Info

Luke-Acts, though written by a Gentile Christian, responds to the concerns of the 'mighty minority' of Jewish Christians within the first-century church, for example in the lengthy Lukan justification of the circumcision-free Gentile mission.24 The long passage in the probably deutero-Pauline Ephesians 2:11-21, moreover, may be directed not only against non-Christian Jews who regard Gentiles as 'strangers to the covenants of promise', but also against Jewish Christians who hold similar opinions.25 Jewish Christian opponents may also be reflected in another deutero-Pauline passage, Colossians 2:8-23, which emphasises that Christians are the true 'circumcision', and defends them against people who censure them on matters of food and drink, festivals, new moons and sabbaths.26 The Pastoral Epistles certainly reflect some sort of tension with Jewish Christianity in their polemic against Christians who desire to be teachers of the Law (1 Tim 1:8-11; cf. Tit 3:9) and who, being 'of the circumcision', encourage attention to 'Jewish myths' (Tit 1:10,14). As for Hebrews, its title suggests Christian addressees of Jewish background, and many exegetes think that this (later) title is in fact accurate and that the epistle is addressed to Jewish Christians tempted to 'fall back' into a theology whose starting-point is the Levitical Law rather than the Christ event (see 9:10; 13:9).27

Jewish Christianity was also a factor to be reckoned with outside the Pauline sphere of influence. Martyn, for example, has described 'the history of the Johannine community from its origin through the period of its life in which the Fourth Gospel was composed' as 'a chapter in the history of Jewish Christianity'.28 Infavour ofthis opinion, there is in the gospel no attackon ordinances such as the Levitical food laws and circumcision, and 7:22-3 seems to assume observance of the latter, using its acknowledged importance as the point of departure forJesus' own practice ofhealingonthe sabbath. On the other hand, the evangelist concludes an earlier sabbath controversy with the frank admission that Jesus 'broke the sabbath' (5:18) - an acknowledgement that creates some difficulties for the idea that his community was sabbath observant. It may be that the Johannine community, after an initial Torah-observant phase (reflected in 7:22-3), ended up being non-observant (as reflected in 5:18).29

24 See Jervell, Luke and the people of God; and Jervell, Theology of Acts.

25 See Kasemann, 'Epheserbrief', 517; and Marcus, 'The circumcision and the uncircumci-sion in Rome', 77-81.

26 See Shepherd, 'Gospel ofJohn', 708.

27 See Lane, Hebrews, cxxv-cxxxv and index s.v.'Paul'.

28 See Martyn, Gospel ofJohn, 121. On Martyn's linkage of the Johannine situation with the birkathamminim of the rabbis, see below, n. 55.

29 For attempts to reconstruct the history of the Johannine community, including changing attitudes towards the Torah, see Martyn, Gospel ofJohn, as well as his History and theology; Brown, Community of the beloved disciple; de Boer, Johannine perspectives, 43-82.

0 0

Post a comment