Jewish Backgrounds and Interactions of Early Christianity

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Liberty University

the tale of two feisty Sisters:
The Jewish Backgrounds and Interactions of Early Christianity with Judaism

A research paper submitted to Dr. Scrutinus Severus
In Partial Fulfillment of the requirements For
The course NBST 695

Liberty baptist Theological seminary

By
Maximus Decius Claudius Pompus

Lynchburg, Virginia
April 04, 2011
Table of Contents
Introduction2
Setting the stage: the expansion of the Jewish Diaspora2
the Jewish roots of Christianity4
Hellenistic Judaism and Early Church6
Jewish Christian relations after the fall of Jerusalem8
The Last straw: the Bar Kokhba Revolt13
the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba revolt and Jewish-Christian relations16 the final parting of the ways.19
Conclusion22
Bibliography25
Introduction
Students of church history often puzzled by the sharp contrast between the Jewishness of the writers and events of the New Testament on one hand and the definitively non-Jewish character of the Early Church after the apostolic period on the other hand. An appreciation of the Jewish background of the Early Church and knowledge of the development of Jewish-Christian relations in the first three centuries of the Christian era is therefore crucial if one desires to understand the parting of ways between Judaism and Christianity. These two sister faiths would become bitter enemies within a few centuries after the emergence of the Christian faith. Our study, while heavily relying and interacting with primary sources of the time, will endeavor to highlight the Jewish origin of Christianity, trace its development within Judaism, and chronicle its inexorable divorce from its Jewish roots and sister faith. Setting the stage: the expansion of the Jewish Diaspora

During the Persian occupation of Palestine (538-332 BC), many Jews decided to pass on the magnanimous offer of Cyrus allowing them to return to Palestine and chose to remain in Babylonia where subsequently, the Jewish population grew in influence over the centuries.[1] Already during the Babylonian invasion and in the lifetime of the prophet Jeremiah, many Jews fled to Egypt, where they established substantial Jewish settlements. The Greek period (332-167 BC) saw the expansion of the Jewish Diaspora.[2] The Newly founded city of Alexandria became a key center of Hellenistic Jewry, which produced the Greek version of the Old Testament called Septuagint.[3] Syria also saw a significant increase in its Jewish population. The assimilation of Greek culture by the Jews of the dispersion made their integration among other culture much easier. The Roman period (from 63 BC onward) allowed Jews to spread westward thanks to the religious freedom provided by the Roman Empire. In the eve of the first century, many Jews had settled in Rome and other Roman provinces and were also found in sizable numbers as far as the Parthian empire in the East.[4] Strabo quoted by Josephus remarks: These Jews are already gotten into all cities; and it is hard to find a place in the habitable earth that has not admitted this tribe of men, and is not possessed by them.[5]

By the first century, around two-thirds of Jews were living outside Palestine with large settlements in ancient Babylonia, Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, Phoenicia, Cyrene, Greece, and Rome; by conservative estimates, Jews made up about 7 percent of the total population of the Roman Empire.[6] Moreover, Judaism had a special status in the Roman Empire. Jews were privileged because of the antiquity of their faith and lineage. They had been allies of Rome during the Maccabean era, and had helped Roman leaders such as Julius Caesar in their political and military endeavors. In order to reward them, Rome granted to the Jews the free exercise of their religion and exempted them from the mandatory emperor worship and sacrifices to the gods of the Rome. Jews were also permitted to judge their own affairs using...
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