Issue 3 (2016)
Supersessionism and Early Christian Self-Definition TERENCE L. DONALDSON Washing, Repentance, and Atonement in Early Christian Baptism and Qumranic Purification Liturgies EYAL REGEV Christian Horrors in Pompeii: A New Proposal for the Christianos Graffito ENRICO TUCCINARDI De-Centralizing the Temple: A Rereading of Romans 15:16 KATHLEEN TROOST-CRAMER Marking a Difference: The Gospel of Mark and the “Early High Christology” Paradigm MICHAEL KOK Synagogues and Voluntary Associations as Institutional Models: A Response to Richard Ascough and Ralph Korner ERICH S. GRUEN
Issue 3 (2016)
Interpreting the Syrophoenician Woman to Construct Jewish-Christian Fault Lines: Chrysostom and the Ps-Cl Homilist in Chrono-Locational Perspective DEBORAH FORGER The Synagogue Inscription from Kursi HAGGAI MISGAV, MICHAL ARTZY, AND HAIM COHEN
JOURNAL OF THE JESUS MOVEMENT IN ITS JEWISH SETTING: FROM THE FIRST TO THE SEVENTH CENTURY Editor-in-Chief Anders Runesson (University of Oslo, Norway) Editorial Committee Torleif Elgvin (NLA University College, Norway) Paula Fredriksen (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel) Alexei Sivertsev (DePaul University, USA) Managing Editor: Knut H. Høyland (firstname.lastname@example.org) Editorial Secretary: Andreas Johansson (email@example.com) Forum Director: Ralph J. Korner (Taylor Seminary, Canada) Linguistic editing and layout: C. Osborne Cover design: Heidi Tohmola The Journal of the Jesus Movement in Its Jewish Setting (JJMJS) is an independent open-access peer-reviewed journal. It is published online and in print in co-operation with Eisenbrauns, P.O.Box 275, Winona Lake, IN 46590, USA. All content in JJMJS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. Papers for submission should be directed to the Editor-in-Chief, Anders Runesson at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information regarding the journal please visit our website or contact our managing editor, Knut H. Høyland at email@example.com.
ISSN 2374-7862 (Print) ISSN 2374-7870 (Online)
JOURNAL OF THE JESUS MOVEMENT IN ITS JEWISH SETTING: FROM THE FIRST TO THE SEVENTH CENTURY Issue 3 (2016)
Supersessionism and Early Christian Self-Definition 1 Terence L. Donaldson Wycliffe College | firstname.lastname@example.org JJMJS No. 3 (2016): 1---32
From Anti-Judaism to Supersessionism In the years following the Second World War, when the gates to Auschwitz and the drawers of Nazi archives had been thrown open and the grim horrors of Hitler’s “final solution” came more fully into view, the painful question presented itself of how such an industry of genocide could have been conceived and carried out at the heart of Christian Europe. It quickly became apparent that, while Nazi anti-Semitism may not have been Christian, 2 it was rooted in soil that had been fertilized by centuries of anti-Jewish teaching and preaching by the church as a whole. Given the negative depiction of some Jews and some aspects of Judaism in parts of the New Testament, it was inevitable that the scholarly reassessment of Christian attitudes to Jews and Judaism would deal not only with later theology and exegesis, but with the origins of the Christian movement and the foundational New Testament documents. From the beginning of this scholarly reassessment, 3 and indeed until relatively recently, the dominant categories for this discussion have been “antiJudaism” and “anti-Semitism.” “Is the New Testament anti-Semitic?” or “Do we find anti-Judaism in the New Testament?” are the terms in which the question has been posed. The “anti-Judaism” seminar within the Canadian Society of ________________ 1
I presented an earlier version of this paper as my Presidential Address to the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies at its 2009 meetings in Ottawa, fully aware of the luster added to the office by Alan Segal’s presidency in 1990–91. I am pleased to offer this version as a token of my appreciation for Alan, who was for me a teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend, from whom I have learned a great deal and whose untimely death I continue to lament. 2 On the Nazi program to de-Judaize German Christianity, see especially Doris L. Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Susannah Heschel, The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008). 3 For a concise survey of the first stage, see John G. Gager, The Origins of Anti-Semitism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983).
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Biblical Studies serves as one example. 4 The central theme of Ruether’s landmark book Faith and Fratricide provides another: she speaks of Christianity’s “anti-Judaism, which constantly takes social expression in antiSemitism,” and which she sees as rooted in the “christological hermeneutic” of the New Testament itself. 5 In recent years, however, these “isms” have been joined by another. “Supersessionism,” a term denoting traditional Christian claims that the church has replaced Israel in the divine purposes and has inherited all that was positive in Israel’s tradition, appears with increasingly frequency in this discussion. Of course, related words have long been used in Christian tradition with a positive (even triumphalistic) valence. As early as 1790, William Paley could speak of the “supersession” of the Jewish law that had occurred with Christ. 6 Thelwall’s 1870 translation of Tertullian’s An Answer to the Jews, published as part of The Ante-Nicene Fathers and thus for a long time the standard English version, is another early example. The title for Chapter III, a title provided by Thelwall himself, is “Of Circumcision and the Supercession [sic] of the Old Law.” 7 In the 1873 translation of F. C. Baur’s Paulus, we read this statement concerning Stephen and the Hellenists: “That the essence of true ________________ 4
The CSBS seminar produced two volumes of papers: Peter Richardson, ed., with David M. Granskou, Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity. Vol 1: Paul and the Gospels (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1986); Stephen G. Wilson, ed., Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity. Vol 2: Separation and Polemic (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1986). 5 Note also her subtitle: Rosemary Radford Ruether, Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism (Minneapolis: Seabury, 1974), 116. Also, for example: Gregory Baum, Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic? A Re-Examination of the New Testament (Glen Rock: Paulist Press, 1965), originally published as The Jews and the Gospel: A ReExamination of the New Testament (Westminster: Newman Press, 1961); George M. Smiga, Pain and Polemic: Anti-Judaism in the Gospels (New York: Paulist Press, 1992); William Reuben Farmer, ed., Anti-Judaism and the Gospels (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1999); R. Bieringer, D. Pollefeyt, and F. Vandecasteele-Vanneuville, eds., Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001); Jules Isaac, The Teaching of Contempt: Christian Roots of Anti-Semitism (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964); Samuel Sandmel, Anti-Semitism in the New Testament? (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978); Gager, The Origins of Anti-Semitism. 6 William Paley, Horae Paulinae (London: Printed by J. Davis, for R. Faulder, 1790), 167. This is the earliest appearance of the word recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary. 7 Vol. 4 in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325 (Buffalo: The Christian Literature Publishing Company, 1885–96).
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religion did not consist in outward ceremonials, connected with a temple service confined to an appointed spot, was the one great idea, through which, at that time, Judaism saw itself superseded by Christianity.” 8 In more recent years, however, the tenor of these terms has undergone a shift, as they increasingly have been drawn into the unfolding discussion concerning anti-Judaism, anti-Semitism, and the NT, where they have come to function as a negative designation for traditional Christian teaching about the Jews and Judaism. While I do not claim to have done an exhaustive search, the earliest instance I have come across is the 1971 English translation of Jules Isaac’s Jésus et Israël, where we read that the Gospels were written in a period of increasing hostility, a period when the church was separating from the synagogue and Christians were declaring the Jewish law to be “superseded.” 9 Several years later, in his introduction to Rosemary Ruether’s Faith and Fratricide, Gregory Baum spoke of the “unmistakably negative” character of “the entire Christian tradition,” which has taught that “the religion of Israel is now superseded, the Torah abrogated, the promises fulfilled in the Christian church,” and so on. 10 In works published during the next few years, we encounter scattered instances of a similar use of “supersede” 11 and also of “supersession.” 12 ________________ 8
F. C. Baur, Paul: The Apostle of Jesus Christ (London: Williams & Norgate, 1876), 1.59. The German word was “aufgehoben” (abolished, repealed, revoked). See also the English version of William Wrede, Paul (London: Green, 1907), 181. 9 Jesus and Israel (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971), 294. Isaac’s original was “périmée” (lapsed, no longer valid, out-dated): Jésus et Israël (Paris: Albin Michel, 1948), 427–28. 10 Faith and Fratricide, 6, 21. In his earlier publication The Jews and the Gospel (later reissued in a slightly revised form as Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic?), written as a response to Isaac’s work, Baum had attempted to defend the New Testament against any charge of anti-Judaism or anti-Semitism. The introduction to Faith and Fratricide offered him an opportunity to declare that these works no longer represented his position on the issue. 11 In his discussion of “Justin Martyr’s Argument with Judaism,” Lloyd Gaston said that Justin believes that “his group and its social and cultural worlds . . . supersede” those of Trypho and the Jews (Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity. Vol 2, 77). Franklin H. Littell described “the superseding or displacement myth” as the “cornerstone of Christian antiSemitism” (The Crucifixion of the Jews [New York: Harper & Row, 1975], 2, 30). 12 According to Martin B. Shukster and Peter Richardson, Barnabas wrote out of a concern about a change in Roman policy (whether having to do with plans to rebuild the temple or with the fiscus Judaicus) because it would be “obscuring the political signs of Christian supersession” (“Temple and Bet ha-Midrash in the Epistle of Barnabas,” in
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The terms also appear in several church pronouncements and formal documents during this period. 13 Such occurrences, however, are relatively infrequent. John Pawlikowski’s 1980 work What Are They Saying About Christian-Jewish Relations? can be taken as typical of the period. While he refers on two occasions to “Christian supersessionist approaches to Judaism,” 14 his survey of “what they have been saying about” Christian approaches to Judaism is generally carried out under the heading of other categories (e.g., “replacement theology”). During the past thirty years, however, not only have these descriptive terms appeared with increasing frequency, but the frequency has evidently reached the level at which the phenomenon so described can qualify as an “ism.” A 1987 paper produced by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and commended to its church members for study and reflection provides an early example. In a section expanding on the affirmation that “Christians have not replaced Jews,” the document stated: “Sometime during the second century of the Common Era, a view called ‘supersessionism,’ based on the reading of some biblical texts and nurtured in controversy, began to take shape.” The document went on to observe that while this view quickly became the orthodox position, it can now be seen as “harmful and in need of reconsideration.” 15 Another example is found on the first page of Kendall Soulen’s 1996 work The God of Israel and Christian Theology: “For most of the past two millennia, the church’s posture toward the Jewish people has come to expression in the teaching known as supersessionism, also known as the
Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity. Vol 2, 24). Also Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, 95; Littell, The Crucifixion of the Jews, 31; Lloyd Gaston, Paul and the Torah (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1987), 114. 13 A working group convened by the Commission on Faith and Order of the National Council of Churches, in collaboration with the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and chaired by Franklin Littell, produced “A Statement to Our Fellow Christians” that includes the declaration: “in Christ the Church shares in Israel’s election without superseding it” (paragraph 3; included as an appendix in Littell, The Crucifixion of the Jews, 135). For other examples, see Michael J. Vlach, “The Church as a Replacement of Israel: An Analysis of Supersessionism” (PhD diss., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2004), 73–74. 14 What Are They Saying About Christian-Jewish Relations? (New York: Paulist Press, 1980), 39, 54. 15 “A Theological Understanding of the Relationship between Christians and Jews” (Louisville: Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church [USA], 1987), 8–9.
Donaldson, Supersessionism and Early Christian Self-Definition 5
theology of displacement.” 16 Initially the term seems to have appeared most frequently in theological discourse, 17 but increasingly it has been picked up by biblical scholars 18 and has passed into popular usage. 19 ________________ 16
R. Kendall Soulen, The God of Israel and Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 1. 17 Donald G. Bloesch, “‘All Israel Will be Saved’: Supersessionism and the Biblical Witness,” Interpretation 43 (1989): 130–42; Robert R. Hann, “Supersessionism, Engraftment, and Jewish-Christian Dialogue: Reflections on the Presbyterian Statement on Jewish-Christian Relations,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 27 (1990): 327–42; Clark M. Williamson, A Guest in the House of Israel: Post-Holocaust Church Theology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 268, n. 9; Ronald E. Diprose, Israel in the Development of Christian Thought (Rome: Istituto Biblico Evangelico Italiano, 2000), 31; John Howard Yoder, The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited, ed. Michael G. Cartwright and Peter Ochs (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 213–14, 278; Douglas Harink, Paul Among the Postliberals: Pauline Theology beyond Christendom and Modernity (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2003), 23 and passim; Eugene B. Korn and John T. Pawlikowski, eds., Two Faiths, One Covenant? Jewish and Christian Identity in the Presence of the Other (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005), 3 and passim; Vlach, “The Church as a Replacement of Israel: An Analysis of Supersessionism.” 18 “Is John supersessionist?” is one of five key questions taken up in R. Bieringer, D. Pollefeyt, and F. Vandecasteele-Vanneuville, eds., Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 5. See also the short article by Helmut Koester, “Historical Mistakes Haunt the Relationship of Christianity and Judaism,” Biblical Archaeology Review 21/2 (1995): 26–27, with the heading (provided by the editor) “Strugnell and Supersessionism”; Krister Stendahl, “Qumran and Supersessionism—and the Road Not Taken,” Princeton Seminary Bulletin 19, no. 2 (1998): 134–42; Jonathan Klawans, Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple: Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); Lloyd Kim, Polemic in the Book of Hebrews: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Judaism, Supersessionism? Princeton Theological Monograph Series (Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2006); Bruce W. Longenecker, “On Israel’s God and God’s Israel: Assessing Supersessionism in Paul,” Journal of Theological Studies 58 (2007): 26–44; Jesper Svartvik, “Reading the Epistle to the Hebrews without Presupposing Supersessionism,” in
Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships, ed. Philip A. Cunningham et al (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), 77– 91; John W. Marshall, “Misunderstanding the New Paul: Marcion’s Transformation of the Sonderzeit Paul,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 20 (2012): 1–29. 19 As an Internet word search will readily demonstrate. See also James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001), 587.
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Advantages and Limitations of the Term Yet while “supersessionism” has taken its place in the discussion alongside “antiJudaism” and “anti-Semitism,” it does not function simply as a synonym for either of these terms. To be sure, there is a considerable measure of overlap among all three. But each of the terms tends to highlight different aspects of the larger phenomenon. Just as it has proved useful to recognize and articulate distinctions between “anti-Judaism” and “anti-Semitism,” 20 so it is readily apparent that “supersessionism” brings a distinct aspect of the phenomenon into focus. If anti-Semitism refers to hateful attitudes and actions directed toward Jewish people per se—that is, an ethnic, social, and often political phenomenon—and if anti-Judaism refers to statements and formulations designed to defend and bolster Christian claims about themselves by denouncing what were perceived as Jewish counter-claims—that is, a theological and socio-religious phenomenon—then supersessionism refers to the kind of Christian self-understanding that might be seen to undergird such anti-Judaic rhetoric and anti-Semitic activity. For this reason, the introduction of “supersessionism” as an analytical category makes a positive contribution to the discussion and helps to move it forward. Supersessionism focuses attention on the issue of self-definition, which in many ways is antecedent to any attitudes, speech or actions directed against (anti-) the other. Since Christian treatment of Jews and Judaism—whether expressed in verbal, social, or political terms—was rooted in the church’s own self-conception with respect to the tradition and heritage of Israel, our understanding of the former will be enhanced by a clearer perception of the latter. Thus by encouraging a shift from the external domain (Christian ________________ 20
Because of its origin in discredited late-nineteenth-century racial theories, some have argued that “anti-Semitism” should not be used at all (e.g., Smiga, Pain and Polemic, 11), while others have followed James Parkes’s lead in using only the unhyphenated “antisemitism” in an attempt to distance the term from such theories (Alan T. Davies, ed., Antisemitism and the Foundations of Christianity [New York; Toronto: Paulist Press, 1979], viii). For attempts to differentiate anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, see, e.g., William Klassen, “Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity: The State of the Question,” in AntiJudaism in Early Christianity. Vol 1, 5–12; Edward H. Flannery, The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Anti-Semitism (New York: Macmillan, 1965), 60; idem, “Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitism: A Necessary Distinction,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 10 (1973): 581–88; Gager, The Origins of Anti-Semitism, 8. See also the distinction implicit in Ruether’s statement that Christianity’s “anti-Judaism . . . constantly takes social expression in anti-Semitism” (Faith and Fratricide, 116).
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opinions, speech, and action directed toward another group) to the internal (Christian self-definition and self-understanding), the concept of supersessionism helps to bring important questions into focus. At the same time, however, the concept carries with it some limitations, especially for those of us who study the development of the Christian movement in its formative stages. Supersession describes a situation where one entity, by virtue of its supposed superiority, comes to occupy a position that previously belonged to another, the displaced group becoming outmoded or obsolete in the process. The term thus properly applies to a completed process of (perceived) replacement. For this reason, it is most immediately applicable in a situation where “Christianity” and “Judaism” are—or are perceived to be—more or less separate entities and the church is recognizably non-Jewish. Take, for example, Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho the Jew. Justin argues that the church is a largely Gentile entity (117–23), existing separately from “you Jews” (11.2); that the old law and covenant have become “obsolete,” and have been “abrogated” and replaced by a new law and covenant (11.2–4); that the church has now become “the true spiritual Israel” (11.5); that the Scriptures are no longer “yours, but ours” (29.2); and so on. 21 For such a version of Christian self-definition, supersessionism is clearly an appropriate category. Even so, it is worth noting in passing that this is not the only way in which Justin construes the relationship between the church and Israel. Sensitive both to Roman respect for tradition and to Greek notions of immutability, he is nervously aware that to speak of a new Israel, a new covenant, a new law, and so on, is to concede a certain priority to the Jews and suggests a certain caprice or mutability on the part of God (Dial. 23, 30). Why should God establish one covenant and people and then replace them with another? And so Justin also speaks about the old Israel and its institutions in such a way as to suggest that they never had any positive, divinely authorized role to play at all. As he says to Trypho: “We too would observe your circumcision of the flesh, your Sabbath days, and, in a word, all your festivals, if we were not aware of the reason why they were imposed upon you, namely, because of your sins and your hardness of heart” (Dial. 18.2). Further, he argues that, in their attachment to the prima facie sense of Scripture, the Jews simply demonstrated their blindness to the deeper, spiritual reality that should have been apparent all along. Or at least most of ________________ 21
All quotations from St. Justin Martyr: Dialogue with Trypho, ed. Michael Slusser, trans. Thomas B. Falls, revised and with a new introduction by Thomas P. Halton (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2003).
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them. Justin believes that the writers of Scripture, the prophets and the saints of old—“Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the prophets, and quite simply every Jew who is pleasing to God” (Dial. 130.2)—were well aware of a spiritual and christological reality that represented the real meaning of Scripture. Thus, Israel itself comprised two different types of people from the very beginning: “So, we must here conclude that there were two seeds of Judah, and two races, as there are two houses of Jacob: the one born of flesh and blood, the other of faith and the Spirit” (Dial. 135.6). How are we to characterize this second line of argument? Is supersessionism an appropriate category here? After all, supersession by definition ascribes a certain provisional legitimacy or validity to the superseded entity in the period prior to the point of supersession. If no legitimacy or validity were recognized at all, would we have passed beyond supersessionism to something else? The point could be debated, though since for Justin the old covenant was established by the same God, supersessionism is probably still applicable in this case, even if it represents a more negative strain than one in which Jewish ordinances and traditions are seen to have had a proper and legitimate role to play in the past. Nevertheless, the observation demonstrates the need for a typology of supersessionism, 22 a matter to which I will return. Justin represents a movement that, by the middle of the second century, is predominantly Gentile, is settling down for the long haul in the Roman world, and is beginning to make extensive and creative use of Greek thought-forms to express and proclaim its message. To be sure, we should be cautious about assuming that even in Justin’s day “Christianity” and “Judaism” represented two separate and distinct entities. Recent study has led us to recognize that it is too simplistic to talk of a “parting of the ways” that was complete and definitive by the time of Justin. Instead, the evidence suggests “a rich and variegated continuum of Jewish, Christian, and ‘Jewish-Christian’ identities in dynamic
That is, even in a situation where the church and Judaism are separate entities, supersessionism is not a single conception but can appear in several forms. Soulen has made a helpful beginning in differentiating three forms of supersessionism: economic (where an old economy of salvation is replaced by a better one, for which it served as a necessary first step); punitive (where the old covenant with Israel is abrogated because of Israel’s disobedience); and structural (where the Christian economy of salvation is structured in such a way as to move from “fall” to “redemption,” skipping over the story of Israel entirely). See The God of Israel and Christian Theology, esp. pp. 29–31.
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competition, contact, and conflict,” 23 a situation that continued to play itself out for several centuries beyond the time of Justin. To the extent that this is true, it suggests that Justin’s supersessionism needs to be seen less as an interpretation of an actual completed process of separation and more as an attempt to hasten the process and establish it as normative. Of course, Justin represented a portion of the movement that perceived itself as fully separated from Judaism 24 and he constructed his supersessionist argument on the basis of this perception. He also represented the portion of the movement that became dominant. But even so, as with all forms of self-definition, supersessionism has to do as much with social construction as with objective realities. When we move behind Justin, however, into the earlier transitional period and back toward the first generation of the movement, we encounter a situation where it is progressively less realistic for anyone to speak of two separated entities and thus where the limitations of supersessionism as a category become even more apparent. The movement begins with a Jewish messianic prophet of the end-times, who gathered a band of disciples around him in preparation for the imminent arrival of the reign of God. Or, if you prefer to start a little later, the church begins as an eschatological renewal movement completely within a variegated Judaism, a community of Jews who believed that God had identified the coming Messiah by raising Jesus from the dead, and who set out to proclaim this Messiah to Israel. For the next few generations of the movement, what eventually comes to be known as Christianity comprises a variety of groups sprinkled throughout the Mediterranean basin—some primarily Jewish, some largely Gentile, and many of them ethnically diverse, and all of them together representing a variety of relationships, actual and perceived, with the traditions of Israel and the world of contemporary Judaism. Throughout this formative and transitional period, as these various groups worked to find living space for themselves and to create the social structures necessary for survival, they were necessarily engaged in processes of selfdefinition. While elements of these processes were inevitably taken up into the supersessionism of the second century, they originated in a social context where ________________ 23
Adam H. Becker and Annette Yoshiko Reed, eds., The Ways That Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), xi. Also Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). 24 Though he was more tolerant of Jewish Christ-believers who continued to observe the Torah (Dial. 47.1–3) than were most of his contemporaries and successors.
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supersessionism is less applicable as a descriptive category and they stood alongside other factors that were at play in a social context where membership was ethnically mixed and group boundaries were fluid. Used as a broad category, then, supersessionism occludes variations and issues that were important in the formative period. What might loosely be described as supersessionism at a lower resolution displays significant differentiation at a higher. Moreover, this is just part of a larger set of selfdefinitional options where, at either end of the spectrum, “supersessionism” is not really applicable. The purpose of this paper is to provide a more finelydrawn typology of the various ways in which groups of Christ-believers in the first formative century and a half conceived of their relationship to the phenomenon of “Israel” in its various dimensions. Early Christian Self-definition: A Typology Supersessionism—the belief that the church has replaced the Jewish people as the people of God—is a construal of the relationship among three more-or-less fixed elements: (1) the Christian church, essentially Gentile and completely separated from Judaism and the Jewish people; (2) scriptural Israel, the people at the center of the collection of writings considered as Scripture by both church and synagogue; and (3) the Jewish people, considered by Christians as superseded by the church. In the formative period, however, what we are dealing with is not three relatively fixed elements but three sets of more fluid variables: (1) a range of conceptions concerning the place and status of Jewish and Gentile believers within groups of Christ-believers of varying ethnic composition; (2) a range of conceptions concerning the nature and purpose of scriptural Israel and its religion, as understood in relation with new beliefs about Christ and his significance; and (3) a range of conceptions concerning the place and status of the continuing Jewish people and their religion. In each case, the range of conceptions was determined by different answers to the following sets of questions. (1) With respect to groups of Christbelievers and their ethnic composition: On what terms were Gentiles included? Did an identifiably Jewish entity have any distinct, ongoing status within the group? What was the relative status of individual Jewish and Gentile members? In more general terms, did Jew and Gentile continue to be significant categories, or were these identities thought to have been dissolved and transcended? (2) With respect to scriptural Israel: Did scriptural Israel have positive validity as the people of God in the past? If so, were the basic elements of Israel’s selfunderstanding (covenant, Torah, temple, land, etc.) considered valid as these were understood by Jews themselves? Or were they considered valid only as they
Donaldson, Supersessionism and Early Christian Self-Definition 11
were reinterpreted in light of Christ belief? (3) With respect to the continuing Jewish people and their religion: Had Israel as a distinct entity been totally absorbed into the church, so that continuing Judaism was devoid of theological significance? Or was Judaism seen as a continuation of scriptural Israel in some way, but only in negative terms? Or was Judaism seen in some way as a more positive ongoing embodiment of scriptural Israel? If I were able to carry out a longer study here, I would want first to look at these three sets of questions in turn, in order to identify the range of answers that seem to have been in existence in the formative period, before attempting to provide anything like an overall typology. In the interest of economy, however, I will have to be content with this simple identification of the analytical questions, and allow the various options to emerge in the context of the typology itself. Before I turn to the typology, I need to make three additional comments about my procedure. First, it is readily apparent that in many cases the evidence that I appeal to for any given position is subject to different interpretations. Since my interest here has to do with viable options rather than historical description, it is enough for my purposes that a given interpretation has been suggested and plausibly defended. The validity of the typology does not depend on a demonstration that it is the only or the most preferable interpretation of any particular text. In fact, for the most part I will refrain from indicating my own interpretations. Second, and partly for this reason, there is no compelling reason to multiply the number of examples cited for each type, nor is this the place to attempt any detailed mapping of scholarly opinion with respect to the set of types. What is important here is the identification of specific types, illustrated by a number of examples (proposed and plausible interpretations of primary texts) that are sufficient to establish the type. Third, in most cases there is no clean and simple correlation between individual authors or writings and discrete types. Justin is certainly not the only author who presents us with a more complex interweaving of strands that can be separated out into different types. The typology contains five major types, most of which have two or more sub-types. 1. A Relationship of Binary Opposites In this type, Israel in whole or in part is seen as the binary opposite of the true people of God. Two sub-types can be identified.
1.1 Israel in Toto as the Binary Opposite of the True People of God Marcion represents the primary exemplar of this type, though similar dualistic patterns are found in some texts and teachings that have been traditionally
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classified as Gnostic, 25 and Marcion himself was famously able to appeal to some aspects of Paul in support of his views. In this type, Israel as an undifferentiated ethnic-religious entity is considered in toto as categorically distinct from and inferior to the group of Christ believers. There is no continuity at all between the religious institutions and people of Israel in the past and the Christ-believing group in the present. The two groups are not simply distinct, but in their defining characteristics they are to a certain extent binary opposites of each other—or, to use the category that Marcion chose for the title of his major work (Antitheses), they are antithetical. Of course, any attempt to describe Marcion’s views has to reckon with the fact that we are totally dependent on secondary—and decidedly antagonistic—reports. 26 Nevertheless, as long as one takes the biases of the reporters sufficiently into account, one can have a reasonable degree of confidence in the picture that emerges. 27 The antithetical structures of Marcion’s thought are rooted in a duality of gods. The God of Israel—the God who created the material world, the God who gave the law, a God of harsh justice and judgment—is distinct from the “other and greater” God (Justin, 1 Apol. 26.5) proclaimed and revealed by Christ. Marcion did not deny the existence of the God worshipped by the Jews; the created order itself served as evidence for this God’s existence. Indeed, he believed that this God had promised a future Messiah for the Jews in the ________________ 25
As with categories such as “Christianity” and” Judaism,” the usefulness of “Gnosticism” is increasingly being questioned. In this reassessment, “Gnosticism” is seen as an essentializing concept that obscures ancient realities, imposes artificial boundaries on complex socio-religious terrain, and conceals contemporary interests under a guise of historical objectivity. See, e.g., Karen L. King, What is Gnosticism? (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003). 26 The earliest are found in Justin’s First Apology; the most thorough and sustained is that of Tertullian (Against Marcion); also Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, and others. 27 Thus Judith Lieu suggests that we need to proceed in two stages: first, by describing the various “Marcions” that emerge from the accounts of his opponents (beginning with Justin, Irenaeus and Tertullian, and then moving on to later sources); and then by reconstructing a historical Marcion on the basis of a critical analysis of these accounts (Judith M. Lieu, Marcion and the Making of a Heretic: God and Scripture in the Second Century [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015], here pp. 10–11). Of course, these reconstructions result in further Marcions, some of which have had a dominating influence on those to follow (especially that of Adolf von Harnack, Marcion: Das Evangelium vom fremden Gott [Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1921]).
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Scriptures, and expected the “Creator’s Christ” to appear in the future (Tertullian, Marc. 3.18.1; 3.24.1–2). But true salvation necessarily involved a liberation from the created order and its God, something that was effected by the Christ who was sent by the supreme God and who knew this God as his Father (Irenaeus, Haer. 1.27.2). For Marcion, then, Christ was not the Messiah expected by Israel, nor was he predicted or anticipated in Israel’s Scriptures. Indeed, for this reason, most Jews “rejected him as a stranger” (Tertullian, Marc. 3.6.2) and were not able to perceive the higher deity who had sent him. As a result, the people brought into being through Christ’s revelation and redemption were not only a distinct people but were also drawn primarily from the Gentiles: “Marcion lays it down that there is one Christ who in the time of Tiberius was revealed by a god formerly unknown, for the salvation of all the nations (omnium gentium).” That Tertullian here has non-Jewish nations in view becomes clear in the rest of the sentence: “and another Christ who is destined by God the Creator to come at some time still future for the reestablishment of the Jewish kingdom (Iudaici status).” 28 As Wilson has observed, Marcion’s expectation of an earthly fulfillment of Israel’s messianic prophecies—“restitution of the land and rest in the bosom of Abraham” (echoing Tertullian, Marc. 3.24.1)—is “remarkable.” 29 On issues disputed between Jews and proto-orthodox Christians (the messiahship of Jesus, the christological meaning of Israel’s Scriptures, the nature of salvation, etc.), Marcion is closer to Trypho than to Justin. Indeed, Marshall has observed that, the matter of two Gods aside, Marcion has affinities to the kind of two-covenant readings that have been proposed for Paul 30 (and that will be taken up in the final sub-type of this typology). For present purposes, however, the salient point is that, for Marcion, the people of Israel and the community brought into being by Christ are categorical opposites—brought into being by different Gods and defined by different Christs. 31 Although the people of Israel are not simply negated, their defining characteristics are denigrated and set over against those of the Christians at every point. ________________ 28
Tertullian, Marc. 4.6.2–3; see also Irenaeus, Haer. 1.27.3 (omnes gentes). Stephen G. Wilson, Related Strangers: Jews and Christians, 70–170 C.E. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), 216. 30 Marshall, “Misunderstanding the New Paul.” 31 Marcion “sets up a great and absolute opposition, such as that between justice and kindness, between law and gospel, between Judaism and Christianity” (Tertullian, Marc. 4.6.3). 29
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Gnostic cosmologies were much more complex than Marcion’s, just as Gnostic heavens were more heavily populated. But the resulting pattern of relationship between Christ believers and the people of Israel is functionally similar in many respects. 32 Typically, the created order is seen as the misguided work of the Demiurge, a lesser deity who in many cases is identified with the God who gave the law through Moses and who led Israel to believe that he was the only God. Christ, by contrast, was the emissary of the supreme deity, who descended into the created world for the sake of those human beings within whom an element of the divine spirit could be found, in order to provide them with the knowledge they needed to extricate themselves from the material world and to make their way back to the supreme deity. While Valentinus and other Gnostic teachers were more prepared than was Marcion to appropriate Israel’s Scriptures for their own purposes, they seem to have been less interested in Jews and Judaism, the Jewishness of Jesus, and their own relationship to things Jewish. Nevertheless, in the basic structures of Gnostic teaching the people of Israel and the people of Christ were identified with different Gods and thus are set over against each other across a cosmological divide. Straddling the boundary between this sub-type and the next one are approaches that, although they remain monotheistic and make no distinction between the God revealed in Israel’s Scriptures and the God who sent Christ, nevertheless align Israel in its distinctive covenantal characteristics with the devil or the demonic. One instance is found in the Epistle of Barnabas, which shares with Justin (and the adversus Judaeos tradition more generally) the pattern of discourse that makes a sharp distinction between the literal (fleshly) sense of Scripture and its deeper spiritual (christocentric) meaning (e.g., Barn. 10.9). In his discussion of circumcision, however, the author takes an additional step, as he explains Israel’s attachment to the literal interpretation of the law as the result of demonic influence: “an evil angel instructed them” (Barn. 9.4). 33 While this is clearly distinguishable from Marcion’s cosmological binary—the evil angel was not the creator; the God of Scripture and the God who sent Christ were one and ________________ 32
For a helpful summary, with a focus on attitudes toward Jews and Judaism, see Wilson,
Related Strangers, 196–207. See also Gager, The Origins of Anti-Semitism, 160–73. 33
Wilson connects this verse with Barnabas’s vehement denial that the covenant ever belonged to Israel at all: “watch yourselves now and do not become like some people by piling up your sins, saying that the covenant is both theirs and ours” (Barn. 4.6); see Wilson, Related Strangers, 137.
