," Harvard Theological Review, 88 (1995), 35-68; Martin Hengel, "Das früheste Christentum als eine jüdishe messianische und universalistische Bewegung," Theologische Beiträge, 28 (1997), 197-210.

5 Cf. Philo. Legatio ad Gaium, 132-137.

6 cf. J-Gutmann, "Art, Early Jewish," IDB Sup, 68-71.

7 For a division into four types of early Christians, cf. R. Brown, "Not Jewish Christianity and Gentile Christianity but Types of Jewish/Gentile Christianity," The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 45 (1983), 74-79.

8 This meaning of the adjectival form is evidenced by an inscription where the Latin terms "caesariani" and "pisoniani" refers to political faction backing Germanicus Caesar and Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso respectively. Cited by Hengel, p. 201.

9 Eph. 11:2; 14:2; Mag. 4:1; Trall. 6:1; Rom. 3:2-3; Poly. 7:3.

10 Mag. 10:1.3; Rom. 3:3; Phild. 6:1.

11 Epistles, 10:96-97.

12 Cf. also "the elect" (Rom 8:33; Mark 13:20.22.27; Matt 22:14; Luke 18:7; 1 Pet 1:2.9; "the just" (Matt 13:43.49; Rom 5:19; 1 Pet 3:12; "the poor" (Gal 2:10; Rom 15:26).

13 Cf. esp. Act 19:23-40.

14 Thus Georgi, p. 41.

15 Josephus, Antiquities, 20. 24-48; cf. Bab. Talmud, Yebamot, 46, where Rabbi Joshua holds the minority opinion that circumcision is not an absolute necessity for conversion to the Jewish faith.

16 Philo, De migratione Abrahami, 89-90.

17 Cf. D. Georgi, "Der vorpaulinische Hymnus, Phil 2:6-11" in E. Dinkler et al. (ed.) Zeit und Geschichte (Tübingen: Mohr, 1964), 263-293.

18 Cf. G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in Engllish (Baltimore: Penguin, 1968), pp. 34ff. Richard Rubinstein, My Brother Paul (New York: Harper & Row,1972), p. 115, describes the anti-Jewish statement of 1 Thess 2:14-16 as "not unlike that of the members of the community of the Scrolls."

19 Georgi, op. cit., p. 46.

20 cf. Hengle, op. cit., p. 202. "Wir stoßen hier auf ein grundlegendes anthropologisches Problem, das Wachsen von Haß un Streit in der eigenen Familie."

21 Epistola 112.13 (PL 22/924).

22 cf. B. Pearson "1 Thessalonians 2:13-16, a Deutero-Pauline Interpolation," Harvard Theological Review, 64 (1971), 79-94.

23 cf. W. D. Davies, The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount (New York: Cambride U, 1964); Georgi, op. cit., p. 53-54, esp. n. 46. For another competing Jewish program, cf. 4 Ezra.

24 Cf. C.K. Barrett, The New Testament Background. Selected Documents (NY: Harper & Row, 1961), pp. 166-167.