Volume 46 - Issue 1

The Parting of the Way: A Survey of the Relationship between Jews and Christians in the First and Second Centuries CE

By Doosuk Kim


People today clearly view Judaism and Christianity as different religions. Undisputedly, however, Jesus and his followers were Jews in the first century. When did the parting of the way between Jews and Christians take place? What are the decisive factors that made the two ended up so far from each other? This essay examines this relationship in its social, theological, historical, and political context. The evidence suggests that though the exact time and impetus for the parting remain elusive, the parting of the way began in the first century and gradually became clearer in the second century.

To begin with undisputed matters: Jesus was a Jew; the disciples were Jews; Paul was a Jew; and most of the New Testament writers were Jews. In other words, the Jesus movement in the first century was initiated by Jews. The major Jesus-movement figures in the New Testament themselves testify that they were Jews and had not opposed Jewish traditions. For instance, Peter hesitated (multiple times!) to take unlawful foods which are banned in Torah and regarded having fellowship with the Gentile as prohibited by Jewish laws (Acts 10:14, 28). Also, Paul, seen in retrospect as one of the founders of Christianity, claims that he is a Jew, still believing in the same God (Phil 3:5; 2 Cor 11:22). Moreover, Paul circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3), and when Paul came back to Jerusalem, in Acts 21, he committed himself to Jewish purification.

Then, when did the parting of the way between the two beliefs initiate in the first place? What are the decisive factors that made the two end up so far from each other? To answer these questions, this article assesses the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in the first two centuries CE, with specific focus on the social, theological, historical, and political context of this relationship.1 First, I explore the nature of Jewish identity: who is a Jew? Next, I consider Jewish hostility towards followers of Christ and the theological ramifications of the early church’s pneumatology. Third, I examine the Jewish revolts in 66–70 CE and 132–136 CE, which played an important historical role in the parting of the way. Fourth, I investigate the political implications of the new tax policy for the Jews (Fiscus Judaicus) begun by the emperor Vespasian. Through these areas of research, I suggest that though the exact time and impetus for the parting remain elusive, the parting of the way initiated in the first century CE and gradually became clearer in the second century CE.2

1. Social Context for the Parting of the Way: Jewish Identity, Who Is a Jew?

Why is Jewish identity significant? It is because social identities function as boundary markers between in-group and out-group. In other words, the question that speaks of who we are could be rephrased to who are those not belonging to us. For the Jews of what we now view as the first and second century, ethnicity is the overriding identity factor here, though there were other factors such as circumcision, dietary custom, monotheism, Sabbath observance, purity laws, and festivals. An interesting point is that although Jews began to distance themselves to varying extents from other customs such as purity, dietary custom, and festivals, they would still be described by themselves and others as Jews. Even if some Jews observed other Jews who did not observe Jewish customs and traditions as renegades, lawless, and impious, they would never regard them as Gentiles, because ethnicity was the first step by which they recognized someone as a Jew.3 This might result from the presence of diaspora Jews throughout the Roman Empire. Jews were not only settled in the Palestine region but all over the empire. Thus, they had a high potential to be assimilated with Gentile life and pagan cults.4 Though they all shared the same identity, we would expect to find that their practices—and their perspectives on those practices—would be different. The variations between Philo's writings and Qumran's literature may support such a view.

Also, subtle theological dissonances among Jews would had not been a “deal breaker” in defining who a Jew is. The fractionalization noted above indicates, among other things, that Judaism in the Second Temple period was not uniform but diverse in terms of understandings and theologies of Judaism (i.e., Acts 23:6–8).5 Though there were several types of Jews, they all would have considered all of themselves as Jews. For instance, Pharisees would have considered Sadducees Jews, and vice versa. Interestingly enough, Jews regard even Jewish heretics as Jews, despite their deviant theology and idiosyncratic religious practice.6 Schremer explains that “even Jews, who are socially and theologically minim, are introduced under the heading of Jews who separated from the ways of the community.”7

In his recent monograph, Thiessen attempts to answer a question, “who is a Jew?” Opposing predominant scholarly perspectives,8 Thiessen argues that “Jewishness is not a matter of choice but of descent.”9 By stating this, Thiessen asserts that, for Jews, there is no opportunity for conversion, but Jewishness is determined by birth. To elaborate his thesis, Thiessen investigates from the Old Testament to the Second Temple period and asserts that even circumcision is not an unquestionable Jewish identity badge. Circumcision was not a wild card, so to speak, to confirm one’s identity as a Jew.10 Thus, though a Gentile proposed that he had been circumcised, it would not guarantee his Jewishness. Thiessen contends that circumcision does not qualify a Gentile to be a Jew. Rather, “circumcision is a custom only intended for and of value to Jews.”11

Probing Tannaitic literature, Schiffman comes up with the same conclusion as Thiessen’s, namely that Jewishness is determined by descent.12 Schiffman draws attention to a Mishnaic text about betrothal, particularly Qiddushin 3:12–4:14.13 Then, he contends that “the offspring of the union of a Jewish woman and a non-Jewish man was certainly considered a Jew.”14 Also, in Sotah 7:8 in the Mishnah, Agrippa read the Torah, and when he came to Deuteronomy 17:15—the king of Israel should be one of the brothers—he wept because of the fact that only one of his parents, likely his mother, was a Jew. The sages, however, admitted Agrippa as a Jew.15

The New Testament also exhibits different customs of Judaism and Jewish identities in many places. In Galatians 2, when Paul rebuked Peter, they were in Antioch. Peter was having table fellowship with Gentiles—a point on which he himself had struggled, as was noted earlier. Here we see that a Palestinian Jew, Peter, as well as other Jews, shared this table fellowship (Gal 2:13). As soon as Jews from James, another Palestinian Jew, came, however, Peter was afraid of them and abandoned the fellowship. Then (the timing is critical) Paul rebuked Peter, saying “if you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews? We ourselves are Jews by birth (ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι) and not Gentile sinners.” Through this statement, we may surmise that though there were certain Jewish customs, some Jews did not strictly observe all customs. Also, though some Jews had different perspectives on their customs, in their mind, there was still a different identity between Jews and Gentiles by their birth.

The book of Romans offers further hints for understanding Jewish identities and how Jews defined themselves. The recipients of Romans are (diaspora) Jews and Gentiles in the city of Rome who have come to faith in Christ. In chapter 2, we may glimpse that diaspora Jews in the city of Rome evidently separate themselves from Gentiles. They think that they are guides for the blind, lights for those who are in darkness, and teachers of the foolish (Rom 2:19–20). Also, in Romans 9–11, although Paul expounds that there is no partiality to those who believe in God (Rom 10:12), the entire section constantly shows the difference in social identity between Jews who are descendants of Israel, on the one hand, and Gentiles on the other.16 The olive tree metaphor represents this identity difference (Rom 11:17, 24). Paul metaphorically expresses that Gentiles are a grafted tree while Jews are natural branches.

2. Theological Context for the Parting of the Way

Given that biological and genealogical ethnicity is the overriding factor in defining who a Jew is, at least one further question would arise.17 According to the above identity classification, Jews who pursue Jesus’s teaching and believe in Jesus should be found as Jews since they were born as such. If Jewish Christians believed that they did not disparage Jewish traditions and the law of God but still regarded themselves as Jews, why did fellow Jews exhibit hostility toward them? It is interesting to notice that in the New Testament, all different types of Jews such as diaspora Jews, Palestinian Jews, Pharisees, and Sadducees gather together and stand against a specific type of Jewish group. As Schiffman recounts, “Whereas all the other Jewish sects and ideologies of the Second Commonwealth remained within the Jewish fold regardless of how radical they may have been, this one group [followers of Jesus] eventually diverged and became a separate ‘religion.’”18 It seems that Jews define another Jews who believe in Jesus and bring Gentiles into their boundaries as apostates.

