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The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory
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Book description

How did Jews perceive the first Christians? By what means did they come to appreciate Christianity as a religion distinct from their own? In The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory, Professor Joshua Ezra Burns addresses those questions by describing the birth of Christianity as a function of the Jewish past. Surveying a range of ancient evidences, he examines how the authors of Judaism's earliest surviving memories of Christianity speak to the perspectives of rabbinic observers who were conditioned by the unique circumstances of their encounters with Christianity to recognize its adherents as fellow Jews. Only upon the decline of the Church's Jewish demographic were their successors compelled to see Christianity as something other than a variation of Jewish cultural expression. The evolution of thought in the classical Jewish literary record thus offers a dynamic account of Christianity's separation from Judaism counterbalancing the abrupt schism attested in contemporary Christian texts.

Reviews

‘Joshua Burns makes a vital and highly original contribution to our understanding of the complex process by which ancient Jews and Christians parted company, even as they wrestled with how to imagine and envision one another. While his agenda is ambitious, his deploying of the relevant Jewish and Christian literary traces that inform his argument is hermeneutically astute and methodologically cautious. This is a historian of ancient Jews and Christians at his best, both for his critical construction of the past as for his profound challenge to contemporary theological communication across the vicissitudes of collective memory.'

Steven Fraade - Yale University, Connecticut

‘Much has been written about the so-called ‘Parting of the Ways' between Judaism and Christianity. This book is a most welcome departure from the norm, for it does not address the usual questions of why, when, and even whether this schism took place, but focuses on how the schism was constructed in classical Jewish sources. In other words, The Christian Schism is not a history of the ‘parting' as such, but an attempt to discern what ancient Jews knew about Christianity and why. Meticulously research and highly readable, this book will interest historians, theologians, and all those who care about the relationships between Jews and Christians in the past, present and future.'

Adele Reinhartz - University of Ottawa

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