Bible Review 11:1, February 1995

Multiple Judaisms

A new understanding of the context of earliest Christianity

By Gabriele Boccaccini

The subject of this article—from Judaism to Judaisms—is not only about names, but about ways of looking at things. For nearly two thousand years both Jews and Christians have looked at Judaism as a single fixed thing—a kind of point.

Paradoxically, each religious community had reasons to adhere to this image. For oppressed Jews, this model served to emphasize their enduring fidelity to an ancient and unaltered tradition. In Christian-Jewish polemics, Jews identified Christianity as totally separate from Judaism. Triumphant Christians, on the other hand, argued for the absolute newness and uniqueness of Jesus of Nazareth—to support the contention that Christianity replaced an outmoded, sclerotic religion.

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