Thus, what made Jesus-believing Jews part from other Jewish sects and Judaism in general? Jesus-believing Jews’ perspectives on Gentiles according to their pneumatology and Christology would have accelerated the parting. If genealogy is the only boundary marker putting all Jews in the same category, most of the Jews would be uncomfortable with including Gentiles to share their privileges as the people of God. Jesus-believing Jews, however, identify themselves as Jews and encourage Gentiles to believe in Jesus. Then, they define Gentiles and themselves as the same righteous people in Christ (i.e., Rom 3:29–30; Gal 2:16). This would be very uncomfortable and unacceptable to other Jews of the time. Thus, in the eyes of Jews, the influx of Gentiles within the boundary of the people of God was not acceptable (i.e., Acts 21:27–30). Schiffman explains that “the ultimate parting of the ways for Judaism and Christianity took place when the adherents to Christianity no longer conformed to the halakic definitions of a Jew because Christianity had become predominantly Gentile.”19 Here, pneumatology and Christology play an important role for Jesus-believing Jews to include Gentiles to share in the privileges and inheritance of God.

2.1. Jewish and Christian Pneumatology

The early church’s perspectives on the Spirit coming upon the Gentiles could be a source of the parting. The Old Testament and the literature of Second Temple Judaism predominantly present that the Spirit is only for the Israelite communities who inherit the covenant of God. Many scholars suggest that in the Old Testament, the Spirit is understood as the prophetic Spirit of revelation and as a source of supernatural power, wisdom, and faith.20 Speaking differently, in the Old Testament, the Spirit comes to an individual messianic figure to give prophecy, power, and/or revelation. In addition to this, scholars conclude that in the Old Testament, the endowment of the Spirit is only for those in the Jewish community, often in order to reorient them toward the law of God, to regenerate and to restore from their past failures.

Ezekiel 36:26–27, for example, relates the promise of the Spirit to the restoration of Israel. In its context, God says that he will gather the exiles and sprinkle them with clean water in order to purify them so that they would be sanctified from idolatry and all defilements (36:24–25). Alongside this, Ezekiel 36:26–27 tells readers that God puts the Spirit in Israel and makes their hearts tender. The purpose of giving a new and tender heart is to obey the law of God. Also, in Isaiah 44:1–5, the promise of outpouring the Spirit is the sign of regeneration and recreation, and the recipients of the Spirit are restricted to Israel.21

Joel 2:28–32 is another significant passage in the Old Testament indicating outpouring of the Spirit. Here, due to the phrase “all flesh” (כָּל־בָּשָׂר) and inclusive words such as the young, old, children, male and female slaves, there has been an argument that the outpouring of the Spirit is to all people.22 If we pay attention to the context, however, we may find evidence to claim that the recipient of the Spirit is to be taken in the narrower sense, which is Israel.23 Through the prophecy of Joel, God warns all kinds of his people, such as the old (Joel 1:2), children (1:3), workers (1:11) and priests (1:13) to face the day of Yahweh (2:1). Then, God requires repentance and the returning of Israelites to their God (2:12–13). When Israel returns to God, they will have God’s compassion (2:18), recreation (2:22), and restoration (2:23–24). Thus, here in the discourse, Israel is the dialogue partner and God is the one who addresses his warnings and the promise of the restoration. In this regard, one may conclude that the phrase “all flesh” is not referring to all human beings in general but all kinds of people among the Israelites. As God warns, he also promises the restoration through the Spirit to all people (children, the old and young, and male and female slaves). Hence, as Philip rightly interprets, “it is more plausible that the phrase indicates inclusiveness across different degrees of kinship within society, and particularly the relationship within Israelite/Judahite society.”24 Therefore, the Old Testament confines the coming of the Spirit to Israel’s communities, and outpourings of the Spirit upon Gentiles are barely hinted at in the Old Testament.

The coming of the Spirit to Israel also appears in the literature of Second Temple Judaism. Post-biblical literature maintains a view similar to that of the exilic texts noted from the Old Testament. Through an investigation of the literature in this period, Philip elucidates that “several important witnesses are silent with respect to the expectation of the Spirit upon Gentiles.”25 The book of Jubilees exhibits an especially strong echo of the noted exilic texts’ views. The book begins with the scene of Moses receiving the law of God at Mount Sinai. Then, God predicts the rebellion of Israel (1:7–15). What is a particularly noticeable point is that the role of the Spirit here in this book is tantamount to that of the exilic texts’ portrayal in the Old Testament. Jubilees 1:22–24 says,

The Lord said unto Moses, “I know their contrariness and their thoughts and their stiffneckedness, and they will not be obedient till they confess their own sin and the sin of their fathers. And after this they will turn to Me in all uprightness and with all (their) heart and with all (their) soul, and I will circumcise the foreskin of their heart and the foreskin of the heart of their seed, and I will create in them a holy spirit, and I will cleanse them so that they shall not turn away from me from that day unto eternity. And their souls will cleave to me and to all my commandments, and they will fulfil my commandments, and I will be their Father and they shall be my children.”26

In a similar vein with Ezekiel 36:26–27, here God says to Moses that he will recreate the rebellious people in the Spirit and will purify them so that they may keep all God’s commandments. Thus, fundamentally, the book of Jubilees presents that the primary intent of the coming of the Spirit is the restoration of Israel. As Philip concludes, “The future anticipation of the Holy Spirit is promised only to Israel. The Gentiles are not part of the author’s eschatological perspective.”27

Some manuscripts from the Qumran community provide further interpretations of Ezekiel 36:25–27, Joel 2:28–32, and Isaiah 44:3. According to Philip, the literature maintains the same perspectives as exilic and post-exilic prophets: the Spirit comes to Israel for the purpose of restoration. The purpose of the bestowal of the Spirit is obedience to the law of God. Philip offers this assessment of the Qumran writings:

What is noticeable in the usage of the term Spirit is that the community is consistently reminded of the purging and cleansing role of the Holy Spirit…. The Qumran writings do not tell us anything about the procedure for the conversion of Gentiles…. We may argue that the proselytes, who are purified from all transgressions of law (1QS 5:14), could possibly have entered the community and thus experienced the Spirit. However, even such a possibility would not help in our quest for any anticipation of the Spirit upon the Gentiles apart from their becoming members of the covenant…. In sum, the promise of the Spirit upon the entire community is limited to the members of the covenant community.28

We now briefly consider Second Temple Jewish texts from the diaspora, particularly the Wisdom of Solomon and Philo’s works. Interestingly enough, unlike other post-biblical texts such as the Qumran literature, Apocrypha, and Pseudepigrapha, the Wisdom of Solomon and Philo present that the Spirit is a present reality and is expected imminently.29 Put differently, diaspora Jewish writers imagine the coming of the Spirit to the present, while Qumran literature, Jubilees, and 4 Ezra maintain future eschatological aspects of the Spirit, focusing on the purification, restoration, rebuilding, and returning of Israel. Philo’s use of the term “the Spirit” is surprisingly more extensive than in other Jewish literature. To Philo, the Spirit is not something that humans should anticipate to come in the future; rather, Philo focuses on a present reality of the Spirit. Philip scrutinizes Philo’s work and concludes,

It is important to note that there are only few passages in the whole of Philonic literature that refer to any eschatological anticipation at all (Philo. Praem 164–72). Philo mentions the eschatological redemption of Israel, the deliverance from Gentile oppressors, the pilgrimage of exiles to Zion and prosperity in the land. There is no reference to Gentiles being part of the restoration by God in the future. For Philo, since the Spirit is now already available to all, it is not related to the coming Gentile pilgrimage.30

The above sketch provides some idea as to how the exilic prophets and post-biblical Judaism understand the bestowal of the Spirit. The majority of the sources presented the coming of the Spirit as limited to the covenantal community, which is Israel, and the Spirit produces gifts to Israel such as restoration, recreation, rejuvenation, and being faithful to God’s commandments. However, there is no unambiguous statement regarding the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to Gentiles. Therefore, having the Spirit would still be recognized as an exclusive privilege for Jews.