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the same—a similar categorical binary appears at the level of people groups— one aligned with an evil angel, the other with the true God. Elsewhere, John’s polemical description of the Jews as being descendants not of Abraham but of their father the devil (John 8:44) has been interpreted in a similar way. Rosemary Ruether, for example, cites John 8:43–47 in support of her contention that, in contrast to the followers of Jesus, “‘[t]he Jews’ . . . are the very incarnation of the false, apostate principle of the fallen world, alienated from its true being in God.” 34 Likewise, we might mention Paul’s statement in Gal 3:19 that the law was ordained “through angels by the hand of a mediator.” Since the passage goes on to say that mediation is somehow set over against the oneness of God (v. 20), some have taken the statement to imply that the law originated with angels rather than with God, which in turn could imply a categorical duality of peoples. 35
1.2 Israel as Containing Binary Opposites within Itself from the Beginning This sub-type also consists of a pair of binary opposites, though in this case the opposites are contained within Israel itself. We have had occasion to notice one example of this type already, in Justin’s argument that the true christological meaning of Scripture was readily apparent to the spiritually discerning within Israel all along, and that it was only because of their fleshly blindness that the rest of Israel could not see beyond a literal understanding of Israel’s Scripture, laws, and institutions. In this line of reasoning the church is not so much a new entity that replaces Israel as it is a fuller manifestation of a portion of Israel that ________________ 34
Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, 113. Since Paul speaks of the law being given di’ angelōn, which can be rendered “through angels,” the most common interpretation is that the angels are functioning as the means by which God gave the law (which then contrasts negatively with God’s own direct giving of the promise [Gal 3:8, 18]); see, e.g., Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians, WBC 41 (Waco: Word, 1990), 138–43. Others, however, have understood Paul to say that the law was given by angels rather than by God, thus setting the angels (and their law) over against God, with the result that “Paul took a step outside the Jewish world of thought and prepared the way to Gnosticism” (Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle [New York: Seabury, 1968], 71). On Gnosticizing interpretations of Gal 3:19–20, see Hans Dieter Betz, Galatians, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), 168–70. For a more complex reading of the passage combining the assertion that “God played no part in genesis of the Sinaitic law” with a rejection of the conclusion that Paul then is “anti-Judaic,” see J. Louis Martyn, Galatians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1997), 364–70. 35
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was represented by the saints of old. Israel always contained within itself a “true” and a “false” Israel. It is important to note that in this construal, “true Israel” is understood not in the prophetic sense of a remnant that was faithful to the covenant, set over against the rest of Israel who were unfaithful or sinful. Rather, faithfulness to the covenant as most Jews would have defined it was itself false. Those who constituted “true Israel” were already in a real sense Christians (even if sometimes in a proto- or crypto- guise). While advocates of this approach might make use of such scriptural elements as prophetic denunciations, concepts of a remnant, and so on, these traditions are thoroughly Christianized, so that they have to do with Christian belief, not with covenantal faithfulness. In addition to Justin, clear examples of this type can be found in Ignatius. For Ignatius, the reason that the prophets were persecuted was that they “lived according to Jesus Christ” (Magn. 8.2). Further, the prophets “hoped in him [Jesus] and awaited him. And they were saved by believing in him, because they stood in the unity of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 5.2). 36 A similar theme comes into view in Barnabas, where both Abraham and Moses are presented as fully cognizant of Christ and committed to him. Abraham, as he carried out the command to circumcise, “was looking ahead in the Spirit to Jesus” (Barn. 9.7); 37 Moses, stretching out his hands (as a sign of the cross) during Israel’s battle against Amalek (Exod 17:8–13), did so in order to remind those engaged in battle “that if they refused to hope in him [Christ], they would be attacked forever” (Barn. 12.2–3). The theme comes to striking expression somewhat later in a tractate “against the Jews” attributed (falsely) to Cyprian, where scriptural figures are presented in contrasting pairs: Moses they cursed because he proclaimed Christ, Dathan they loved because he did not proclaim Him. . . . David they hated because he sang of Christ, Saul they magnified because he did not speak of Him. . . . Jeremiah they stoned while he was hymning Christ, Ananias they loved while he was opposing Him. . . . 38 ________________ 36
On the explicitly Christian faith of the prophets of Israel, see Thomas A. Robinson,
Ignatius of Antioch and the Parting of the Ways: Early Jewish-Christian Relations (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2009), 122. 37 And thus, presumably, was immune to the baleful influence of the evil angel. 38 Pseudo-Cyprian, Adversus Judaeos 3.3; cited by James Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue: A Study in the Origins of Antisemitism (London: The Soncino Press, 1934; reprinted by Hermon Press [New York] in 1974), 105–106.
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As has already been noted in an earlier discussion of Justin, one of the factors driving this retrojection of explicitly Christian belief into the story of Israel was that it allowed Christians to lay claim to an ancient pedigree, an important commodity in the Roman world. More sophisticated forms of this strategy take advantage of the fact that in the scriptural story of Israel the giving of the law took place not at the outset but after a long period of patriarchal preparation. This enabled apologists such as Justin or Eusebius to make a distinction between an ideal kind of spiritual religiosity present from the beginning in the patriarchs and that which was brought into being with the Mosaic law. Justin can argue that the law was given simply because of Israel’s weakness and sin, making much of the fact that the patriarchs were able to relate quite positively to God without it (e.g., Dial. 18–22). Eusebius, in a somewhat more polished way, sees the law as a divinely given remedy for polytheistic bad habits picked up by the Israelites in Egypt (e.g., Praep. ev. 7.8.37–38). This provided him with the grounds for a further distinction between the Hebrews (the patriarchs and those like them who perceived the true God clearly and worshiped him properly) and the Jews (the people shaped by the sojourn in Egypt and the remedial mode of religion found in the law of Moses). 39 The band of the Hebrews was not limited to the patriarchs but also included the faithful prophets and heroes of Scripture—and, eventually, the Christians, who represented the full flowering of the primordial Hebraic form of religiosity in the latter days. 40 While this approach does not simply (and crudely) retroject full-blown Christian beliefs into the pre-Christian period, it does nevertheless align the people of Christ with the positive side of a binary already existing within the scriptural story of Israel itself. First-century writers were more inclined to work with themes of newness and fulfillment, which means that fewer interpreters are prepared to see full-blown examples of this type in the New Testament. Nevertheless, patterns of thought where Torah religion and Christ belief are presented as binary opposites—especially in Paul (law/grace; works/faith; Hagar/Sarah) and John (law/grace and truth; “the Jews”/believers; below/above)—leave themselves open ________________ 39
On “Hebrews” and “Jews,” see especially book 7 of Eusebius’s Preparation for the Gospel. This was part of a more ambitious program on Eusebius’s part of reworking the regnant demographic binaries (Greek/barbarian, Jew/Gentile, Rome/subject nations) in order to create an advantageous space for the Christians within the Roman world. See, e.g., Aaron P. Johnson, Ethnicity and Argument in Eusebius’ Praeparatio Evangelica (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); and Jeremy M. Schott, Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), especially chaps. 4 and 5. 40
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to what Ruether calls a metaphysical “antithesis between the true and the apostate Israel.” 41 However, the essential elements of this type—the beliefs that these antithetical groups were co-existent throughout Israel’s history and that members of “true Israel” in the past were explicitly aware of Christ—are only hinted at. 42 2. A Relationship of Discontinuity and Supersession In this type, which represents supersession proper, Israel is seen as an old entity that has been displaced and rendered obsolete by the church, a new entity in which any distinction between Jew and Gentile no longer has any fundamental significance. Again, two sub-types can be identified.
2.1 Israel as a Failed Entity, Rejected by God and Replaced with a Church Drawn Primarily from the Gentiles The distinguishing characteristic of this sub-type is the emphasis on Israel’s sin and failure, which result in God’s rejection of Israel and the creation of a new people as Israel’s replacement. 43 This sub-type, then, is characterized by a sequence of sin, rejection, and replacement. The focal point of Israel’s sinfulness, of course, is its rejection of the Messiah, though this is often seen as the culmination of a longer legacy of sin and rebellion. In this sub-type it is possible for the institutions of temple and Torah to be given some element of positive significance, even if the emphasis falls on Israel’s lack of faithfulness to them. Still, the tendency more often is to think of these institutions, at least at the literal level, simply as part of an era of failure and to locate any positive significance in their symbolic christological meaning. Because of the negative view of Israel that is inherent in this sin-rejection-replacement pattern of thought, the tendency in this sub-type is to see the new people that replaces Israel (i.e., the church) as primarily or even categorically Gentile. Much of the adversus Judaeos tradition as it develops in the second and third centuries corresponds with this sub-type. 44 The headings of Cyprian’s ________________ 41
Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, 95. Perhaps the most explicit is the statement in Heb 12:26 that Moses “considered abuse suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt.” 43 This sub-type corresponds more or less to Soulen’s “punitive supersessionism”; see The God of Israel and Christian Theology, 30. 44 For surveys, see Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, 95–106; Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, 124–49; Gager, The Origins of Anti-Semitism, 117–73. 42
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Three Books of Testimonies against the Jews (especially Book 1) 45 provide us with a convenient illustration; to cite a representative sample, Cyprian asserts: 1.1 That the Jews have fallen under the heavy wrath of God, because they have departed from the Lord and have followed idols. 1.2 Also because they did not believe the prophets, and put them to death. 1.3 That it was previously foretold that they would neither know the Lord, nor understand nor receive him. 1.6 That they would lose Jerusalem, and leave the land which they had received. 1.11 That another dispensation and a new covenant was to be given. 1.19 That two peoples were foretold, the elder and the younger, that is, the ancient people of the Jews, and the new one which should be of us. 1.21 That the Gentiles should rather believe in Christ. As might be expected, a number of New Testament writings have been interpreted within a similar sin-rejection-replacement framework. 46 The Gospel of Matthew, which presents the reader with a striking contrast between its beginning and end, provides one example. The Gospel begins with the identification of Jesus as the one who will “save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:23) and who will fulfill the prophecy concerning a coming “ruler who is to shepherd [God’s] people Israel” (2:6). The Gospel ends with a scene in which a different people is in view, as the risen Jesus commissions his disciples to “make disciples of all the ethnē” (28:19). This closing injunction can be rendered as a command to “make disciples of all the Gentiles,” which has led to an interpretation in which it represents the final piece in a pattern of displacement that has been building throughout the Gospel: Gentile Magi seek out the newly ________________ 45
The work consists of a collection of Old Testament proof-texts organized under these headings. 46 For a more substantial discussion of NT material that has a bearing on the characterization of this sub-type and the types (and sub-types) to follow, see the pertinent sections of Terence L. Donaldson, Jews and Anti-Judaism in the New Testament: Decision Points and Divergent Interpretations (London: SPCK; Waco: Baylor University Press, 2010).
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born infant Jesus, while “all Jerusalem” (2:3) was troubled at news of his birth (2:1–12); seeing the faith of a Gentile centurion, Jesus declares that “many will come from east and west . . . while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness” (8:11–12); speaking to Jewish leaders, Jesus announces that “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that produces its fruit” (21:43), describing them a little later as “the descendants of those who murdered the prophets” (23:31); at Jesus’ trial before Pilate, “all the people (pas ho laos) answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and on our children’” (27:25). 47 In this reading, Matthew’s story is one in which God sends Jesus as Israel’s Messiah in fulfillment of the prophetic promises, the people as a whole reject him and accept responsibility for his death, God then rejects Israel, and finally the risen Christ commands his disciples to gather a new people (the ekklēsia) drawn from the non-Jewish nations. In the words of an early proponent of such a reading, the Gospel of Matthew, displaying a “Gentile bias,” conveys “the message that Christianity, now predominantly Gentile, has displaced Judaism with God as the true Israel.” 48 The ending of Luke’s two-volume account of Christian origins might likewise be read as the culmination of a similar pattern. Here, after using the words of Isa 6:9–10 to denounce his Jewish hearers for their lack of response to his message, Paul declares: “Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen” (Acts 28:25–28). 49 In John the pattern perhaps is declared at the outset: “He came to what was his own, and his
Of course, the pattern can be readily buttressed by other narrative elements. Kenneth W. Clark, “The Gentile Bias in Matthew,” JBL 66 (1947): 165–72, here p. 166. Such an interpretation of Matthew is adopted by a number of scholars, including Wolfgang Trilling, Das wahre Israel: Studien zur Theologie des Matthäusevangeliums (Leipzig: St. Benno-Verlag, 1959); Douglas R. A. Hare, The Theme of Jewish Persecution of Christians in the Gospel According to St. Matthew, SNTSMS 6 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967); Rolf Walker, Die Heilsgeschichte im ersten Evangelium, Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des alten und neuen Testaments 91 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967); Lloyd Gaston, “The Messiah of Israel as Teacher of the Gentiles: The Setting of Matthew’s Christology,” Interpretation 29 (1975): 24–40. 49 See the literature cited in Donaldson, Jews and Anti-Judaism, 61, n. 11. For other interpretations of Luke-Acts, see type 3.2 and 3.3 below. 48
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own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:11–12). 50
2.2 Israel as an Entity of the Past, Having Had a Certain Preparatory Role to Play but Now Superseded by a Church in which Ethnic Distinctions Have No Fundamental Significance In this sub-type, a more positive role is ascribed to the institutions of Torah and temple, and thus to Israel as a people. This role, however, is understood in Christian terms to such an extent that it is fully subordinated to, and seen simply as preparation for, the new institutions of salvation brought into being by Christ, who has abrogated the old covenant by fulfilling it and has instituted a new covenant in its place. 51 An essential element of this abrogation is the eradication of any theological distinction between Jew and Gentile. Even if, in some versions of this sub-type, the people of the new covenant might be described as a new Israel, this new Israel is a universal community in which the defining marks of the old Israel have been rendered obsolete. There is no shortage of New Testament material that might be read in accordance with this sub-type. Returning to Matthew, the closing injunction could just as easily be read as a command to “make disciples of all the nations” (28:19) rather than “all the Gentiles.” 52 In this interpretation, the new ekklēsia brought into being by the mission of the disciples contains both Jews and Gentiles, though the distinction between Jews and Gentiles has been transcended and Israel now constitutes just one ethnos among many. 53 If we combine this with Matthew’s strong emphasis on fulfillment—Jesus as the one come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it (5:17–20) by providing a new authoritative ________________ 50
One of the few New Testament texts cited by Cyprian in his Testimonies (1.3). See also the discussion of John’s Gospel in Donaldson, Jews and Anti-Judaism, 81–108, and the literature cited there. 51 This corresponds to Soulen’s “economic supersessionism”; see The God of Israel and Christian Theology, 29. 52 For a classic debate about the translation of ethnē in Matt 28:19, see Douglas R. A. Hare and Daniel J. Harrington, “‘Make Disciples of All the Gentiles’ (Mt 28:19),” CBQ 37 (1975): 359–69; and John P. Meier, “Nations or Gentiles in Matthew 28:19?” CBQ 39 (1977): 94–102. For a more recent discussion from a different angle of perception, see Matthias Konradt, Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew, trans. Kathleen Ess, Baylor–Mohr Siebeck Studies in Early Christianity (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014), 311–17. 53 See, e.g., Smiga, Pain and Polemic, 52–96.
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interpretation (e.g., 5:21–48); the era of the law and prophets as coming to an end with John the Baptist and with the inbreaking of the kingdom (11:11–13); Jesus as greater than the temple (12:6); and so on—the result is a new community of disciples, drawn from all nations without distinction and characterized by baptism and adherence to Jesus’ new teaching (28:19–20). Except for the absence of any explicit attention to Jewish and Gentile identities, the Epistle to the Hebrews has readily lent itself to a preparationfulfillment-abrogation pattern of interpretation. A central theme of the writing concerns the coming of a new set of religious realities—a new Sabbath rest (4:1– 11); a new high priest (4:14–5:10; 7:11–28); a new sanctuary (8:1–6); a new covenant (8:7–13); a new sacrifice (10:1–18); and so on. The relationship between these new realities and their counterparts within the old covenant is described—in language reminiscent of Platonic dualism as it was reworked by Philo and other Diaspora Jews—as a relationship between a preparatory sketch and the real thing (8:5; 9:23), between the shadow and the reality (8:5; 10:1), and between the earthly copy and its true heavenly counterpart (8:2, 5; 9:24). Now that the new covenant has come in all its dimensions, the old has become obsolete (8:13) and abrogated (7:18). 54 In all of this, however, there is very little sense in Hebrews that the new state of affairs was necessitated by sinfulness of Israel, or that Israel has been replaced in God’s purposes by a new and different people. 55 The recitation of Israel’s history in chapter 11 focuses on the faith of Israel’s exemplary saints, both great and small, rather than, say, on Israel’s resistance to God and persecution of God’s prophets (as in Acts 7). In addition, the faith that is exhibited is (shall we say) expressed in covenant-appropriate ways (e.g., keeping the Passover; 11:28) rather than reshaped in christological patterns. While ________________ 54
This has readily led scholars to the conclusion that Hebrews is supersessionistic: “In summary, it is the ancient Judaism with which Hebrews deals, regarding it as the worthy but imperfect preparation for the perfection which is Christianity. The Christ has superseded the law; Christianity has superseded Judaism” (Samuel Sandmel, AntiSemitism in the New Testament? [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978], 122). See also Hays’s comments on his own earlier reading of Hebrews (Richard B. Hays, “‘Here We Have No Lasting City’: New Covenantalism in Hebrews,” in The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology, ed. Richard Bauckham et al. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009], 151–73, here 151–52). 55 In this regard, compare Hebrews with Melito’s On Pascha, which combines a similar contrast between the preliminary model and the finished work with a harsh denunciation of the Jews (“you killed him at the great feast”; 92).
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Gentiles are not mentioned explicitly, both the cosmic role of Christ (1:1–4; 2:5– 9) and the fact that he has “taste[d] death for everyone” (2:9) may well suggest that they were included within his new priestly order, though this is not certain. 56 3. A Relationship of Continuity, Redefinition and Reconstitution This type overlaps with the previous sub-type in that the institutions of Torah and temple are understood to have played an important preparatory role, though this role has also been significantly redefined on the basis of the fulfillment believed to have taken place through Christ. What differentiates this type, however, is that here an important place in the state of fulfillment is ascribed to an identifiably Jewish entity, which is seen as representing the continuation of Israel (e.g., the faithful remnant). In this type, then, the new people of God is a reconstitution of the old, constructed on the basis of a reduced Jewish entity (to which Gentiles are added) but thoroughly redefined around Christ.
3.1 Israel as Succeeded by Christ, Who Provides the Sole Point of Continuity Between Israel of the Past and the Church of the Present In this sub-type, continuity is located solely in Christ, who is seen as summing up and embodying Israel in himself. In some versions of this sub-type, not only is the community of Christ-believers considered to be “Israel” by extension, but no categorical distinction is made between Jewish and Gentile believers. In such cases, this sub-type overlaps to a considerable extent with the previous one. Still, the concern to identify Christ in his Jewishness as a point of continuity between Israel and the community of those who believe in him suggests that it should be located within this third type. ________________ 56
According to Heb 2:16, it is the “descendants of Abraham” (sperma Abraam) whom Jesus has come to help. In 7:5–6 the author uses similar language—“from the loins of Abraham” (ek tēs osphuos Abraam)—in a very ethnic-specific way. If sperma Abraam is to be understood as referring to genealogical descendants of Abraham (rather than in some sort of spiritualized way), then Hebrews may be an example of type 3.2 below. The issue of the supposed supersessionism of Hebrews has been increasingly revisited in recent times. See especially Kim, Polemic in the Book of Hebrews; Richard Bauckham et al., eds., The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), especially the chapters in the section “The Problem of Hebrews’ Supersessionism,” 149–225; and Svartvik, “Reading the Epistle to the Hebrews without Presupposing Supersessionism.”
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An early example of this sub-type might be found in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, where he argues that all who believe in Christ are ipso facto part of the family of Abraham, and this precisely because Christ himself is the “seed” of Abraham, the entity to whom the divine promises were given (Gal 3:16; cf. Gen 12:7; 22:17–18). Such a christocentric (or messiah-centric) construction of the point of continuity between Israel and the Christ-believing ekklēsia has been a central element in N. T. Wright’s massive enterprise of Pauline interpretation. 57 Of course, the form of the argument in Galatians 3 might suggest that Paul is cutting Israel out of the story entirely; he uses the singular form of the collective noun “seed” (sperma) to set the individual person (Christ) and the collective group (Israel) in contrast rather than in continuity. In addition, he does not go so far as to identify Jesus explicitly as Israel, a step taken later by Justin. 58 Still, the idea is at least latent. A more substantial—even if more subtle—example of the sub-type is present in Matthew. In the first four chapters of his Gospel, Matthew presents the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry as a kind of recapitulation of the story of Israel—a sojourn in Egypt (2:13–15); an exodus (2:19–21); a period of testing in the wilderness (4:1–11), the citations from Deuteronomy all having to do with lessons that Israel was to have learned in the wilderness; and so on. Matthew makes the identification explicit by quoting the second half of Hos 11:1 (“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt have I called my son”) in Matt 2:15. In this reading of Matthew, Jesus’ identity as God’s son is, at least in part, an Israel identity—Jesus as taking on the identity and role of Israel. 59 Then, ________________ 57
From The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991) through to Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013). E.g.: “God has deliberately given the Torah to be the means of concentrating the sin of humankind in one place, namely, in his people, Israel— in order that it might then be concentrated yet further, drawn together onto Israel’s representative, the Messiah—in order that it might there be dealt with once and for all” (The Climax of the Covenant, 196). “In passage after passage in Paul, the point being made is that Jesus, as Messiah, has drawn together the identity and vocation of Israel upon himself” [italics his] (Paul and the Faithfulness of God, 825; see the whole of chap. 10, “The People of God, Freshly Reworked”). 58 “As Christ is called Israel and Jacob, so we, hewn out of the side of Christ, are the true people of Israel” (135.3). Justin bases the first part of his statement on the identification of the suffering servant with Jacob in LXX Isa 42:1–4. 59 For such a reading, see Terence L. Donaldson, Jesus on the Mountain: A Study in Matthean Theology (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985), esp. 209–11; and William L. Kynes, A
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whether the new community of disciples that comes into view in 28:19 is seen as drawn from “all the nations” (with Israel as one nation among many) or as drawn exclusively from the non-Jewish nations, Jesus becomes the primary element of continuity linking Israel and the ekklēsia.
3.2 Israel as Succeeded by a Jewish Remnant, Supplemented by Gentiles Who Come in to Replace Unbelieving Jews In this sub-type and the next, the Jewish entity that provides a strand of connection between scriptural Israel and the new community is not simply Christ himself, but a group of Jewish Christ-believers who form a distinct core. What differentiates the two is a different conception of the means by which nonJews are added to the core. In the first of these two sub-types, all but the believing remnant have been rejected by God because of their unbelief, and Gentile believers have been brought in to take their place. This sub-type, then, is another example of a rejection-replacement pattern, though with the rejection being only partial and the Jewish part that remains providing an essential strand of continuity between scriptural Israel and the ekklēsia. Paul’s olive tree analogy in Romans 11 provides one example. Here the olive tree represents Israel as a whole, the branches being seen as individual Israelites. Some of the natural branches are broken off “because of their unbelief” (11:20), and Gentile believers—“wild olive shoot[s]” (11:17)—are grafted in. In v. 19 Paul presents one possible interpretation of the situation: “You will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’” Some interpreters are of the opinion that Paul himself endorsed this view, understanding v. 17 as giving expression to a similar image of displacement: “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place. . . .” 60 But even if this is not his view (on which more in a moment), he is aware that some of his Gentile readers were prepared to see themselves as replacing Jewish unbelievers.
Christology of Solidarity: Jesus as the Representative of His People in Matthew (Lanham: University Press of America, 1991). A good example of the displacement-replacement reading of the verse is provided by Achtemeier: “There is almost a spatial analogy here. Only if some Israelites have been cleared out will there be room for gentiles” (Paul J. Achtemeier, Romans, Interpretation [Atlanta: John Knox, 1985], 180). Also Lucien Cerfaux, The Christian in the Theology of St. Paul (New York: Herder & Herder, 1967), 70; Markus Barth, The People of God, JSNTSup 5 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1983), 42. 60
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Another example might be provided by Luke-Acts, a two-part narrative that, like the Gospel of Matthew, provides readers with a striking contrast between beginning and end. The narrative begins in Jerusalem, among pious Jews who, like Zechariah, were “righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord” (1:6) and, like Anna, were waiting for “the redemption of Jerusalem” (2:28). The story ends in Rome, with the apostle Paul denouncing his Jewish hearers for their inability to see and hear (citing Isa 6:9–10), and then declaring: “Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen” (28:28). As with Matthew, the contrast between beginning and end in Luke-Acts has been read in different ways. 61 While some have read it (as we have seen) as a story of rejection and replacement (i.e., type 2.1), others have argued that such a reading does not give due weight to the important place of an identifiably Jewish church in the Acts account. 62 In the early chapters the author emphasizes the great numbers of those who “became obedient to the faith” (6:7); toward the end we find a reference to the “many thousands of believers there are among the Jews” in Jerusalem (21:20); even in the Diaspora, Paul’s mission meets with some success among his Jewish hearers (13:43; 17:4, 11–12; 18:8). This provides grounds for a modified version of a rejection-replacement reading of Luke-Acts, one in which the Jewish church represents the remnant of Israel while Gentile believers come in to replace those unbelieving Jews who have been “utterly rooted out of the people” (Acts 3:23, citing Lev 23:29 in conjunction with Deut 18:15–19).
3.3 Israel as Succeeded by a Jewish Remnant, Supplemented by Gentiles Who Are Added to the Jewish Core This sub-type also assigns an important role to a Jewish remnant, but here the Gentile component of the church is perceived not as replacing Jewish unbelievers but as joining the company of Jewish believers and thus receiving a share in the blessings of Israel. Often the inclusion of Gentile believers is understood within the framework of one or other of what I have elsewhere termed the Jewish “patterns of universalism,” 63 though reinterpreted with ________________ 61
Again, see my Jews and Anti-Judaism, chap. 3. This point was made in a compelling way by Jacob Jervell, Luke and the People of God (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1972), 41–74, though his interpretation of it is more representative of the next sub-type (i.e., 3.3). 63 Judaism and the Gentiles: Jewish Patterns of Universalism (to 135 CE) (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2007). 62
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respect to the new beliefs about Christ. That is, Gentile believers are perceived as becoming linked to an Israel reconstituted around Christ, to which they relate in a manner analogous to the situation of proselytes, God-fearers, or participants in the end-time blessings of Israel. Returning to Romans 11, one can observe that Paul’s assent to a replacement idea is tepid at best. The NRSV’s “that is true” is an over-translation of the more ambiguous kalōs 64 (v. 20); the remainder of the verse seems to contradict the assertion that the natural branches were broken off to make way for the wild-olive implants; and Paul’s own statement in v. 17 places the emphasis on inclusion rather than replacement: “you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them (en autois)”—that is, among the natural branches that remain 65 —“and have become partners in the rich root of the olive tree.” Returning to Luke-Acts and the role of the community of Jewish Christ-believers in the narrative, Jacob Jervell has argued forcefully that, for Luke, the theological grounding for the inclusion of Gentiles is provided not by the rejection of unbelieving Israel but by the “acceptance of salvation by a significant portion of Israel”; the prophetic promises have “been fulfilled in that Gentiles have been joined to the Israel that has accepted salvation.” 66 Another example might be found in John’s Gospel, where on two occasions the Evangelist speaks of a second entity being added to an identifiably Jewish core: the “other sheep that do not belong to this fold” whom Jesus will bring into the flock (10:16) and the “dispersed children of God” for whom Jesus will die in addition to the nation itself (11:51–52). The “other sheep” of 10:16 are commonly understood to be Gentiles; 67 with respect to 11:51–52, while “the dispersed people of God” could readily be taken as referring to the Jewish ________________ 64
While kalōs can be used to signal agreement (e.g., Plato, Respublica 5.21 ), it can also be used as an ironic agreement (Lucianus, Demonax 38.4), a more non-committal introduction to the speaker’s real response (Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae 1092) or even a polite refusal (Aristophanes, Ranae 888). 65 So, e.g., Ernst Käsemann, Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 308; James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9–16 (Dallas: Word, 1988), 673. 66 Jervell, Luke and the People of God, 53. Earlier, Gregory Baum had argued for a similar position in The Jews and the Gospel, 153–66. 67 E.g., C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John (London: S.P.C.K., 1955), 312; Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (XIII–XXI), Anchor Bible (Garden City: Doubleday, 1970), 396; Ernst Haenchen, John 2 (Chapters 7–21), Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), 48–49; Andrew T. Lincoln, The Gospel According to St. John, Black’s New Testament Commentaries (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers., 2006), 298.
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Diaspora, many commentators interpret the term in analogous fashion (i.e., as referring to Gentile believers). 68 4. A Relationship of Solidarity and Mission In this type, the group of Jewish Christ-believers exists as a remnant or renewal group within a larger Israel that continues to be recognized as God’s covenant people. Israel’s covenantal identity continues to be based on temple worship and Torah observance, which are understood in traditional terms and have not been re-defined by Christ-belief in any fundamental way, and on the expectation of God’s promised deliverance. Jewish Christ-believers are differentiated from their Jewish compatriots by their belief that Jesus has been appointed to be the coming Messiah and by their determination to call on Israel as a whole to recognize Jesus as well. Any Gentiles who want to share in the recognition of Jesus are expected to come into a proper relationship with Israel as a whole, through proselytism or some other appropriate means. Luke’s portrait of the Jerusalem church as we find it in Acts can be taken as an example of this type. 69 He presents the message of the Jerusalem community in its early days as directed first to those who “are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to” Abraham (3:25), a message having to do with the “universal restoration” that God would effect by sending “the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus” (3:20). Members of this community continued to anticipate “the time when [Christ] would restore the kingdom to Israel” (1:6), to worship at the temple (e.g., 2:46; 3:1; 21:23–26), and to hold fast to Moses, circumcise their male children, and observe the (Jewish) customs (to render 21:21 in positive terms). In Luke’s final portrait of the Jerusalem community, he describes it as containing “many thousands” of Jewish believers, all of whom “are zealots (zēlōtai) for the law” (21:20). On the matter of the Gentiles, while there were differences between those who advocated circumcision and the “apostolic decree” promulgated by James, both positions corresponded to options that currently existed within the Jewish world. 70 ________________ 68
So Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (I–XII), Anchor Bible (Garden City: Doubleday, 1966), 440, 442–43; Haenchen, John 2, 75; Lincoln, The Gospel According to St. John, 330–31. 69 See especially Richard Bauckham, “James and the Jerusalem Community,” in Jewish Believers in Jesus, ed. Oskar Skarsaune and Reidar Hvalvik (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007), 55–95. 70 On this point, see Bauckham, “James and the Jerusalem Community,” 72–73.
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In addition to Luke’s account, one could also point to historical studies of “Jewish Christianity” that understand its ethos and identity in similar ways. 71 Further, with respect to the Gospel of Matthew, David Sim has argued that it reflects a thoroughgoing Torah observant community (5:17–18), one that expected any Gentiles who might want to join them to be circumcised and observe the law of Moses. 72 5. A Relationship of Co-existence in Anticipation of the Final Redemption The defining characteristic of this type is the positive status that is ascribed to continuing Israel, the Jewish group identified simply by its adherence to the covenant of Moses and the traditions of the Torah. In this type Israel itself is perceived as possessing continuing theological validity as God’s covenant people, a validity that exists alongside—and is not negated by—the theological status of the new community of Christ-believers. This type does not carry with it any necessary conception, however, of how this new community relates to scriptural Israel, or of what relative status is assigned to Jewish and Gentile believers, and so on. Consequently, this type might overlap with one of several sub-types surveyed already. Nevertheless, it needs to be separated out as a distinct type.
