Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 March 2010
The essays in this book consider issues of tolerance and intolerance faced by Jews and Christians between approximately 200 BGE and 200 GE. Where were boundaries drawn and bridges built? Although this theme is explored primarily from a historical perspective, for both Jews and Christians it resonates down through the centuries right up to the present day. Communities, groups or nations with rigid boundaries of intolerance quickly become sterile: where there is no vision, people perish. So bridges must be built. On the other hand, unless clear boundary lines are drawn, bridges of tolerance which straddle political, ethnic or religious boundaries are always vulnerable both to sudden attack and to steady erosion. The location of boundaries and bridges raised particularly acute problems for both Jews and Christians in the period under discussion in this book, but the issues at stake will always be with us. The contributors hope to stimulate further research on their chosen topics, as well as reflection on the wider implications of their essays.
This book is distinctive both in its concentration on a theme of perennial concern for humanity, and also in the breadth of the essays. As might be expected in a volume on tolerance and intolerance in antiquity, several chapters are concerned with many different aspects of early Jewish–Christian relationships. Five scholars, however, take a different tack and explore wider horizons: they discuss ways Jews and Christians defined themselves over against the pagan world. As minority groups, both Jews and Christians had to work out ways of coexisting with their Graeco-Roman neighbours.