How, then, does the early church understand the coming of the Spirit to Gentiles? In the New Testament, there are three accounts, by my reckoning, indicating such a bestowal.31 One is the Peter and Cornelius experience in Acts 10, another is Peter’s address at Jerusalem’s council in Acts 15, and the last is in Paul’s letter to the Galatians (Gal 3:1–5). Notwithstanding the scholarly debate on the historicity of Acts 15 and chronology of Paul,32 an overt fact is that all three accounts suggest that receiving the Spirit is the determinative factor for full affiliation in the new community. In Acts 10:44–48, while Peter is preaching, the Spirit comes to Gentiles. Peter and other circumcised believers (10:45), indicating Jesus-believing Jews, are amazed; as Peter concludes on the Jews’ collective behalf (without, of course, dissolving the us-and-them, Jew/Gentile distinction), “surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have” (10:47).

In Acts 15, based on what he has already experienced, Peter stands and proclaims that “God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith” (15:8–9). Interestingly, here we may see that Peter exhibits a similar perspective with the exilic prophets in terms of the expected function of the Spirit. However, unlike Ezekiel, who proclaims that the Spirit purify Israel, Peter includes Gentiles among those so purified. James also advocates Peter’s new perspective by enunciating that uncircumcised Gentiles should not be hindered in coming to the Lord.33 Then, Peter, James and other apostles come up with the agreement that circumcision is not the qualification of being members of God’s community, but faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Jerusalem church leaders reckon that Gentiles can receive full affiliation of their community through receiving the Spirit, though this resolution would prove revolutionary and even treacherous to the eyes of non-Jesus-believing Jews.

Paul’s perspective on the coming of the Spirit to Gentiles is similarly novel. To Paul, the endowment of the Spirit is not only about giving the membership of the community, but it is a sign that Gentiles can be the part of the promise and blessing of Israel that God initiated in Abraham. Paul rebukes the Galatians since they quickly turned away from the gospel that Paul himself taught them. Then, Paul reminds them that they received the Spirit not by the law but by faith (Gal 3:1–2). Taking a further step, Paul equates the Gentiles’ faith to Abraham’s faith in the sense of being qualified as the righteous one. Finally, Paul concludes that “the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Gal 3:14). By stating this, Paul admits Gentiles not only to the membership of the contemporary community but also includes them into the blessing that God gave their ancestors (i.e., the Jews’ ancestors, but now also the Gentiles’ “new” ancestors!) throughout Jewish history. To put it mildly, this would not have been news that Paul’s non-Jesus-believing contemporaries would have welcomed.

2.2. Christology and Jewish Monotheism

Early Christians’ perception of Jesus was also problematic in the eyes of Jews.34 They admitted Jesus as the divine entity who deserves to be worshipped. In addition to this, Jesus-believing Jews identified Jesus as the descendant of David who is the singular messianic figure (i.e., Acts 2:29–36) and thus view Jesus as Christ and the Son of God. Finally, they regard Gentiles as among those who deserve to be righteous through faith in Jesus (i.e., Rom 3–4; 1 Cor 1:24; Gal 2:16; 3:14). Thus, to the other Jews, what Jesus-believing Jews proclaimed would be blaspheming their God and a threat to their identity.

From the Old Testament to the Second Temple period and afterward, monotheism is one of the pillars of the people of Israel.35 Thus, if some Jews worshiped other gods than Yahweh, they would not be appreciated by other Jews. In other words, in the eyes of such monotheists, Jewish Christians’ Christology would be reckoned as idolatry. Of course, there is a debate among scholars regarding Jewish monotheism. Many scholars agree that Jewish monotheism does not insist on the impossibility of the existence of other gods. Horbury classifies Jewish monotheism into two types. One is exclusive or rigorous monotheism, and the other is inclusive monotheism.36 The former type of monotheism believes that no other gods exist, but only Yahweh. The latter type of monotheism believes that supernatural beings and other gods may exist, but that Yahweh is the most supreme and superlative God among all gods.

Fredriksen argues that due to the cultural diversity and geographical vastness of the areas to which they had spread, Jews acknowledged the existence of other gods and even attended to the pagan cult as a necessary social and cultural interaction with Gentiles.37 According to him, there were two concepts of pagan gods for the western diaspora. One is that Jews regarded the pagan gods as the lower and visible gods, while Yahweh is the highest and invisible God, dwelling in the firmament. The other concept is that Jews treated pagan gods as demons. They regarded pagan gods as nugatory.38 In both cases, diaspora Jews in the west of the empire admitted the existence of pagan gods. They showed their respect to pagan gods and ritual ceremonies. However, they mitigated that existence either by seeing the gods as on a lower level than their supreme God (Yahweh) or by seeing the gods as nugatory.

Bauckham also holds this view. He says that “traditional monotheism in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions has always accepted the existence of vast numbers of supernatural beings.”39 Going one step further, Bauckham suggests a distinction even within the exclusive category of monotheism in terms of the degree of uniqueness. That is, unlike Horbury’s definition, Bauckham explains that the point of the more rigorous/exclusive monotheism is to separate God from other gods. For Jews, Yahweh is intrinsically a different kind of God. Yahweh is not just more powerful than other gods. Rather, Israel’s God is different by nature.40

The distinctions above, however, do not mean that Jews tolerated worshiping pagan gods. Though diaspora Jews had varying degrees of cultural intertwinement with Gentiles, the Shema (Deut 6:4) and the first commandment (Exod 20:3) were still ultimate principles of Second Temple Judaism.41 This indicates that regardless of the cultural complexity, Jews would not tolerate worshiping other gods.42 In this regard, the early Church’s Christology may be considered as idolatry to the Jews, and it would have facilitated the division between Judaism and Christianity.

In the New Testament, Jesus’s crucifixion, resurrection (1 Cor 15), relationship to heavenly beings (Acts 13:33; Heb 1:3; 5:5), and divine authority (Acts 2:33; 17:31) are fundamental to Jewish Christians’ perceptions of Jesus. The early Christian thoughts on Christology, however, were not entirely new to the eyes of Judaism. As Dunn explains,

Within Second Temple Judaism there was nothing un-Jewish in thinking that a great man had been signally honored by God by being taken to heaven, whether without death or after death. There was nothing un-Jewish in claiming that such a one had been given share in such definitively divine roles as the exercise of final judgment over the world.43

Thus, one might surmise that early Christianity brought at least some of its initial Christological concepts over from the notion of messianic figure in Second Temple Judaism.44 According to the early Christian writings in the New Testament, however, we may conjecture that Christian Christology is not a mere conceptual adoption. Rather, early Christianity developed the concepts differently and made Jesus an object of devotion.45 In this regard, one may assert that the distinctiveness of Christian Christology from extant Jewish concepts would open the parting even further.46

In his letters to the earliest Christian communities, Paul affirms Jesus’s divinity as Lord and even considers Jesus equivalent to God. In 1 Corinthians 8:6 (having just discussed some of the same monotheistic questions reviewed above), Paul says “yet for us, there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” Also in his letter to the Philippians, Paul claims that Jesus, who exists in the form of God, did not consider himself to be equal to God.47 Every tongue is to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.48 This Philippian hymn (Phil 2:5–11) is echoing Isaiah 45:23. Thus, in Paul’s language, κύριος refers to Yahweh in Hebrew, which indicates Israel’s God.49 Alongside such support from Paul, John’s Gospel is one of the clearest sources of evidence. John overtly expresses Jesus’s deity. In John’s Gospel, Jesus depicts himself as the same as God (John 10:30), and the author clearly shows that one of the principal reasons Jews wanted to kill Jesus is that Jesus equates himself to God (John 5:18). Another noticeable point is that John describes “the Jews” as Jesus’s major opponents. For instance, expelling Jesus-believers from the synagogue (John 9:22) is often seen among some scholars as representing John’s view on Jews’ enmity toward Christians in his own time.50

Alongside divinization, New Testament writers describe Jesus as the one who deserves to receive hymns, prayers, and confessions of faith.51 As Bauckham suggests, prayers to Jesus and doxologies in the early Christian writings indicate that the early Christian community worshiped Jesus as Lord. Bauckham spells out that “ritual use of Jesus’s name reflects an explicit identification of Jesus as an appropriate recipient of such cultic devotion … it represents the inclusion of Jesus with God as recipient of public, corporate cultic reverence.”52 Also, Christians evidently adopted Jewish origin doxologies and used them for Jesus.53 The doxology to Jesus becomes even more vivid in the second and the third century CE.54 But the first-century New Testament writings already present believers as rightly worshiping Jesus (e.g., Rom 9:5; 16:25–27; 2 Pet 3:18; Rev 1:5–6).