5.1 Israel Apart from the Church as Having Some Theological Validity, in that “All Israel Will Be Saved” through Christ Central to this sub-type is Paul’s statement that “all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26). While Rom 11:25–27 is subject to several interpretations, this sub-type is ________________ 71
For example, Craig Hill defines “Jewish Christianity” in terms of three criteria: “belief in the election and hope for the restoration of Israel, obedience to the law of Moses, and reverence for the temple” (Craig C. Hill, “The Jerusalem Church,” in Jewish Christianity Reconsidered: Rethinking Ancient Groups and Texts, ed. Matt Jackson-McCabe [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007], 46). On the issue of definition, see further JacksonMcCabe’s introductory article in this volume, “What’s in a Name? The Problem of ‘Jewish Christianity,’” 7–38; and the introductory chapters (Oskar Skarsaune, “Jewish Believers in Antiquity—Problems of Definition, Method, and Sources,” pp. 1–21; James Carleton Paget, “The Definition of the Terms Jewish Christian and Jewish Christianity in the History of Research,” pp. 22–52) in Jewish Believers in Jesus, ed. Skarsaune and Hvalvik. 72 David C. Sim, The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism: The History and Social Setting of the Matthean Community (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998); see also David C. Sim, “The Attitude to Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew,” in Attitudes to Gentiles in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, ed. David C. Sim and James S. McLaren, LNTS 499 (London: T & T Clark, 2013), 173–90.
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best represented by an interpretation which understands salvation as an end-time occurrence accomplished through Christ (in contrast either to an ongoing process or to an occurrence separate from Christ) and “all Israel” as a corporate, ethnicreligious entity (in contrast either to a mass number of individual Jews or to the church itself). 73 If Israel itself will experience divine redemption in the future, its identity as God’s covenant people must have some continuing validity in the present (“for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”; Rom 11:29). 74
5.2 Israel and the Gentile Church as Co-existing Peoples, Relating to God through Parallel Covenants The defining characteristic of this final sub-type is the belief that Israel continues to enjoy a valid and sufficient relationship with God through the covenant of Moses, while the Gentile church is a distinct people with its own valid and sufficient relationship with God through Christ. According to Lloyd Gaston, this was Paul’s own view: “Had all Israel followed Paul’s example, we could have had an Israel loyal to the righteousness of God expressed in the Torah alongside a gentile church loyal to the righteousness of God expressed in Jesus Christ and his fulfillment of the promises to Abraham.” 75 ________________ 73
While the position described above is widely held among contemporary scholars, the interpretive issues are complex and the interpretive positions have varied; for a very helpful survey, see Christopher Zoccali, “‘And So All Israel Will Be Saved’: Competing Interpretations of Romans 11.26 in Pauline Scholarship,” JSNT 30 (2008): 289–318; and, more generally, his Whom God Has Called: The Relationship of Church and Israel in Pauline Interpretation, 1920 to the Present (Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2010). The discussion, however, continues; for a vigorous defense of the position that “all Israel” (Rom 11:26) refers to the whole people of Christ, Gentiles included, see Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, 1231–52; for a contrary view, see John M. G. Barclay, Paul and the Gift (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015), 544–61. 74 For the importance of Rom 9–11 as a factor in the promulgation of Nostra Aetate and, more generally, in the significant shift in official Roman Catholic teaching on Jews and Judaism that it represented and fostered, see John Connelly, From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933–1965 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012). 75 Lloyd Gaston, “Paul and the Torah,” in Antisemitism and the Foundations of Christianity, ed. Davies, 66. The article was reprinted (with slight modifications) in Paul and the Torah, a collection of essays in which his position was developed in more detail.
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Although Gaston has not been able to convince many others, 76 a more certain example of this sub-type is found in the Pseudo-Clementine literature. While the composition history of this literature is complex and difficult to unravel, 77 there is general agreement that the Clementine Recognitions and Homilies (probably fourth century C.E.) make use of an earlier source document (Grundschrift; probably early third century) that can be partially reconstructed on the basis of verbally similar material found in both. 78 Without worrying too much about how to resolve the differences between the Recognitions and Homilies in the common material, 79 what comes into view is a Jewish Christian group that accords ongoing saving significance to both Moses and Christ: “Therefore, it is of the distinctive gift granted by God to the Hebrews that they should believe Moses, but to the nations, that they should love Jesus” (Rec. 4.5.5). “For this reason, Jesus is hidden from the Hebrews who have taken Moses as a teacher, but Moses is hidden from those who have believed Jesus. For since there is one teaching through both, God accepts the one who has believed one of these” (Hom. 8.6.1–2). 80 Of course, those who, like themselves, are able to believe in both are doubly blessed (Rec. 4.5.6–9; Hom. 8.6.5–8.7.5). Concluding Observations With the typology completed, only a few brief observations need to be made by way of conclusion. Since supersessionism was my point of departure, let me return to this. ________________ 76
His most enthusiastic supporter has been John G. Gager; see The Origins of AntiSemitism as well as his later Reinventing Paul (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). See also Stanley K. Stowers, A Rereading of Romans: Justice, Jews, and Gentiles (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994). 77 For a clear and concise survey, see Graham Stanton, “Jewish Christian Elements in the Pseudo-Clementine Writings,” in Jewish Believers in Jesus, ed. Skarsaune and Hvalvik, 304–24. 78 In addition to Stanton, see also James Carleton Paget, Jews, Christians and Jewish Christians in Antiquity, WUNT I/251 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), 487–92; F. Stanley Jones, “The Pseudo-Clementines,” in Jewish Christianity Reconsidered, ed. Jackson-McCabe, 285–304; and Annette Yoshiko Reed, “‘Jewish Christianity’ after the ‘Parting of the Ways’: Approaches to Historiography and Self-Definition in the PseudoClementines,’” in The Ways That Never Parted, ed. Becker and Reed, 189–231. 79 See, e.g., Reed, “‘Jewish Christianity’ after the ‘Parting of the Ways,’” 217; Jones, “The Pseudo-Clementines,” 289. 80 The translation is that of Jones; here “The Pseudo-Clementines,” 295.
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The most clearly supersessionist sub-types are those found in my second category (“a relationship of discontinuity and supersession”). For all intents and purposes sub-type 3.1, in which Christ functions as the sole point of continuity, is supersessionist as well. Any corporate representative defined in such a way as to exclude or disenfranchise rank-and-file members of the represented group can hardly be seen as effecting continuity in any real sense of the term. On the surface of it, sub-type 1.2, where Israel is presented as having contained two opposing groups from the beginning, is not supersessionist; the church is simply the continuation of a group that has been present all along. Still, one can be forgiven for thinking that such a tendentious construal of Israel’s history simply serves as a cover for an essentially supersessionist pattern of thought. On the other hand, the two sub-groups at the extreme ends of the spectrum are clearly not supersessionist. If Israel represents in some sense the polar opposite of the church (1.1), or if Israel continues to exist as a distinct covenant people alongside the church (5.2), supersession is not an appropriate term to describe the relationship between the two. Sub-type 5.1, having to do with the expectation that at the end “all Israel will be saved” through Christ, is ambiguous, in that it could be coordinated with either supersessionist or nonsupersessionist understandings of the relationship between Israel and the church. Finally, the remaining sub-types (3.2, 3.3, and 4) can be described as non-supersessionist but unstable. In that each of them is built on the existence of a distinctly Jewish group of Christ-believers, these sub-types represent an element of continuity and contested identity that would be similar to the selfdefinition of other sectarian, remnant, or renewal groups within a larger, diverse Jewish world. But circumstances conducive to the existence of such sub-types proved to be precarious. On one hand, it proved increasingly difficult for Jewish groups of Christ believers to remain within the Jewish world. On the other, the decision to include Gentiles led eventually to a demographic shift in which the Jewish component of the church diminished and major strands of the movement became largely Gentile. In such circumstances these sub-types tended to be transmuted into other, usually supersessionist, types. In the end, however, a typology is a tool of analysis, which means that any value possessed by this one would need to emerge from its utility in providing insight into the more complex world of actual texts and social constructions—which is work for another day.
Washing, Repentance, and Atonement in Early Christian Baptism and Qumranic Purification Liturgies Eyal Regev* Bar-Ilan University | Eyal.Regev@biu.ac.il JJMJS No. 3 (2016): 33---60
The origin, function, and meaning of baptism at the baptism of John the Baptist and for first-century Christians continue to provoke scholarly discussion and debate. 1 The ritual ablutions in Qumran were regarded by some as providing a background, and at times even as the origin, for John’s baptism. 2 These studies drew on allusions to ritual immersion in the Community Rule (1QS) and at times also Josephus’ Essenes. However, they hardly discussed the recently published so-called purification liturgies (4Q414 and 4Q512), which engage in purification-repentance-atonement in a more detailed and direct manner. The purification liturgies provide better evidence on which further analysis of the baptism of John and early Christian baptism should be grounded. The first part of this article suggests new observations concerning the similarities and differences between the purification liturgies from Qumran and the NT evidence on the baptism of John. While both involved repentance and atonement, I would like to suggest that the latter did not include purification at all. Yet in both, immersion in water was a ritual that symbolized moral transformation, in which repentance was a precondition for forgiveness and atonement. This ritual would make the repentance sincere and effective. In the second part of this article, the Qumranic ritual of immersionpurification and repentance as means of atonement will be used as a model for ________________ *
I am grateful to the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions for improvement. 1 E. Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2009); D. Hallhom, T. Vegge, Ø. Norderval, and C. Hellholm, eds., Ablution, Initiation, and Baptism. Late Antiquity, Early Judaism and Early Christianity (BZNW 176; Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2011). 2 For comparisons with Qumran, see, for example, G. R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962, repr. 1977), 11–18, and below.
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interpreting early Christian baptism. I will suggest a new classification of types of baptism in the NT that vary in their concern for washing and repentance as ways to achieve atonement. I will point to the diminishing role of repentance by the early Christians and show that some NT texts on baptism used washing in water as a metaphor for spiritual transformation. This later phenomenon will also shed further light on the meaning of the act of immersion in early Christian rites of baptism. The present discussion does not concern diachronic developments of early Christian baptism. It aims to show the various meanings of baptism and the complexity of the connections between washing in water, atonement, and spiritual transformation, stressing the differences between the Qumranic and early Christian rites. Immersion, Purification, Sin, and Atonement in Qumran
Moral Purification in Qumran In Qumran, ritual purity is linked with morality. In the Hodayot (1QHa), sin is portrayed as defilement, and God’s forgiveness and atonement are regarded as purification from guilt. 3 1QS 5:13–14, for example, commands repentance before one is ritually cleansed. 4 Similar linkages between ritual impurity and atonement are attested to in 1QS 3:6–12. The authors stress that atonement for the member’s iniquities ( )תכופר חטתוis achieved by uprightness, humility, and compliance with all the laws of God, in addition to cleansing one’s flesh with water ()להתקדש במי דוכי. To the Qumran sectarians, sin is actually ritually defiling, not merely
1QH 12:30 [Sukenik 4:39]; 19:13–14 [11:10–11]; 19:33–34 [11:30–31]; 15:33 [7:30]. Cf. 1QS 11:14–15. On the use of metaphors of impurity-sin, purity-righteousness, and purification-atonement in 1QS and the Hodayot (but not in the purification liturgies), see Susan Haber, “Metaphor and Meaning in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in idem, “They Shall Purify Themselves”: Essays on Purity in Early Judaism (SBL: Atlanta, 2008), 93–106. 4 E.g., J. Licht, The Rule Scroll (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1965), 74–76, 128–29 (Hebrew). This is acknowledged even by M. Himmelfarb, “Impurity and Sin in 4QD, 1QS, and 4Q512,” DSD 8 (2001): 9–37 (34), who argued that in other passages the relationship between impurity and sin is merely metaphorical. Translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls follow F. García Martínez and J. C. Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scroll Study Edition (Leiden, Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Brill and Eerdmans, 2000) unless noted otherwise.
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metaphorically. Ritual and moral impurity are merged into a single concept of defilement. 5 Despite the evidence of 1QS 5:13–14 (discussed above), Himmelfarb has doubted the significance which the Yah̟ad accorded to moral impurity, arguing that it was regarded as merely a metaphor for sin, as a matter of speech rather than an actual defiling force with negative consequences. 6 However, the purification liturgies of the Qumran sectarians, which describe purification rites, add further evidence that the manner in which ritual practice is interwoven with atonement of sin demonstrates that it is more than metaphorical.
Pure Atonement: The Qumranic Purification Liturgies 4Q512 Ritual of Purification B consists of prayers and blessings recited before or after ritual immersion or sprinkling the ashes (for cleansing from corpse impurity) while the cleansed person—defiled from corpse impurity or genital discharge, or immersing before Sabbaths and festivals—was still standing in the water. 7 The fragmentary text contains three components: confessions (“I have sinned”), 8 forgiveness for “hidden trespasses of guilt” ([)נסתר]ות אשמ]ה, 9 and ________________ 5
J. Klawans, Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 75–77, 85–88, pointing to 1QS 4:9–10, 21; 7:17–18. For the reception of Klawans’ study, see I. Werrett, “The Evolution of Purity at Qumran,” in Purity and the Forming of Religious Traditions in the Ancient Mediterranean World and Ancient Judaism, ed. C. Frevel and C. Nihan (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 507–10; G. Holtz, “Purity Conceptions in the Dead Sea Scrolls: ‘Ritual Physical’ and ‘Moral’ Purity in a Diachronic Perspective,” in ibid., 519–36. See also D. Flusser, “The Baptism of John and the Dead Sea Sect” in Jewish Sources in Early Christianity (Tel Aviv: Sifriat Poalim, 1979), 81–112 (85–88) [Hebrew]; B. E. Thiering, “Inner and Outer Cleansing at Qumran as a Background to New Testament Baptism,” NTS 26 (1980): 266–77. 6 Himmelfarb, “Impurity and Sin,” esp. 34, 37. 7 M. Baillet, Qumrân grotte 4, III. DJD 7 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), 262–86. Col. xii deals with purification from corpse impurity. Cf. also frag. 11 col. x 2; frags. 1–6 xii 1, 3. On purity before Sabbaths and festivals, see frags. 33+35 iv 1. See also J. M. Baumgarten, “The Purification Rituals in DJD 7,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls, Forty Years of Research, ed. D. Dimant and U. Rappaport (Leiden: Magnes and Yad Izhak Ben Zvi, 1992), 199–209, here 206–207. For classification of the fragments according to their being recited before or after immersion or sprinkling, see E. Eshel, “414. 4QRitual of Purification A,” in Qumran Cave 4 25, Halakhic Texts, ed. J. M. Baumgarten et al., DJD 35 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), 136. 8 4Q512 frag 29–32, vii 9, 18; frag. 28 4; 99 2. 9 4Q512 frag. 34 v 15.
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thanks “for cleaning me from the turpitude of impurity” ()ותטהרני מערות נדה. 10 While the context is clearly a ritual purification from bodily defilement, it mentions sins and repentance. 11 The text juxtaposes impurity and sin repeatedly. For example, on the third day of purification from corpse impurity, immediately after references to water and ashes (of the red heifer for purification of corpse impurity), a blessing is recited which includes the word niddah (impurity) and in the next line אשמתם “their guilt,” and then a further reference to “ כפור]י [רצונךatonement of[ ]your will.” 12 In another badly preserved fragment, the words ורחץ. . . “ בימיin water, and washed” appear beneath the words “ עוון אשמהiniquity of guilt.” Several lines further below we find the word “ עווןiniquity” between two lines that read הטוהר “the purity” and “ ט[הרתיI] was purified.” 13 The author of the liturgy even coins the expression “ טהרת צדקpurity of righteousness” (or “righteous purity”), which appears twice. This expression means that either purity leads to righteousness, or more likely, righteousness leads to purity. These two components are far from being synonymous, but they are linked together, as the aim of the speaker/author is to attain both simultaneously. 14 Several times the liturgy discusses sin and atonement: “commanded the temporarily [impure] to purify themselves from the [impurity of] . . . the soul with the atone[ment].” 15 In fact, atonement and holiness are frequently addressed and directly correlated. 16 In one outstanding assertion, the appeal to atonement uses ________________ 10
4Q512 frags. 33, 35, iv 7. The frequent references to niddah in 4Q512 and 4Q414 do not pertain to the literal sense of menstrual impurity, but represent a figural sense of defilement as general designations of impurity (Ezek 36:17; Lam 1:8; 1QS 4:10; 5:19–20; 1QH 19:11). See Klawans, Impurity and Sin, 77–79 (but cf. ibid., 87), contra Baillet, DJD 7, 263. 11 “ ]ש[בי פשעthose who repent,” frags. 70–71 2; “ משגהmistake” frags. 29–32 vii 3; [“ ]פ[רוש כפי]םstretch out your hands” (asking for forgiveness) frags. 42–44 ii. See also frag. 23 viii 3; frag. 28 4; frags. 15 i + 16 1, 10; frags. 1–6 xii 12. 12 4Q512 frags. 1–6 xii 9–14. 13 4Q512 frags. 15+16 9–10, 12. 14 4Q512 frags. 29–32 vii 19; frags. 40+41 xiii 5 (for righteousness, see also frag. 72). See also frag. 15 ii. 15 Frags. 1–6 xii 2–3. See also כי טהרתני. . . [כפורי]ם, “atonement[t] . . . because you have purified me,” frag. 39 ii. 16 Atonement: frag. 39 ii 1; 29–32 vii 21; 1–6 xii 3. Holiness: frags. 33 + 35 iv 5; 29 + 32 vii 2, 11; 7–9 xi 4 (restored); 1–6 xii 10, 12; 48–50 3; 51–55 9–10; 56–58 3; 64 6.
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sacrificial imagery. One of the blessings addresses God, who “[forgave me al]l sins and purified me from impure immodesty ( )ערות נדהand atoned so that can enter [ . . . ] purification. And the blood of the burnt offering agreeable to you [and the pl]ea[sa]nt (aroma) agreeable to You” (frags. 29–32 vii 8–11). 4Q414 Ritual of Purification A is an extremely fragmentary liturgy for purification from corpse impurity by immersions on the first, third, and seventh days after becoming impure. 17 Once again, the impurity from which one is being purified has a link to sin: “by what comes of Your lips [the purification of all] (people) [has been required to be separated from all] people of niddah according to their g[uilt, they could not be purified in water of purification [ . . . the w]ays of [Your] will.” 18 As in 4Q512, the expression “[purity of] righteousness” reappears. 19 Purification and atonement are mentioned together: והקם לו חוק כפור [. . . “ להטהר לפנ]יכהto purify oneself before [you . . . ] and he established for him a regulation of atonement” (13, 2–3). In this significant yet poorly preserved text, atonement is mentioned three times, 20 and holiness (the root qdsh, sanctified) is mentioned five. 21 Himmelfarb denied that sin causes impurity in 4Q512, viewing it as figurative expressions of impurity. She argued that here impurity is merely an indication of human imperfection, not a result of sin, and that impurity is not necessarily sinful: “Because 4Q512 is so fragmentary it is impossible to be certain about the relationship between impurity and sin. . . . While impurity and sin stand side by side, they remain separate. . . . Sin and impurity are understood as two aspects of human finitude, corresponding to soul and body.” 22 True, there is no explicit statement that the cause of defilement is sin, or vice versa. But Himmelfarb did not account for the reason why impurity and sin are mentioned together in a liturgy recited during ritual immersion; why the ________________ 17
Eshel, “414. 4QRitual of Purification A,” 135–54. See frags. 2 ii 3 and 4 2. The law of ablutions on the first and third days of impurity (in addition to the seventh day, prescribed in Num 19) is already found in Temple Scroll 49:17–20. Note that the script is Herodian (ibid., 135). 18 4Q414 frags. 2 ii + 3, 4, lines 7–9 (the restorations are based on the parallel in 4Q512): . [ ]ד[רכי רצונ]כה. . . כי ממוצא פיכה ]נפרשתה טהרת כול להבדל מכל[ אנשי נדה כא]שמתם בל יטהרו במי רחץ 19
4Q414 frags. 27+28 3–4, reconstructed based on the parallel in 4Q512 XIII, frags. 40+41 (Eshel, “414. 4QRitual of Purification A,” 152). 20 4Q414 frag. 2 i 3 “to atone for us”; 8, 4 “atonement of [Your] wi[ll]”; 13, 3–4 “and He established for himself a law for atonement [ . . . ] and to be in rig[hteous] purity.” 21 4Q414 frag. 2 ii 1; 7 9; 11 ii 5; 14; 21 2. 22 Himmelfarb, “Impurity and Sin in 4QD, 1QS, and 4Q512,” 35–36 (citation from p. 36).
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person immersed in 4Q512 repents and asks for forgiveness; and why the key issue in these purification rites from bodily impurity is atonement. After all, there is no sin in being ritually defiled. Clearly, whatever the source of the guilt that requires atonement, the purification liturgy was also a liturgy about a release from sin. The phrase “purity of righteousness” may summarize the purpose of the ritual which accompanies the immersion: forgiveness of sins is assumed during or after a ritual immersion. This ritual concludes when one is both bodily pure and righteous. Given the very fragmentary state of the two texts, and based on other Qumranic sectarian texts in which sin defiles, it is reasonable to assume from these liturgies that the one immersed was cleansed from both bodily impurity (e.g. by corpse) and simultaneously also from moral impurity (derived from sin). Yet, this conclusion is based on circumstantial evidence. Previous scholars who studied the Essene or Qumranic purification practices (War 2.129, 138, 159; Ant. 18.19; 1QS 3:4–9; 4:21–22) concluded that these immersions were either initiatory 23 or related to an eschatological belief in the Day of Judgment. 24 In the purification liturgies, however, purification was related to ordinary bodily defilement and hence repeatable. 25 Atonement resulted from repentance and was not necessarily related to the coming judgment. In these respects, as we shall further see below, the Qumranic ritual purification was different from the baptism of John and the early Christians. Asking for or perhaps even attaining atonement through ritual/bodily purification is a far-reaching innovation. In the Priestly Code, atonement is achieved only through specific sacrifices, including the sacrificial cult on the Day
L. Cerfaux, “Le baptême des Esséniens,” Reserhces de science religieuse 19 (1929): 248– 65; O. Betz, “Die Proselytentaufe der Qumranseckte und die Taufe im Neuen Testament,” RevQ 1 (1958): 213–34; R. L. Webb, John the Baptizer and Prophet. A Socio-Historical Study (JSNTSup 62; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991), 159–62. 24 J. Gnilka, “Die essenischen Tauchbäder und die Johannestaufe,” RevQ 3 (1961): 185–207. 25 See already J. E. Taylor, The Immerser: John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 1997), 76–88. In fact, the detailed procedure of accepting new members in 1QS 6:13–23 does not mention purification but rather exclusion from the sect “purities.” Cf. J. D. Lawrence, Washing in Water: Trajectories of Ritual Bathing in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Literature (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2006), 135–41, who acknowledged the evidence but nevertheless insisted that “bathing was part of the initiation.”
Regev, Washing, Repentance, and Atonement 39
of Atonement. 26 Did the Qumran sectarians manage to substitute sacrifices with a ritual washing as a rite of moral purification to remove sin? In the Priestly Code, atonement through sacrifices is sometimes preconditioned and accompanied by confession as an act of repentance. 27 The sacrifice operates as a ritual act that materializes repentance into a tangible religious experience using the metaphor of “paying” God for forgiving or purifying the filth caused to the sancta by one’s sins. Moreover, atonement also means purging the altar from the impurity caused by that sin. 28 It is worth considering the possibility that in Qumran, ritual purification in water substitutes for the sacrificial offering as both the ritual act in which the sinner experiences his repentance and God’s forgiveness, as well as the means for purification from sin. 29 This kind of ritual may be compared to the manner in which some other Jews coped with the problem of repentance for sins by expressing their remorse and desire for forgiveness in plain words. In penitential prayers, confession and pleading to God serve as the acts of repentance without sacrifice, although here atonement remains a petition rather than a result. 30 The Qumran sectarians, however, believed that they could do better than this. As other sectarian scrolls show, they were sure that their righteousness would merit atonement. 31 The purification liturgies are too fragmentary to merit ________________ 26
J. Sklar, Sin, Impurity, Sacrifice, Atonement: The Priestly Conception (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2005). 27 In the ritual of the asham (guilt) sacrifice in Lev 5, “confession is the legal device fashioned by the priestly legislators to convert deliberate sins into inadvertencies, thereby qualifying them for sacrificial expiation.” J. Milgrom, Cult and Conscience: The ASHAM and the Priestly Doctrine of Repentance (Leiden: Brill, 1976), 119. 28 J. Milgrom, “Israel’s Sanctuary: The Priestly ‘Picture of Dorian Gray,’” RB 83 (1976): 390–99; Sklar, Sin, Impurity, Sacrifice, Atonement. 29 For atonement (kpr) in the sense of purification (from sin) in 1QS and 1QHa, see M. Newton, The Concept of Purity at Qumran and in the letters of Paul (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 46–48. 30 R. A. Werline, “Defining Penitential Prayer,” in Seeking the Favor of God Vol. 1, ed. M. J. Boda, D. K. Falk, and R. A. Werline (Atlanta: SBL, 2006), xiii–xvii; E. Chazon, “The Words of the Luminaries and Penitential Prayer in Second Temple Times,” in Seeking the Favor of God Vol. II, ed. M. J. Boda, D. K. Falk, and R. A. Werline (Atlanta: SBL, 2007), 177–86. 31 P. Garnet, Salvation and Atonement in the Qumran Scrolls (Tübingen: Mohr, 1977). Note, however, the constant self-guilt and the need to achieve atonement within the realm of the sect: E. Regev, Sectarianism in Qumran: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (RS 45; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2007), 73–80.
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a certain conclusion, but it is possible that the immersed person was confident that God would forgive his sins and “justify” him. Since purification and atonement appear together in both liturgies, 32 it seems that a member of the sect actually “experienced” atonement when he came out of the water and completed reciting the liturgy. Yet, unlike the baptism of John and in early Christianity, there is no evidence in Qumran for any intervention by an external human agency or authority; atonement was achieved through the individual’s rite. The purification liturgies put us in a better position to reexamine other correlations of ritual immersion in water, repentance, and atonement—namely, the baptism of John and early Christian baptism. We shall first distinguish John’s baptism from the Qumranic ritual ablutions in the purification liturgies. The Baptism of John: Moral Transformation and Atonement without Purification
John’s Baptism in Comparison to Purification in Qumran in Previous Scholarship Many have compared the baptism of John with the concept of purification from sin in 1QS, stressing the similarities between them: immersion as an initiation rite, remission of sins by baptism, and moral deeds and repentance as a precondition for immersion. 33 Taylor concluded that in both John’s baptism (according Josephus) and 1QS 3, immersion-purification requires a prior cleansing of the heart through repentance and righteousness, thus combining ritual purity and a sort of moral/spiritual transformation. Yet the social demands for moral behavior were much stricter in Qumran. 34 Webb rightly noted that in Qumran, repentance not only atones for sin but is also what makes purification by immersion efficacious for atonement. However, as we shall see below, in John’s baptism, according to the gospels, it is repentance and baptism which lead to forgiveness and also to a cleansing of the flesh. Thus, the baptism/immersion as an act/symbol of repentance is an integral part of achieving atonement. 35 ________________ 32
See especially 4Q512 XII 4–14, 4Q414 2 i 3–4, and the discussion above. W. H. Brownlee, “John the Baptist in the New Light of Ancient Scrolls,” in The Scrolls and the New Testament, ed. K. Stendahl (London: SCM Press, 1958; repr. 1992), 33–53 (39–41); J. Daniléou, The Dead Sea Scrolls and Primitive Christianity (Baltimore: Helicon, 1958), 22–23; D. Flusser, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Pre-Pauline Christianity,” in Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1988), 23–74 (51); idem, “The Baptism of John,” 83–89; B. Thiering, “Qumran Initiation and New Testament Baptism,” NTS 27 (1981): 615–31. 34 Taylor, The Immerser, 81–82. 35 Webb, John the Baptizer, 210–11. See also H. Lichtenberger, “Johannes der Täufer und die Texte von Qumran,” Mogilany 1989: Papers on the Dead Sea Scrolls Offered in 33
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Scholars have noted other differences as well. Some have argued that John’s baptism was “an act of prophetic symbolism,” “being an eschatological rather than ceremonial or ritual purification.” 36 Moreover, John’s baptism was a single event with distinctive symbolism in contrast to the daily or customary immersions in Qumran; hence, purification in Qumran is not a rite of admission, initiation, or conversion. And as we have already seen, the purification liturgies show that repentance and atonement were related to routine ritual purification. Webb stressed an essential and revolutionary element found, in his view, in both types of immersions: the possibility to eliminate sin and its corresponding bodily impurity by immersion in water. In what follows I will examine the concept of atonement by immersion in the baptism of John and early Christian baptism in light of the insights already gained from the Qumranic purification liturgies: How does baptism lead to atonement? What
further acts, if any, are necessary? The Baptism of John: Repentance for the Remission of Sin The descriptions of John’s baptism in the synoptic Gospels and Acts are quite consistent: Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3: “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν) Matt 3:6: “they were baptized . . . confessing their sins.” Acts 13:24: “John proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.” Acts 19:4: “John baptized with the baptism of repentance.”
Memory of Jean Carmignac, ed. Z. J. Kapera (Krakow: Enigma, 1993), 1.139–52. As I have already noted, in the Purification Liturgies ritual purification as a means of atonement is compared to sacrifice. Interestingly, some argued the same in relation to John’s baptism. See J. Thomas, Le Mouvement Baptiste in Palestine et Syrie (150 Av. J.-C.—300 Ap. J.-C.) (Gembloux: J. Duculot, 1935); Webb, John the Baptizer, 192–93, 204–205, 211–12. Against this view, see F. Avemarie, “Ist die Johannestaufe ein Ausdruck von Tempelkritik? Skizze eines methodischen Problems,” in Gemeinde ohne Tempel. Community without a Temple, ed. B. Ego, A. Lange, P. Pilhofer (WUNT 118; Tübingen: Mohr, 1999), 395–410. In the case of John, there is no textual evidence for any association with sacrifice. Not every mode of atonement is necessarily sacrificial, and some sacrifices do not atone. 36 Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church, 85, 87, 88. Cf. Webb, John the Baptizer, 212.
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In all these cases, baptism is directly linked to repentance, namely, confession of sins and the desire to expunge previous deeds and improve one’s behavior. Mark and Luke add that the aim of baptism was (divine) forgiveness. These very aspects are also found in the Qumranic purification liturgies. Yet, it is not entirely clear why baptism is necessary at all. Is not repentance on its own enough to lead to forgiveness? 37 Matt 3:11 may shed some light on this question. John is cited as saying “I baptize you with water for repentance.” Here John’s baptism is the means for repentance. One may infer that whoever was baptized by John experienced a true and sincere repentance which is more effective in achieving forgiveness. Thus, like the purification liturgies, in John’s baptism immersion in water was used as a catalyst for remorse, regret, and a feeling that this spiritual and moral transformation is effective. According to Mark and Luke, unique to John’s baptism is that being baptized by John symbolized or demonstrated God’s forgiveness. The act of baptism provided the person with the assurance that he/she had indeed been forgiven, 38 just like in the purification liturgies. Thus, forgiveness for sins as the result (or at least as the goal) of John’s baptism is mentioned only by Mark and Luke. 39 Still, it is not stated there that John actually granted anyone forgiveness directly. One may suggest that Matthew omitted an explicit reference to forgiveness, since in Matthew only baptism in the name of Jesus is effective for atonement (Matt 28:19). 40 Acts also does not mention the efficacy of John’s baptism for forgiving one’s sins. Throughout Acts, it is stressed time and again, as a central theological theme, that only the rite of being baptized in the name of Jesus grants the Holy ________________ 37
E. Lohmeyer, Das Urchristentum I, Johannes der Täufer, (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1932) 68–69 argued that repentance or conversion did not lead a man to baptism; he came to baptism to receive it. Hence baptism led to repentance and not vice versa. In contrast, J. D. G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1977), 152 maintained that “forgiveness was the result of the repentance, not of the baptism as such.” 38 Webb, John the Baptizer, 191. “While atonement is not explicitly mentioned with respect to John’s baptism, John’s baptism could have been conceived of as a rite of atonement . . .” (ibid., 211). 39 For a literary analysis of the grammatical connection (in both Greek and Aramaic) between baptism and repentance, see Taylor, The Immerser, 97–98. 40 Matthew’s omission of forgiveness may also be related to his stress (Matt 28:19; cf. Mark 16:16) that Jesus himself ordered baptism in his name.
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Spirit. In Acts, John’s baptism is mentioned as a precursor to the early Christian baptism through fire or spirit. Luke stresses the difference between John’s baptism and baptism in the name of Jesus, and the superiority of the latter. 41 Considering the theological biases of Matthew and Acts, we have good reason to accept the baptism outline of Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3 42 as follows: repentance–immersion–forgiveness. Pressing questions thus arise: How exactly is baptism related to repentance (for example, does one have to repent before, simultaneously, or perhaps only after baptism)? And how do repentance and baptism pave the way for forgiveness?
