Interpreting The Exemptions

The contrast between the stricter Mishnaic approach and the material collected in the Tosefta and the two Talmuds has been noted by scholars, who categorize the later allowances as an attempt to relieve some of the strictures in the area of Jewish-pagan relations. Ephraim E. Urbach, for example, notes that relationships between Jews and their neighbours relaxed and became more lenient over the years, claiming that all kinds of goods were permitted because of economic necessity (1959, 189-205)....

Defection From Judaism

One of the clearest examples of defection from Judaism occurred in Anti-och during the Jewish War. A Jew named Antiochus threw over the traces, denounced his fellow Jews, and accused them of setting the city centre on fire. To prove the sincerity of his own conversion (metabole) and his detestation of Jewish customs, he sacrificed in the Greek fashion, denounced (enedeiknyto) his father and other Jews, and forced as many as he was able to abandon their customs and follow his lead (Josephus,...

Adolf Von Harnack

In the preface to his seminal work, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, Adolf von Harnack claimed No monograph has yet been devoted to the mission and spread of the Christian religion during the first three centuries of our era 1908, vii . Before Harnack's work, it is said, there were only myths of origin The primitive history of the church's mission lies buried in legend or rather, it has been replaced by a tendentious history of what is alleged to have...

Introduction

Any attempt to understand religious rivalries in the ancient Mediterranean world must take into account the social and political structures within which such phenomena took place. Such structures influenced or constrained in various ways the activities and behaviours of the individuals, groups, and communities that attract our historical interest. Thus, it is the city or polis of the Greek East, and the larger power structures of which the polis was a part, that should frame our investigations....