Hurtado expounds that early Christian hymns are “mainly devoted to celebrating the work and significance of Christ…. These Christological hymns exhibit the earliest observable stages of Christian reflection on the significance of Jesus…. The hymns in Revelation indicate an intensification of cultic devotion to Christ taking place in the latter half of the first century.”55 Bauckham also argues that though it is not fully clear in the New Testament, “Christian hymns are forms of narrative praise recounting the history of Jesus in the third person.”56

The practice of confessing Jesus is another important proof that the early Christians worshiped Jesus. In Romans 10:9–13, Paul makes the confession as the source by which to be saved. In Philippians 2:11, confessing that Jesus is Lord is glorifying God the Father. This is an idiosyncratic feature that the early Christians presented in comparison to other Jewish sects. For instance, according to Hurtado, though the Qumran community regarded Melchizedek as a heavenly figure, they did not revere or worship him and did not require a confession of faith in Melchizedek to be a part of the community.57

The Jewish intolerance to idolatry occurs in the rabbinic literature as well. One of the representative pieces of literature regarding the Jewish halakah over idolatry is the Avodah Zarah in the Mishnah. Rabbi Meir prohibited all kinds of images (m. Avod. 3:1–3).58 This tractate also forbids any involvement in idol worship, drawing on Deuteronomy 7:25 and 12:2 (m. Avod. 3:5).59 Even one step further, the Mishnah prohibits being in the environment of idol worship (m. Avod. 4:1–3).60 The Tosefta also strictly bans any contact with pagan idolatry. Though having business with Gentiles was permitted, having business with Gentiles who so indulged was prohibited (see t. Avod.1:15), for there it is tantamount to honoring the idols or at least those who worshiped them.61 Also, Jewish artisans are prohibited entering the house of idolaters, and from the marketplace, which is in the village of the idolaters (t. Avod. 1:3–5).62 Though Avodah Zarah in the Mishnah and Tosefta reveals Jewish halakah regarding the Roman imperial cult, it is not irrelevant to the early Christians’ Christology.63 To exalt a human to the position of deity is seen as a representative trait of emperor worship. Thus, Christians’ confession of Jesus as the deity may be considered to the eyes of rabbinic Judaism as functionally the same as the emperor cult, and it would accelerate the separation between Judaism and Christianity.64

3. Historical Context for the Parting of the Way: Jewish Revolts

Scholars generally agree that two times of Jewish revolts, taking place 66–70 CE and 132–136 CE,65 played an important role for the parting.66 As Cohen explains, the fall of Jerusalem forms a demarcation between Second Temple Judaism and rabbinic Judaism.67 During the first Jewish War, not only the temple but also the institutional foundation was swept away by the Roman Empire. But, Yohanan ben Zakkai and the Yavneh school commenced a new era of Judaism. Yohanan ben Zakkai did not advocate the Jewish War but urged Jews to surrender. He admitted Vespasian as the one designated to destroy the temple and deserving to become an emperor.68 Then, he requested Vespasian to make special allowances for the Yavneh school, reinstituting Torah largely as Yohanan conceived of it. Consequently, the entirety of Judaism “began to reformulate and redefine” according to the Yavneh school.69 The Yavneh school inclined itself toward Pharisaic traditions, focused on Torah, and developed the halakah, which regulated Jewish lifestyle.70 Therefore, while the first Jewish war was a tragedy to Jews, it generated rabbinic Judaism and its literature that reframed the concept of Judaism.

The second Jewish revolt resulted in a drastic reduction of the Jewish population in the land of Judea. This demographic change occurred possibly for two reasons. The first possible reason is that the suppression of Jews by the Roman Empire caused the population reduction. Dio Cassius noted,

Fifty of their most important outposts and nine hundred and eighty-five of their most famous villages were razed to the ground. Five hundred and eighty thousand men were slain in the various raids and battles, and the number of those that perished by famine, disease and fire was past finding out. Thus, nearly the whole of Judaea was made desolate, a result of which the people had had forewarning before the war.71

Though his account that “the whole of Judaea was made desolate” seems hyperbolic, the reduction of Jews’ population in the region of Judea was inevitable. The second probable reason for the demographic change is Hadrian’s policy to “integrate Judaea and the Jewish population within Pan-Hellenic policy for the unification of the whole empire.”72 Thus, Hadrian let Gentiles reside in the region of Judea and banished Jews (including Jewish Christians) so that Gentiles were dominant in Judea. Eusebius noted that “it was then that the church there first consisted of Gentiles, who took the place of converts from the circumcision and were headed by the first Gentile bishop, Mark, as already explained.”73 Alongside this, and also resulting from the second Jewish revolt, Hadrian promulgated decrees forbidding circumcision, the Jewish juridical system, public gatherings, and Torah study.74

What then are the feasible implications of the two Jewish revolts? By the end of the two instances of Jewish war, Jews were dispersed out of Jerusalem and Judea. Being disseminated, both Jews and Christians would interface with diverse belief systems such as those of Jewish Christians, Hellenistic Christians, Palestinian Judaism, diaspora Judaism, pagans, and so on. Conceivably, by interacting with other types of belief and conduct, rabbinic Judaism gradually built up its parameters to distinguish Jewish orthodoxy and heresy.75 One may discover some evidence for this through rabbinic literature. According to t. Shab. 13:5, “the book of the Evangelist and the books of the minim they do not save from a fire. But they are allowed to burn where they are … and Rabbi Tarfon says that may I burn my sons if such things come into my hands.”76 In t. Yad. 2:13–14, rabbis consider that “the Gospels and books of heretics do not impart uncleanness to hands while the Song of Songs does since it was written by the Holy Spirit.”77 By these texts from the Tosefta, we may have a glimpse of how rabbinic Judaism viewed Christian writings. To rabbinic Judaism, not all Christian writings were regarded as unsanctified literature, but some of them were considered as defiling their purity. Besides this, rabbis evidently regarded the Gospels the same as the writing of minim (heretics).

Not only rabbinic literature but also second-century Christian writings underpin the parting of the way. Trypho, the Jewish interlocutor of Justin, says,

It would be better for us to have obeyed our teachers, who warned us not to listen to you Christians, nor to converse with you on these subjects, for you have blasphemed many times in your attempt to convince us that this crucified man was with Moses and Aaron, and spoke with them in the pillar of the cloud; that he became man, was crucified, and ascended into heaven, and will return again to this earth; and that he should be worshipped.78

By this statement of Trypho, we may conjecture that rabbis banned communication with Christians. To rabbis, Christians blasphemed against God by divinizing Jesus and by worshiping him. Alongside this, in terms of the relationship between observing Torah and salvation, Justin reveals his view that salvation is valid for those who believe in Jesus yet still observe Torah.79 In answering, Trypho states that there are some other Christians who do not agree with Justin.80 Thus, one may conjecture that some Christians repudiated the fact that law-observance did not qualify salvation. In view of this, even religious and theological concepts had evidently begun to differ.

