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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: May 2021

2 - The Image of Jews and Judaism in the Apostolic Fathers


Christianity and Judaism as we know them today can both be traced back to the richly diverse Judaism that flourished in Palestine in late Second Temple times, but it was only after 70 CE that the two traditions began to define themselves over against each other in mutually exclusive ways. The period between the First Jewish Revolt (66–74 CE) and the Bar Kokhba war (132–135 CE) – the period in which much of the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers was written – was crucial in this development. The aim of this study will be to throw light on this parting of the ways. It will outline briefly what we know about Rabbinic Judaism in Palestine and synagogal Judaism in the Diaspora at this time, and then read against this picture the references to Jews and Judaism in the Apostolic Fathers, especially in the Epistle of Barnabas. What Barnabas shows is a Christianity that sharply differentiates itself from Judaism, but at the same time does not want to sever all ties. It wants to hold on to the Jewish Scriptures as word of God, but through a process of allegorization to appropriate them as Christian Scripture.