John’s Baptism Does Not Involve Purification Scholars usually refer to the baptism of John as a purification ritual, comparable to the Qumranic rites. I would like to show that John’s concept of immersion is not based on purification, but on a more symbolic role of washing in water. The consensus is that “John’s baptism . . . shared with all the Jewish practices the features of purification or cleansing.” 43 According to Taylor, “the inner cleansing precedes the outer cleansing,” but before one gets rid of bodily impurity, repentance and righteous acts should come first. 44 Webb concluded that John’s baptism “did have a purificatory function.” Although he noted that it does involve a “moral cleansing of sin,” he added that “in Judaism immersions are related to purification.” 45 Also Klawans, who distinguished between ritual
Acts 1:5; 11:16; 13:24; 18:25–26; 19:1–7; H. Lictheberger, “Täufergemeinden und früchristliche Täuferpolitic im letzen Drittel des 1. Jahrhunderts,” ZThK 84 (1987): 36– 57; F. Avemarie, Die Tauferzählungen der Apostelgeschichte: Theologie und Geschichte (WUNT 139; Tübingen: Mohr, 2002), 30–35 (31). 42 For the historicity of Mark and Luke since they lack the christological imprint, see Web, John the Baptizer, 171–74; J. P. Meier, A Marginal Jew. Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Volume Two: Mentor, Message and Miracles (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 53–54. Webb also noted that granting John the authority of forgiveness which is exclusive to Jesus is unusual and pointed to the authenticity of the descriptions in the gospels. 43 Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church, 88. 44 Taylor, The Immerser, 32, 57, 81, 92–100. She explains the lack of reference to ritual impurity in the NT, arguing that the gospels’ Gentile audience was not interested in ritual purity, hence she focused on Josephus (ibid., 81). 45 Webb, John the Baptizer, 194–95.
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and moral impurity, states that “John’s baptism appears to be a ritual of moral purification.” 46 Nonetheless, it should be stressed, none of the references to the baptism of John in the gospels and Acts mention purity or purification! 47 The above mentioned opinions were most probably influenced by Josephus. Josephus (Ant. 18:117) argued for the necessary preconditions of righteousness and justice before the person may “join in baptism.” 48 Josephus stressed this initial stage further, insisting that “they must not employ it [namely, baptism] to gain pardon for whatever sins they committed, but as a consecration (ἁγνείᾳ) of the body implying that the soul was already thoroughly cleansed (προεκκεκαθαρμένης) by right behavior.” Brownlee and Flusser accepted the authenticity of Josephus’ report, based on the parallel linkage between bodily cleansing in water and preliminary moral behavior in 1QS 3:3–12 (see above), where purification relates to both bodily defilement and the remission of sins. 49 But the Qumranic parallel does not prove that this was indeed John’s view. Josephus’ detailed presentation of the subject is suspicious. While the gospels and Acts stress that John’s baptism is closely linked to repentance, and Mark and Luke insist that it aims at forgiveness of sins, Josephus limited the ________________ 46
Klawans, Impurity and Sin, 139. Yet, he discerns that no ritual purification from moral defilement is involved (ibid., 140–41). 47 John 3:25 refers to a controversy between the Baptist’s followers and a certain Pharisee “about purification.” This, however, does not mean that John’s baptism pertains to purity. See E. Haenchen, John 1 (Hermenia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 210. It is equally reasonable that the Pharisees criticized the Baptist for immersing while neglecting purification. Note that the gospels and Acts do relate to purity concerns in many other instances (e.g., Mark 1:44; 7:1–23; Luke 11:37–40; John 13:10–11; 15:3; Acts 10:11–15, 28). John’s diet of locust and honey (Mark 1:6) may also indicate purity restrictions on consuming other people’s food which was suspected as being defiled. 48 The authenticity of Ant. 18:116–18 is largely accepted among scholars, e.g., J. P. Meier, “John the Baptist in Josephus: Philology and Exegesis,” JBL 111 (1992): 225–37, here 225– 27. However, recently Rothschild surveyed the scholarship and argued that this cannot be proven, although a Christian interpolation also cannot be demonstrated. See C. K. Rothschild, “‘Echoes of a Whisper’: The Uncertain Authenticity of Josephus’ Witness to John the Baptist,” Ablution, Initiation, and Baptism, 255–80. 49 Brownlee, “John the Baptist,” 40 (note that he was aware of the difference between Josephus and the gospels); Flusser, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Pre-Pauline Christianity,” 50–51. In fact 1QS 5:13–14 (discussed above) is a closer parallel, since here only morality serves as a condition for ritual purity.
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significance of John’s “washings” to bodily purity, 50 similar to the bathings (ἁγνείαν) of the Essenes and Bannus, Josephus’ mentor (War 2.129, 138, 159; Ant. 18.19; Life 11). Lichtenberger already suggested that Josephus wanted to portray John as an Essene or somehow similar to Bannus. 51 Josephus repeated three times in Ant. 18.117 that morality is a precondition for baptism or purity, and added that it is not the baptism that atones for sin, but only moral behavior. It therefore seems that some of his potential readers thought otherwise and needed persuasion. I suggest that Josephus displays a certain bias against the view that “immersion of repentance” does indeed lead to pardon, as we already deduced from the various NT statements on baptism! Josephus’ description is also doubtful since he decreases the role of John and the uniqueness of his baptism. Meier already regarded Josephus’ description as unintelligible, since “John is reduced to a popular moral philosopher in the Greco-Roman mode, with a slight hint of a neo-Pythagorean performing ritual lustration.” 52 Furthermore, both Josephus and the gospels designate John as “the Baptist” or “the baptizer.” 53 This means that he himself immersed the person baptized, making this an unusual rite. There is indeed evidence that he administered the baptism by himself (Mark 1:5), and he is cited declaring, “I baptize . . .” (Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16). In the gospels and Acts baptism is a ritual, and John’s own role in it is essential. Others, Bannus included, did not administer the immersion of their followers. Being immersed by John, therefore, carried a special symbolism. 54 He was “an agent of immersion.” 55 In contrast, Josephus credits the behavior of those baptized by John with substantial weight, reducing John’s own role to a general call for repentance (cf. Luke 1:15–17). Josephus does not mention John’s explicit and direct involvement in the act of baptism in water, presenting it as conventional ________________ 50
Meier, “John the Baptist in Josephus,” 231, noted this contrast to Mark 1:4//Luke 3:3, and suggested that Josephus was reacting to claims by John’s followers. 51 H. Lichtenberger, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and John the Baptist: Reflections on Josephus’ Account of John the Baptist,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls, Forty Years of Research, ed. D. Dimant and U. Rappaport (Leiden: Magnes and Yad Izhak Ben Zvi, 1992), 340–46. Webb, John the Baptizer, 192, also concluded that Josephus’ dissociation of forgiveness from baptism is not accurate, since this means that repentance is also separated from baptism. 52 Meier, “John the Baptist in Josephus,” 234. Cf. also C. M. Murphy, John the Baptist: Prophet of Purity for a New Age (Minnesota; Liturgical Press, 2003), 6. 53 See the references in Webb, John the Baptizer, 163–64 n. 2. 54 Ibid., 180–81. 55 Taylor, The Immerser, 50, 85–86.
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washing/purification. 56 If Josephus was correct, John would hardly be called Baptist or Baptizer, and would simply be remembered as a preacher of repentance.
The Symbolism of John the Baptist’s Immersion in Water I contend that in the NT, the baptism of John was not a rite of purification but was a ritual of atonement (yet this does not mean that it had no connection whatsoever to purity, see below). I also conclude that the gospels, as opposed to Josephus, more authentically represent John’s theology of baptism. But why was immersion necessary at all? And why did it play such a major role in this rite? The Qumranic purification liturgies demonstrate how immersion operates as a catalyst for repentance, as a means for forgiveness of sins, and as a ritual that leads to atonement. Still, the immersion/purification could not produce atonement by itself. Rather, in Qumran, the experience of purification along with the deep remorse created the sense of forgiveness in the mind of the person immersed. I suggest looking at John’s baptism in the same vein— although with the omission of the concept of purification: Repentance and immersion in water create a ritual which, due to the supervision of John as a holy man, produces a similar religious experience whereby one feels that his or her sins are forgiven. 57 Common to both rites of atonement is the symbolism of water as reflecting moral or spiritual transformation. One steps out of the water more righteous than one entered it. However, it is not the water that made this transformation, but the person’s own decision to change or improve his/her behavior. The immersion in water—especially when John was directing and watching it—was a rite of passage from an immoral to a moral state, in which the teachings of the Yahad or the Baptist were internalized. Immersion in water—with or without purification—was a ritual which symbolized a moral transformation, and made it feel real. Repentance was a precondition for forgiveness and atonement, which were only possible through purification
See also Lichtenberger, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and John the Baptist,” 343. According to Webb, John the Baptizer, 184–91, the act of baptism expresses repentance simultaneously with immersion. Baptism not only symbolized forgiveness but actually mediated forgiveness as a requirement. See also Meier, Marginal Jew, 2.55: “The baptism of John mediates to the repentant person the firm promise of the remission of sins—at the coming judgment.” 57
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(Qumran) or immersion (John), and in both cases, only the water ritual would make the repentance sincere and effective.
Washing and Purity as a Metaphor for Atonement The concept of moral purification in ancient Judaism builds on the symbolic meaning of purification in water. 58 In its figurative sense, cleansing in water reflects release from sin as if it was a bodily impurity. 59 Ezek 36:25, for example, pronounced, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness” (the following verses promise restoration and redemption). Here, contact with water symbolizes religious transformation, without an actual act of bodily purification. The call for moral purification is also attested to in the NT texts. 60 Yet, in several cases, NT authors used water symbolism in a somewhat similar sense to purity or sanctity, but without referring to purification. 61 In the ritual of baptism, I suggest, John drew on this association of immersion in water as an act of purification, but did not baptize to purify the immersed person from defilement. John used the act of immersion as a rite of spiritual transformation, in which ablution in water was symbolic. John the Baptist could rely on the Jewish use of washing/immersing in water as a symbol for atonement without necessarily being influenced by the Qumranic purification rites. 62
In SibOr 4.165, repentance is followed by the exhortation “wash your whole bodies in perennial rivers” and “stretch out your hands to heaven and ask forgiveness for your previous deeds.” 59 E.g., Pss 26:6; 51:7; Philo. Spec. 1.259–60 (on purified mind, see ibid., 119, 269); Lawrence, Washing in Water, 35–38, 64–70. Cf. See also Klawans, Impurity and Sin, 26– 36 on the concept of moral impurity and the metaphoric sense of impurity. Josephus used the verb “to immerse” (βαπτίζω) metaphorically in War 2.476; 4.137; Ant. 10.169. 60 E. Regev, “Moral Impurity and the Temple in Early Christianity in Light of Qumranic Ideology and Ancient Greek Practice,” HTR 79.4 (2004): 283–311. 61 For example, in John 3:5 water symbolizes the Holy Spirit, hence Jesus. See also Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet in John 13:4–13; L. P. Jones, The Symbol of Water in the Gospel of John (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997). 62 Cf. the search for the origins and influences in A. Yarbro Collins, “The Origins of Christian Baptism,” in Living Water, Sealing Spirit: Readings on Christian Initiation, ed. M. E. Johnson (Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 1995), 35–57 (38–47). For the concepts of symbol and metaphor see notes 90–91 below.
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The Diminishing Role of Repentance in Early Christian Baptism In some NT texts, repentance and moral transformation continue to play an important role. In others, however, there is little or no concern for the moral behavior of the baptized person. Instead, there is greater emphasis on faith in Christ and its soteriological implications. The following discussion is based on typology rather than chronology of NT texts on baptism.
The Acts of the Apostles: Repentance and Atonement in the Name of Jesus Acts 2:38 attributed to Peter a baptism outline very similar to John’s in Mark and Luke: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Here baptism includes: repentance–immersion–forgiveness. 63 Baptism functions as a release from sin, as long as one is baptized “in the name of Jesus”—in order that one would belong to/for the sake of Jesus. 64 A similar outline is attributed to Paul in Acts 22:16: “be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” One may suppose that the tradition attributed to Peter is deeply influenced by the baptism of John. 65 Yet, in Acts 2:38 the rite of baptism is “in the name of Christ” (and also results in achieving the Holy Spirit). In a sense, putting one’s faith in Christ while baptizing takes the place of John as the mediating authority of the repentance-forgiveness process.
For the similarities between Acts 2:28 and 1QS 3:6–12, see B. E. Thiering, “Qumran Initiation and New Testament Baptism,” NTS 27 (1981): 615–31. That baptism promised forgiveness in Acts, see Avemarie, Tauferzählungen, 104–28. For repentance and purification from sin, see 1 John 1:7–9. The scope of this article does not allow a discussion of the Holy Spirit in Acts’ doctrine of baptism (also attested to in 1QS 3:6; 4:21), discussed by Avemarie, Tauferzählungen, 129–75. 64 See also Acts 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; Did 9:5. Cf. Matt 28:19; Did 7:1, 3. L. Hartman, “Into the Name of the Lord Jesus”: Baptism in the Early Church (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1997), 37–50 (45), concluded that it “referred to the authority behind the rite and made the formula meaningful.” 65 J. B. Green, “From ‘John’s Baptism to Baptism in the Name of the Lord Jesus’: The Significance of Baptism in Luke-Acts,” in Baptism, the New Testament and the Church: Historical and Contemporary Studies in Honour of R. E. O. White, ed. S. E. Porter and A. R. Cross (JSNTSup 171; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), 156–72. On the question of whether there is a continuation between the baptism of John and baptism by Jesus’ disciples, see C. S. Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 175–76.
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The four components of Peter’s baptism—repentance, Jesus’ name/authority, forgiveness of sins, and the Holy Spirit—are stressed elsewhere in Acts and closely linked to Lukan theology. The call for repentance to reach forgiveness is a major theme in Luke-Acts. 66 The Holy Spirit is mentioned in relation to baptism in the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10:47; 11:15–17), where it actually precedes his baptism. Acts 19:1–7 emphasizes that unlike John’s baptism, the baptism in the name of Jesus results with the Holy Spirit. 67 And the belief in Christ grants forgiveness in Acts 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; and 26:18 (cf. Luke 24:47). It is difficult to determine whether Acts 2:38 reflects an earlier source influencing Luke and forming the basic core of Lukan theology 68 or was shaped by Lukan theological premises.
Hebrews, 1 Peter, and Titus: Does Baptism Require Righteousness? The role of repentance in baptism (and presumably also the subsequent forgiveness of sins due to faith in Christ) is reduced but still implicit in several NT passages. Heb 10:22 describes entering “the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus”: “let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” 69 Moral behavior is hinted at in 1 Pet 3:21: “and baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” In these passages a true heart and/or a clean/good conscience are necessary to perform baptism. But unlike Acts 2:38 and 22:16, in Hebrews and 1 Peter, repentance is not defined as a precondition for baptism. Perhaps it is assumed that faith in Christ involves righteous behavior, and the question to what measure repentance is necessary remains open. 70 ________________ 66
Luke 18:13; Acts 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18; 26:18; and esp. Luke 24:47; G. D. Nave, The Role and Function of Repentance in Luke-Acts (Atlanta: Society for Biblical Literature, 2002). Repentance naturally leads to forgiveness in Luke 1:77; 11:4; Acts 5:31. 67 M. Turner, Power from on High: The Spirit in Israel’s Restoration and Witness in Luke-Acts (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), 378–87. 68 Avemarie, Tauferzählungen, 177–213. 69 That the passage refers to baptism, see C. R. Koester, Hebrews (AB 36; New York: Doubleday, 2001), 311. Possible connection between baptism and “repentance from dead works” may be found in Heb 6:1–2. Note the moral stringency of repentance in Heb 6:4– 6; 10:26. 70 In 1 John 1:7–9, in contrast, confession of sins is mentioned in relation to “purification from sin,” which may also imply baptism. Did 7 requires fasting prior to baptism, but
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Curiously, Titus 3:5 overtly denies such a linkage between prior moral behavior and salvation/Holy Spirit: “He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” For Titus, believers are saved not because of their morality, 71 but due to their union with Christ. Perhaps the author was concerned that demanding repentance as a precondition for forgiveness/atonement might lead to questioning Christ’s credibility for justifying the believer, 72 which in a sense competes with true faith in Christ (although this does not mean that one should not act righteously).
Paul’s Baptism, Christology and the Disposal of Sin Paul refers to baptism several times, but does not describe the ritual practice itself (although he mentions the rite in 1 Cor 1:13–17). Paul never mentions repentance or moral demands in relation to baptism. Rather, he stresses the notion of baptism into Christ: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ (εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε) have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal 3:27). 73 This term sparked controversy: Dunn argued that Paul does not refer at all to the rite of physical baptism in water, but represents the metaphorical sense of the spiritual experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit; others disagreed. 74
does not mention repentance in this context. Justin, in First Apology 61, mentioned “fasting for the remission of sins” before baptism. For some apostolic fathers, repentance is not a condition for baptism, but rather the result of baptism. Cf. the gift of repentance and remission of sins in Barn 16:8–9. 71 On the contrast between “upright deeds” (obedience to God’s commands in their sense in the Hebrew Bible/LXX) and faith, see J. D. Quinn, The Letter to Titus (AB 35; New York: Doubleday, 1990), 193, 210–13, 216. 72 Cf. Beasely-Murray, Baptism, 215–16. 73 For the view that Paul introduces baptism as an initiation rite, see J. Louis Martin, Galatians (AB 33A; New York: Doubleday, 1997), 375–76. 74 J. D. G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-examination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Spirit in Relation to Pentecostalism Today (second ed.; Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 2010 ), here 109–13. On the debate between Dunn and others on whether baptism in the spirit should be different from baptism in water (as a different concept or even a different event), see A. R. Cross, “Spirit- and Water-Baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13,” in Dimension of Baptism. Biblical and Theological Studies, ed. S. Porter and A. R. Cross (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), 120–48. For the sake of my argument, if Paul indeed refers here solely to baptism in the Holy Spirit, he builds on the metaphor of baptism in water, discussed below. Note that the deutero-Pauline Col 2:12–13 also stresses the atoning function of baptism in
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In 1 Cor 6:11–12, Paul relates to baptism as a rite of union with Christ which leads to justification and the Holy Spirit, leaving repentance unmentioned. Yet, the context of lawsuits within the community and grave moral sins (1 Cor 6:1–10) seems to indicate that Paul thinks that such baptism cleanses one’s sins. 75 Similarly, in Rom 6:3–4, Paul speaks of baptism “into Christ,” as rebirth and union with Christ in the context of release from sin (vss. 1, 6–14). 76 Thus, for Paul, baptism is “participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, with the tremendous significance that involves a new life in the Holy Spirit. . . . The death of the baptized is death to sin and . . . life in God . . . [and] triumph over all powers of sin.” 77 This concept of baptism is far removed from those of John the Baptist and Acts. Water (whether actual physical immersion or merely as the symbol of baptism) and belief in Christ result in atonement, but repentance and morality are not mandatory before baptism. 78 As in Heb 10:23, 1 Pet 3:21, and Titus 3:5, for Paul it is faith in Christ that leads to forgiveness, sanctification, or salvation. Washing in Water as an Early Christian Symbol of Baptism What exactly does baptism in water mean? How does it lead to atonement? In what sense is it similar to a purification rite? In this section I will examine the symbolic meaning of immersion in water among the various types of baptism in the NT. I will also discuss whether purity language was used only in a figurative
Christ: “when you were buried with him in baptism. . . . And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses.” 75 Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, 121, argued that the passage pertains to spiritual cleansing of the heart and conscience (related to the preceding list of vices) rather than bodily washing. Nonetheless, he added: “it may be implied that water baptism was the occasion when this cleansing took place.” 76 J. D. G. Dunn, Romans 1–8 (WBC 38A; Texas: Word, 1988), 311–13, acknowledged that Paul had water baptism in mind as a model for the spiritual one, as well as in Col 2:12 (for the latter, see Baptism in the Holy Spirit, 156). 77 Beasley-Murray, Baptism, 286. See also Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church, 156. 78 See O. Cullmann, Baptism in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1950), 14–15: “a new relation is formed between the external act of βαπτίζειν and the forgiveness of sins. It is no longer merely the bath, the washing away, that purifies, but the immersion [namely, in Christ] as such.” “The forgiveness of sins . . . is now based on the redemptive death of Christ. . . . [I]t is Christ that operates, while the person baptised is the passive object of his deed.”
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sense (that is, as a metaphor) for a spiritual experience, without applying to actual bodily purification.
Washing in Water—a Symbol for Spiritual Transformation The role or meaning of immersion in water is neglected in many NT references to baptism. While the physical act of baptism in water is mentioned in several texts, 79 discussions of baptism in Paul’s letters and other NT texts skip this practical aspect and focus on the spiritual or symbolic aspects of the rite. 80 Explicit allusion to purity—such as in Acts 22:16—is lacking in Acts 2:38; 8:12– 13; 8:38–39; 10:47; 16:33; 19:5, 81 as well as in Did 7 (and we have seen that purity is not mentioned in relation to John the Baptist in the gospels and Acts). Also, in Rom 6:3–4 and Gal 3:27 there is reference to neither purity nor water. Here, it seems, baptism lost its literal meaning as immersion in water and became a theological term for “conversion-initiation.” One may infer that baptism “in the name of Christ” (Acts) or “in Christ” (Paul) provided sufficient religious symbolism of excitement and spiritual transformation, therefore drawing on the theme of water or purification was unnecessary. Nonetheless, elsewhere Paul did relate to purity. In 1 Cor 6:11 Paul referred specifically to washing in water (but not to purification) as an act of sanctification in the name of Christ and the Holy Spirit: “you were washed (ἀπελούσασθε) you were sanctified (ἡγιάσθητε) you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Dunn noted that “the language of purification has left behind the cultic sphere of ritual purity and speaks rather of the inward or spiritual cleaning.” 82 He argued that for Paul, baptism in the spirit takes the place of John’s baptism in water: “baptism was in some sense the medium through which God brought the baptizand into participation in Christ’s death and burial.” 83 Yet, the concept of
Acts 8:38–39. For explicit later evidence, see Did 7; Hippolitus, Apostolic Tradition 21. 1 Cor 1:13–17; 10:2; 12:13: 15:29; Eph 4:5. 81 Acts does show awareness to purity and necessitates purification elsewhere: Acts 21:24, 26; cf. 10: 28; 11:3. 82 J. D. G. Dunn, “‘Baptized’ as Metaphor,” in Baptism, the New Testament and the Church, 294–310 (here 300). Newton, The Concept of Purity, 81–84, nonetheless reads here an actual purification, though only from moral impurity. 83 J. D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 1998), 450–52. 80
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“baptism” (and a metaphor of death in 1 Cor 12:1) had already been quite removed in conception from the actual performance of baptism in water. 84 Curiously, similar washing imagery (and at times even purification) is found in other later NT texts. The author of Eph 5:26 described the essence of baptism, adding more explicit purity language of cleansing: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water (ἁγιάσῃ καθαρίσας τῷ λουτρῷ) by the word.” 85 Here sanctification is visualized as purification, implying that baptism functions analogously to ritual purity. Heb 10:22 portrays baptism “in Jesus’ blood” as both sprinkling and washing in water: “let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ). Baptism relates here to both bodily and moral purification, similar to the Qumranic purification liturgies. 86 An opposite approach, which denies the relationship between baptism and purity, is found in 1 Pet 3:21: “and baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body (σαρκὸς ἀπόθεσις ῥύπου) but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The author makes clear that baptism has nothing to do with purification. 87 Obviously, some Christians tended to think otherwise and needed such clarification. ________________ 84
Ibid., 457 and 452, respectively. Dunn explains the figurative reasoning of this metaphor of death/burial as the experience of “sinking below the surface of the water of baptism in immersion” or as “the moment and context in which it all came together,” also pointing to Mark 10:38–39 (ibid., 451–52). 85 That the author actually refers to baptism, see E. Best, Ephesians (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998), 542–43. See also 1 Pet 1:22. 86 On physical washing here, see Koester, Hebrews, 445, 449 According to H. Attridge, Hebrews (Hermenia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989), 288–89, the sprinkling of the heart is metaphorically cleansing the conscience of sin, and the “clean water” derived from Ezek 36:25. Cf. Heb 9:14; S. Byrskog, “Baptism in the Letter to the Hebrews,” in Ablution, Initiation, and Baptism, 1.587–604 (596–97). 87 On this rejection of Jewish customary bodily purification, see J. H. Elliott, 1 Peter (AB 37B; New York: Doubleday, 2000), 679: “baptism is not an action affecting the external condition of one’s body. The point of the contrast lies in the antithesis between an external cleansing of one’s body and an internal pledge of one’s commitment to God. . . . Christian baptism differs markedly from ritual ablutions . . .” See also P. J. Achtemeier, 1 Peter (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 267: “The power of baptism to save is
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Interestingly, Titus 3:5 does use water imagery. Yet, one may suspect that this is not conventional bodily purification; rather, it is a substantial spiritual transformation: “He saved us . . . because of his own mercy, saved us through a washing (διὰ λουτροῦ) of regeneration and of renewal from the Holy Spirit.” 88 The stress here is on the religious meaning of baptism in the Holy Spirit: washing is used as a symbol, implying that in baptism the experience is comparable to that of moving from uncleanness to purity through immersion in water. The washing or purity language in 1 Cor 6:11, Eph 5:26, and Titus 3:5 uses washing/cleansing as an act of sanctification in the Spirit (1 Cor and Titus), or Jesus’ Word (Eph). In Hebrews, bodily purity is addressed, but it is explicitly denied in 1 Peter. 1 Cor 6:11 and Eph 5:26 do not stress the plain act of baptism at conversion-initiation, but the spiritual aspects of release from sin and sanctification. According to Dunn, 1 Cor 6:11 does not pertain to the actual rite of immersion in water, 89 hence washing or cleansing in these passages has no physical or bodily meaning. Rather, it seems, when these authors refer to washing or cleansing, they use it only to elucidate a spiritual experience, a consecration by Christ. Washing is a symbol that makes clear what has changed with the acceptance of Christ, and not necessarily due to physical baptism in water. If this understanding is embraced, bodily purity language is employed in 1 Cor 6:11, Eph 5:26, and Heb 10:22 as a metaphor for a spiritual phenomenon. This metaphor juxtaposes two distinct domains, source (familiar) and target (abstract and mental), transforming meaning or experience from the source to the target, thus creating a new understanding of the target domain. It carries notions from one cognitive or conceptual domain to another, providing
drawn not from the water in some mysterious way but rather from the resurrection of Christ. . . .” Achtemeier, ibid., 268–69, suggested that “filth of the flesh” refers to the moral sense of impurity, hence “our author divorced such cleansing from moral impurity from the rite of baptism.” 88 Translation follows Quinn, The Letter to Titus, 187, 194, 218–20, who also noted the complex relationship between baptism, washing, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ blood, water, and the Holy Spirit are linked together in 1 John 5:6–8. 89 Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit. See already Cullmann, Baptism, 47: “baptism involves two things: . . . what happens at the moment when the baptismal action takes place; and . . . what results from baptism, is determined by it, and extends through the whole life of the person baptised.” Also, for Beasley-Murray, Baptism, 262, the saving event is not immersion in water but meeting Christ.
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the latter with a new impetus, a different understanding, and a change of meaning. 90 However, if one disagrees with Dunn and insists that these authors did refer to actual baptism in water, and that some of them did employ the physical, bodily, and plain meaning of purity cleansing of the body, what we have here is not purity as a metaphor for a spiritual transformation in baptism. Rather, purity becomes a symbol. That is, it is used both as a signifier for something else (spiritual) but at the same time retains its original bodily meaning, thus simultaneously representing two related meanings. 91 Strangely, washing and purity language were stressed in these particular texts, whereas in descriptions of John’s baptism and in Acts the role of washing and cleansing was minimal. I suggest that the washing and cleansing imagery was unnecessary as long as actual immersion was carried out. When baptism “in the Holy Spirit” became a theological concept somewhat detached from a rite involving immersion in water (again, if one follows Dunn), the metaphor of cleansing or purification was required to make sense of it. Words took the place of action.
Baptism, Washing, and Ritual Symbol Washing in water in its non-bodily sense carried a symbolic meaning which is actually applied to the human spirit, based on a ritual symbol. To recall, the Qumranic purification liturgies use the ritual act of bodily purification to provide a ritual experience of atonement. In Qumran, purification rituals accompanied the rite of repentance and attaining atonement. It is easier to visualize the elimination ________________ 90
N. Quinn, “The Cultural Basis of Metaphor,” in Beyond Metaphor: The Theory of Tropes in Anthropology, ed. J. W. Fernandez (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991), 56–93. For the use of conceptual metaphor for understanding the concept of impurity, see T. Kazen, “The Role of Disgust in Priestly Purity Law,” Journal of Law, Religion and State 3.1 (2014): 62–92 and the bibliography cited there. For Paul’s use of metaphors to make sense of the ideas of atonement and the Holy Spirit, see S. Finlan, The Background and Content of Paul’s Cultic Atonement Metaphors (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004); E. Konsmo, The Pauline Metaphors of the Holy Spirit (New York: Peter Lang, 2010). 91 A symbol has its own initial meaning in addition to something else that it stands for. Cf. U. Eco, Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1984), 130–63. In symbolic signification, a single movement transfers from one level of meaning to the other, in which the primary signification gives meaning to the secondary signification. See P. Ricoeur, Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning (Fort Worth: The Texas Christian University Press, 1976), 55.
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of sin and the transformation of the soul when water is involved, in analogy to the purification of bodily filth. The symbolic use of washing in water in 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, and Hebrews aimed to achieve a somewhat similar sense of atonement as a means for salvation in Christ. 92 Washing was a familiar concept that was adjoined to a spiritual claim of faith in and salvation by Christ to make this transformation clearer. This leads us to discuss how baptism was transformed from ritual to a symbol of immersion in water. Paul and the authors of Ephesians and Titus discuss baptism without actually describing the rite. For them, the ritual/concept of baptism in Christ/the Holy Spirit was grasped like an act of washing (and at times also cleansing) in water because the immersion symbolizes, using water as a symbol, a transformation, a rite de passage, from life without Christ to union with Christ. This symbol, which sought to make sense of a complex spiritual experience of faith, was a based on the model of the washing of the body. It was a symbol of the human body (and again, if one follows Dunn that baptism in the Holy Spirit became a religious concept and not an actual washing, we may identify it as a metaphor for washing in water which was applied to one’s consciousness). Why did these NT authors draw on the symbol of washing in water for spiritual transformation? It seems that they have continued a tradition which began with John the Baptist. As we have already seen, John’s baptism built on the biblical symbolism of purification in water as a metaphor for atonement. When baptism became customary among the early Christians, this symbolism became standardized as a ritual symbol. The actual ritual of baptism in water was reduced to a symbol (or even a metaphor) of washing in water. Washing lost at least some of its plain bodily meaning and signified a spiritual process which was difficult to express in words. 93 To better understand the symbolic (and following Dunn, even metaphoric) meaning of baptism as bodily ritual, we shall now turn to the relationship between metaphor and ritual. According to Lakoff and Johnson, metaphors are not merely literary, but can also guide or involve actions. 94 Religious rituals are metaphorical, and ________________ 92
Note Paul’s use of bodily metaphors, such as when the body of the believer takes part in Christ (1 Cor 6:15; Rom 12:1). Cf. D. Martin, The Corinthian Body (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999). 93 If one would reject Dunn and insist that the above texts do refer to the physical acts of immersion in water and bodily cleansing, then I would argue that this was accompanied by the new spiritual sense of ritual symbolism. 94 G. Lakoff and M. Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 156–58.
