Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New books on Jewish Christianity

A couple of books about Jewish Christianity have come out, including:

Jewish Believers in Jesus
Skarsaune, Oskar and Reidar Hvalvik, editors
Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2007
pp. xxx + 930

Description: Jewish Believers in Jesus: The Early Centuries examines the formative first five centuries of Christian history as experienced by individuals who were ethnically Jewish, but who professed faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Offering the work of an impressive international team of scholars, this unique study examines the first five centuries of texts thought to have been authored or edited by Jewish Christians, including the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, the New Testament Apocrypha, and some patristic works. Also considered are statements within patristic literature about Jewish believers and uses of oral traditions from Jewish Christians. Furthermore, the evidence in Jewish, mainly rabbinic, literature is examined, and room is made for a judicious sifting of the archaeological evidence. The final two chapters are devoted to an enlightening synthesis of the material with subsequent conclusions regarding Jewish believers in antiquity.

Jews or Christians?: The Followers of Jesus in Search of their Own Identity
Jossa, Giorgio
Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2006
pp. viii + 175

Description: When was Christianity born? When was it that Christianity, born as a particular current within Judaism, constituted itself as a religion different and separate from the Jewish religion? The question has been asked, and the problem has therefore been considered, since the historical-critical investigation of Christian origins began. However the problem has become acute only in the last few decades, because of the occurrence of a whole series of circumstances and of reflections that have deeply changed the historiographic understanding regarding Judaism in the first century, and thus the origins of Christianity as well. Traditional opinion considered the founders of Christianity to be Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus. Recent studies however affirm that a Christian religion as distinct from the Jewish religion can be spoken of only much later, and that for the entire first century, and for at least a part of the second century, Christianity was nothing more than a sect within Judaism. Dealing with the problem from an historical point of view, and thus considering not only Christianity of Jewish origin but also that of gentile origin, Giorgio Jossa demonstrates that the birth of a Christian identity as distinct from Jewish identity must actually be dated back to the first period of life of the community of Jesus.

These should be good to read, esp. the one edited by Hvalvik since I have appreciated and enjoyed much of his work on Christian origins and Jewish-Christian relations.

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