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By Paula Fredriksen

Now in paperback with a brand new postscript, this up-to-date version of Paula Fredriksen’s severely acclaimed Augustine and the Jews strains the social and highbrow forces that resulted in the advance of Christian anti-Judaism and indicates how and why Augustine challenged this tradition.

Drawing us into the existence, occasions, and considered Augustine of Hippo (396–430), Fredriksen makes a speciality of the interval of extraordinary creativity that ended in his new figuring out of Paul and to his nice vintage, The Confessions.  She exhibits how Augustine’s fight to learn the Bible led him to a brand new theological imaginative and prescient, person who countered the anti-Judaism not just of his Manichaean competitors but additionally of his personal church. The Christian Empire, Augustine held, used to be correct to prohibit paganism and to coerce heretics. however the resource of historical Jewish scripture and present Jewish perform, he argued, was once the exact same as that of the hot testomony and of the church—namely, God himself. for that reason, he suggested, Jews have been to be left on my own. Conceived as a vividly unique solution to safeguard Christian principles approximately Jesus and in regards to the outdated testomony, Augustine’s theological innovation survived the cave in of the Western Roman Empire, and it finally served to guard Jewish lives opposed to the brutality of medieval crusades.

Augustine and the Jews sheds new gentle at the origins of Christian anti-Semitism and, via Augustine, opens a direction towards larger realizing among of the world’s nice religions.


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John’s Jesus, uncharacteristically curt, easily observes, “If you [Jews] believed Moses, you will think me, for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). as soon as Paul’s letters and those gospels grew to become scripture for the later gentile church buildings, all of those rhetorical topoi, ripe for reuse, have been redeployed. The objectives of selection should be “false insiders” (those different gentile Christians with a special message than the speaker’s) in addition to “the Jews” (the perennial intimate outsiders). through the fourth century, whilst the group claiming identify to the Septuagint and to the hot testomony chanced on the emperor’s want, its double canon, its id, and its theology have been all securely interconnected via the cruel ligaments of this polemical rhetoric. This successful fourth-century church specified itself either correct pondering (“orthodox”) and common (“catholic”). Claiming that its teachings preserved traditions going at once again to Jesus and his unique fans, this church said itself “apostolic. ” Singularly empowered by means of Constantine’s excellent determination in 312, this church propagated adversarial caricatures of its defining “enemies”—pagans, absolutely; additionally different Christian groups (“heretics”); and likewise, with ever-increasing authority, Jews. Unambiguous condemnations of paganism and of its invariable (rhetorical) accompaniments, fornication and idolatry, stood in either testaments. The gods and pictures initially detailed within the Jewish scriptures, in fact, have been Canaanite deities. yet as soon as the condemnations of those old Semitic gods, due to the Septuagint, have been to be had in Greek, they have been simply redeployed opposed to a more moderen pantheon, the urbane gods of Greco-Roman tradition. in particular in New testomony files, furthermore, intra-Christian range had additionally been strongly condemned. Paul had with sarcasm pushed aside rival Christian missionaries as “super-apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5); in other places, he cheerfully wanted genital self-mutilation on his Christian pageant (Galatians 5:12). Matthew’s Jesus warns opposed to non-Matthean Christians through calling them “false prophets,” wolves in sheep’s garments. Matthew recognizes that such humans certainly pray to Jesus in addition to paintings miracles, force out demons, and prophesy in his identify. they might imagine, accordingly, that they stick to Christ. now not so, teaches Matthew. at the final day, whilst it is going to be too past due, those humans will locate themselves denied front to God’s country (Matthew 7:15–23). the writer of the deutero-Pauline letter 1 Timothy consigns to devil these Christians with whom he disagrees (1 Timothy 1:20). 2 Peter identifies Christians with ideals assorted from his personal as fake prophets and fake lecturers: “they will secretly introduce harmful haereseis” (2 Peter 2:1). (This Greek observe initially intended “opinion” or “school of thought”; by way of the fourth century, it capability “heresy. ”) To the author of the Johannine epistles, different Christians, comfortably, are “anti-Christ” (1 John 2:18–19; see additionally 2 John 7, stated in particular of docetist Christians).

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