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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

4 - Jewish Christianity

from Part II - The Jesus Movements


Jesus and his first disciples were Jews, and for several centuries after his death Christians of Jewish origin were a significant presence both inside and outside of the land of his birth. The history of Jewish Christianity in the first few Christian centuries begin with Jesus brother James, the leader of the Torah observant, the predominant faction in the Jerusalem 'mother church' until its dispersal in the Jewish revolt of 66-73 CE, and perhaps even afterwards. James continues to be a model of Torah piety in the second-third century Jewish Christian sources embedded in the fourth-century Pseudo-Clementine literature. James and Peter were important figureheads, but they themselves were only the tip of a huge Jewish Christian iceberg that is mostly invisible to us because of the eventual triumph of Gentile Christianity. Paul himself, in his battle against it, provides compelling evidence of its power, for example in his letter to the Galatian Christians.

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