CHRISTIANS and JEWS

I. The process of separation – II. The controversy between Jews and Christians – III. Imperial legislation and Judaism – IV. The Byzantine period and Judaism. I. The process of separation. Born in a Jewish environment, Christianity could not remain there forever. Jewish Christians, faithful to the law and the observances, soon found themselves in an ambiguous situation: their conscience forbade them to deny their faith in Jesus Christ, while the religious leaders of the nation condemned that faith and classified Jesus’ followers as minim. For orthodox Judaism, minim are the followers of any sectarian movement, guilty of grave lapses against the moral or ritual law, or betrayers of the hope of Israel.

The Jerusalem Christians took no part in the Jewish war; according to Eusebius of Caesarea HE III,5,3, they had earlier abandoned the city, to settle in an area of Peraea called Pella. Some of them settled there permanently; but what was the reception of those who returned to the Holy City after those events? It is a fact that in ca. 90, Patriarch Gamaliel II inscribed the Nazarenes as first among the minim, in the prayer of the 18 petitions Goppelt 157. Hence they were even excluded from the public prayer recited in the name of the whole assembly, though at first they could take part privately and in silence. Many Talmudic texts difficult to date attest the presence of Jewish Christians expelled from the synagogal offices or classified as poshe Israel rebellious Jews.

The Second Jewish war 132 135 certainly aggravated the rift that had been created between Judaism and Jewish Christianity. After the triumph of the church, the situation of Jewish Christians became even more precarious: rejected by their ethnic brethren, they were considered heretics by members of the great church Simon 233- 239, the majority of which consisted of elements converted from paganism, and whose break with Jewish orthodoxy was total from the end of the 1st c. For their part the Jewish authorities organized a vast struggle, mainly throughout their Diaspora, to combat this dynamic and enterprising rival, which presented itself as the true heir to the promises of Israel. Jewish proselytism exerted itself to neutralize the effects of the Christian mission see Mt 23:15. Strong in their privileged legal status, the Jews invited the Christians too to escape the pressures by rejoining the synagogue Passio Pionii, 13 but do not seem to have gone so far as to provoke or favor the persecution of the Christians by the Roman authorities Munier 153-156.

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