4. Political Context for the Parting of the Way: Fiscus Judaicus in the Flavian Dynasty

From the rise of the Roman Empire—and even before Rome identified itself as imperial—the empire had shown special favor to the Jewish community, providing protection.81 The empire allowed Jewish synagogues to retain their culture so that the Jews could learn and maintain their religious tradition there.82 Alongside this, the Jews could collect the tax for the temple in Jerusalem, and they could avoid some obligations and restrictions from the Roman society to which they technically belonged.83 The atmosphere started changing in the mid-first century, however. A new taxation of Jews is one of the clues that the empire was becoming more hostile toward Jews, and many scholars agree that this is another important factor to the parting of the way.84

As a result of the Jewish revolt at the end of the 60s, the Flavian dynasty was hostile toward the Jews. Vespasian (who reigned as emperor 69–79 CE and had begun the siege of Jerusalem) pronounced the Fiscus Judaicus as a new tax policy for the Jews after the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple. His predecessors did not impose such taxes on Jews, thus Jews had annually paid a half shekel only for the Jerusalem temple.85 To restore the temple of Jupiter, Vespasian started collecting these new additional taxes from Jews.86 According to the account of Josephus, Vespasian charged Jews two drachma per year, wherever they were in the empire.87 Dio Cassius recalled this even more specifically, stating that the tax applied to the Jews “who continued to observe their ancestral customs.”88

The taxation became even heavier under the reign of Domitian (81–96 CE). According to Suetonius, Domitian harshly imposed further taxes, expanding the range of liable Jews to two classes: “One is those who were living as Jews without admitting it. The other is those who had concealed their Jewish origin and not paid the tax.”89 Scholars have largely debated what kinds of Jews fit in those categories. Williams alleges that the former category indicates pagan God-fearers and Gentile Christians, and the latter category denotes apostates, Jewish Christians, and proselytes.90 Heemstra explains that the first type of Jews were Gentile Christians and the second type were Jewish Christians.91 Though one cannot conclusively identify the Jews who belonged to those categories, scholars include God-fearers, Gentile Christians, proselytes, apostate Jews, circumcised non-Jews, and Jewish Christians in the two categories. Through this, we may surmise that in the eyes of Domitian, Christians and Jews were in the same categories as different sects of Judaism. As a result of this, both Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians were held responsible for the Fiscus Judaicus.

Nerva, the successor of Domitian, reformed the Fiscus Judaicus. According to Dio Cassius, he prohibited “the unjust accusation to anybody of adopting the Jewish mode of life.”92 During the regime of Domitian, those who followed Jewish life were required to pay the tax.93 On the contrary, Nerva forbade the accusation of people because of the fact that they followed the Jewish mode of life. This reformation was even reflected in a new coin, Fisci Ivdaici Calvmnia Svblata (removal of the false accusation of living a Jewish life).94

Figure 1: Roman Coin Featuring the Emperor Nerva and Fiscus Judaicus (Jewish Tax)

Heemstra suggests that non-Jewish God-fearers and Gentile Christians would be favored by Nerva’s reformation.95 It released Gentiles, who were not Jews but followed Jewish modes of life, from the burden of the tax. But, to the Jews “who continued to observe their ancestral customs,”96 the burden of Fiscus Judaicus still remained. In light of this, Nerva’s reformation would accelerate the parting of the way by the fact that non-Jewish God-fearers and Gentile Christians began to separate themselves from synagogues, and that Jewish Christians would be free from the tax, since Jewish Christians were not faithfully observing ancestral customs in the eyes of the Romans.97

5. Conclusion

This short essay has attempted to explore social, theological, historical, and political aspects of the Jewish-Christian partings of the first and second century CE. First, Jews had a rigid identity parameter, which is ethnicity. Jewishness was ultimately determined by birth. Regardless of how rigorously Gentiles might observe Jewish traditions, they were not counted as Jews unless they were born Jews. Therefore, Christians’ embracing of Gentiles as the people of God seemed to be very offensive to Jews.

Second, a theological dissonance takes an important role for the parting. Although in the Second Temple period there were different types of Judaism, they all agreed on monotheism and largely banned idolatry. However, early Christians worshiped Jesus as divine, equivalent with God. They prayed to Jesus, composed and offered hymns to Jesus, and required faith in Jesus to be saved. To say the least, this would have been unpleasant to non-Christian Jews. On top of that, whereas Second Temple literature does not indicate that God endows the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles, the New Testament clearly shows that the Spirit is bestowed upon those who believe in Jesus regardless of their ethnicity.

Third, two times of Jewish revolts are germane to the historical aspect of the parting. The first Jewish revolt was effectively the beginning of rabbinic Judaism. Rabbis reformulated the concept of Judaism, and rabbinic literature encapsulated this process. As we have seen above, in Tosefta, rabbis were distinguishing between Jews and non-Jews, particularly minim. Also, they precluded Christian writings. In addition to this, these historical incidents resulted in a demographic shift in Judea. Even if it is uncertain when and to exactly what extent the Roman Empire acknowledged the differences between Jewish Christians and non-Christian Jews, because of these incidents both Jews and Jewish Christians were moved out of Judea. Thus, Gentile Christians would become dominant in Judea. As Schiffman spells out, the Gentile-dominant Christian community gradually strayed from Jewish halakah.

Finally, politically, Fiscus Judaicus would foster the parting. Since Vespasian and Domitian did not dissociate Jewish Christians, Gentile Christians, and non-Christian Jews from one another, but regarded them all as Jews, they imposed a harsh tax policy to all Jews and Christians. This would be a great burden to Christians. Through Nerva’s reform, however, Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians were able to be released from the burden, and they began to part politically and socially from Jews as well.

To conclude, the parting did not take place overnight. Besides, even before the clear distinction between Judaism and Christianity, there was inner diversity within each group. In this regard, it would be untenable if one were to propose a specific date and incident that caused the parting. However, one may conjecture that the historical, social, political, and theological factors considered in this article contributed to the widening gulf and eventual parting of the way between Judaism and Christianity.

[1] To employ the term Christianity in the first century setting would be anachronistic since Christianity was not established as a religion at that time. Hence, scholars usually adopt the term Jesus movement instead of Christianity. This paper, however, uses Christianity (or Christians), not indicating it as an official and established religion but to distinguish Jesus-followers/believers from Jews.

[2] However, to identify when the parting of the way took place and what made the parting explicit is not a simple task. There are at least three difficulties involved here. First, some scholars are not satisfied with the phrase the parting of the way. Reed and Becker, suggest that though there are some overt clues indicating the parting, “Judaism and Christianity had remained meaningfully intertwined long after the second century, and they repeated the parting and converging over and over.” Adam H. Becker and Annette Yoshiko Reed, “Introduction: Traditional Models and New Directions,” in The Ways That Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Adam H. Becker and Annette Yoshiko Reed (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007), 23. For other scholarly views, opposing the term the parting of the way, see pp. 16–21. Second, though one may be able to provide some evidence for the parting of the way, one should not presume that the parting took place at the same time throughout the Roman Empire. Due to the geographical scale and the contextual differences that this implies, the parting would hardly happen everywhere simultaneously. See, Eric M. Meyers, “Living Side by Side in Galilee,” in Partings: How Judaism and Christianity Became Two, ed. Hershel Shanks (Washington: Biblical Archaeology Society, 2013), 133–50. Third, we ought to consider that there were already different types of Judaism and Christianity prevalent in the early period of the Roman Empire. In the Second Temple period, diverse types of Judaism emerged such as Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. Also, many types and/or offshoots of Christianity existed such as the Gnostics, the Ebionites, the Manicheans, and what we refer to retrospectively as the Ethiopian Orthodox church community. James H. Charlesworth, “Did They Ever Part?” in Partings: How Judaism and Christianity Became Two, ed. Hershel Shanks (Washington: Biblical Archaeology Society, 2013), 281–300.

[3] Jews used different types of terms to indicate Gentiles who wanted to follow Jewish customs. Such terms are proselytes, Judaizers, God-fearers, and half-Jewish. But they never acknowledged them as people who can share the identity as Jews. P. Maurice Casey, From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God: The Origins and Development of New Testament Christology (Cambridge: Clarke, 1991), 15.

[4] For instance, some Jews married with non-Jews and their children did not necessarily get circumcised or follow Jewish laws. Timothy is an example of this. His mother was a Jew, but his father was a Gentile. He had not been circumcised until he got to Jerusalem with Paul.