Regev, Washing, Repentance, and Atonement 57
the ritual itself preserves cultural metaphors. 95 This view is also maintained by cultural anthropologists. Metaphors are translated into actions and become realized by behavior, mainly through the ritual performance guided by these metaphors. 96 A ritual is therefore a series of metaphors put into operation by ceremonial rites. The Eucharist, for example, is an organizing metaphor: becoming the body of Christ requires a ceremonial act. 97 Furthermore, anthropological research has shown a growing awareness of the role of the body as a means of expression. 98 Although metaphors are a matter of thought, embodied metaphors can be generated and experienced by the body. 99 Following the model of ritual metaphor and the example of Qumranic purification liturgies, I would like to suggest how the concept of baptism operated, whether as a symbol or a metaphor. In both the baptism of John and early Christian baptism in Acts, the ritual of physical immersion in water (but not purification) represented a spiritual transformation involving forgiveness, atonement, and/or attainment of the Holy Spirit. The person immersed in water felt that his or her spirit had been washed/cleansed with water. The body became a representative of the spirit. The natural imagery of washing the body became a model for the “washing” of the person’s spirit. The use of the symbol or metaphor of washing in water as a spiritual transformation became complex: first there was the biblical metaphor of cleansing from sin (Ezek 36:25 and n. 59 above); then John and the early Christians based on it a ritual act of baptism/immersion; finally, if we follow Dunn, Paul and others drew on the symbol as used in the rite of baptism, transforming washing in water from a ritual act to a mere religious spiritual concept. In comparison, in Qumranic purification liturgies, the immersion took the symbolism one stage back: immersion not only accompanied repentance and ________________ 95
Ibid., 234. J. W. Fernandez, Persuasions and Performances: The Play of Tropes in Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), 21–23, 41–50. Cf. V. Turner, Dramas, Fields and Metaphors. Symbolic Action in Human Society (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1974). 97 Fernandez, Persuasions and Performances, 43. 98 T. J. Csordas, “Introduction: the Body as Representation and Being in the World,” in Embodiment and Experience. The Existential Ground of Culture and Self, ed. T. J. Csordas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 1–24. 99 S. M. Low, “Embodied Metaphors: Nerves as Lived Experience,” in Embodiment and Experience, 139–162 (143). 96
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atonement (and perhaps even “cleansed” one’s spirit), but also transformed the body to a state of ritual purity. In Qumran, the basis of the metaphor of cleansing/purification was realized as a rite of bodily cleansing, while at the same time the non-bodily or spiritual symbol of washing-atonement was developed. Washing in Water—Development of a Concept Ezek 36:25: literary metaphor—release from sin Qumran: realization of the metaphor: ritual of bodily purification and release from sin John the Baptist and Acts: act of immersion as a ritual symbol—release from sin Conclusions: The Variety of Baptismal Forms in Early Christianity Baptism was far from being a monolithic and fixed rite and concept in early Christianity. We have seen several different ways in which immersion in water was used or perceived as a means for achieving atonement or salvation. The relationship between washing in water, repentance, and salvation was grasped in several different ways in the NT texts. Different writers or groups stressed, ignored, or even rejected some of these components. Our analysis shows that immersion served as a true purification rite only in Qumran. The Qumran sectarians, John the Baptist (in the gospels), and Acts 2:38 demanded prior repentance as a condition for forgiveness of sins, while other NT texts, including the Pauline letters, reduced its importance or omitted the need for repentance, and Titus even denied it altogether. Paul and the author of Titus developed certain christological conceptions of death and rebirth with Christ, which seem to take the place of the need to repent for one’s sins. For them, baptism centered on the experience of the union with Christ, and did not involve a moral transformation of one’s behavior. Common to all these forms of immersion and baptism is the symbolic relationship between washing in water and atonement or salvation. The Qumranic purification liturgies elucidate the manner in which immersion in water carries a sense of spiritual transformation and leads the immersed person through an experience of atonement. The ritual symbol of purity/washing, whether physical (Qumran) or symbolic/metaphorical (NT), represents a bodily change of status which affects the soul directly, when the person immersed experiences a sort of sanctification. In the NT, baptism lost the aspect of bodily
Regev, Washing, Repentance, and Atonement 59
purification. Yet, immersion in water—either as an actual rite or abstract concept—carried a deep symbolic meaning. It functioned as what Victor Turner called a dominant symbol: a condensed symbol which unites disparate meanings in a single symbolic formation, and has a polarized meaning. 100 Early Christian baptism accomplished a goal somewhat similar to that of the Qumranic purification liturgies. It was a rite of conversion and of moral transformation. It was perceived as the ritual entry to Christianity as well as a metaphoric expression of the christological doctrine of dying and being with Christ. But baptism was not all of these things at the very same time. Some Christians stressed the moral transformation and forgiveness of sins, while others focused on the religious transformation of being with Christ (as an analogy for this variety, one may compare the different conceptions of the role of faith vs. deeds as leading to righteousness in Gal 3:1–14 and Jas 2:14–26). However, it is difficult to reconstruct a chronological development of these different conceptions of baptism. Perhaps future research will shed further light on the historical and religious background that shaped the variety of baptismal forms.
V. Turner, The Forest of Symbols. Aspects of Ndembu Ritual (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1967), 19–47 (30).
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The Various Outlines of Baptism in the NT
Qumran, Purification Liturgies John the Baptist in Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3
Repentance, Moral Demands
Type of Salvation
Atonement like sacrifice
Forgiveness of sins
Forgiveness of sins; the gift of the Holy Spirit Justification and the Holy Spirit
In the name of Jesus
1 Cor 6:11–12
In the name of Jesus
Death with Christ
New life in Christ
Death with Christ
Resurrection and forgiveness of sins
1 Pet 3:21
Christ’s love and sacrifice
? (True heart) ? (Good conscience)
Rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit
Christian Horrors in Pompeii: A New Proposal for the Christianos Graffito Enrico Tuccinardi Independent scholar | email@example.com JJMJS No. 3 (2016): 61---71
The Discovery of the Graffito In 1862, the eminent Neapolitan archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli, 1 with his team of archaeologists, excavated a large building between Vico del Balcone Pensile (Alley of the Overhanging Balcony) and Vico del Lupanare (Alley of the Brothel). The building, located in Region VII Insula 11 and characterized by two entryways (11 and 14), was properly identified by Fiorelli 2 as a grande caupona (large inn) and, due to the remarkable finding that he made inside it, became further known as Hospitium Christianorum (Hotel of Christians). 3 Indeed, during excavations, on a wall in the atrium of the inn Fiorelli uncovered a charcoal graffito seemingly including the word Christianos (Christians). Within a few days the graffito had already begun to fade due to exposure to the elements, but before it completely vanished another Neapolitan archaeologist, Giulio Minervini, “warned of the finding, rushed to Pompeii and . . . with diligent care and without any concern to read a meaning rather than another, sketched the signs appearing on the wall.” 4 In the same year, shortly after Minervini’s trip, another copy of the graffito was made by the German archaeologist Alfred Kiessling, who was the last scholar to see the artifact in person and the first to publish the related news that “. . . a charcoal inscription
Fiorelli was professor of archaeology at Naples University and director of excavations at Pompeii from 1860 to 1875. He also reorganized the excavations, dividing the town into a system—currently in use—of regiones, insulae, and domus, and numbering each building entrance in order to precisely locate every artifact. 2 G. Fiorelli, Gli scavi di Pompei dal 1861 al 1872. Relazione al Ministro della Istruzione (Napoli, 1873) 25. 3 For an exhaustive discussion on the characteristics of this building see T. Wayment and M. Grey, “Jesus Followers in Pompeii,” JJMJS No. 2 (2015): 120–38. 4 G. B. de Rossi, “Una memoria dei Cristiani in Pompei,” Bullettino di Archeologia Cristiana 2 (1864): 71.
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was found, unfortunately largely vanished. . . . As far as I know, this is the first of the monuments found in Pompeii, referring to the Christians. . . .” 5 In the Bullettino of 1862, Kiessling provided the transcription of the two lines, which, presumably, concerned the Christians. Two years later, in 1864, Fiorelli and Giovanni Battista de Rossi, at that time the highest living authority on the study of Christian antiquity, visited the caupona in Vico del Balcone Pensile where the inscription was found, but by then the charcoal graffito had completely disappeared. De Rossi, however, gathered Fiorelli’s testimony of the reading of the inscription, made by him immediately after the discovery, and also obtained from Minervini his sketch traced few days after the finding. 6 The knowledge of the charcoal graffito is thus based on the evidence of three different archaeologists of known reputation. This was perfectly clear to Karl Zangemeister who, in 1871, authored the official edition of the graffito 7 for the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL IV.679), also publishing Kiessling’s apograph (Tab. XVI.2) for the first time. Unfortunately, Zangemeister’s transcription of the graffito—even though supplied with a thorough apparatus of notes and annotation—was essentially based on Kiessling’s apograph, the later testimony. 8 This study will focus only on the two lines most probably referring to Christians (the fourth and the fifth lines of the whole graffito), of which a visual comparison between the drawings of Minervini and Kiessling is proposed in the figures below.
A. Kiessling, “Scavi di Pompei,” Bullettino dell’Instituto di corrispondenza archeologica per l’anno 1862 5 (Roma, 1862): 92.
See de Rossi, “Una memoria dei Cristiani in Pompei,” 71. K. Zangemeister, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (Berlin: G. Reimer, 1871), IV.679. 8 Zangemeister’s reconstruction does not include the word Christianos even though, in his analysis, the German scholar did not exclude the possibility that this word originally belonged to the graffito: “Hoc unum igitur non improbabile esse largiemur, fuisse in pariete .HRISTIAN.. (quamquam sat repugnante Kiesslingii apographo), hoc vero, quod vix aliter restitui possit quam cHRISTIAN.., non cognomen esse Christianus i.e. Chrestianus . . . sed ad fidem Christianam pertinere.” 6 7
Tuccinardi, Christian Horrors in Pompeii 63
Fig. 1: Line drawing of the Christianos graffito made in 1862 by Giulio Minervini and published in 1864 by Giovanni de Rossi.
Fig. 2: Line drawing of the Christianos graffito made and partially printed in 1862 by Alfred Kiessling.
De Rossi, on the basis of Minervini’s transcription, recognized that the artifact actually consists of two graffiti written by separate individuals, the part mentioning the Christians being the lower portion. 9 De Rossi’s assessment has been confirmed by the two most important scholarly studies on the subject carried out by Guarducci 10 and, more recently, by Wayment and Grey. 11 The similarity between the two eyewitness apographs is patent, while their discrepancies confirm that the deterioration of the graffito was in progress, since some letters had vanished in Kiessling’s later transcription.
De Rossi, “Una memoria dei Cristiani in Pompei,” 71: “Da questo fac-simile è chiaro che due iscrizioni diverse abbiamo sott’occhio: l’una in lettere più alte, più spaziate, e divisa in tre righe; l’altra di scrittura più serrate e di righe probabilmente più lunghe della prima.” 10 M. Guarducci, “La più antica inscrizione col nome dei Cristiani,” Römische Quartalschrift 57 (1962): 120: “Sembra anzitutto probabile, a giudicare dai due apografi a noi pervenuti, che le iscrizioni siano, come pensava il de Rossi, più di una: cosa, del resto, naturalissima, trattandosi della parete di un’osteria, su cui diverse mani, munite di stilo o di carbone, possono aver lasciato le proprie scritture più o meno corrette. Ad uno dei testi sembrano appartenere le II. 1–3, evidentemente mutile a sinistra: ad un altro invece sembrano spettare le II. 4–5.” 11 Wayment and Grey, “Jesus Followers in Pompeii,” 115: “We are fairly confident that two different graffiti are evidenced here. The upper one is more upright and crude in its letter forms. The lower tends to slant slightly to the right.”
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The First Line De Rossi explained that Fiorelli “read at the end of the first line . . . HRISTIANOS or . . . HRISTIANVS.” 12 Few traces of the H had remained on the charcoal graffito when Kiessling visited the caupona, whereas the H was still complete when Minervini read the inscription. The Neapolitan scholar was also the only one able to detect, before the H, the C of Christianos (read as a single vertical tract, similar to a I, by Kiessling), but the fact that Fiorelli, the first eyewitness of the graffito, did not recognize this letter suggests that it was not as clear as it appears in Minervini’s apograph. The first letter of the latter is a B, while—probably because of the fading of the lower curved segment—it appears to be a P in Kiessling’s sketch. At the end of the line, the final S had disappeared from Kiessling’s apograph, and even of the O—the second to last letter of the first line read by Minervini—only a single tract had remained, thus making it appear to be an I. The transcription of the first line provided by Kiessling 13 read as follows: PG VI GAVDI . . HRISTIANI This reading clearly shows that the German archaeologist didn’t recognize the sign immediately before the first A of his own apograph as being an S (probably because the final S, so similar in shape, was already faded when he made his drawing). Kiessling was also the first scholar to propose an interpretation of the line. Since the cursive form of E consists of two vertical lines (II), if only a single line remains, it can be interpreted as either an E or an I. Kiessling, connecting the sentence to the famous Neronian persecution, suggested restoring the line as: [IGN]I GAVD[E C]HRISTIAN[E] Rejoice in the fire, Christian When de Rossi published Minervini’s apograph in 1864, the arbitrariness and inaccuracy of Kiessling’s reading became patent. De Rossi, even if unable to
Fiorelli later declared his skepticism about the existence of the name Christians, being instead inclined to interpret the whole graffito as an inscription containing vina varia (various kind of wine); see G. Fiorelli, Gli scavi di Pompei dal 1861 al 1872. Relazione al Ministro della Istruzione Pubblica (Napoli, 1873), 91. On the possible reasons for this turnaround see Guarducci, “La più antica inscrizione col nome dei Cristiani,” 120. 13 Kiessling, “Scavi di Pompei,” 92.
Tuccinardi, Christian Horrors in Pompeii 65
propose a solution for the beginning of the line, 14 offered the reading of the remainder of the first line that was accepted over the next century by those scholars inclined to see in the graffito an allusion to the Christians. Interpreting AVDI as an imperative, with CHRISTIANOS its direct object, de Rossi read: AVDI CHRISTIANOS Listen to the Christians De Rossi’s reading was surpassed almost a century after the discovery of the graffito, when the Italian paleographer Margherita Guarducci published what can be considered the most important 20th-century academic study of the Pompeian inscription. Guarducci’s most valuable contribution to the understanding of the graffito was the identification, at the beginning of the first line, of the name “Bovios,” uncommon but attested even in Campania in its Latin form. 15 Analyzing Minervini’s apograph, she hypothesized that the sign immediately before the first S of the line, similar to a G in its shape, was instead the remnant of an O, and thus read the line as follows: BOVIOS AVDI(T) CHRISTIANOS Bovios is listening to the Christians Hence BOVIOS became the subject of the sentence, and consequently AVDI is present tense in third-person singular. The form -os instead of -us for a personal name in the nominative case, as in Bovios, is not infrequent during the imperial period and probably suggests a Greek origin. It is also attested in Pompeii, 16 while the elision of the final T as in AVDI is one of the most common features of Latin sermo vulgaris, present in many other graffiti of the Vesuvian city. 17 Guarducci’s reading, even if conjectural, remains the most plausible interpretation of the first line of the Christianos graffito.
De Rossi, “Una memoria dei Cristiani in Pompei,” 71: “Dopo molto studio nulla oso dire.” Guarducci, “La più antica inscrizione col nome dei Cristiani,” 122 n. 18. 16 In its Latin form, see M. Guarducci, “La più antica inscrizione col nome dei Cristiani,” 122 n. 19. 17 V. Väänänen, Le latin vulgaire des inscriptions pompéiennes, 3ème édition augmentée (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1966), 70–71. 14 15
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The Second Line De Rossi asserted that Fiorelli “read at the end of the second line SORORIIS (sorores).” 18 Looking at Minervini’s apograph, we understand that this reading is acceptable only if the second R was written differently from the first line, in its cursive form strictly followed by the first straight line of the E. As Guarducci stressed, 19 “We cannot exclude that two forms of the same letter are alternated in the same text”—all the more so as Kiessling confirmed this reading: 20 SICV . SO . . ORIIS Zangemeister proposed a different explanation of the final part of the line. He suggested reading ONIS instead of ORIIS, thus interpreting the supposed cursive R as the two opening segments of an N that is completed by the first straight line of the supposed E, while the second straight line would become an I. This reading has the serious weakness of being contrary to the interpretation of two eyewitnesses of the graffito, Fiorelli and Kiessling, 21 whose apograph Zangemeister used for his transcription. Both the apographs show between SO and ORIIS (or ONIS) a lacuna of two or three letters. One of these letters, an R, was clearly still visible when Fiorelli, the first eyewitness of the artifact, read the inscription. The logical implication is that this letter had already faded before Minervini made his sketch a few days after Fiorelli’s discovery. Nevertheless, this R, coming from the reading of the first eyewitness of the graffito, should be considered a primary clue for the interpretation of the line. In Kiessling’s apograph only a few vestiges of the first O are still extant, while the second straight line of the first E is rendered with a slight curvature, thus allowing for IC instead of E.
De Rossi, “Una memoria dei Cristiani in Pompei,” 71. M. Guarducci, “La più antica inscrizione col nome dei Cristiani,” 122. 20 A. Kiessling, “Scavi di Pompei,” 92. 21 Wayment and Grey, “Jesus Followers in Pompeii,” 105–106, erroneously assert that de Rossi published the transcription of Minervini’s apograph and that this transcription included, at the end of the second line, ONIS instead of ORIIS (ores). De Rossi’s article contains only Minervini’s apograph and not its transcription. From this drawing, as his interpretation clearly shows, de Rossi, just like his predecessors, read at the end of second line ORIIS (ores) and not ONIS. On the other hand, in Minervini’s sketch the sign for this hypothetical N is not similar to the N of the first line, so the hypothesis of a cursive R seems more plausible. 18 19
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De Rossi, resting on Minervini’s apograph, was the first scholar to propose a solution for the second line: S(A)EVOS O[L]ORES Cruel swans The omission of A in the diphthong AE, as in SAEVOS, is typical in sermo vulgaris, and de Rossi limited his intervention to the introduction of a single letter, an L, in the lacuna between the two Os of Minervini’s apograph. He reconstructed the two discussed lines as “. . . AVDI CHRISTIANOS // SEVOS OLORES” (“. . . listen to the Christians, cruel swans”), meaning that the anonymous engraver was mocking the Christian practice of facing martyrdom singing hymns, like swans with their songs as a prelude to death. One of the first criticisms of this interpretation came from Friedländer, 22 who considered de Rossi’s reading “more studied than likely” (quod artificiosius quam probabilius excogitatum est) and proposed O[S]ORES instead of O[L]ORES, the complete reading becoming “. . . AVDI CHRISTIANOS // SEVOS OSORES” (“. . . listen to the Christians, cruel haters”), a solution echoing the Tacitean (Ann. 15.44) “hatred of mankind” (odium humani generis) of the Christian “destructive superstition” (exitiabilis superstitio). Due to its unlikely intellectual implications, Zangemeister, followed by most scholars, also dismissed de Rossi’s interpretation, defining it ingeniosa sed parum certa. Indeed, there are two technical reasons that make both de Rossi’s and Friedländer’s solutions barely conceivable: first, the space of the lacuna in both Minervini’s and Kiessling’s apographs should be filled with two or maybe three letters and not with only one; and second and more importantly, one of these letters should be an R, as Fiorelli’s testimony unequivocally states. With regard to the first, another criticism of de Rossi’s reading came in 1886 from The Church Quarterly Review, 23 which says: “The next line is read by de Rossi S(A)EVOS O[L]ORES. But the R is quite unlike that in CHRISTIANOS, and the space which he fills by L between the two Os seems to demand two letters. Perhaps SEVOS (=severos?) O[BS]ONIIS may be read.” Against the right consideration of the space between the two Os to be filled by two letters, other fallacious assumptions act as a counterpoint and undermine the complete
L. Friedländer, Dissertatio de Pomponia Graecina superstitionis externae rea, (Königsberg: Typis Academicis Dalkowskianis, 1868), 5. 23 The Church Quarterly Review 22 (London: Spottiswoode and Co., 1886): 395.
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reading of the graffito as “. . . AVDI CHRISTIANOS // SEVEROS OBSONIIS” (“. . . listen to the Christians, severe upon dainties”). The author hypothesized that some invectives of Christian teachers against luxurious gluttony (obsoniis) could have attracted some attention inside the inn. But if we are inclined to consider admissible the reading ONIS instead of ORIIS at the end of the line in spite of the opposing view of the eyewitnesses, the same cannot be said for the reading ONIIS with two Is, the latter being inexplicable from a paleographical point of view. Besides, the reading SEVOS for SEVEROS seems arbitrary without a sign of abbreviation, and, chiefly, neither of the letters included in the lacuna, B and S, corresponds to the R seen by Fiorelli. For another attempt it would be necessary to wait more than 50 years. Leon Herrmann 24 filled the lacuna in the second line with a D, proposing to read O[D]ONIS, which he translated as “Bacchante” and reconstructed the whole couplet as “AVDI CHRISTIANOS // SAEVOS ODONIS” (“. . . listen to the wild Christians, Bacchante”). Herrmann considered the inscription to be a pagan answer to the Christian cries of triumph over the burning of Rome in A.D. 64. From a textual point of view, this interpretation also does not resolve the two critical points that we have already emphasized: a single letter inserted to fill the lacuna between the two Os, where two or three letters are most probably needed, and disregard for Fiorelli’s testimony. We have already discussed Guarducci’s 1961 proposal for the first line. For the second line Guarducci embraced, probably unconsciously, the reading proposed by Friedländer in 1868, bringing along the textual difficulties already discussed. Her complete reading of the couplet is “BOVIOS AVDIT CHRISTIANOS // SEVOS OSORES” (“Bovios is listening to the Christians, cruel haters”). The solution suggested by Marta Sordi 25 a few years later seems even more problematic. Accepting the first line’s reading from Guarducci, she proposed reading the following one as “S(A)EVOS [S]O[L]ONIS,” the whole couplet becoming “BOVIOS AVDIT CHRISTIANOS // SAEVOS SOLONIS” (“Bovios is listening to the Christians, cruel solons.” Sordi supposed that due to a popular prejudice against the Christians, the pagans, accustomed to lead a dissolute life, accused them of being harsh censors in the same way they accused stoics of being aerumnosi solones 26 (“miserable solons”). Independently from
L. Herrmann, “Quels Chrétiens ont incendié Rome?” Revue belge de philologie et
d'histoire Vol. 27, No. 3 (1949): 648. 25
M. Sordi, “Aerumnosi Solones. A proposito di un pregiudizio popolare contro Stoici e Cristiani in età neroniana,” Aquileia nostra 45–46 (1974–1975): 277–82. 26 Persius, Sat. III, 79.
Tuccinardi, Christian Horrors in Pompeii 69
historical considerations, the textual evidence appears sufficient to dismiss this interpretation. In fact, even if the reading ONIS instead of ORIIS and the accusative form IS (of solonis) instead of ES are admissible, all the problems already highlighted in the previous reading remain unsolved. Worse than this, Sordi added another S (the first one in solonis) in a position where both the apographs and Fiorelli’s reading had noticed no lacuna. The latest attempt to interpret the second line of the Christianos graffito has come from the work of Wayment and Grey, 27 who proposed a solution based on an ingenious partition of the word SEVOS to be read, according to the authors, as SEV OS, engraved in scriptio continua. They suggest reconstructing the line as: SEV OS O[RATI]ONIS If the face of the oration The complete reading of the inscription would then become “. . . BOVIOS AVDIT CHRISTIANOS // . . . SEV OS ORATIONIS // . . .” (“. . . Bovios is listening to the Christians . . . if the face of the oration . . .”). The supposition is that portions of text are missing at the beginning of the second line and that the text continued in the following line. Regardless of the somewhat obscure meaning of the restored text, 28 the major difficulty with this reconstruction, as the authors admit, consists of having filled the lacuna with four letters (RATI) when the space left blank in both the apographs allows for two or maybe three letters. A New Proposal Due to the importance of the time factor in the preservation of the charcoal graffito and the consequent reliability of the readings of the inscription, a valuable criterion in choosing among the different readings proposed by the eyewitness testimonies should be their chronology, thus preferring Fiorelli to both Minervini and Kiessling, and Minervini to Kiessling. Consequently, contrary to what Zangemeister did, we have considered Minervini’s apograph as the first choice for the interpretation of the inscription, while at the same time taking due account of Fiorelli’s readings when available.
Wayment and Grey, “Jesus Followers in Pompeii,” 113–20. Wayment and Grey, “Jesus Followers in Pompeii,” 119: “Although such a phrase is not attested in literature, it would appear to convey the idea of the beginning of an oration or in light of an oration, which may be appropriate in the context of the previous line which mentions Bovios ‘listening’ to Christians.” 27 28
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Based on this approach we propose the following reading: BOVIOS AVDI(T) CHRISTIANOS S(A)EVOS (H)O[RR]ORES Bovios is hearing the savage Christian horrors In line with the current consensus, we consider Guarducci’s reading of the first line the most compelling and have embraced her solution. For the second line, consistent with the eyewitness testimonies (Fiorelli and Kiessling), we have restored the ending as ORES and, following Minervini’s drawing, we have filled the lacuna between the two Os with two letters. Since we know from Fiorelli’s original reading (sorores) that one of these letters was an R, we have reconstructed the line as SEVOS ORRORES (savage horrors). The omission of H at the beginning of words was very common in Latin sermo vulgaris, and the phenomenon is extensively attested also in Pompeii. 29 Thus both Christianos and saevos should refer, as adjectives, to the word horrores. This simple solution has the merit of respecting the above-mentioned criteria and providing a couplet with plain meaning. At this point we might ask what kind of Christian horrors Bovios was hearing, but of course the explanation must be conjectural. The graffito was written in the hall of an inn, so it would not be odd if the reference was to some kind of food—and the word horrores leads us directly to one of the most ancient accusations against the Christians: cannibalism practiced during ritual meals. The slanderous accusation of anthropophagy was widely reported by men like Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Origen, and—in great detail— by Minucius Felix. 30 But it is also interesting to remark that even in the first pagan account referring to Christ and Christianity, the famous letter of Pliny the Younger to
Väänänen, Le latin vulgaire des inscriptions pompéiennes 58; and R. E. Wallace, An Introduction to Wall Inscriptions from Pompeii and Herculaneum (Wauconda:
Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers Inc., 2005), xxix. The bibliography on the topic is extensive. An useful synthesis can be found in J. N. Bremmer, “Early Christian Human Sacrifice between Fact and Fiction,” in Sacrifices 30
Humains, Dossiers, Discours, Comparaisons, Actes du colloque tenu a l’Universite de Geneve, 19–20 mai 2011 (Brepols, 2013), 165–76. Bremmer also provides an exhaustive
scholarly reference list on the matter (165–66 n. 4).
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Trajan, 31 written while he was serving as the governor of Bithynia-Pontus, there is a possible connection regarding the ignominious charge of ritual cannibalism. In fact, Pliny refers to the confessions of several Christians describing their religious practices: After pledging themselves to Christ, “it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food; but it was ordinary and innocent food . . . ,” as if the accusation against them also concerned the fact that they had consumed meals that were neither ordinary nor innocent. It is easy, then, to imagine that the Christianos graffito was an antiChristian inscription referring to a pagan individual who was hearing, in this caupona of Pompeii and maybe during his own meal, atrocious tales concerning these supposed Christian ritual meals.
The letter is generally considered authentic by the scholarly consensus. Recent doubts on the matter, based on a stylometric analysis of the letter, are stated in E. Tuccinardi, “An Application of a Profile-Based Method for Authorship Verification: Investigating the Authenticity of Pliny the Younger’s Letter to Trajan Concerning the Christians,” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (Advanced Access, February 14, 2016); http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqw001 [accessed September 15, 2016].
De-Centralizing the Temple: A Rereading of Romans 15:16 Kathleen Troost-Cramer Boston University School of Theology | Kathleent@eteachergroup.com JJMJS No. 3 (2016): 72---101
Introduction: Romans 15:16
Inasmuch as I am a priestly servant (λειτουργός) of Jesus Christ to the nations, serving the gospel of God as priest, so that the offering of the Gentiles (ἡ προσφορὰ των ἒθνων) may be acceptable, made holy by holy spirit. 1 This fascinating passage provides the key to Paul’s definition of his Gentile Jesus-communities as temple. Throughout his writings, Paul employs Jewish cultic terms in a metaphorical manner in order to establish the reality that these communities are temples to YHWH. As many scholars have observed, this usage is drawn from the Old Testament (LXX), particularly the Wisdom tradition, and is similar to what can be found in Hellenistic Jewish literature (particularly in Diaspora settings), the Dead Sea Scrolls, and polytheistic Greek writings. 2 This paper argues that Paul employs cultic metaphor in order to define the community of Gentile Jesus-believers as an extension of the temple in Jerusalem, not in order to claim that this institution has become redundant with
Translation mine, from Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament, 4th Revised ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft [United Bible Societies], 1998). 2 Burkhard Beckheuer, Paulus Und Jerusalem: Kollekte Und Mission Im Theologischen Denken Des Heidenapostels, European University Studies (New York: Peter Lang, 1997), 171, 222; Robert J. Daly, Christian Sacrifice: The Judaeo-Christian Background before Origen, ed. Johannes Quasten, The Catholic University of America Studies in Christian Antiquity (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1978), 139; Dieter Georgi, Geschichte Der Kollekte Des Paulus Für Jerusalem, Theologische Forschung (Hamburg: Herbert Reich Evangelischer Verlag GMBH, 1965), 49. For the similarity to Hellenistic metaphor, see Albert L. A. Hogeterp, “Paul’s Judaism Reconsidered: The Issue of Cultic Imagery in the Corinthian Correspondence,” Ephemerides Theologicae Louvaniensis 81, no. 1 (2005): 89–90, 103; C. J. Roetzel, “Sacrifice in Romans 12–15,” Word & World 6, no. 4 (1986): 415–16.
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the appearance of Christ. 3 Paul achieves this by drawing on three chief concepts: synagogue holiness maintained by communal purity (which, as Jonathan Klawans has perceived, Paul considers to be moral/ethical in character), the multiple-temple character of polytheist Roman religion familiar to his Gentile converts, and the sacrifice-centered worship associated with both. Paul combines the Jewish concept of imitatio templi with the polytheist concept of multiple temples to single deities in order to claim the legitimacy of multiple temples to YHWH in the form of Jesus-communities. 4 In this way, Paul decentralizes the Jerusalem temple. The characteristics defining Paul’s Jesus-communities as temples are: 1) sacrifice, which took the form of ethical behavior and financial offerings to the eschatological temple-community in Jerusalem; and 2) priesthood, performed by Paul in preaching the gospel, which brought the Gentiles to God as a cultic offering. In turn, the Gentiles themselves acted as priests in offering the sacrifices of their behavior and finances. The fact that the Gentiles were coming to “Zion” by sending their offerings to the eschatological Jesuscommunity in Jerusalem marked the fulfillment of prophetic promises, particularly those found in Isaiah, that the nations would flock to YHWH in the last days.
Paul’s attribution of temple holiness to the Jesus-communities does not create “an either/or situation: for Paul, God’s spirit dwells both in Jerusalem’s temple and in the ‘new temple’ of the believer and of the community (Rom 9.4; cf. Matt 23.21).” Paula Fredriksen, “Judaizing the Nations: The Ritual Demands of Paul’s Gospel,” New Testament Studies 56, no. 2 (April, 2010): 232–52, 248–49. 4 For the moral/ethical character of communal purity in Paul, see Jonathan Klawans, Impurity & Sin in Ancient Judaism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 151–55. For a thorough discussion of imitatio templi in first-century Judaism, see Steven Fine, This Holy Place: On the Sanctity of the Synagogue During the Greco-Roman Period, ed. Gregory E. Sterling, Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 1997), esp. 132. Fine uses this term in his discussion of post-70 CE synagogues; but as Pamela Eisenbaum and Jonathan Klawans respectively assert (see below), the term could equally apply to synagogues of Paul’s day. Pamela Eisenbaum, Paul Was Not a Christian (New York: HarperOne, 2009), 156–57; Jonathan Klawans, “Interpreting the Last Supper,” New Testament Studies 48, no. 1 (2002): 1–17. I will argue in this paper that Paul’s definition of the Gentile Jesus-communities as “temple” goes further than solidarity with Jerusalem worship and defines Gentile-Jesus-communities as temples.
