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The Next Trade Book: Jews and Christians

QUESTION: I was wondering if someday you will write a book on the rise of anti-Judaism in early Christian circles ?  If you were to write such a book, what would the title and the subtitle be ? RESPONSE: As it turns out, that is indeed to be the topic of my next trade book, which I plan to write in a couple of years.  As I have said on this blog before, I try to alternate the kinds of books I write:  trade books for a general audience, textbooks for college students, and scholarly books for the six people in the world who really care.   Now that I am putting the finishing touches on my trade book How Jesus Became God, I am getting ready to work on my next scholarly book.  This will be a heavy-hitting scholarly commentary on the early Christian Greek Gospel fragments from the early second century, including most notably the Gospel of Peter, Papyrus Egerton 2, the Jewish Christian Gospels (Gospel according to the Hebrews; Gospel of the Nazareans; [...]

Melito and arly Christian Anti-Judaism

I AM IN THE PROCESS OF MAKING THE PENULTIMATE EDITS ON MY MY BIBLE INTRODUCTION.  TODAY I HAD TO REVIEW AN EXCURSUS ON EARLY JEWISH-CHRISTIAN RELATIONS IN WHICH I DISCUSS THE RISE OF ANTI-JUDAISM IN THE EARLY CHURCH, IN CLUDING THIS BIT ON MELITO OF SARDIS.  I THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE WORTH POSTING HERE. ******************************************************************************************************************** Melito was a bishop of the city of Sardis in Asia Mino in the mid to late second century.  Today he is best known for a sermon he wrote that lambasts the Jews for the role they played in the death of Jesus.   In it we find the first instance of a Christian author claiming that since the Jews killed Jesus, and since Jesus was God, the Jews are guilty of deicide – the murder of God.   This charge was used, of course, to justify all sorts of hateful acts of violence against Jews over the centuries.  In part, the rhetorical eloquence with which the charge was sometimes leveled has contributed ot the emotional reaction that it produced.  Consider Melito’s [...]

Anti-Judaism in the Gospels

QUESTION: It is in my understanding that it is of common scholarly opinion that the Gospel writers (at least Matthew, Luke, and John) were rather anti-Semitic in nature. Correct? How would you respond to that claim? After reading “The Origin of Satan” by Elaine Pagels, it is a subject that deeply interests me, and I would love to hear your professional opinion on the matter. RESPONSE: This question actually ties into some of the things I’ve been thinking about with respect to the stories of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and so it seems appropriate to answer it now rather than in a separate blog. I won’t deal with the question on the very broadest level, but will consider one feature of the Gospels that shows that with the passing of time they become more and more anti-Jewish. I should say at the outset that I do not think that the Gospel writers, or anyone else in their time, was “anti-Semitic.”   The idea and reality of anti-Semitism are modern, and are based on modern sense of [...]

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