[5] Defining first-century Judaism is an ongoing debate among scholars. Some scholars elucidate that Judaism is a homogeneous religious group. They suggest that Pharisaism that developed toward rabbinic Judaism in the late first and second century is the normative form of Judaism. See e.g., Emil Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 B.C.–A.D. 135), ed. Géza Vermès et al., trans. T. A. Burkill, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: Clark, 1973); William David, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology (Harper Torchbooks; New York: Harper & Row, 1967); Efraim Elimelech Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs, 2nd ed., trans. Israel Abrahams, 2 vols., Publications of the Perry Foundation in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1979); E. P. Sanders, Judaism: Practice and Belief, 63 BCE–66 CE (London: SCM, 1992). Others attempt to distinguish Palestinian Judaism from that of diaspora Jews. These scholars argue that due to the remoteness from Jerusalem and temple, diaspora Jews are less genuine, and their Judaism is more syncretic, adopting different kinds of pagan religions and Hellenistic influences. A last group of scholars assert that even Palestine Judaism was Hellenized. Put differently, Judaisms in the first century present various ways and degrees of being Jewish. See e.g., Stanley E. Porter, “Was Paul a Good Jew? Fundamental Issues in a Current Debate,” in Christian-Jewish Relations through the Centuries, ed. Stanley E. Porter and Brook W. R. Pearson (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2000), 159; E. J. Bickerman, The Jews in the Greek Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988); Avigdor Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, trans. S. Applebaum, Temple Book T22 (New York: Atheneum, 1975); Martin Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism: Studies in Their Encounter in Palestine During the Early Hellenistic Period (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1974); Hengel, The “Hellenization” of Judaea in the First Century After Christ (London: Philadelphia: SCM, 1989).

[6] See Adiel Schremer, “Wayward Jews: Minim in Early Rabbinic Literature,” JJS 64 (2013): 242–63. Here, the concept of a heretic is different from an apostate. Whereas a heretic is the one who is off the mainstream of the orthodox, an apostate is the one who declines the fundamental system of a religion.

[7] Schremer, “Wayward Jews,” 259. The concept of minim and minut appears in Tannaitic literature. The term minim refers to heretics, and minut is about “the social existence of the Jewish community” rather than a pure theological apologetics. See also Adiel Schremer, Brothers Estranged: Heresy, Christianity, and Jewish Identity in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 16.

[8] Thiessen introduces two predominant scholarly perspectives on Jewish identity. First, the identity of the Jew was not static but fluctuating during the time of the Second Temple period. Second, because of this dynamic identity, becoming a Jew is a matter of choice. In other words, Jewishness is not indigenous but gainable by being circumcised, observing Torah, and following Jewish customs; no longer could ethnic, biological, and genealogical foundation alone determine the Jewish identity, such that religious, cultic and customary practice became another pillar of Jewish identity. To elaborate the majority scholarly assessment, Thiessen introduces some rationales. First, there is an inconsistent standard between Deuteronomy 23:3 and Judith 14:10 regarding the Gentiles. Second, during the time of the Hasmoneans, Idumeans were incorporated in Jewish community. Third, in the time of the Maccabean revolt, the term “Jews” is reckoned as religious and political in meaning rather than in an ethnic sense. Matthew Thiessen, Contesting Conversion: Genealogy, Circumcision, and Identity in Ancient Judaism and Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 8–9.

[9] Thiessen, Contesting Conversion, 11.

[10] Thiessen, Contesting Conversion, 4–5.

[11] Thiessen, Contesting Conversion, 13.

[12] In spite of the same conclusion that the identity of Jews is determined by descent, there is a critical difference between Schiffman and Thiessen. Whereas Thiessen contends that even conversion by circumcision and observing Torah was not possible, Schiffman suggests that in the Tannaitic period, if four prerequisites are achieved, namely acceptance of the Torah, circumcision for males, immersion, and sacrifice, one may convert to Judaism and may be reckoned as a proselyte to a Jew. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Who Was a Jew? Rabbinic and Halakhic Perspectives on the Jewish Christian Schism (Hoboken: Ktav, 1985), 19–32. This difference would be prompted by the different periods to which the two scholars pay primary attention. Whereas Thiessen mostly focuses on the Second Temple period literature (particularly literature from LXX, 3rd to 2nd century BCE), Schiffman investigates Tannaim-period literature (2nd century CE).

[13] There are instructions for marriage such as the cases of valid and invalid marriage in Qiddushin 3:12–4:14 of the Mishnah. According to this text, marriage between Israelites is valid, but intermarriage between a Jew and a non-Jew is invalid. In terms of the offspring’s legitimacy as a Jew, however, Qiddushin says that if a Jewish woman got married to a non-Jew, their children would be regarded as Jews. For the translations of Qiddushin 3:12–4:14, see Jacob Neusner, A History of the Mishnaic Law of Women, SJLA 33 (Leiden: Brill, 1980), 249–56; Herbert Danby, ed. The Mishnah: Translated from the Hebrew with Introduction and Brief Explanatory Notes (London: Oxford University Press, 1950), 327–29.

[14] Schiffman, Who Was a Jew, 11.

[15] Schiffman, Who Was a Jew, 14.

[16] Romans 9:24, 30–31; 10:19; 11:1–2, 11–12.

[17] Here, I do not perfectly agree with the two scholars’ claim, because Qiddushin 3:12–4:14 itself is controversial. It includes different voices from different rabbis. Also, the text mentions that proselytes were existing in the time of Tannaim, and even marriage with proselytes is allowed. Besides, some rabbis said that children of proselytes would be able to intermarry with priestly stock. See, Danby, ed., Mishnah, 327–28. In spite of such questionable points, and whether this assumption—that Jewish identity is determined only by descent—is justifiable or not, the present paper aims to only provide a brief sketch of the partings of the way as beginning from the first and second century CE.

[18] Schiffman, Who Was a Jew, 4.

[19] Schiffman, Who Was a Jew, 77.

[20] Otto Pfleiderer, Exposition of Paul’s Doctrine, Vol 1 of Paulinism: A Contribution to the History of Primitive Christian Theology, trans. Edward Peters (London: Williams & Norgate, 1891), 200–15; Hermann Gunkel, The Influence of the Holy Spirit: The Popular View of the Apostolic Age and the Teaching of the Apostle Paul (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979), 32–38; Eduard Schweizer, “Spirit of Power: Uniformity and Diversity of the Concept of the Holy Spirit in the NT,” Int 6 (1952): 259–78; Schweizer, The Holy Spirit (London: SCM, 1981), 56; Robert P. Menzies, The Development of Early Christian Pneumatology: With Special Reference to Luke-Acts, JSNT 54 (Sheffield: JSOT, 1991), 303.

[21] Similarly, Koch explores exilic texts such as Isa 4:2–6; 28:5; 32:15–20; 44:1–5; 59:21; Ezek 37:1–14, and argues that the endowment of the Spirit appears in the context of the promise of restoration, particularly God’s proclamation of salvation to his people. See, Robert Koch, Der Geist Gottes im Alten Testament (Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 1991), 109–37.

[22] Julius August Bewer, The Book of the Twelve Prophets, 2 vols. (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1950), 2:123.

[23] Many recent scholars advocate the view that the recipient of the Spirit in this passage is in the more restrictive sense, that is, Israel. See, e.g., Hans Walter Wolff and S. Dean McBride, Joel and Amos: A Commentary on the Books of the Prophets Joel and Amos, Herm (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977), 67; Leslie C. Allen, The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 98; David Allan Hubbard, Joel and Amos: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries 25 (Leicester: IVP, 1989), 69; John D. W. Watts, ed. The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, CBC (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 39.

[24] Finny Philip, The Origins of Pauline Pneumatology: The Eschatological Bestowal of the Spirit Upon Gentiles in Judaism and in the Early Development of Paul’s Theology, WUNT 2/194 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005), 70.

[25] Philip, The Origins of Pauline Pneumatology, 77. According to him, though Tobit, 1 Enoch, 2 Baruch and the Sibylline Oracles testify that even Gentiles will participate in the eschatological salvation, the outpouring of the Spirit does not explicitly occur in the literature.

[26] The translation is quoted from R. H. Charles, “The Book of Jubilee,” in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English: With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, ed. R. H. Charles (Oxford: Clarendon, 1913), 2:12.

