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Playing a Jewish Game

Gentile Christian Judaizing in the First and Second Centuries CE

by Michele Murray

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history, jewish
list price: $48.95
also available: eBook Hardcover
category: Religion
published: 2016
  • Short-listed, Grand Prix du Livre de la Ville de Sherbrooke
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Is it possible that early Christian anti-Judaism was directed toward people other than Jews?

Michele Murray proposes that significant strands of early Christian anti-Judaism were directed against Gentile Christians. More specifically, it was directed toward Gentile Christian judaizers. These were Christians who combined a commitment to Christianity with adherence in varying degrees to Jewish practices, without viewing such behaviour as contradictory. Several Christian leaders thought that these community members dangerously blurred the boundaries between Christianity and Judaism. As such, Gentile Christian judaizers became the target of much anti-Jewish rhetoric in various early Christian writings.

Evidence of Gentile Christian judaizers can be found in canonical sources, such as Pauls Letter to the Galatians and the Book of Revelation, as well as non-canonical sources, such as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache, and Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho. In order to compare the phenomenon of judaizing and the reaction to it of ecclesiastical authorities, Murray organizes the evidence by probable geographical location, using Asia Minor and Syria as the two main loci.

The phenomenon of Gentile Christian judaizing is examined within the broader context of Jewish-Christian relations in the early centuries, and is the first attempt to draw all possible references to Gentile Christian judaizers together into one study to consider them as a whole. This discussion invites readers to reflect on the existence of Gentile Christian judaizers as another point on the continuum of Jewish-Christian relations in the Greco-Roman world — an area, Murray concludes, that needs to be more carefully defined.

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About the Author

Michele Murray

Michele Murray is a specialist in Christian origins and an assistant professor in the Department of Religion at Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada.
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