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5 - Crafting a Christian Identity

Barnabas and the Two Peters

from Part I - Beginnings

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 December 2023

M. David Litwa
Affiliation:
Boston College, Massachusetts
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Summary

This chapter focuses on how the authors of three texts carved out a distinctly Christian identity: the Letter of Barnabas, the Preaching of Peter, and the Apocalypse of Peter. For each text, a thorough argument is laid out for an Alexandrian provenance. The writer of Barnabas was a Christian freelance expert urging his audience to renounce distinctly Jewish practices even as he claimed the promises of Jewish scripture. The Preaching of Peter explicitly distinguishes Jews from Christians and argues that Christians worship God in a “third way” that is different from both Jews and Greeks. The Apocalypse of Peter adapts a popular Jewish genre yet pays almost no attention to Jews themselves. All three texts show how Christians of the early second century claimed the spiritual benefits of the Jews while simultaneously distancing themselves from the practices and institutions of Judaism. Collectively, they undermine the theory that followers of Jesus were not distinguished from Jews prior to 117 ce.

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Chapter
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Early Christianity in Alexandria
From its Beginnings to the Late Second Century
, pp. 66 - 88
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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