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Multiple Loci of Worship in Hellenistic Judaism and in Greco-Roman Polytheism Jewish concepts of synagogue sanctity were themselves “related to larger trends in Greco-Roman religion, particularly the development of religious communities that were not temple-based,” as for example in voluntary associations. 5 This malleability of Greco-Roman religion very likely influenced Jewish conceptions of places dedicated to prayer and the reading of Scripture as equal in holiness to the temple, though in many cases these “prayer places” were very far removed from the Jerusalem temple geographically. Such holiness attributed to synagogues “seems to be derived from two sources: the sanctity of the biblical scrolls and the application of Temple motifs,” expressed through synagogue architecture and prayer practices in a state of purity akin to that required for worship at the Jerusalem temple. 6 These imitations of temple characteristics allowed individual synagogues to be called “temples” in a very concrete sense. In JW 7:44–45, Josephus uses the terms “synagogue” and “temple” interchangeably, and employs the term ἱερόν when referring to the synagogue at Antioch on the Orontes. 7 Josephus also (Ant. 14:260) “preserves a Roman decree, which gave the Jews of Sardis the right to come together in a ‘place’ (topos) of their own to ‘offer their ancestral prayers and sacrifices to God.’” 8 While the nature or content of such “sacrifice” is impossible to know, three possibilities are suggested by Steven Fine: the polytheistic Roman authorities may have misunderstood synagogue ritual, the Sardis congregation may have wished to “describe its liturgy using a term that was comprehensible to its neighbors,” or this synagogue may have offered real sacrifice in some form. 9 If the latter is the case, then the Romans understood the Sardis liturgy perfectly well and the Sardis Jews were not simply presenting their worship practices in a way to which polytheists could relate. It is most unlikely, however, that animal sacrifices were going on in the Sardis synagogue. I suggest that the sacrifice offered by the Sardis Jews consisted of the temple tax and the practice of prayer, which were common practices among Jewish communities in Diaspora settings. In sum, “the synagogue of Antioch, like the ‘prayer places’ of Egypt and perhaps the topos of Sardis Jewry, was seen by non-Jews and apparently by Jews alike as a local
Fine, Holy Place, 25. Ibid., 29–32; Klawans, “Interpreting,” 13. 7 Fine, Holy Place, 29. Lanci cites Josephus’ usage as evidence that ναός and ἱερόν possessed a range of meanings and hence need not necessarily identify a place as a “temple” (see n. 13 below). 8 Fine, Holy Place, 28. 9 Ibid. 6
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temple.” 10 It is worthwhile to recall also the presence of the Jewish temples in Elephantine and Leontopolis, which, although regarded as invalid rivals to the temple at Jerusalem by the authorities of the latter, were not regarded as such by those who built them. Rather, the creators of, and worshipers at, the Egyptian Jewish temples viewed their places of worship as equal in holiness to the worship locus in Jerusalem. We may therefore surmise that the temples at Elephantine and Leontopolis would have been considered by their adherents to be extensions of the Jerusalem temple’s holiness. This concept is of vital significance to this thesis, as we will see that Paul’s communities of Gentiles-in-Christ are depicted similarly as extensions of the Jerusalem temple’s holiness. Most interesting for our discussion is Fine’s assertion that the identification of synagogues as holy places in first-century Palestine is found chiefly “in sources that stem from the margins of Jewish society: the rebel’s meeting house on Masada, a statement from the Damascus Covenant . . . and in Philo of Alexandria’s description of the Essenes.” 11 The early Jesus-communities could certainly be included among movements existing on “the margins of Jewish society.” Noting Fine’s work, Pamela Eisenbaum and Jonathan Klawans respectively perceive the fostering of a similar imitatio templi among Paul’s congregations, which attests not to an abrogation of the temple institution but to a form of solidarity with it. 12 Paul’s description of the Corinthian believers as “God’s building” (1 Cor 3:9–15) has been noted as a particularly overt definition of the community as a temple, as shown by the immediate context: verses 16 and 17 specifically state that the Corinthian Jesus-community (second plural, ὑμεῖς) “are God’s most holy place (ναός).” 13 I will argue below that Paul’s self10
Ibid., 29. Ibid. 12 Eisenbaum, Paul, 156–57; Klawans, “Interpreting,” 14. 13 Bertil Gärtner, The Temple and the Community in Qumran and the New Testament (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), 57; John R. Lanci, A New Temple for Corinth: Rhetorical and Archaeological Approaches to Pauline Imagery, ed. Hemchand Gossai, Studies in Biblical Literature (New York: Peter Lang, 1997), 11, 91–92, 120. I concur with Lanci and Gärtner here; but I must disagree with both scholars that Paul’s terminology possesses a strictly symbolic significance that never goes more deeply than metaphor, and with Lanci’s arguments that: a) Paul did not see himself in an accompanying priestly role; and b) the term ναός does not portray the Jesus-community as holy of holies, given that word’s flexible use in antiquity (as shown in Josephus). As locus of God’s presence, the community is indeed portrayed as the holy of holies by Paul and we may interpret ναός accordingly. 11
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designation as a “priestly servant” is predicated upon his mission as a builder of temple-communities. He stands in the role of the priesthood by opening the way of holiness to the nations through the preaching of the gospel. In turn, as we will also see, the Gentiles themselves become priests by offering the fruit of their lives as a worship sacrifice, no different and no less than the sacrifices offered in the Jerusalem temple. Temple imagery would have resonated with Paul’s audiences in two chief ways. Firstly, there was precedent for multiple worship loci in the Hebrew Scriptures themselves. The scope of this paper does not allow a detailed treatment of this practice; here, we must simply note that the existence of “high places” is well documented in the canonical Scriptures, chiefly depicted through the lens of the centralized Jerusalem worship cultus that viewed multiple shrines as susceptible to syncretic worship forms that, in this view, threatened the unity of Israel’s God. 14 After the construction of the Jerusalem temple, multiple shrines continued to exist and thrive, both in the Southern and the Northern Kingdoms, even in the presence of the major worship centers at Jerusalem and on Mount Gerizim. Kings Hezekiah and Josiah each found that “high places” were reviving in Judah (if indeed they had ever ceased to function) during their respective reigns and made it their mission to eradicate these places. 15 In the view of those who worshiped at such shrines, however, they were the true preservers of the most ancient traditions. Among their number in the north were the early sanctuaries of the divine Presence at Gilgal, Shechem, Shiloh, and BethEl, Dan, and Beersheba. 16 Multiple sanctuaries for the worship of YHWH therefore had a long history within Israel. Accordingly, although Paul’s audiences were predominantly Gentile Jesus-believers, many of these would have come to the Jesus-movement through attachment to a synagogue community as God-fearers or proselytes. 17 Thus, they, along with any Jewish 14
For detailed treatment of this phenomenon, see e.g. Rainer Albertz, A History of Israelite Religions in the Old Testament Period, Vol. I: From the Beginnings to the End of the Monarchy (originally published as Religionsgeschichte Israels in Alttestamentlicher Zeit [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1992]), trans. John Bowden (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1994), esp. 84–88, 95–99, 143–46, 149–56, 187–216; Richard S. Hess, Israelite Religions: An Archaeological and Biblical Survey (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), esp. 39, 297–314. 15 Albertz, History, 198–216; Hess, Israelite Religions, 252–53. 16 Albertz, History, 143–46. Hess (Israelite Religions, 300–302) discusses archaeological evidence for sacrificial worship at Tel Dan and Beersheba, including a horned altar in the latter locale and remains of a possible horned altar in the former. 17 See e.g. Fredriksen, “Judaizing the Nations,” 238–39.
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hearers of Paul’s letters, would be familiar with the ancient Israelite practice of worshiping YHWH at locations beyond the Jerusalem temple. Secondly, Paul’s Gentile audience would have also recognized temple and cultic imagery in terms of their former Greco-Roman polytheistic worship. 18 Gentiles attached to Diaspora synagogues who were unable to travel to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage festivals would never have seen the Jerusalem temple, but the temples and rites of Greco-Roman worship would have formed a part of their own pre-conversion lives. Paul’s purpose in using terms drawn from cultic worship, both pagan and Jewish, is to elucidate the inclusion of Gentile Jesus-believers with the people of the God of Israel by way of their participation in the locus of presence of that God, the Jerusalem temple. At the same time, I submit that Paul envisions this participation in one specific characteristic of pagan worship: the fact that one deity is allowed limitless numbers of temples. 19 Additionally, Paul’s language relating to priesthood, particularly as this bears on his mission in preaching the gospel and in taking up the monetary collection for the Jerusalem community, would have been recognized by his Gentile audiences as similar to the roles of Roman priests, as we will see shortly. “Metaphorization” 20 of Cult
Some Examples from Hellenistic Judaism and the Diaspora The centrality of the Jerusalem temple and cult was maintained by Diaspora Jews, who were physically far removed from it. 21 The language of metaphor relating to cult is an inheritance of the Hellenistic influence upon Judaism, 18
David J. Downs, The Offering of the Gentiles: Paul’s Collection for Jerusalem in its Chronological, Cultural, and Cultic Contexts, ed. Jörg Frey, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 157–58. See also Lanci, New Temple, 125–26. 19 In agreement with Lanci, New Temple, 10. 20 Hogeterp, “Paul’s Judaism,” 89; Lanci, New Temple, 9. Hogeterp rightly prefers “metaphorization” to “spiritualization,” the latter term creating a false distance between Diaspora communities and the Jerusalem temple cult, as well as lending itself to supersessionist interpretations. I concur with this assessment and will therefore use metaphorization throughout this paper. 21 See Daly, Christian Sacrifice, 160; Hogeterp, “Paul’s Judaism,” 94–95; Roetzel, “Sacrifice in Romans,” 415. As noted above, some Diaspora Jews decided to extend the Jerusalem temple’s holiness by creating their own “satellite” temples in Elephantine and Leontopolis, the existence of these in no way intended to decrease the sanctity of the temple in Jerusalem.
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found particularly within the Diaspora contexts in which Paul carried out his mission. 22 This is a natural development of Diaspora communities’ physical distance from the Jerusalem temple 23 and higher degree of exposure to Greek populations and immersion in Greek culture; but as we have seen, concepts of synagogue holiness even in Palestine display similar strategies of metaphorization in connecting synagogues to the Jerusalem temple and in rendering synagogues holy places in their own right. The impossibility of performing regular material sacrifice in the Jerusalem temple led Diaspora Jews and interested Gentiles affiliated with their communities to develop atonement practices in the form of moral deeds, especially almsgiving, Sabbath fasting (among Jewish communities in Rome, contrary to typical practice), and purity practices similar to those practiced by Jewish communities in Palestine with physical access to the temple. 24 All of these practices were intended to allow Diaspora Jewish communities their own ways of performing cultic sacrifice. We have discussed the possibility that the Sardis synagogue performed some form of sacrifice which identified it as a temple. In addition we may add the observation of Keith F. Nickle that the half-shekel temple tax paid by Diaspora communities was a way in which Diaspora Jews (and, I would add, interested Gentiles, including Jesus-believers) could “maintain contact with, personally participate in, and express their sense of identity with cultic Judaism as it was exemplified in
See Stephen Finlan, The Background and Content of Paul’s Cultic Atonement Metaphors, ed. Mark Allan Powell, Academia Biblica (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004), 47–50, 68–69; Lanci, New Temple, 121–24. 23 See Daly, Christian Sacrifice, 160. 24 John Bowker, Jesus and the Pharisees (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 68; Erich S. Gruen, Diaspora: Jews Amidst Greeks and Romans (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 121; Hogeterp, “Paul’s Judaism,” 103; John C. Poirier, “Purity Beyond the Temple in the Second Temple Era,” Journal of Biblical Literature 122, no. 2 (2003): 247–65; Charles L. Quarles, “The New Perspective and Means of Atonement in Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period,” Criswell Theological Review 2, no. 2 (2005): 39–56; Roetzel, “Sacrifice in Romans,” 415–16; Margaret Williams, “Being a Jew in Rome: Sabbath Fasting as an Expression of Romano-Jewish Identity,” in Negotiating Diaspora: Jewish Strategies in the Roman Empire, ed. John M. G. Barclay (New York: T&T Clark International, 2004). I cannot agree with Poirier’s claim that purity practices in Diaspora communities had no connection to the rites of the Jerusalem temple, considering that, as already stated, Diaspora Jews cherished strong ties to that central focus of Jewish worship, tradition, and identity, and that purity regulations were associated with temple worship long before the establishment of Diaspora communities.
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the Temple worship.” 25 These practices were not so much substitutes for cultic worship, as they have sometimes been called, as they were ways in which the synagogue worshipper might possess some degree of participation in the cult of the Jerusalem temple. Prayer, purity observances, and the temple tax were never intended to replace temple worship; rather, they served as a long-distance link to the temple service. 26 Nickle has shown that Paul modeled his own monetary collections specifically on the half-shekel temple tax. 27 However, Nickle also claims that while the temple tax was “directly related to the very nucleus of Jewish cultic worship . . . Paul’s collection was not directly related to the worship of the Church. It was instigated to help provide the funds necessary to care for the poor.” 28 Against Nickle, I contend that these two purposes are not mutually exclusive: it is not a case of either poverty relief or the worship of the Jesuscommunities, but rather a case of providing poverty relief as a form of communal worship. That Paul’s collection was directly related to the worship of the Gentile Jesus-communities with which he corresponded is shown by his clear evocation of the Jerusalem cult in referring a) to the community as a temple; and b) to the collection as one of the temple-community’s sacrifices, mediated by the priesthood of Paul and by the priestly functions of his Gentile congregants in offering their financial means as their own sacrifice. Additionally, there is evidence that one of the roles of the polytheist Roman priesthood was the overseeing of finances. IKyme 37, a marble 25
Keith F. Nickle, The Collection: A Study in Paul’s Strategy, Studies in Biblical Theology (London: SCM Press, 1966), 86, 89, 90. See also Lanci, New Temple, 93–94. Georgi (Geschichte der Kollekte, 28), suggests this idea in the negative, claiming that an attitude critical of the temple was quite rare in Hellenistic Judaism. One exception, of course, is provided by the Qumran sect. 26 Gruen, Diaspora, 121. For metaphorization in Jewish contexts that never proposes to replace material sacrifice, see J. Andrew Overman, “The Diaspora in the Modern Study of Ancient Judaism,” in Diaspora Jews and Judaism: Essays in Honor of, and in Dialogue with, A. Thomas Kraabel, ed. J. Andrew Overman and Robert S. MacLennan, South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992), 63–78; Xavier Paul B. Viagulamuthu, Offering Our Bodies as a Living Sacrifice to God: A Study in Pauline Spirituality Based on Romans 12,1, Tesi Gregoriana: Serie Spiritualita (Rome: Editrice Pontifica Universita Gregoriana, 2002), 237–38. For participation as opposed to substitution, see Richard H. Bell, “Sacrifice and Christology in Paul,” Journal of Theological Studies 53, no. 1 (2002): 1–27, 3–4, 9; Hogeterp, “Paul’s Judaism,” 102–103; Roetzel, “Sacrifice in Romans,” 416; C. William Swain, “‘For Our Sins’: The Image of Sacrifice in the Thought of the Apostle Paul,” Interpretation 17, no. 2 (1963): 133–34. 27 Nickle, Collection, 74–75, 87–93. 28 Ibid., 90.
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inscription from Kyme/Aiolis dating to the late first century BCE or the early first century CE, records the action of a group of initiates in the mysteries of an unnamed deity in collecting funds to purchase property and buildings for the group’s sacred use. 29 Here, the contributors are referred to as “sacred partners” (μετεχόντω[ν], line 10) by virtue of making a contribution to this sacred purpose. 30 In this case, a sub-group within the initiates’ own number collected the money; but one person within this sub-group, Herakleides Olympicos, was appointed to actually make the purchase of the property, and it would appear that he also performed some priestly functions in dedicating the property to the initiates’ chosen deity. 31 This is similar to Paul’s attribution of a priestly role to himself in taking the collection from his congregations for the Jerusalem church. 32 Other texts and inscriptions, such as SEG 37:1010 (third century BCE), SEG 46:1519 (third century BCE), TAM V 1462 (second century CE), and lAph 12.538 (180–189 CE), refer to “high priests” as financial officers tasked with overseeing the bookkeeping of temples and/or collecting funds to provide for sacrifices and other rites on behalf of groups of devotees. 33 In one case in particular, a funerary inscription found in Ionia, OGIS 326 (Posthumous Honors by Attalists for Kraton, 146–133 BCE), Kraton, a “priest of the synod,” is honored for not only contributing to the group’s ritual needs from his own resources (including slaves and materiel in addition to money) but also for securing resources from the king for like purposes. 34 Each of these inscriptions attests that a significant aspect of Roman priesthood was benefaction, the priesthood being viewed as bearing responsibility for the good of an association as a whole, providing for the group’s material worship needs. 35 The wide range of dates for the inscriptions 29
In John S. Kloppenborg, Richard S. Ascough, and Philip A. Harland, eds., GrecoRoman Associations: Texts, Translations, and Commentary: Vol. II, North Coast of the Black Sea, Asia Minor (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 2014), 86–94. 30 Ibid., 87, 90, 92. See also Agora 16:161, which details “partnership (κοινωνία) in the sacrifices,” in John S. Kloppenborg and Richard S. Ascough, eds. Greco-Roman Associations: Texts, Translations, and Commentary. Volume I: Attica, Central Greece, Macedonia, Thrace (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011), 80–81. 31 Kloppenborg, Ascough, and Harland, Greco-Roman Associations Volume II, 92. 32 F. W. Horn, “Paulus und die Herodianische Tempel,” New Testament Studies 53 (2007): 184–203, 200. 33 Kloppenborg, Ascough, and Harland, Greco-Roman Associations Volume II, 184, 216– 17, 340. 34 Ibid., 313, 324–30. 35 Ibid., 386–87, 388–89, 425–26.
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mentioned here shows that this characterization, as well as the expectation of group members to contribute to the costs associated with worship spaces and rituals, persisted across the time of Paul. Therefore, Paul’s appeals to his Gentile Jesus-believers that they contribute to the collection for Jerusalem would have been familiar to non-Jewish ears; indeed, many in Paul’s congregations may have recalled contributing to the sacrifices of polytheist associations to which they had belonged prior to joining the Jesus-movement. Significantly for a study of Paul, another marble inscription dating to the late second century CE, IPessinous 18, details the beneficent works of priests affiliated with an association in Galatia. 36 Also significant in the polytheist Roman context is the fact that priests were frequently in leadership positions in Greco-Roman associations. 37 Such communities would be centered around a priest; in some cases, associations owned temples in which they performed sacrifices, and sacrificial worship seems to be the reason for some associations’ very existence. 38 Most intriguing for our purposes is the practice among the Epicureans of having a philosopher-priest at the head of their associations; we may see a similarity here to Paul in his selfdescribed priesthood of preaching the gospel, which we will discuss further below. 39 To other similarities between Paul’s congregations and Greco-Roman associations must be added this characteristic of members participating in the κοινωνία or σύνοδος specifically by contributing to the sacrificial worship of the group. Within the Jewish context, attribution of temple holiness through written metaphor was not limited to the Diaspora. It is particularly in the Dead Sea Scrolls (henceforth DSS), of Judean provenance, that we find the most interesting and, for this essay, pertinent examples of Jewish cultic metaphor that establish the reality of the faith community as a temple. This Qumranic usage of sacrificial metaphor provides the closest parallel to the usage found in Paul. A word of caution is in order before we begin this section. It is not my desire to 36
Ibid., 421–26. Kloppenborg and Ascough, Greco-Roman Associations Volume I, 11, 23; see also Kloppenborg, Ascough, and Harland, Greco-Roman Associations Volume II, 372. 38 As attested by, inter alia, IG II2 1261, IG II2 1290, IG II2 1297, IG II2 1298, in Kloppenborg and Ascough, Greco-Roman Associations Volume I, 60–4, 77, 110; IBosp 1134, IBosp 1283, SEG 46:1519, Strabo, Geography 12.2.3., 12.3.36, in Kloppenborg, Ascough, and Harland, Greco-Roman Associations Volume II, 17, 22–3, 32–8, 211–12, 214ff. 39 Kloppenborg, Ascough, and Harland, Greco-Roman Associations Volume II, 367ff., 382–83. 37
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attempt to prove direct dependence of Paul on the literature of Qumran. Rather, I intend to highlight particular aspects of the DSS that shed some light on the employment of cultic metaphor that existed in Palestine in Paul’s day, and to which he may have been exposed by way of his cultural milieu. 40
The Community of the Elect as Temple of God, Sacrifice to God, and Cultic Ministers in the Dead Sea Scrolls The striking similarity of Pauline cultic imagery to certain passages in the DSS is most apparent in the Manual of Discipline (1QS) and the Damascus Document (CD). 41 Let us consider some representative DSS passages that feature cultic metaphors establishing the community of the elect as both temple and cultus: 6
By the spirit of God’s truth a person’s ways are atoned, all 7his iniquities, to behold the light of life; and by the holy spirit of the yaḥad ( )יחדin his truth, he will be pure from all 8his iniquities, and by a disciplined and humble spirit his sin will be atoned. And by humbling himself to all God’s statutes, 9his flesh will be pure by sprinkling with the water of purification and sanctifying himself with the water of cleansing ()במי דוכי. And let him make his footsteps firm to walk perfectly 10in all God’s ways, just as he commanded, at the appointed times of his testimonies; and not 11to turn to right or left, and not to transgress one of all his words. Then he will be accepted by a soothing atonement ( )בכפרי ניחוחbefore God, and it will be for him a covenant of 12the eternal yaḥad. (1QS III, 6b–12) 42
See Daly, Christian Sacrifice, 157–58, 161; Horn, “Herodianische Tempel,” 189. Daly and Gärtner respectively assert direct dependence of the early Christian communities on Qumran. My argument agrees with Daly’s allowance that this need not necessarily be the case, but that any apparent dependence might be due to the prevailing cultural-religious milieu in Hellenized Palestine. In the following section, we will focus on DSS passages that feature concepts of the elect community as temple of God and holy living as a daily sacrifice to God, the two correspondences emphasized in the work of Gärtner and Daly. 41 See James D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1998), 545. 42 Unless otherwise noted, all DSS translations mine, from James H. Charlesworth et. al., eds., The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations: Rule of the Community and Related Documents, 10 vols., vol. 1 (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1994).
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It is noteworthy that the phrase במי דוכיin this passage is used of washing a sacrificial victim. 43 בכפרי ניחוחdescribes an “odor of soothing” as in the incense sacrifice (which, as we will see, Paul uses as a metaphor for the offering of the Gentiles). 44 The member of God’s community is portrayed here as a sacrifice by virtue of living an upright life in following God’s (and the community’s) commandments. In the congregation of the yaḥad there shall be twelve men and three priests, who are perfect in everything revealed from the whole 2Torah, to do truth and righteousness and justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly (each) one with his companion; 3to keep fidelity in the land with a sustained purpose and a broken spirit, and to make satisfaction for iniquity by doing justice 4and suffering trials; and to walk with everyone by the measure of truth and by the regulation of the time. When these 5exist in Israel, the congregation of the yaḥad will be established in truth, an eternal planting, a holy house for Israel and a most holy assembly 6for Aaron, perpetual truth for judgment and chosen by (divine) favor to atone for the land and to return 7to the wicked their recompense. . . . 8(They will be) a most holy dwelling 9for Aaron, with knowledge of the covenant of justice, and to offer a soothing aroma: a house of perfection and truth in Israel 10to uphold the covenant of everlasting statutes. And they will be accepted to atone for the land and to determine judgment on wickedness by perfection of way, and (there will be no) iniquity. (1QS VIII, 1–10) 45 1
Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew
and English Lexicon (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2003). 44
Ibid. For a discussion of the community as “holy of holies (or ‘most holy dwelling’) for Aaron” in this passage, see Hogeterp, “Paul’s Judaism,” 95–96; Albert L. A. Hogeterp, 45
Paul and God’s Temple: A Historical Interpretation of Cultic Imagery in the Corinthian Correspondence, ed. B. Doyle, G. Van Belle, and J. Verheyden, Biblical Tools and Studies (Dudley: Peeters, 2006), 105.
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Here, the community itself is portrayed as both the holy of holies, the dwellingplace of YHWH, and the sacrifice made in the temple, so that the community is at once the temple and the atoning sacrifice offered within. 46 3
When these exist in Israel according to all these regulations, for a foundation of holy spirit for eternal truth 4to atone for the guilt of transgression and the unfaithfulness of sin, and for favor to the land apart from the flesh of burnt offerings (מבשר )עולותand apart from the fat of sacrifice, then the offering of 5 lips for justice (will be) as a righteous soothing, and those who are perfect of the way as an acceptable freewill offering. At that time, the men of 6the yaḥad will separate: a holy house for Aaron, for the most holy yaḥad; a house of the yaḥad for Israel, those who walk in perfection. (1QS IX, 3–6) In these two texts, atonement (for all Israel, not only for the )יחדis achieved through the blameless behavior of יחדmembers according to the purity regulations and ethical demands of the Mosaic law. 47 In 1QS IX, 4, מבשר עולות refers to the עולה, the whole burnt-offering. So the behavior of the “men of the yaḥad” will serve the atoning function of the עולהand the יחדitself will be “a holy house”—a temple. Hence, the community is at the same time priest, sacrifice, and temple. 48 The community is also described as a temple in 4Q174 (4QFlorilegium) I, 1b–7a: 1
The son of unrighteousness [will not increase his affliction] as formerly and as from the day that 2I commanded judges over my people Israel. It is the house that [. . . at] the end of days, just as it is written in the book . . . 3[“The sanctuary of the Lord, which] your hands have established. YHWH will rule eternally.” It is the house to which [. . .] will not come 4forever, or Ammonite or Moabite or bastard or foreigner or sojourner, 46
Daly, Christian Sacrifice, 166, 256. See also John J. Collins, Beyond the Qumran Community: The Sectarian Movement of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2010), 73. Gärtner, Temple and Community, 25, 30, 44–45. 48 Daly (Christian Sacrifice, 167–68) interprets יחדin these passages to mean the community as a whole effecting atonement, not only the 15-member Council of the Community. 47
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forever, because my holy ones are there. 5[. . .] eternal[ly]. He will be seen upon it continually, and foreigners will not ravage it again as they formerly ravaged 6the sanctu[ary of I]srael by means of their sin. And he said to build for him a human sanctuary ( )מקדש אדםto be those who make sacrifices in it to him, 7works of the Torah before him. 49 The obvious sacrificial language in all of these passages creates rather fluid images. The יחדoffers the sacrifice of an upright life (= “works of the Torah”), therefore its members act as priests (see also CD III, 21–IV:4). 50 They also are, themselves, the sacrifice, which is portrayed as both a sin-offering and a freewill offering. The community is also the temple where the acceptable sacrifices of perfectly Torah-observant living are offered. 51 This fluid association of images illuminates the background of Paul’s own references to the Christ-believing congregation as both temple and sacrifice, particularly regarding holiness of life. It is important to note that it is sin that defiles the temple-community 52 and
Translation mine, from John M. Allegro, Qumran Cave 4: I (4q158–4q186), Discoveries in the Judaean Desert of Jordan, vol. 5 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968). Against Lanci (New Temple, 15ff.), my translation of מקדש אדםagrees with that of Gärtner (Temple and Community, 34–35), whose translation is “human temple” according to his reading of the overall context: “The theme of the text . . . is that the eschatological temple is to be made up of the community—a theme developed in the remainder of the passage. This interpretation also fits in admirably with the temple symbolism of 1QS.” 50 Daly, Christian Sacrifice, 170. 51 Lanci (New Temple, 15ff.) argues on linguistic grounds that “holy house” cannot mean “temple,” since the MT refers to the temple not as “holy house” but as “house of God” and the latter term does not occur in 1QS. Likewise, Lanci claims that “holy of holies” must be a superlative and cannot refer to a specific place, i.e. the holy of holies in the temple where God’s presence dwells. However, I am more convinced by Gärtner’s approach, which focuses on the overall context in order to determine the meaning of individual phrases. Certainly, the whole context of 1QS creates the picture of community as temple, as Gärtner and Daly respectively observe. If Aaron represents the priesthood, as he surely does, then a “house of Aaron” is a house of the priesthood—a temple. Additionally, Qumran terminology need not parrot Jerusalem terminology. In fact, given Qumran’s opposition to Jerusalem, the terminology of the DSS would likely reflect that separation. Fine’s work has also demonstrated that at least some “prayer places” beyond the temple were placed on a par of holiness with the temple itself, and accordingly viewed as temples in their own right. 52 I borrow this very appropriate term from Lanci, New Temple, 116.
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renders its offerings ineffective. 53 Thus the elect community, as temple, must practice ethically upright living if the presence of God is to continue among/within them. 54 The מקדש אדםof 4Q174 III, 6 corresponds to the eschatological temple mentioned earlier in the same passage (III, 3–5), similar to the community’s expectation of the restoration of the Jerusalem temple and priesthood at the eschaton on display in 1QM II, 1–6. 55 The community’s status as temple was thus a temporary provision to render fitting sacrifice to God until this event should occur. 56 Just as the original intention of the physical temple was to provide a dwelling-place for the שכינהof YHWH, the intention of the DSS community was to exist as the locus of God’s presence in the world until God should fully redeem Israel in the last days (as also in 11QT). 57 The יחדis not a kind of “secondary” temple but has completely replaced the Jerusalem temple institution and all its functions. 58 Hence, the community is not a metaphorical “temple” but a real temple established through metaphorical language. In Paul, similar usage indicates a similar intent: the Jesus-communities are temples in that they possess priests and perform sacrifice, acting as the locus of God’s presence in the world until the parousia of Christ Jesus. At the same time, the differences between Paul and Qumran are as significant as the similarities. The DSS are replete with polemic against the priestly establishment and, by extension, the ritual worship of the Jerusalem temple. Indeed, the Qumran community existed to withdraw itself from what it viewed as the
Indeed, we read similar ideas in Josephus, who intimates that the shedding of human blood defiles the temple (JW IV.158–81). For the association of holy living as directly related to temple holiness, see Gärtner, Temple and Community, 33–34; Hogeterp, Paul and God’s Temple, 317, 385. An in-depth study is Klawans, Impurity & Sin. 54 Gärtner, Temple and Community, 33–34. Contra Lanci, New Temple, 13–19. 55 Hogeterp (God’s Temple, 103) translates מקדש אדםas “Temple of Man.” For the eschatological restoration of the temple in 1QM II, 1–6, see Daly, Christian Sacrifice, 170–71. 56 See Gärtner, Temple and Community, 21; Hogeterp, “Paul’s Judaism,” 107–108. 57 Florentino Garcia-Martinez, Qumran and Apocalyptic: Studies on the Aramaic Texts from Qumran, ed. F. Garcia-Martinez and A. S. Van der Woude, Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah (New York: Brill, 1992), 205–206; Hogeterp, God’s Temple, 96–97; David A. Renwick, Paul, the Temple, and the Presence of God, ed. Ernest S. Frerichs et al., Brown Judaic Studies (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991), 39–41. See also Horn, “Herodianische Tempel,” 188. 58 Gärtner, Temple and Community, 23–24, 30.
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corruption of the temple establishment. 59 Therefore, the community saw itself and its practices as a substitution for the temple cult, until proper worship could be restored by the expected messianic deliverers. There is no evidence in Paul’s writings that he defined the Jesus-communities in this way. 60 Rather, Paul’s concern to include the Gentile Jesus-believers in the people of Israel argues for his intention to facilitate the Gentiles’ inclusion in Jewish worship, including the cult of the Jerusalem temple. 61 At the same time, the correspondences between the cultic metaphors in the DSS and in Paul’s letters are informative. Paul could certainly make use of the same methods, working them to his own ends, while not parroting precisely the same meanings. Paul’s Gentile Jesus-Communities as Temples of God
The Nature of the “Offering of the Gentiles” There is considerable debate among scholars as to whether the genitive in Rom 15:16 (“of the Gentiles,” τῶν ἐθνῶν) should be read as subjective or objective. Georgi and Downs argue for the former, in which case the “offering” would refer to the monetary collection for the Jerusalem church. In this case, Paul’s λειτουργία would consist of his carrying and presenting the money-offering to Jerusalem. 62 Beckheuer interprets the “liturgical service” as the collection rendered by the Gentiles according to the following context in Rom 15:27, arguing that through the offering “the Gentiles now serve the Jews as priests.” 63 These subjective readings would also be supported by Phil 4:18, which clearly refers to the collection in cultic language as “a fragrant aroma” and “an 59
Garcia-Martinez, Qumran and Apocalyptic, 205; Gärtner, Temple and Community, 20; Hogeterp, God’s Temple, 87, 103, 105–107. 60 See e.g. Hogeterp, “Paul’s Judaism,” 103; Lanci, New Temple, 11–13. 61 See e.g. Horn, “Herodianische Tempel,” 191: Whereas the Qumran community did not expand its sense of temple holiness to Gentiles, Paul included the Gentiles in his similar concept of community-as-temple. Where I disagree with Horn is in his suggestion that Paul’s scheme of Gentile Jesus-communities as temple stemmed from the inability of Gentiles to go to the Jerusalem temple. 62 David J. Downs, “‘The Offering of the Gentiles’ in Romans 15.16,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 29, no. 2 (2006): 173–86; Downs, Offering, 149–50, 152–53; Georgi, Geschichte der Kollekte, 74–76. For Downs, the subjective interpretation is bolstered by the genitive of origin (“of your faith,” τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν) in Phil 2:17, which is linguistically similar to προσφορὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν in Rom 15:16. This of course assumes that Downs is correct in arguing that Phil 2:17 refers to the collection, which, as I will argue below, is questionable. 63 Beckheuer, Paulus, 259. See also Downs, Offering, 155.
