Jewish Christians?11 Despite such grey areas, the Torah-centred approach seems superiorto that championed by J. Danielou, who considers all early Christianity to be 'Jewish Christianity', because the first few generations of Christians were so heavily influenced by the thought-patterns of Judaism.12 At the same time, however, the sort of data Danielou cites for the pervasiveness of Jewish Christian patterns of thought may actually be an indirect testimony to the influence ofJewish Christianity more narrowly conceived.
Our search for ancient Jewish Christianity must often proceed by such indirect routes because the direct evidence for the phenomenon is neither plentiful nor easy to interpret. This is largely because Torah-observant Jewish Christianity was eventually squeezed out between the ascendant Gentile church and developing rabbinic Judaism, both of which opposed it. More often than not, therefore, our scanty knowledge of it depends on the witness of its enemies (e.g. Paul, the church fathers, rabbinic traditions), a fact that makes deliberate or unintentional distortion inevitable.13 Moreover, though we can sometimes be reasonably sure that an ancient author is describing or attacking a form of Jewish Christianity, in other instances it is uncertain whether the foil is a Jewish Christian or a non-Christian Jew (e.g. Eph 2:11-22; Col 2:8-23;i Tim 1:6-11). In the rare cases where we have connected Jewish Christian sources, they have generally been incorporated into contexts that move their interpretation away from the Jewish particularism in which they arose;14 nor is it always possible to be sure where a Jewish Christian source leaves off and a Gentile Christian redactor's work begins.
11 On the God-fearers, see Lieu, Neither Jew nor Greek?, 31-68, and pt 111, ch. 10, below.
12 See Danielou, Theology ofJewish Christianity.
13 Important sources for Jewish Christianity include (1) texts arguably written by Jewish Christians, such as Matt, John, Jas, Jude, Rev, Did. 1-6 or the whole, the putative sources within the Pseudo-Clementines (Ep. Petr., Keryg. Pet., Asc. Jas.), fragments of Jewish Christian gospels (Gos. Naz., Gos. Naass., Gos. Eb., Gos. Heb.); (2) 'historiographic accounts' (e.g. Acts chs. 6-7; 15; 21:17-26;Josephus, AJ 18.63; 20.197-203; Euseb. HE 1.7.14; 2.23; 3.27.16; 5.8.10 5.17, etc.); (3) theological description and response from opponents, both Christian (e.g. Gal; Rom, esp. 14:1-15:13; Phil 3:2-7; Justin Dial. 16, 46-7, 110; 1 Apol. 31; Iren. Haer. 1.26.2; 3.11.7; 3.21.1; 5.1.3; Tert. Carn. Chr. 14, 18; Praescr. 32.3-5; 33.11; Virg. 6.1; Hipp. Haer. prol. 7.8; 7.34.1-2; 9.13.1-17.2; 10.22.1,29.1-3; Or. Hom. Luc. 17; Hom. Gen. 3.5; Comm. Mt., sermon 79; C. Cels. 2.1, 3; 5.61, 66; Euseb. D.E. 3.5; 7.1; Epiph. Pan. esp. bks 19, 28-31, 51; Jerome, Ep. 112.13,16; 125.12.1; Comm. Gal. on 1.11-12; 3.13-14; 5.3; Onom. 112; Comm. Habac. on 3.1013; Comm. Mt. on 12.2; Comm. Am. on 1.11-12; Comm. Isa. on 1.12; 5.18-19; 8.11-15, 19-22; 9.1; 31.6-9; 49.7; 52.4-6; Comm. Ezech. on 44.6-8; Comm.Jer. on 3.14-16; Didasc. apost. and Apost. const. passim), and rabbinic (e.g. m. Sanh. 4.5; t. 'Avot 13(14).5; t. Hul. 2.20-1; t. Yad. 2.13; b. 'Abod. Zar. i6b-i7a, 26ab; 27b-28a; b. Ber. 28b-29a; t. Avot. ii6ab; b. Sanh. 38b, I07ab; b. Sukk. 48b; b. Git. 45b; b. Ta'an. 27b; Siphre Numbers 143; Genesis Rabbah 8.9; 25.1; Exodus Rabbah 19.4).
14 The epistle of James, for example, becomes a less nomistic document by its inclusion in the same canon as Paul's letter to the Galatians, and the Kerygmata Petrou has been absorbed into the Pseudo-Clementines, which endorse the views of Gentile Christianity (see Jones,' Pseudo-Clementines').
Was this article helpful?