[27] Philip, The Origins of Pauline Pneumatology, 83.

[28] Philip, The Origins of Pauline Pneumatology, 86–87. For the Qumran literature, this paper is indebted to Philip’s reading of the manuscripts. He examines key texts including CD, 1QH, 1QS, and 4Q504–6.

[29] Philip, The Origins of Pauline Pneumatology, 90.

[30] Philip, The Origins of Pauline Pneumatology, 103.

[31] Acts 10:44.

[32] For the debate on the historicity of Jerusalem council and chronology of Paul, see, e.g., Ferdinand Christian Baur, Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ: His Life and Works, His Epistles and Teachings, trans. A. Menzies (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2003); Krister Stendahl, Paul among Jews and Gentiles, and Other Essays (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976); John Knox, Chapters in a Life of Paul (Nashville: Abingdon, 1950); Robert Jewett, A Chronology of Paul’s Life (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979); Gerd Lüdemann, Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles: Studies in Chronology (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984); Rainer Riesner, Paul’s Early Period: Chronology, Mission Strategy, Theology, trans. Doug Stott (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998); Karl Paul Donfried, “Chronology: The Apostolic and Pauline Period,” in Paul, Thessalonica, and Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 99–117; Paul W. Barnett, “Chronology for Paul and the Corinthians.” RTR 71 (2012): 109–27.

[33] Richard Bauckham, “James and the Gentiles (Acts 15:13–21),” in History, Literature, and Society in the Book of Acts, ed. Ben Witherington, III (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 154–84; Edward W. Glenny, “The Septuagint and Apostolic Hermeneutics: Amos 9 in Acts 15,” BBR 22 (2012): 1–26.

[34] Though this article suggests Christology as a potential source of the parting, I am aware of the opposition to this view. Some scholars allege that this perspective is biased by Christian literature, particularly early Christian writings in the New Testament. The rationale behind this is that rabbinic literature does not support this view. Talmudic texts and Tosefta do not agree that the theological dissonance between Judaism and Christianity begets the partings of the way. Instead, the early Christians’ Christology is derived from the Roman imperial cult. Though the rabbinic literature shows an opposition to such concepts as the Son of God, it is not initially anti-Christian but anti-imperial cult, since the Roman Empire regarded the emperors as sons of the gods. Schremer, Brothers Estranged, 102–5.

[35] James D. G. Dunn, The Partings of the Ways: Between Christianity and Judaism and Their Significance for the Character of Christianity, 2nd ed. (London: SCM, 2006), 26–29; Richard Bauckham, “The Throne of God and the Worship of Jesus,” in The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism: Papers from the St. Andrews Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus, ed. Carey C. Newman et al., JSJSup 63 (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 43–44.

[36] William Horbury, “Jewish and Christian Monotheism in the Herodian Age,” in Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism, ed. Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Wendy E. S. North, JSNTSup 263 (London: T. & T. Clark, 2004), 16–44; Horbury, Messianism Among Jews and Christians: Twelve Biblical and Historical Studies (London: T. & T. Clark, 2003), 12–19.

[37] Paula Fredriksen, “How Later Contexts Affect Pauline Content, or: Retrospect is the Mother of Anachronism,” in Jews and Christians in the First and Second Centuries: How to Write Their History, ed. Peter J. Tomson and Joshua Schwartz, CRINT 13 (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 24.

[38] Fredriksen, “How Later Contexts Affect Pauline Content,” 22.

[39] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 108.

[40] Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel, 109.

[41] Dunn, The Partings of the Ways, 26.

[42] Bauckham substantiates this by drawing on Jewish literature in the Second Temple period and Hellenistic Jewish literature such as the works of Josephus and Philo. Bauckham, “Throne of God,” 46–48.

[43] Dunn, The Partings of the Ways, 246–47. Dunn provides sources, entailing the same concepts, to demonstrate that Christology of early Christianity did not threaten Judaism since Second Temple Judaism shares the same perceptions. Such sources are Wisdom 5:5; 4 Ezra 14:9; 2 Baruch 13:3; 1 Enoch 71:14; 90:31; Sirach 45:2; Apocalypse of Elijah 24:11–15; Testament of Abraham 11 and 13.

[44] Larry W. Hurtado, One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988), 94.

[45] Hurtado, One God, One Lord, 95.

[46] Hurtado also adheres to the Jewish origin of the Christians’ Christology, and he defines the uniqueness of Christians’ Christology as a mutation. In his view, Jewish Christians still remained in Jewish tradition but presented idiosyncratic concepts.

[47] Phil 2:6: ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ.

[48] Phil 2:11: καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός.

[49] Dunn, The Partings of the Ways, 250. Interestingly, though Hurtado holds the same view that Phil 2:11 represents the classic Jewish monotheistic passage of Isa 45:23, he argues that this does not indicate Jesus’s divinity but Jesus’s divine agency. Hurtado, One God, 97.

[50] Casey, From Jewish Prophet, 23–24. Martyn is the most significant figure for this reading. He initiated the debate of Johannine community through reading John 9 and attempted to depict a feasible situation of the community, particularly the relationship between Jews and the early Christians. See J. Louis Martyn, History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel, 3rd ed. NTL (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 24–63.

[51] Hurtado suggests that there are six features of the mutation he describes: hymnic practices, prayer and related practices, use of the name of Christ, the Lord’s supper, confession of faith in Jesus, and prophetic pronouncements of the risen Christ. Hurtado, One God, 100–14.

[52] Larry W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 198–99.

[53] Bauckham, Jesus, 133. References are 2 Tim 4:18; 1 Pet 4:11; 2 Pet 3:18; Rev 1:5–6; Heb 13:21.

[54] Bauckham provides some documents of the second and third century CE. Such sources are Acts of John 77; Acts of Paul and Thecla 42; Acts of Peter. 20; 39; Melito’s Peri Pascha 10, 45, 65, 105; Martyrdom of Perpetua 1:6; Tertullian’s De oratione 29; Hippolytus’s Commentarium in Danielem 1:33; 4:60; Origen’s De principiis 4.1.7; 4.3.14. Bauckham, Jesus, 133.

[55] Hurtado, One God, 101–3. Hurtado provides hymns in the New Testament: John 1:1–18; Colossians 1:15–20; Philippians 2:5–11; Ephesians 2:14–16; 5:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 3:18–22; Hebrews 1:3; Revelation 4:8, 11; 5:9–10; 15:3–4.

[56] Bauckham, Jesus, 137.

[57] Hurtado, One God, 113.

[58] In the same text, however, the degree of the image prohibition is not tantamount among sages. Sages suggest that only the staff, bird, or sphere held by the images defile Jews. But Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says “any which has anything at all in its hand” are prohibited. Jacob Neusner, The Mishnah: A New Translation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 664.

[59] Neusner, Mishnah, 665.

[60] Neusner, Mishnah, 667.

[61] Jacob Neusner, The Tosefta, 2 vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), 2:1264.

[62] Neusner, Tosefta, 2:1261–62.

[63] Adela Yarbro Collins, “The Worship of Jesus and the Imperial Cult,” in The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism: Papers from the St Andrew’s Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus, ed. Carey C. Newman et al., JSJSup 63 (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 234–57; Schremer, Brothers Estranged, 105; Yair Furstenberg, “The Rabbinic View of Idolatry and the Roman Political Conception of Divinity,” JR 90 (2010): 335–66.

[64] Interestingly, whereas scholars who focus on the Second Temple literature typically argue that the early Christians’ Christology originated from Second Temple Judaism, those who pay attention to the rabbinic literature allege that this Christology has nothing to do with Judaism. However, scholars who investigate rabbinic Judaism have not come up with any consensus for this matter. Urbach and Hayes propose that rabbinic literature does not present a particularly harsh reaction toward idol worship. Throughout the investigation of social situations of the Roman Empire, Urbach and Hayes argue that even Gentiles disputed the efficacy of idols. Moreover, both Jews and Gentiles used idols for the purposes of trade and decoration. Thus, rabbis did not need to urge Jews to eradicate idols. Christine Elizabeth Hayes, Between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds: Accounting for Halakhic Difference in Selected Sugyot from Tractate Avodah Zarah (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 62; Efraim Elimelech Urbach, “The Rabbinical Laws of Idolatry in the Second and Third Centuries in the Light of Archaeological and Historical Facts,” IEJ 9 (1959): 229–45.