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acceptable sacrifice” to God; and by Rom 12:1, which urges believers to present their own selves/bodies “as a living sacrifice.” 64 Hence the subjective interpretation has the Gentiles acting as priests in contributing to the collection, and fits a view of Paul’s exhortation to the collection as a participation in the eschatological pilgrimage of the Gentiles to Zion promised in Isa 61:6 (referenced in Rom 15:16a–b) and 66:20 (referenced in Rom 15:16c). 65 The view of Paul’s vision of Gentile inclusion as eschatological pilgrimage has been challenged recently, most notably by Terence Donaldson, who has questioned this interpretation on two main bases: 1) “Paul never cites pilgrimage texts, despite plenty of opportunities and occasions where such biblical support would have been useful”; and 2) the “order of salvation” is Israel first, then Gentiles. 66 Both of these points may be contested, however. Taking the first, it is not the case that ancient standards of “biblical support” such as exist in modern scholarship would have been incumbent upon Paul, or upon any other contemporary writer. At the same time, it is not entirely accurate that Paul “never cites pilgrimage texts.” It may be argued that a pilgrimage text appears in Rom 15:12, which quotes Isa 11:10: “The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.” Read in the context of the whole epistle, this verse appears to have an eschatological significance. An articulate response to Donaldson’s view has been offered by Matthew V. Novenson, who observes that Rom 15:12 indicates Paul’s assignment of a messianic role to Jesus, which relates to the eschatological pilgrimage of the Gentiles: Isa 11:10 (LXX), quoted by Paul, anticipates the Messiah’s rule over “the nations,” which Paul interprets in light of Christ as the propheticallypromised “obedience of the Gentiles.” 67 Rom 15:12 does therefore cite an eschatological pilgrimage text, since the Isaiah passage looks to the eschatological subjugation (which Paul terms “obedience”) of the Gentiles to the Messiah of David. In addition to Novenson’s observations, we must consider not only the text of Romans but the whole body of Paul’s undisputed letters, across which the theme of eschatological pilgrimage is clearly present. Where I diverge from Novenson, however, is in the claim that Paul’s interpretation of the pilgrimage has no geographical content. The financial offerings collected from
Georgi, Geschichte der Kollekte, 48–49. See Horn, “Herodianische Tempel,” 201. Contra Downs, Offering, 144. 66 Terence Donaldson, “‘Riches for the Gentiles’ (Rom 11:12): Israel’s Rejection and Paul’s Gentile Mission,” Journal of Biblical Literature 112, no. 1 (1993): 81–98, 92. 67 Matthew V. Novenson, “The Jewish Messiahs, the Pauline Christ, and the Gentile Question,” Journal of Biblical Literature 128, no. 2 (2009): 357–73, 367–72. 65
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the Gentiles are going to Jerusalem. In a manner similar to Diaspora Jews’ participation in the Jerusalem temple and its rites by virtue of paying the temple tax and performing sacrificial acts, as discussed above, Paul sees the participation of his Gentile Jesus-believers in the collection for the Jerusalem community as the anticipated Gentile pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Taking Donaldson’s second point, the “order of salvation” as Israel first, Gentiles second, is accurate—although not quite in the way that Donaldson envisions. Paul is fairly explicit about this order in all of his letters, explicitly in Rom 1:16: “[The gospel] is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith; to the Jew first and also to the Greek”; and in Rom 2:9–10, where Paul affirms that God’s judgment for both reward and condemnation would fall upon “the Jew first, and also the Greek.” However, while Donaldson argues that the eschatological event has not yet occurred for Paul, 68 it can be argued that the eschatological event has indeed already occurred: the resurrection event. For Paul, the resurrection of Christ has inaugurated the eschatological age, although a final judgment remains, which will take place at the parousia. 69 Therefore, we may agree with N. T. Wright that Israel’s redemption has arrived with the resurrection, and that the Gentiles are following on Israel’s salvation. 70 Standing in tension with this are Paul’s apparent assertions elsewhere that the salvation of the Gentiles does chronologically precede that of the Jews, the parade example being the reference to Isa 66:20 in the passage central to this thesis, Rom 15:16c. 71 The Isaiah passage that Paul quotes speaks of the Gentiles 68
Ibid. For the resurrection event as an eschatological/apocalyptic event in Paul, see Michael J. Gorman, Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul and His Letters (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2004), esp. 106–109, 128–29, 137–38, 142– 44, 159–63, 174–77; Stanley K. Stowers, A Rereading of Romans: Justice, Jews, & Gentiles (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994); N. T. Wright, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2009), 101, 106, 148, 214–15; idem, The Paul Debate (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2015), ch. 3, 90–91; idem, Paul in Fresh Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 52. 70 Wright, Paul Debate, 89–91. 71 E.g., inter alia, C. K. Barrett, Paul: An Introduction to His Thought (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994), 179; Beckheuer, Paulus, 221–23; Daly, Christian Sacrifice, 247; Richard J. Dillon, “The ‘Priesthood’ Of St Paul, Romans 15:15–16,” Worship 74, no. 2 (2000): 156–68, 166; Horn, “Herodianische Tempel,” 201–202; Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, “Romans 15:14–29 and Paul’s Missionary Agenda,” in Persuasion and Dissuasion in Early Christianity, Ancient Judaism, and Hellenism, ed. Pieter W. van der Horst et al., Contributions to Biblical Exegesis & Theology (Dudley: Snow Lion Publications Peeters, 2003), 143–59, 148–49. 69
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leading the exiled Jews back to Zion (showing Gentiles acting in a priestly capacity, “offering” God’s people back to God in the location of sacrifice). These apparent contradictions in Paul may be resolved if his assertions that salvation is offered to “the Jew first and also to the Greek” are understood as a matter of primacy or favor, rather than of chronology. Israel remains the primary people of God through the covenants, as Paul affirms in Rom 9–11. However, Paul clarifies that chronologically, the Gentiles are coming to Zion first, as suggested by Isa 66:20. 72 This would support the subjective reading of the genitive in Rom 15:16: the Gentiles are not the offering, but make the offering. 73 However, Paul’s fluid use of metaphor easily allows that subjective and objective meanings could both be intended: the Gentiles both are sacrifice and perform sacrifice. We have seen a similar polyvalent usage in the DSS, with the יחדdescribed as both offering and priest. According to the present thesis, however, if the delivery of the collection composes Paul’s priesthood, it does so only in the sense that the success of the collection validates to the Jerusalem Jesus-community his priesthood of preaching the gospel. The surrounding context and Paul’s widely-attested anxiety to secure the sanctification of the Gentiles before the parousia (see e.g. 1 Thess 3:13; 5:23; 2 Cor 1:14; 11:2) strongly support the objective reading—that
Wright, Justification, 57–61; Wright, Paul Debate, 80–81. In much of Wright’s work, Paul is interpreted as portraying the eschatological event of the resurrection as the mark of an end to Israel’s “continued exile.” Although the exile theme fits nicely into our present discussion in terms of Paul’s references to the Gentiles escorting the returning exiles back to Zion, Wright argues across his work that the reason for the exile is that Israel bears the “curse of the covenant” as a consequence for breaking Torah. Although Wright frames this in terms of “prophetic critique,” and although it is indeed true that the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures had taken Israel to task for the nation’s failures to be faithful to the covenant with its God, there is little to no evidence to support Wright’s view that Paul anywhere attributes an exile status to unfaithfulness on the part of Israel as a whole—not even on the “part” of Israel that has been “hardened” (Rom 11:25). Indeed, Paul himself admits that he does not know why this “hardening” has come about and attributes it to God’s mysterious, “inscrutable ways” (Rom 11:25, 33). See, inter alia, Wright, Climax; idem, Justification, 123–25, 135, 197; 211–16; idem, “Justification by (Covenantal) Faith to the (Covenantal) Doers: Romans 2 within the Argument of the Letter,” The Covenant Quarterly 72, no. 3 (2014): 95–108, 100–103, 106; idem, Paul in Fresh Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 23, 140. 73 See e.g. Downs, “‘The Offering of the Gentiles’ in Romans 15.16,” 175. Indeed, Paul’s use of cultic terminology to refer to the Philippians’ financial support of his mission in Phil 4:18 would be similar.
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the Gentiles themselves are the offering being presented to God (by Paul). 74 It is this preaching that offers the Gentiles to God as a sacrifice and hence may truly be called λειτουργία—cultic service. I suggest we recognize that Paul’s metaphorical use of cultic terms allows single images to possess polyvalent meaning and that we need not nail a single interpretation to the phrase “offering of the Gentiles” in Rom 15:16. The phrase can mean both of the following at once: the Gentiles as priests in the active, sacrificial offering of their daily lives in obedience to God’s will and of their material wealth for the spread of the gospel; and the Gentiles’ being offered to God as a sacrifice through membership in the Christ-believing community via Paul’s priesthood of preaching the gospel. 75 The extensive use of cultic metaphor in Paul’s letters therefore reveals his purpose to include Gentiles-in-Christ in Jewish worship and ethics. This evidence weighs heavily against scholarship that argues the opposite, such as we find in Barclay, who posits that Paul allowed the continuation of Jewish practices (such as kashrut regulations and festival observances) as a temporary accommodation to a culturally and temporally limited form of faith in Christ, even by Jews-in-Christ, who are defined as “the weak” in Rom 14. While Barclay is correct to observe that Paul exempts Gentiles-in-Christ from observing the regulations of Torah and does not directly instruct Jews-in-Christ to cease Torah observance, he is not correct in his arguments that Paul presents the Torah and Jewish worship as “a merely human, cultural phenomenon” with an entrenched attitude and practice of “cultural imperialism.” In Barclay’s view, the continuation of Jewish worship practices by Jews-in-Christ was for Paul a temporary, limited concession, entirely optional for Jewish “Christians” (including Paul himself, which is supported nowhere in the undisputed letters). Jewish worship may be observed as a provision for “weakness” but, along with even ethical living, no longer has real value for one’s standing before God. 76 Quite to the contrary, Paul advocates the continued life of Judaism through the 74
See Daly, 247; Dillon; Horn, 201; E. P. Sanders, Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), 171. 75 Fredriksen, “Judaizing the Nations,” 249. 76 See John M. G. Barclay, “‘Do We Undermine the Law?’ A Study of Romans 14.1–15.6,” in Paul and the Mosaic Law, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 89, ed. James D. G. Dunn (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1996), 287–308, esp. 304–308; idem, “Faith and Self-Detachment from Cultural Norms: A Study in Romans 14–15,” Zeitschrift fur̈ die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der Al̈ teren Kirche 104, no. 2 (2013): 192– 208, esp. 194–203; idem, Obeying the Truth: Paul’s Ethics in Galatians (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1988), 125–36, 141–45, 235–51, 239 n. 25; idem, “Pure Grace? Paul’s Distinctive Jewish Theology of Gift,” Studia Theologica 68, no. 1 (2014): 4–20, esp. 12–14.
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inclusion of the Gentiles via sacrificial worship, which emphatically includes the sacrifice of upright living.
Cult as Community Descriptor The Gentiles’ offering does not only consist of financial support of the collection, however. 77 The wider context of Rom 15:16 defines the “offering” as the entirety of the Gentiles’ daily lives in obedience to God. Immediately following, Rom 15:18 speaks of Paul’s priestly service as “bringing about the obedience of the Gentiles,” which we may define by referring to Rom 1:5, 9:4, and especially 12:1–2. 78 Paul’s use of the term λειτουργός is significant not only for the collection but also for the offering-up of the Gentiles in the form of obedience, which is not solely obedience to the collection. 79 Because this Greek term had direct associations with the Jewish temple cult, we may understand the use of this term to indicate that Paul saw himself filling the role of priest as he presents the Gentiles as an acceptable sacrifice to God through the preaching of the gospel, all in order to render the Gentiles pure in obedience to God’s will in preparation for the parousia of Christ Jesus. 80 Against claims that Paul’s collection had no 77
Downs (Offering of the Gentiles, 153) allows the possibility that the “offering of the Gentiles” “refers also to the obedience of the Gentiles in a wider sense, with the collection standing as one concrete manifestation of that obedience,” but finally maintains the centrality of the collection itself, offered via Paul’s priestly service. 78 Fredriksen, “Judaizing the Nations,” 248–49; Peerbolte, “Romans,” 149. See also Dunn, Theology of Paul, 544; Roetzel, “Sacrifice in Romans,” 416–18; Viagulamuthu, Offering, 320–21, 354–61. For the association of holy living as directly related to temple holiness, see Hogeterp, God’s Temple, 317, 385. While Downs (Offering, 153) argues that “the passive form of Rom 15:16 seems to move in a slightly different direction from the active presentation of bodies as an act of spiritual worship in 12:1” because “the offering . . . in Rom 15:16 has been entirely entrusted to the priestly service of Paul, and through him it becomes acceptable,” the Gentiles are certainly active in making the offering in the first place, so that 15:16 corresponds to 1:5 and 12:1. 79 See e.g. Beckheuer, Paulus, 171; Horn, “Herodianische Tempel,” 200. 80 Paula Fredriksen, “Paul, Purity, and the Ekklesia of the Gentiles,” in The Beginnings of Christianity, ed. Jack Pastor and Menachem Mor (Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi Press, 2005), 213–14; idem, “Judaizing the Nations,” 248–49. See also Daly, Christian Sacrifice, 247; Downs, Offering, 144; David J. Williams, Paul’s Metaphors: Their Context and Character (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 250; Michael Newton, The Concept of Purity at Qumran and in the Letters of Paul (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 60–70; Sanders, Paul, 171. Indeed, given Paul’s emphatic use of this term it is difficult to sustain Lanci’s claim (New Temple, 11–12) that no “priests” existed in the Pauline communities. Dunn (Theology of Paul, 330) similarly draws a distinction between
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worship significance, and that Paul “completely abrogated” cultic worship in favor of an abstract, intellectual/spiritual approach, Paul’s cultic allusions are on display in his adoption of the liturgical language of the Hebrew Scriptures to describe the collection. 81 Through this language, “Paul employs the liturgy concept precisely in connection with the collection, which suggests the supposition that Paul has understood the conveyance and organization of the collection as liturgical service.” 82 Although Paul does not appear to view his priesthood as a mediation between God and the community, “the collectionaction . . . orients itself to the cult of the Father, and is carried out according to the order of concrete priestly laws.” 83 Similarly, the Greek term λογεία, describing the community’s monetary offering in 1 Cor 16:1–4, is found in Egyptian papyri and ostraca specifically designating cultic purposes. 84 In Phil 1:5–6, 10; 2:16; Gal 4:11; and 1 Thess 3:1–13, Paul expresses a concern that his labor in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles will prove to be “in vain” at the parousia, should his communities stray from the gospel he preached to them. Such a development would spell the failure of Paul’s priesthood and result in the loss of the Gentiles. 85 As priest, Paul cannot offer a blemished sacrifice! Recall also our discussion above regarding the subjective reading of Rom 15:16, according to which the Gentiles make the offering, indicating a priestly function. We may safely affirm therefore (with Williams) that Paul does not see only himself as “priest”; he sees the entire community as “priests” by virtue of the communal observance of (moral) purity practices and financial provision for Paul’s collection, which are depicted as sacrifices in no less real fashion than the sacrifices of the Jerusalem temple. 86 For Paul, therefore, Gentile Jesus-believers
“priestly service” and “priest(hood)”; I do not see the same distinction in the term λειτουργός itself. 81 For the idea that Paul wished to abrogate all cultic practices, see e.g., inter alia, Downs, Offering, 143–45, 147, 152, 158; Gärtner, Temple and Community, 58; Georgi, Geschichte der Kollekte, 74–77; Nickle, The Collection, 137. N. T. Wright (Paul, 167) casts the collection in terms of unity of the body of Christ, but this does not go far enough. For Paul’s use of Jewish liturgical language in connection with his collection, see Beckheuer, Paulus, 222. 82 Beckheuer, Paulus, 219–20. 83 Ibid., 220. See also Horn, “Herodianische Tempel,” 200. 84 Lanci, New Temple, 127–28. 85 See Stowers, Rereading, 213–14. 86 Williams, Paul’s Metaphors, 249. This is contra Horn (“Herodianische Tempel,” 191), who does not see purity concerns among Paul’s vision of priesthood for his Gentile congregations.
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function as priests who minister (perform λειτουργία, as in Phil 2:17) in the temple that is their Jesus-community. Paul’s use of metaphorical language portrays the Gentile Jesus-community fulfilling the functions of priesthood, as similar metaphorical language also depicts Paul as fulfilling priestly functions in preaching the gospel and in taking up the monetary collection. Again, we recall similar ideas of sacrifice and communal priesthood in the DSS and in synagogue holiness concepts. Similar to the concept of righteous deeds as acceptable sacrifices in the DSS and in Diaspora Judaism, Paul presents holy (= separate) conduct as a real sacrifice (as in Rom 12:1–3). 87 We have seen that, similar to the DSS, Paul holds a view of the community as the dwelling place of God’s presence, as expressed in 1 Cor 3:16, which speaks of God’s Spirit dwelling within the temple-community (see above). 88 Because the community is the locus of God’s presence in the world, it must keep itself morally undefiled so that its sacrifices will continue to be acceptable and efficacious. 89 Obedience, therefore, takes the form of the sacrifice of ethical behavior as well as of monetary offerings. This is tantamount to the obedience of proper worship commanded in the Hebrew Scriptures. We have seen such a strategy in operation also in the DSS, and there are corollaries between that literature and 1 Cor 3:16–17 and 2 Cor 6:14–7:1 in terms of the specific terminology of temple, foundation, and planting. 90 Since many scholars consider the 2 Corinthians passage to be a later interpolation, we will only consider 1 Cor 3:16–17 here:
See e.g. Horn, “Herodianische Tempel,” 189. See Fredriksen, “Judaizing the Nations,” 248; Gärtner, Temple and Community, 58–59; Horn, “Herodianische Tempel,” 192; Renwick, Paul, 42–43; N. T. Wright, Climax, 262; idem, Justification, 172. In the cited Justification passage, Wright correctly observes that Paul defines the oneness of Gentile and Jew in Christ as the dwelling-place of God’s Spirit “through the controlling image of the temple”; however, while Wright cites Gal 3:28–29 in this regard, he includes also Eph 2:14–16. While the essential observation about Paul’s vision of community-as-temple is accurate, the present essay deals only with the undisputed letters. (Whether the deutero-Pauline author of Ephesians seized upon Paul’s earlier identification of community-as-temple is an intriguing consideration, though it must remain separate from our discussion.) Renwick (Paul, 46) works chiefly with passages in 2 Corinthians to, as he says, “establish the possibility of Paul’s vital concern for God’s presence” (emphasis in original). Space does not permit a detailed analysis of Renwick’s arguments here; I only point to his work as an extended discussion of Paul’s intention to find the presence of God in the Jesus-community. 89 See Gärtner, Temple and Community, 58–59; Lanci, New Temple, 131–33. 90 Gärtner, Temple and Community, 60. 88
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Don’t you (2nd plural, throughout) know that you are the most holy place (ναός) of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s ναός, God will destroy that one; for the ναός of God, which you are, is holy. A similar note is sounded in 1 Cor 6:19: 91 Don’t you (2nd plural, throughout) know that your body is a temple (ναός) of the holy Spirit that is in you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? The second-person plural pronouns in these verses indicate that Paul is addressing the community as a whole. When he speaks of the temple of God being destroyed, Paul is referring to teachers who attempt to build upon his foundation and fail to properly prepare the community for eschatological judgment (1 Cor 3:10–15). 92 Recall also that Paul’s use of the word ναός in describing the Corinthian Jesuscommunity provides an intriguing terminological similarity to the view of community as holy of holies in 1QS VIII, 6. While I concur with Gärtner that Paul’s terminology largely agrees with that of the DSS and finds many ideological points of contact with the scrolls as well, in Paul there is no sense of the same kind of physical separation that we find in the DSS. 93 Rather, Paul seems to view the community as morally and spiritually separate from the ways of the wider Greco-Roman culture. He does not instruct his churches to retire to the wilderness. The separation Paul advocates is actualized in an ethical way of life, lived out and expressed through membership in the Jesus-community. As Klawans notes, that community is for Paul the ναός which must maintain its purity by remaining undefiled by moral
See Fredriksen, “Judaizing the Nations,” 248. Lanci, New Temple, 66–68. Lanci disputes the eschatological significance, claiming that present-tense verbs, the presence of the words ἒτι and νῦν, and the phrase “up to the present time” indicate that Paul speaks here only of the present time. However, given the general context of Paul’s anxiety to present his Gentile congregations blameless at the parousia, I (in agreement with others; see below) argue in favor of the eschatological tenor of this passage. 93 See ibid., 132. 92
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uncleanness. 94 Indeed, such a way of life is nothing less than sacrificial, and Paul accordingly uses cultic terms to describe it: So I exhort you, brothers, through the mercies of God, to offer your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your rational worship. (Rom 12:1) But even if I am being poured out upon the altar and priestly service (λειτουργία) of your faith, I rejoice. . . . (Phil 2:17) I understand “priestly service of your faith” in the quoted Philippians passage to signify Paul’s role in the moral formation of the Philippian community, as the context in 2:15 concerns their being “blameless and innocent” at the parousia. 95 Note that the Greek term λειτουργία here is identical to the word Paul uses to describe his own ministry in Rom 15:16, calling himself λειτουργός of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles; hence, the meaning of “priestly service” in Phil 2:17 informs the meaning of the term in Rom 15:16: the “offering of the Gentiles” is the cultic offering not only of their money, but of their very lives. The nature of the moral defilement Paul dreads for his congregations is grounded in the worship of idols. 96 For Paul, there is a direct correlation between the worship of idols and δαιμονία and moral defilement (1 Cor 10:14– 21). 97 Paula Fredriksen has shown that it was this constant state of being that prevented the Gentiles from approaching the sacred temple precincts past a certain point (the Court of the Gentiles). 98 Josephus (Jewish War) relates that tensions over “the relation of the Jerusalem temple cult to the rule of foreigners, that is, to Roman rule” was a flashpoint in the buildup to the war of 66–70 CE; the Maccabean texts and certain DSS manuscripts (particularly 4Q174 I, 1b–7a cited above) also contain polemic against the influx of foreign ways into 94
Klawans, Impurity & Sin, 150–55. See also Eisenbaum, Paul, 156; Gärtner, Temple and Community, 57–59; Hogeterp, God’s Temple, 341–45; Lanci, New Temple, 131–32. 95 In contrast, Beckheuer (Paulus, 219–20) and Downs (Offering, 144–45) respectively agree in interpreting “priestly service of your faith” as a reference to the collection. 96 See Rom 1:18–32. Gärtner (Temple and Community, 49–56) examines Paul’s exhortation to purity in the temple-community through the avoidance of idols as expressed in 2 Cor 6:14–7:1. As already noted, I do not deal with that passage here since its authenticity is questioned. 97 Fredriksen, “Ekklesia,” 209–10; idem, “Judaizing the Nations,” 246. See also Hogeterp, God’s Temple, 375–76. 98 Fredriksen, “Ekklesia,” 209–10; idem, “Judaizing the Nations,” 246.
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Jerusalem and increasing Gentile influence within the sacred temple establishment itself. 99 Paul stands apart from those who would deny Gentiles access to the holiness of the temple. While 4Q174 excludes “foreigners” from the “most holy dwelling” that is the יחד, Paul claims that the “foreigners” indeed compose the “most holy dwelling,” and this stance rests entirely on his conviction that the parousia of Christ is imminent. In the words of E. P. Sanders, “Paul’s entire work, both evangelizing and collecting money, had its setting in the expected pilgrimage of the Gentiles to Mount Zion in the last days.” 100 Paul views his priesthood as the fulfillment of God’s promises delivered through Jewish prophecy, particularly as found in the prophet Isaiah: Isa 2:2, which predicted the nations’ going up to the mountain of the Lord’s house in the last days; and more importantly Isa 60:5f., the vision of the Gentiles bringing gifts of treasure to Mount Zion. 101 Scholars have also observed parallels to Isa 55:4–5, 10 (“nations that did not know you will run [to you]”), and especially to 56:6–8: 102 6a
. . . the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD to minister to him ( )לשרתו. . . 6cand those who hold fast to my covenant—7aI will bring them to my holy mountain and make them rejoice in my house of prayer. 7bTheir holocausts and
Hogeterp, God’s Temple, 69–70. Sanders, Paul, 171. 101 Johannes Munck, Paulus Und Die Heilsgeschichte (Ejnar Munksgaard-København: University of Aarhus, 1954), 298, 301–302. See also Beckheuer, Paulus, 257; Georgi, Temple and Community, 72, 76, 85; Nickle, Collection, 130, 138–39. 102 Downs, Offering, 3–8; Georgi, Temple and Community, 72. While Downs acknowledges the presence of Isa 56:6–8 in the Pauline passage, he denies its eschatological significance for Paul, claiming that Paul cites no pilgrimage texts, the Pauline delegation served the purpose of mere escorts, and the collection was not destined for the Jerusalem temple but for the Jerusalem poor. As I have argued throughout this paper, Paul’s overall context shows his anxiety that the Gentiles be blameless at the parousia of Christ Jesus and the collection figures into that state of being. Jerusalem must be seen as significant for the destination of the collection because Jerusalem is the location of the temple; indeed, the Jerusalem congregation itself would have been a “satellite” temple as Paul’s Gentile congregations were. Finally, as Georgi notes (Temple and Community, 26, 29–30), the “poor” possessed eschatological significance in the prophetic writings, especially in Isa 14:30, 32, and Zeph 3:9, 12, and it was for this reason that the poor of the Jerusalem congregation were singled out for special attention. 100
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their sacrifices (will be) acceptable on my altar, 7cfor my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. 103 The acceptance of foreigners into the temple cult is anticipated here, both in the priesthood offering acceptable sacrifice (שרת, used of temple service 104 ) and in obedience to the covenant. How very like what we have seen of Paul in this discussion: Gentiles in the “last days” are accepted into the temple (= the Christbelieving community), serving as priests by offering acceptable sacrifice (= daily living in obedience to God). Isaiah’s שרתbecomes the λειτουργία of Paul and of the Gentile Jesus-believers. For Paul, the “building” that is the Gentile Jesus-community is a temple of the God of Israel, complete with sacrifices and priestly service. However, Paul would make an important codicil to the Gentiles’ inclusion: While they may approach God’s holiness qua Gentiles, they must be “in Christ.” It is the Gentiles’ membership in the Jesus-community, their “in-Christ” state of being, that allows them to approach the God of Israel in a state of purification resulting from their participation in the sacrifice of God’s Messiah, and hence to become one with Israel. 105 Just as the offerer of material sacrifice in the Jerusalem temple participated in the sacrificial rite, so the Jesus-believing Gentiles participate in Jesus’ purifying death and resurrection. 106 Thus these Gentiles, no longer idolworshipers with the moral deviancy historically attributed to idol-worship in the Israelite faith (see 1 Thess 1:9b–10), are now “holy” in the true sense of the word: “set apart” for the obedience of cultic service to the God of Israel. 107 Since it is Paul’s preaching of the gospel that “publicly displays Christ as crucified” (Gal 3:1) and thereby makes purification accessible through participation in that sacrifice, Paul is the λειτουργός who presents the Gentiles to God as a pure and spotless offering, as, for example, Christ offers the community as pure sacrificial 103
Translation mine, from K. Elliger and W. Rudolph, eds., Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1997). 104 Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon. 105 Fredriksen, “Ekklesia,” 213; idem, “Judaizing the Nations,” 239–43, 247–48. See also Finlan, Background and Content, 116–19; Viagulamuthu, Offering Our Bodies, 306, 316; Wright, Paul Debate, 78, 89–90. 106 See Bell, “Sacrifice and Christology,” 3–4, 8–9; Roetzel, “Romans,” 416. 107 Fredriksen, “Ekklesia,” 213. See also Stowers, Rereading, 257–58, chapter 11; Wright, Justification, 121–22; idem, Paul Debate, 89. I am not convinced that Stowers’ “adaptability” is the key to ethical behavior; however I agree with his basic claim that the Gentiles are enabled to live according to the moral precepts of the God of Israel through their participation in Christ.
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incense in 2 Cor 2:14–16 (recall the בכפרי ניחוחof 1QS III, 11, discussed above). 108 The Gentiles also perform λειτουργία by offering pure sacrifice in contributing to the collection and in blameless living. Summary and Conclusions:
Contra Lanci, Paul did not simply employ cultic metaphor in order to “make a point” that would help him to “win over” both Jews and Gentiles. 109 This essay has shown that these metaphors serve a much deeper purpose, one which transcends the purpose of the collection as provoking thanksgiving and praise toward God (as articulated by Georgi and Downs). It is not only the Gentiles’ money that is offered to Jerusalem/Zion by their own priesthood, but the Gentiles themselves, by Paul’s priesthood of making Christ’s sacrificial death and life-bestowing resurrection accessible through his preaching of the gospel. Accepting Paul’s gospel, the Gentiles have been made holy by their participation in the purifying sacrifice of Christ via membership in the ναός of the Jesus-believing community. They have abandoned their idol-worship with its associated moral turpitude and are thereby set apart (= “holy”) for the (liturgical) service of God. 110 They maintain the purity of the temple-community by acting as priests in offering up their lives through upright behavior, an unblemished sacrifice in obedience to God’s will. The ναός of the Jesus-community maintains the שכינהof God in the world until the parousia. Hence, as in the DSS, the community fulfills the functions of priest, temple, and sacrifice until the last days. 111 The most significant difference between Paul and the DSS (in addition to Paul’s inclusion of the Gentiles in the temple-community) is that the Qumran community saw itself as a replacement for the Jerusalem temple, while Paul, in keeping with Judaism’s consciousness of synagogues as places equally holy to the
See e.g. Dillon, “‘Priesthood’,” 165; Roetzel, “Romans,” 416. In 1 Cor 9:13–14, the preaching of the gospel is directly related to temple cult. The temple rite invoked in these verses is not a purification rite; still, Paul here correlates gospel preaching and temple service. For Paul as priest presenting the Gentiles blameless, see Dillon, “‘Priesthood,’” esp. 157, 159–60, 162, 165; Hogeterp, “Paul’s Judaism,” 106; Peerbolte, “Romans,” 147– 49. For the offering in 2 Cor 2:14–16 as related to cultic observance, see Bonnie Bowman Thurston, “2 Corinthians 2:14–16a: Christ’s Incense,” Restoration Quarterly 29, no. 2 (1987): 65–69. 109 Lanci, New Temple, 124–25, 133–34. 110 Fredriksen, “Judaizing the Nations,” 249; Wright, Paul Debate, 89. 111 See Horn, “Herodianische Tempel,” 189.
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Jerusalem temple, saw his Gentile Jesus-communities as extensions of that institution. Paul’s metaphors draw on features of the Jewish cult, yet are readily recognizable also to Gentiles as features of polytheistic worship. Jewish worship communities in the Diaspora felt a strong connection to the locus of worship in Jerusalem, despite their physical separation from it, as shown by practices such as prayer, almsgiving, purification rites, and the temple tax. Paul works within this cultural milieu to shape his Gentile Jesus-communities. Through his use of cultic metaphor, he blends the Jewish concept of synagogue temple holiness with the concept, easily recognizable and understandable to his Gentile converts, of multiple temples to single deities. In this way, Paul renders the Jesuscommunities as “satellite” temples of the temple in Jerusalem and effectively decentralizes that institution without by any means de-fusing it. A similar approach had already been taken long before by Jews in Elephantine and in Leontopolis, as noted above. Might this have been at least a partial cause of the opposition to Paul—a passionate objection to what appeared to his detractors as too great a concession to the Hellenistic environment? Was Paul seen by some as a contemporary Jason, the Seleucid sympathizer opposed by the Maccabees a century before? If there was any anti-temple sentiment in Paul’s day, it found expression in the Qumran community—and the Qumranites emphatically claimed to be the only proper Jews! Certainly, if the Qumranites were not antiJewish for their stand against the temple, Paul cannot be considered anti-Jewish for acknowledging the Jerusalem cult and claiming that his congregations were extensions of its holiness, just as that holiness extended also to synagogues. It is imperative to realize that Paul was not “spiritualizing” the Jerusalem temple and its worship, rendering it to the nebulous world of abstract concepts. Nowhere does Paul condemn temple ritual or advocate its abrogation. Quite to the contrary—his appropriation of temple imagery with reference to the community of God’s Messiah validates the efficacy of Jewish worship. 112 Otherwise, his confidence that the Gentiles share in Israel’s hope has no meaning. Paul was no supersessionist—this phenomenon only begins to appear in post-70 CE texts. Paul could not possibly have foreseen the adoption of temple motifs in later Christian churches as signs that the church has replaced Israel. 113 His application
See Fredriksen, “Judaizing the Nations,” 248; Hogeterp, God’s Temple, 377–78; 384; Klawans, “Interpreting,” 12, 14. 113 For a discussion of this phenomenon, see Joan R. Branham, “Mapping Sacrifice on Bodies and Spaces in Late-Antique Judaism and Early Christianity,” in Architecture of the
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of temple motifs by means of cultic metaphor was rather participationistâ€”a means of defining Gentile Jesus-communities as satellite temples of the Jerusalem temple and its rites, and hence members (not replacers) of Israel.
