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The Beginning of the End of Jewish Christianity

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Gunnar Samuelsson
Publicerad i SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) Annual Meeting. 17-21 November 2018, Denver, CO, USA
Publiceringsår 2018
Publicerad vid Institutionen för litteratur, idéhistoria och religion
Språk en
Ämnesord James the Just, New Testament, Biblical Studies, Anti-Semitism, Anti-Judaism, Jewish Christianity
Ämneskategorier Nya testamentets exegetik, Kyrkohistoria, Religionshistoria


Ancient Christianity rests upon a bed of uncertainty. There are significant gaps in the historical narrative of how the Jewish sect transformed into a global religion. From the first thirty years, there are pieces of information from Luke and Paul, but many questions are left without comprehensive answers. One of these is the religion’s transformation from its Jewish cradle to its anti-Jewish dress during the age of Constantine. Anti-Jewish sentiments could be seen already in the decades following the fall of Jerusalem, which are assumed to be connected to one another. This catastrophic event combined with Jewish prosecution of the first Christians, described in Acts, and harsh New Testament texts, such as Matt. 27.25 and 1 Thess. 2:14ff, could be seen as the sparks that kindled a destructive fire. In this paper, I will argue for an additional cause which is connected the elusive brother of Jesus, James the Just. The beginning of the end of the Jewish primacy of the Christian faith might have occurred before the destruction of Jerusalem, or in an event that Eusebius implies being connected to it (2 Euseb. 23.20), the lynching of James. Could the silence in the New Testament regarding the fall of Jerusalem and the death of and James, as well as the subsequent deaths of Peter and Paul, reflect a process that became the causa mortis of Jewish Christianity as well as being the means by which the anti-Jewish stance of the later church got its momentum? I will suggest an answer to the question how and why the church turned against its own roots and managed to use the biblical texts throughout its history against the very people the biblical texts are all about – the Jews.

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