[65] This section will deal with two Jewish revolts, the Jewish war in 66–70 CE and Bar Kokhba revolt in 132–136 CE. However, this section mostly focuses on the implications of the revolts rather than the procedure and historical events of the revolts. For such details, see Menahem Mor, The Second Jewish Revolt: The Bar Kokhba War, 132–136 CE, BRLA 50 (Leiden: Brill, 2016); Brandon, Fall of Jerusalem; Alon, Jews in Their Land, 2:592–637.

[66] Dunn, The Partings of the Ways, 312. In spite of the general consensus, I should admit the limitation of this view. The biggest concern is the question of how a regional and relatively minor people’s revolt affects the parting between Jews and Christians throughout the empire. As Mor rightly points out, since the second Jewish war took place in the district of Judea, the suppression by the empire is limited in the area. Even nearby Galilee was a relatively safe place for refuge during the war. Mor, Second Jewish Revolt, 480. Therefore, the following section does not argue that the Jewish war takes a decisive role for the parting. Rather, I would like to propose that through the Jewish revolts, we may surmise that the parting of the way began sprouting in the limited regions affected and began in an embryonic stage in the first and the second century CE.

[67] Shaye J. D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, 3rd ed. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2014), 205.

[68] Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, 24.

[69] Dunn, The Partings of the Ways, 303.

[70] Dunn, Partings, 303. Unlike the Second Temple period which includes diverse, major Jewish groups (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots/Qumran), rabbinic Judaism is rooted among only the Pharisees, and its literature is a “remarkably homogeneous corpus.” Cohen, From the Maccabees, 205. This is likely because the Pharisees became the dominant Jewish group after the destruction of Jerusalem. Of course, as Dunn spells out, “the Yavnean authorities did not establish their authority over the rest of Judaism overnight” (The Partings of the Ways, 304). Also, Cohen acknowledges that even in the homogeneous corpus, there are different methods at work in various rabbinic literature owing to geographical, chronological, and literary diversity (From the Maccabees, 206). Notwithstanding, it would be probable to contend that the Pharisaic traditions and teaching would be very influential in the post-70s era.

[71] Dio Cassius, Roman History 69:14, trans. Earnest Cary and Herbert B. Foster, LCL 176 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1925).

[72] Mor, Second Jewish Revolt, 473.

[73] Original source is Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 5:12. Also see G. A. Williamson, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine (New York: New York University Press, 1966), 215.

[74] Mor, Second Jewish Revolt, 475; Cohen, From the Maccabees, 25.

[75] Dunn, The Partings of the Ways, 312.

[76] Neusner, Tosefta, 1:405.

[77] Neusner, Tosefta, 2:1907–8.

[78] Michael Slusser, ed., St. Justin Martyr: Dialogue with Trypho, trans. Thomas P. Halton (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2003), 58.

[79] Slusser, St. Justin Martyr, 68.

[80] Slusser, St. Justin Martyr, 71.

[81] Judge expounds that Judas Maccabaeus made an alliance with Rome and that they fought against the Seleucid threat together. Thus, from even before the beginning of the Roman Empire per se, Jews were privileged. Edwin A. Judge, “Synagogue and Church in the Roman Empire: The Insoluble Problem of Toleration,” RTR 68 (2009): 34. Smallwood explains that “by the time of Julius Caesar’s dictatorship the diaspora synagogues were classified by the Roman authorities as collegia.” E. Mary Smallwood, The Jews under Roman Rule: From Pompey to Diocletian, SJLA 20 (Leiden: Brill, 1976), 133. According to Richardson, “in 64 BCE, the Senate prohibited all collegia on principle because of the danger they posed to the state as private institutions; in 58 BCE, collegia were permitted again; in 56 BCE, the Senate again dissolved one specific class of collegia, political clubs. Sometime between 49 and 44 BCE, Julius Caesar prohibited all collegia empire-wide except Judaism.” Peter Richardson, “Augustan-Era Synagogues in Rome,” in Judaism and Christianity in First-Century Rome, ed. Karl P. Donfried and Peter Richardson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 18. According to Philo, Augustus showed a further favor to the Jewish communities: if a distribution (of food, for example) took place on the day of the Jewish Sabbath, the emperor ordered a distributor to reserve the Jews’ share of the universal largesse until the next day (On the Embassy to Gaius 158).

[82] Judge, “Synagogue and Church,” 33–35.

[83] Smallwood, The Jews under Roman Rule, 124–27. The synagogue is not just a building, but is primarily an organized group, which met for worship. The fundamental features of the synagogue are gathering for the service on the Sabbath, educational purposes, caring for the needs of the community, and collecting the temple tax. Smallwood, The Jews under Roman Rule, 133. Though the synagogue had functioned as a life center amid the diaspora, the Jewish communities had various types of synagogue-related tradition. The relevant inscriptions, discovered in catacombs, reveal an intriguing point that though there were strict groups who followed their Jewish tradition such as Sabbath, festivals, dietary laws, and circumcision, some of the Jewish communities were more Romanized. They have chambers, the walls and vaulted ceilings of which are adorned with frescoes in spite of the fact that Judaism had forbidden such images. No matter whether they so compromised their traditions or strictly kept them, one certainty is that they had their own communities in the Roman Empire, centered around the synagogues. H. J. Leon, “The Jews of Rome in the First Centuries of Christianity,” in The Teacher’s Yoke: Studies in Memory of Henry Trantham, ed. Jerry Vardaman, James Leo Garrett, and J. B. Adair (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 1964), 160–61.

[84] Shaye J. D. Cohen, “In Between: Jewish-Christians and the Curse of the Heretics,” in Partings: How Judaism and Christianity Became Two, ed. Hershel Shanks and Géza Vermès (Washington: Biblical Archaeology Society, 2013), 211; Margaret H. Williams, “Jews and Christians at Rome: An Early Parting of the Ways,” in Partings: How Judaism and Christianity Became Two, ed. Hershel Shanks (Washington: Biblical Archaeology Society, 2013), 160–66; Marius Heemstra, The Fiscus Judaicus and the Parting of the Ways, WUNT 2/277 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), 196.

[85] Smallwood, The Jews under Roman Rule, 124–25.

[86] Heemstra, Fiscus Judaicus, 8.

[87] “On all Jews, wheresoever resident, he imposed a poll-tax of two drachms [δύο δραχμὰς], to be paid annually into the Capitol as formerly contributed by them to the temple at Jerusalem.” Josephus, Jewish War 7.218, trans. H. St. J. Thackeray, LCL 210 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1928).

[88] Dio Cassius, Roman History 65.7.2, trans. Cary and Foster.

[89] Cohen, “In Between,” 211; Williams, “Jews and Christians,” 164; Heemstra, Fiscus Judaicus, 24.

[90] Williams, “Jews and Christians,” 164.

[91] Heemstra, Fiscus Judaicus, 34–63. However, the subject of Fiscus Judaicus is controversial among scholars. They offer different voices regarding the victims of the Domitian-era taxation. Heemstra has accordingly arranged scholarly debate on the victims of Fiscus Judaicus.

[92] Dio Cassius, Roman History 68.1.2, trans. Cary and Foster.

[93] This people group is composed of ethnic non-Jews and non-circumcised people who adopted Jewish traditions and ethics.

[94] Heemstra, Fiscus Judaicus, 73 (coin image on p. 69); Williams, “Jews and Christians,” 166.

[95] Heemstra, Fiscus Judaicus, 71–72.

[96] Dio Cassius, Roman History 65.7.2, trans. Cary and Foster.

[97] Williams, “Jews and Christians,” 166; Heemstra, Fiscus Judaicus, 80.

Doosuk Kim

Doosuk Kim is a PhD candidate at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario.

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