Sacred, ed. Bonna D. Wescoat and Robert G. Ousterhout (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 201â€“30.
Marking a Difference: The Gospel of Mark and the “Early High Christology” Paradigm Michael Kok King's University, Edmonton | Michael.Kok@kingsu.ca JJMJS No. 3 (2016): 102---124
The inference that the deification of Jesus was the culmination of evolutionary processes as different Christ associations adapted their beliefs to changing social circumstances used to be the critical consensus. 1 Beginning in the 1880s, a team of Protestant scholars at the University of Göttingen formed the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule (history of religions school) and aimed to contextualize the Christologies in canonical and non-canonical Christian literature in light of the wider cultic practices of the ancient Mediterranean. 2 Given the supposed monotheistic scruples of Second Temple Jews, some scholars supposed that the largest leaps in christological thinking occurred in predominantly non-Jewish settings. 3 Regarding the relationship between historical criticism and theology, some scholars accused the creedal expressions of Christ’s dual nature of distorting Jesus’ legacy, 4 while others saw no conflict
For a sample of the scholarship, see James Dunn, Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation (2nd ed.; London: SCM, 1989); Maurice Casey, From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God: The Origins and Development of New Testament Christology (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co, 1991); Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to New Testament Christology (New York: Paulinist, 1994), 110–41; Paula Fredriksen, From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ (2nd ed.; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000); Geza Vermes, Christian Beginnings: From Nazareth to Nicaea (London: Penguin, 2012). 2 One of their foremost representatives, Wilhelm Bousset, published Kyrios Christos: Geschichte des Christusglaubens von den Anfängen des Christentums bis Irenaeus (FRLANT 4; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1913); ET Kyrios Christos: A History of the Belief in Christ from the Beginnings of Christianity to Irenaeus (Nashville: Abingdon, 1970). I will cite the English translation in this paper. 3 A. E. Harvey, Jesus and the Constraints of History (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982), 154–73; Casey, Gentile God, 11–20, 27–38; Vermes, Christian Beginnings, xiv–xv, 49. 4 Casey, Gentile God, 176; Vermes, Christian Beginnings, 242–44.
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between the growing retrospective evaluation of Jesus’ divine identity and traditional Christian dogma. 5 The landscape of the academic study of Christian origins has shifted. Many exegetes now date a “high Christology” or a form of “christological monotheism” to the formative years of the incipient Jesus movement. In scholarly parlance, a “high” Christology is distinguished from a “low” one often on the basis of whether or not divinity is imputed to Jesus. 6 On his academic blog, Larry Hurtado recalls how the “Early High Christology Club” (EHCC) was an unofficial moniker coined by the steering committee for the “Divine Mediators in Antiquity Group” program unit at the Society of Biblical Literature in the 1990s. Hurtado names David Capes, Wendy Cotter, Jarl Fossum, Donald Juel, John R. Levison, Carey Newman, Pheme Perkins, Alan Segal, Marianne Meye Thompson, and himself as participants in the initial group. Subsequently, Clinton Arnold, Loren Stuckenbruck, James Davila, Charles Gieschen, Richard Bauckham, Martin Hengel, April DeConick, Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr, and Jörg Frey became associated with the EHCC. 7 Jarl Fossum has designated the EHCC as a new Religionsgeschichtliche Schule. 8 Some might characterize the work of the EHCC as instigating a paradigm shift. 9 Thomas S. Kuhn elucidates how a paradigm is a broad conceptual framework agreed upon by scholars that consists of both theory and practice. 10 It bears upon the research questions brought to the data and the 5
Brown, Introduction, 110–41. Ibid., 4. 7 See Larry Hurtado, “The Early High Christology Club (EHCC),” www.larryhurtado .wordpress.com/2013/02/06/the-early-high-christology-club-ehcc [accessed July 15, 2016]. 8 Jarl Fossum, “The New Religionsgeschichtliche Schule: The Quest for Jewish Christology,” in SBL Seminar Papers 1991, ed. Euguen H. Lovering, Jr., SBLSP 30 (Atlanta: Scholar’s Press, 1991), 638–46. For Fossum, the crucial difference is the shift to the Jewish rather than the Hellenistic or Oriental background for the conceptual categories in the New Testament. Unlike the old Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, though, Larry Hurtado notes that the EHCC represents scholars from diverse ethnic, gender, religious, and academic backgrounds in Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 11–18. 9 See Jörg Frey, “Eine neue religionsgeschichtliche Perspektive: Larry W. Hurtados Lord Jesus Christ und die Herausbildung der frühen Christologie,” in Reflections on the Early Christian History of Religion—Erwägungen zur frühen Religionsgeschichte, ed. Cilliers Breytenbach and Jörg Frey (AJEC 81; Leiden: Brill, 2013), 117–69. 10 T. S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (2nd ed.; International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, Foundations of the Unity of Science 2/2; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), 10–11. 6
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instrumentation for carrying out one’s research program. An overarching framework is able to accommodate minor anomalies with ad hoc modifications, but the accumulation of anomalous data leads to a crisis when the prevailing paradigm ceases to be viable. 11 Meanwhile, a new paradigm may not be instantly acknowledged at the time of its conception and is shaped before the advancement of the crisis. 12 It may be debatable whether the widespread postulation of an early high Christology and the primary relevance of the Second Temple literature amounts to a “paradigm” in line with Kuhn’s definition, but the scholarly pendulum has swung in the direction of the EHCC. Even so, it is the burden of my paper to demonstrate that Mark’s Gospel exemplifies an anomalous datum against the early high Christology paradigm. In dialogue with the approach outlined by Richard Bauckham, 13 I will contend that Mark’s depiction of Jesus does not conform to Bauckham’s criteria for inclusion within the “divine identity.” Divine Identity Christology: A Preliminary Assessment Some scholars maintain that the range of intermediary agents in Second Temple sources did not compromise their monotheistic orientation. 14 This creates obstacles for conceiving how a “high Christology” could have been planted on first-century Palestinian soil. Superseding the representation of Jesus as a supraterrestrial messianic figure in the primitive Palestinian community, 15 Wilhelm Bousset locates a full-fledged cultus to the κύριος (Lord) among the Hellenistic communities in Antioch, Damascus, and Tarsus. 16 Maurice Casey begins his sociological study on why Christians broke Jewish monotheistic strictures by 11
Ibid., 77–90. Ibid., 86. 13 See 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, 2008). 14 For a sample of studies, see Dunn, Christology, 13–21, 67–81, 132–35, 149–58, 168–75, 215–29; Casey, Gentile God, 78–96; Larry W. Hurtado, One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism (2nd edition; London: T&T Clark, 1998), 17–92; Bauckham, God of Israel, 13–17, 165–72. Alan F. Segal (Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism [Leiden: Brill, 1977], 159–219) dates a Jewish belief in two complementary divine powers back to the first century, but, by classifying it as a “heresy” (cf. Two Powers, ix), he implies the existence of an “orthodox” Jewish counterpart. 15 Bousset, Kyrios Christos, 49–52. 16 Ibid., 119–32. Bousset downplays the impact of the ruler cult on the κύριος title, preferring to credit it to the influence of the local mystery cults. 12
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generalizing that Second Temple Jews shared eight key identity factors: ethnicity, Scripture, monotheism, Sabbath, circumcision, dietary restrictions, purity laws, and festivals. 17 Correlating the request of Gamaliel II for a benediction to be formulated against the minim at the council of Yavneh (b. Ber. 28b–29a) with the expulsion of Christians from the synagogue (ἀποσυνάγωγος) in John 9:22, 12:42–43, and 16:2, 18 Casey paints the Johannine community as filled with assimilating Jews and non-Jewish converts. Detached from their heritage, they adopted a “Gentile self-identification” by envisaging “the Jews” (οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι) en masse as the Other, and the deified Christ provided social cohesion for the break-away sect. 19 A flaw in Casey’s thesis is that John’s Gospel does not hide the Jewish origins of the community (cf. 1:47, 49; 4:9, 22) nor adopts ἐθνικός (“Gentile”) as a positive self-identifier (cf. 3 John 7). 20 Even so, his theory that John’s theological rhetoric was forged out of the crucible of conflict has some plausibility (cf. John 8:56–59; 10:24–39). Anthony Harvey, on the other hand, holds the deification of Jesus to be unattested until Ignatius’s epistles (cf. Smyrn. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; 7:2; 18:2; 19:3; Rom. 3:3; 6:3). 21 Reconstructions of antique Jewish “monotheism” that hold it to be a constraining force on the religious imagination may entrench essentialist assumptions. For example, the rabbis demean Elisha ben Abuya or “Aher” (“other”) and an unnamed min for revering the angel Metatron as a second power in heaven and as worthy of worship (b. Hag. 14a; b. Sanh. 38b). 22 Granted, these references date to the Amoraic era and either reveal a controversy
Casey, Gentile God, 12. Casey adopts a loose dictionary definition of the term “ethnicity” as a social group within a larger cultural or social system which exhibits or is perceived to exhibit a complex of common traits (p. 13). 18 Ibid., 31. For a review of the influential reading of the Johannine expulsion passages in light of the birkat ha-minim advocated by J. Louis Martyn and the classic Martynian tradition, see Jonathan Bernier, Aposynagōgos and the Historical Jesus in John: Rethinking the Historicity of the Johannine Expulsion Passages (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 28, 46–49. 19 Casey, Gentile God, 11–20, 27–38. 20 James McGrath, John’s Apologetic Christology: Legitimation and Development in the Johannine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 12–13. Hurtado (Lord Jesus Christ, 43–44 n. 54) also counters that second-century “Gentile” Christian apologists were often more invested in defending their reverence for a single supreme divine being as opposed to the Graeco-Roman pantheon than in hammering out a coherent Christology. 21 Harvey, Constraints of History, 158, 158 n. 29. 22 See further Segal, Two Powers, 60–67; Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 128–47.
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sparked by an innovative cultic practice 23 or signify the exclusion of what was hitherto permitted. 24 Daniel Boyarin leans toward the second option, explicating that “[t]wo Powers in Heaven became the primary heresy for the Rabbis, and Modalism, the Christian heresy par excellence, became the only ‘orthodox’ theology allowed to Jews.” 25 Regardless, the rabbis’ interlocutors did not cease to be Jewish for entertaining different ideas about worship. Jonathan Z. Smith’s polythetic taxonomic system, in which a class consists of a large number of properties that are not all possessed in equal measure by all its members, should replace essentialist models of “identity.” Isolating circumcision as an item of discrimination for cross-cultural comparison, Smith reviews the varied Jewish attitudes toward it: upholding it as the quintessential sign of the covenant (Gen 17:9–14; Exod 12:43–49); admitting that it was a custom shared with other ethnic minorities (Josephus, Ant. 1.214; Philo, Spec. Laws 1.2); or discarding its literal application (1 Macc 1:15; Jub 15:33–34; Philo, Mig. 89–93). 26 There was no prevailing “orthodoxy” during the Second Temple era or the aftermath of 70 CE. It took centuries for the rabbis to wield influence over the synagogues in Palestine, much less the ones in the Diaspora. The earliest indisputable reference to the birkat ha-minim is in the mid-third century in Tosefta Berakhot 3.25, while the accounts of its Yavnean origins in the Bavli (B. Ber. 28b–29a) are of a legendary character. 27 At most, the rabbis utilized the birkat ha-minim to disqualify a precentor who erred in reciting it in thirdcentury Israel, but it does not mention a formal mechanism for excommunication to be relevant to the text of John. 28 Justin Martyr may attest to
Hurtado, One God, 32. McGrath, Apologetic Christology, 73; Boyarin, Border Lines, 123. 25 Boyarin, Border Lines, 138. James McGrath (The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context [Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009], 81–96) contends that the earliest rabbinic reports of the so-called “Two Powers” heresy were directed against dualistic, demiurgical theological systems. 26 Jonathan Z. Smith, “Fences and Neighbours: Some Contours of Early Judaism,” in Approaches to Ancient Judaism: Volume Two, ed. William Scott Green (Chicago: Scholars, 1980), 1–5, 10–15. 27 Boyarin, Border Lines, 68–69; Ruth Langer, Cursing the Christians? A History of the Birkat HaMinim (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 18–20, 33–35, 39. For instance, the Babylonian Talmud comments on how “Samuel the Little” forgot the wording of the malediction that he was entrusted with fixing in the amidah. 28 Stephen G. Wilson, Related Strangers: Jews and Christians, 70–170 C.E. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995), 179–80; Langer, Cursing, 29; Bernier, Aposynagōgos, 45–46. 24
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a garbled version of the malediction, 29 though his repeated charge that Jews curse Christians occurs just four times in the synagogue (cf. Dial. 16.4, 47.5, 96.2, 137.2) and once in a liturgical context after the prayer (137.2). 30 Justin may have reacted against informal, ad hoc curses in heated exchanges between some Jews and Christians. 31 Incidentally, the term min means “type” or “kind” and, while they could have a Jewish Jesus follower in their sights (t. Hull. 2.22–23; 2.24b), the rabbis specify that there were 24 sectarian factions (y. Sanh. 10.6.29c). The minim could encompass apocalypticists, Hellenizers, dualists, and other threats to rabbinic hegemony. 32 Reuven Kimelman’s lexical study shows that the term was restricted to Jews in the Palestinian Amoraic literature, and it was not until the Bavli that the meaning shifts in the remark about a “min among the nations” (b. Hull. 13b) as the Christianized Roman Empire was converted into the heterodox Other. 33 Epiphanius (Pan. 29.9) and Jerome (Comm. Amos 1.11; Comm. Isa. 5.18) corroborate that “Nazarenes” was added to the benediction around this time; it is doubtful that the term was part of the original wording or else the benediction might have been entitled the birkat ha-notzrim. 34 The premise that Christology evolved along a unilineal trajectory further fails to account for the elevated christological language in creedal or liturgical material embedded in the earliest extant sources (e.g. Rom 10:9, 13; 1 Cor 11:23–25; 16:22; Phil 2:6–11; Col 1:15–20). Hurtado extracts a constellation of dyadic devotional practices consisting of prayers, hymns, confessions, cultic meals, baptismal rites, prophecies, and doxologies in the Pauline Epistles as well as the anecdotes about baptisms, healings, and exorcisms in Jesus’ name in the book of Acts. 35 Bousset disallows that the cultic invocation of the Lord in the
Wilson, Related Strangers, 182. Reuven Kimelman, “Birkat Ha-Minim and the Lack of Evidence for an Anti-Christian Jewish Prayer in Late Antiquity,” in Jewish and Christian Self-Definition: Volume Two, ed. E. P. Sanders, A. I. Baumgarten, and Alan Mendelson (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), 233–34; cf. Langer, Cursing, 29–30. 31 Boyarin, Border Lines, 71–73; Langer, Cursing, 30, 38; Bernier, Aposynagōgos, 32. 32 Wilson, Related Strangers, 177; Langer, Cursing, 4, 22, 25, 26, 27, 59. 33 Kimelman, “Lack of Evidence,” 229–32; Boyarin, Border Lines, 220; Langer, Cursing, 26. 34 Kimelman, “Lack of Evidence,” 233–34, 237–38; Wilson, Related Strangers, 180; Langer, Cursing, 31–32, 39, 57–58, 269 n. 84. Wilson’s conjecture that the term notzrim was added shortly after the Bar Kochba revolt cannot be substantiated by the surviving textual evidence (cf. Related Strangers, 182–83). 35 Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, 137–57, 197–206. However, see also the nuanced interaction with Hurtado’s thesis of a Christian dyadic devotional pattern in James Dunn, Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? The New Testament Evidence (London: 30
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transliterated phrase μαράναθά (1 Cor 16:22; cf. Rev 22:20; Did 10:6) derives from Aramaic-speaking circles in Judaea, preferring to ascribe the petition to hypothetical bilingual circles in northern Syria. 36 Similarly, Geza Vermes sets aside the “Philippians hymn” (Phil 2:6–11) as a scribal interpolation without warrant in the manuscript evidence. 37 Instead of letting our theoretical frameworks screen out inconvenient data, the data must inform our etic classifications. Paul probably relied on older traditions and, along with his contacts in Judaea (1 Cor 1:12; 9:5; 15:3–7; Gal 1:18–2:14; 1 Thess 2:14), is one crucial witness to the Judaean Christ congregations in their first few decades. 38 To account for the lofty christological sentiments expressed in some early sources, Second Temple literature has been combed through in the search for parallels for a heavenly viceroy among the divine hypostases, chief angels, or apotheosized humans. 39 Hurtado partially concurs that the concept of divine agency supplied a precedent, except with the caveat that there is no proof of a Jewish cult devoted to an intermediary agent. 40 Bauckham draws a firmer line separating the God of Israel from all other reality and dismisses the relevance of the Jewish intermediary figures. Bypassing the modern taxonomy of ontological versus functional divinity, he introduces the category of “divine identity.” The “divine identity” is defined by creational and eschatological monotheism; everything that exists has been created and is governed by the God of Israel. 41
Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 7–28, 29–53; McGrath, True God, 23–37. They particularly note that Jesus was not the recipient of sacrificial worship nor was the metaphorical language relating to the cult (e.g. λατρεία, λατρεύειν) directed toward Jesus. 36 Bousset, Kyrios Christos, 129. 37 Vermes, Christian Beginnings, 108–109. 38 Rightly emphasized in Hurtado, One God, 3–5; idem, Lord Jesus Christ, 79–86. 39 See Jarl E. Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1985); Peter Hayman, “Monotheism—A Misused Word in Jewish Studies,” JJS 42 (1991): 1–15; Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God (London: SPCK, 1992); Charles A. Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence (AGJU 42; Leiden: Brill, 1998), 51–122; Boyarin, Border Lines, 89–147; Bart D. Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (New York: HarperOne, 2014), 47–84, 252–53; Crispin Fletcher-Louis, Jesus Monotheism Volume 1, Christological Origins: The Emerging Consensus and Beyond (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2015), 167–291. 40 See Hurtado, One God, 17–92. See also the chapter on worship in Bauckham, God of Israel, 127–40. 41 Bauckham, God of Israel, 6–11, 30–31.
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Through creative scriptural exegesis (e.g. Ps 110 and Isa 40–55), Bauckham theorizes that Jesus came to be esteemed as the creator and ruler of all things and, hence, was included in the “divine identity.” 42 The proof-texting of Ps 110 to validate Jesus’ cosmic lordship is pervasive in Christian writings (Mark 12:36 par; Acts 2:33–34; 5:31; 7:55–56; Rom 8:34; 1 Cor 15:25; Eph 1:20; 2:6; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12–13; 12:2; 1 Pet 3:22; Rev 3:21; 1 Clem. 36:5; Barn. 12:10). Jesus appears as the agent through whom the universe was fashioned in a handful of New Testament verses (John 1:1–3, 10; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:15–17; Heb 1:2). Bauckham is familiar with textual depictions of Lady Wisdom or the Word (λόγος) serving as royal advisors (e.g., Sir. 24:4; Wis. 9:4, 10; 1 En. 84:2–3; Philo, Quest. Gen. 4.110–11) and participating in creation (e.g., Ps 33:6; Prov 8:22–31; Sir. 24:3–6; 42:15; Wis. 7:22; 8:1; Philo, Spec. 1.81) and deems them, therefore, to be intrinsic to the “divine identity” (cf. 2 En. 33:4). 43 Scholars are divided over whether the wisdom corpus and Philo of Alexandria were simply speaking about divine immanence in creation with figurative language or moving beyond the personification of divine attributes to envision semi-independent entities who blurred the boundary between the Creator and the creation (e.g. Prov 8:22 LXX; Philo, Ques. Gen. 2.262; Heir 206). 44 If the former position is correct, Wisdom and Logos Christology might lend the strongest support to the thesis that Jesus was incorporated within the “divine identity” by some of his devotees. As for divine sovereignty, Bauckham contests the evidence that other intermediary agents were enthroned in heaven. The multiple thrones in Dan 7:9 and the thrones pledged to Jesus’ disciples (Matt 19:28; Luke 22:30; Rev 20:4; cf. 3:21) may be part of an eschatological courtroom scene on earth, 45 but the Christ followers in Laodicea were promised a seat on Jesus’ own throne in the same way
Ibid., 5–57, 152–81, 191–232. Ibid., 16–17, 165–66. The appendix of Gordon D. Fee’s magisterial study of Pauline Christology excludes any trace of wisdom traditions in 1 Cor 8:6, 2 Cor 4:4–6, and Col 1:15–18 (cf. Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study [Peabody: Hendrickson, 2007], 594–617). However, Fee’s standards for precise verbal identity does not rule out the possibility of allusion. It seems to me that Fee’s apprehension of wisdom Christology is due to the specter of an Arian reading of Prov 8:22 LXX and his view of pre-existence Christology as an unparalleled revelation (cf. pp. 595–96, 598 n. 12, 602). 44 For the former view, see Dunn, Christology, 163–76, 213–30; idem, Worship, 76–84; Hurtado, One God, 41–50; Fee, Pauline Christology, 607–609. For the latter view, see Fossum, Name, 345–46; Gieschen, Angelmorphic, 89–114, 107–12; McGrath, Apologetic Christology, 76; idem, True God, 56–57; Boyarin, Border Lines, 89–147. 45 Bauckham, God of Israel, 161–63. 43
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that Jesus was seated on his Father’s throne (Rev 3:21). 46 Bauckham reduces the dream of Moses’ heavenly enthronement in the Exagōgē of Ezekiel the Tragedian (67–90) to a symbolic picture of Moses’ leadership role over Israel (cf. Gen 37:9–10) and prophetic role as the deity’s spokesperson to Pharaoh (cf. Exod 7:1). 47 Even if his exegesis is sound, this scene could be in dialogue with beliefs about Moses’ literal ascension (cf. Josephus, Ant. 4.325–26; b. Yom. 4a). 48 Lastly, Bauckham grants that the apocalyptic “son of man” (1 En. 61:8; 62:2, 5; 69:27, 29) and, much later, Metatron (b. Hag. 15a) were exceptions to the rule. 49 Bauckham does not tone down the worship of the human-like figure in the Similitudes (1 En. 46:5; 48:5; 62:6, 9) nor entertains the modernist distinction between the public deference of a head of state from the private religious adoration of a divinity. 50 Conversely, Hurtado differentiates paying obeisance or prostrating (προσκυνεῖν) before a high ranking officer (1 En. 48:5; 62:6–9; cf. Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica 40.3.3–8; Josephus, Ant. 11.331–35; Life of Adam and Eve 12–16) from cultic worship and adds that the imagined scenes of literary fiction do not compare to the embodied praxis of a living congregation. 51 On this point, Michael Peppard cautions about the 46
Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, 47 n. 66. Bauckham, God of Israel, 166–69. 48 Hurtado, One God, 59. 49 Bauckham, God of Israel, 169–72. 50 Ibid., 16, 170–71. 51 Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, 38–42. It may be true that the praxis attested in the Pauline Epistles and the book of Acts evolved beyond Jewish precedents and that an exact analogue for the full constellation of binitarian devotional practices has not been discovered in the Second Temple period. On the other hand, the worship practices might not have been uniform across the Christ congregations and, for the purposes of this paper, Mark furnishes little evidence for a dyadic devotional pattern. The Gerasene demoniac prostrated (προσεκύνησεν) before Jesus, as did the Roman soldiers in mockery (Mark 5:6; 15:19), with both incidences involving non-Jewish subjects. No one is baptized in Jesus’ name, though the sons of Zebedee are metaphorically baptized into his fate of martyrdom (10:29). Jesus commissions the disciples to conduct a campaign of healing (6:7, 13) and an exorcist casts out demons in Jesus’ name (9:37–39), but the latter case is not so different from the sons of the priest Sceva who adjure demons in the name of the Jesus preached by Paul (Acts 19:13). The Passover commemorated in Mark 14:22–25 differs from the memorial meal mystically presided over by the Lord at Corinth (1 Cor 10:21; 11:20–34). It could be objected that binitarian worship was generated by Jesus’ post-Easter exaltation, but other Synoptic Gospels could move these practices back into Jesus’ lifetime. As Hurtado observes (cf. Lord Jesus Christ, 337–38, 337 n. 196), Matthew’s redaction of Mark 6:52 implies that the disciples recognized Jesus’ divine sonship during 47
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methodological pitfalls in trying to discern the intentions of ancient subjects when they bowed before political authorities or divinities. 52 Bauckham has provided an innovative and ground-breaking contribution to the academic study of Christology. Nevertheless, I have some theoretical reservations regarding his project. He underscores that “the earliest Christology was already in nuce the highest Christology” and “the highest possible Christology—the inclusion of Jesus in the unique divine identity—was central to the faith of the early church even before any of the New Testament writings were written, since it occurs in all of them.” 53 The drive to date a “high Christology” as early as conceivable seems to be a reaction against the deprecation of it as a late, syncretistic phenomenon by other scholars. 54 There ought to be less anxiety about the theological implications of this investigation, for the validity of creedal affirmations within confessional communities need not depend on the historical questions of “when” and “where” they were first formulated. 55 The concentration on an exclusively Jewish genealogy for Christology also appears to insulate it from the contamination of Greco-Roman influences, before scholars frequently take the next step that Christology transcended an essentialized and static “Judaism” and belongs in a class of its own (sui generis). 56 Without analogy or precedent, Christology stands out as unique as if in a cultural vacuum. This seems to be a desire to capture the originary, fixed essence of “Christian” beliefs and practices that “preceded the external world of
his ministry and worshipped (προσεκύνησεν) him accordingly (Matt 14:33). More seems to be implied by Peter’s gesture of kneeling and pleading with the Lord to leave him since he was a sinful man in the Lukan Sondergut (Luke 5:18). 52 Michael Peppard, The Son of God in the Roman World: Divine Sonship in its Social and Political Context (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 25. 53 Bauckham, God of Israel, 19, 184, 235. 54 See, for example, Casey, Gentile God, 176; Vermes, Christian Beginnings, 242–44. 55 Hurtado (Lord Jesus Christ, 9) rightly aims to defuse misplaced apologetic or antiapologetic concerns. 56 See the criticisms lodged by Jonathan Z. Smith, Drudgery Divine (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 44; James Crossley, “Mark’s Christology and a Scholarly Creation of a Non-Jewish Christ of Faith,” in Judaism, Jewish Identities and the Gospel Tradition: Essays in Honour of Maurice Casey, ed. J. G. Crossley (London and Oakville: Equinox, 2011), 119–20; M. David Litwa, IESUS DEUS: The Early Christian Depiction of Jesus as a Mediterranean God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014), 16–18.
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accident and succession.” 57 An external stimulus from outside the historical chain of causality is practically required. 58 On sociological and theological grounds, a new revelation has to communicate in the recipients’ linguistic and conceptual interpretive grid. If the inspired exegesis promoted by a few interpreters caused major modifications of pre-existing interpretive frameworks, then opposition to these innovations should be expected from other quarters of the Jesus movement. 59 Finally, there is a risk of treating antique Jewish and Christian texts as univocal on the subject of “monotheism.” Paula Fredriksen urges scholars to retire “monotheism” as an anachronistic concept and contends that ancient Jews, Christians, and “Pagans” had more in common in positioning the highest divine being on top of a hierarchy of lesser divinities (e.g., Exod 22:28 LXX; 1 Cor 8:5–6; Gal 4:8–9). 60 This is not to say that the aniconic and exclusive cultic devotion to the supreme deity of Israel enshrined in the Shema (Deut 6:4) was not a widely held cultural value among many Second Temple Jews and Christ followers. 61 Still, we cannot assume that what composes the “divine identity” and to what extent intermediary figures could take on divine functions or receive limited forms of worship was a matter of unanimous consent. Boyarin developed a wave-length theory model, where an assortment of Judaeo-Christian dialects across the spectrum from the Marcionites to non-Christian Jews developed into clusters through diffusion and steadily organized into the “official” forms of Rabbinic Judaism and Nicene Christianity. 62 The rest of this paper will compare Mark’s representation of Jesus to the rubric delineated by Bauckham for sharing in the “divine identity” in order to illustrate that Mark’s Gospel stands out as different from other theological strands in the New Testament.
See Michael Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” in Aescetics, Method and Epistemology, Volume 2, ed. James Faubion, trans. Robert Hurley et al (London:
Penguin, 2000), 374. 58 To be fair, Bauckham does not actually specify the causal mechanism behind the novel exegesis of Christian interpreters. Larry Hurtado, on the other hand, proposes that visions of the heavenly worship of Jesus generated the distinctive shape of Christian binitarian devotion (cf. One God, 114–23; Lord Jesus Christ, 72–74). 59 See Fletcher-Louis, Jesus Monotheism, 152–55. 60 Paula Fredriksen, “Mandatory Retirement: Ideas in the Study of Christian Origins Whose Time Has Come to Go,” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 35 (2006): 241–43. 61 See the debate between Hurtado (Lord Jesus Christ, 37–42) and McGrath (True God, 28–30) over the type of worship that could be accorded to lower spiritual beings, with McGrath drawing the line at sacrificial worship. 62 Boyarin, Border Lines, 18–19.
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The Markan Jesus as the Creator of All Things? It is easy to point out that neither Mark, nor the rest of the synoptic tradition, explicitly narrates Jesus’ pre-cosmogonic state (contra John 1:1–3). It may be more fruitful to ask whether Mark presupposes an incarnational Christology. Hurtado objects that Mark’s silence on Jesus’ pre-existence does not necessitate that the evangelist was ignorant about a doctrine that had been in circulation in the previous decades. 63 Simon Gathercole insists that pre-existence was taken for granted in the synoptic “I have come” sayings, featuring a form of the verb ἦλθον (I have come) followed by a purpose expressed in an infinitive formula (cf. Mark 1:24, 38; 2:17; 10:45; Matt 10:34/Luke 12:51; Matt 5:17; 8:29; 10:35; Luke 12:49; 19:10). After inspecting the potential parallels, he decides that the sayings are analogous to the announcements of heavenly visitors who have traveled from one locale (i.e. heaven) to another (i.e. earth). 64 James Dunn and Adela Collins have issued cogent rebuttals to Gathercole’s thesis. 65 Gathercole eliminates sayings that do not match his criteria, in spite of the prospect that they might shed light on the idiom. John the baptizer anticipates that a stronger one is “coming” to baptize with the spirit (Mark 1:7–8 par), John has come to restore all things (Mark 9:12–13) or turn people to the way of righteousness (Matt 21:32), and Jesus and John came preaching asceticism or open commensality (Matt 11:18–19/Luke 7:33–34). Gathercole makes too fine a distinction between the sayings that have a single event in mind as opposed to summing up a person’s entire purpose in life to exclude the parallel that Josephus had come to bring good tidings to Vespasian (War 3.400). 66 Some Markan examples present one-time events such as destroying the demons inhabiting an individual (1:24), launching his public ministry in select Galilean towns (1:38), and calling sinners to repentance by extending table fellowship with them (2:17). The idiom denotes 63
Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, 323. Simon J. Gathercole, The Pre-existent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark and Luke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 113–45; W. R. Telford, The Theology of the Gospel of Mark (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 167; Timothy J. Geddert, “The Implied Yhwh Christology of Mark’s Gospel: Mark’s Challenge to the Reader to ‘Connect the Dots,’” BBR 25 (2015): 335–36. 65 The arguments in this paragraph summarize some of the points in James Dunn, “Review of The Pre-existent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark and Luke,” RBL 4 (2007), www.bookreviews.org/pdf/5607_6160.pdf [accessed July 15, 2016]; Adela Collins and John J. Collins, King and Messiah as Son of God: Divine, Human, and Angelic Messianic Figures in Biblical and Related Literature (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 124–26. 66 Gathercole, The Pre-existent Son, 95–96. 64
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a sense of commission, whether a human or angelic envoy, and does not have to entail pre-existence. On a related note, there is no qualitative difference between the sending of the servants and of the beloved son in the parable of the tenants (12:1–9 par), unless the reader brings an a priori lens to the parable. 67 Other Markan pericopae like the sea and feeding miracle doublets (4:35–41; 6:34–44; 6:45–52; 8:1–9) may exhibit an epiphanic quality. Extraordinary humans such as Moses and Rabbi Eliezer commanded the natural elements to obey their will (Philo, Moses 1.55–58; b. Baba Metzia 59b). 68 Moses and Elijah were famously remembered for dividing the waters (Exod 14:21–29; 2 Kings 2:8) and multiplying food (Exod 16:1–36; Num 11:1–9; 1 Kings 17:14–16) and Mark may echo the paradigmatic event of the exodus and the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness. 69 The difficulty is that, in the biblical stories, a path is carved out through the water to pass through on dry ground. Richard Hays determines that the exodus allusions in Ps 77:19, Isa 43:16, and Isa 51:10 are also not pertinent as Yahweh passes through the sea rather than walks upon it. 70 When Jesus strides across the sea (Mark 6:48–51), many scholars are reminded of Yahweh trampling upon the waters of chaos (cf. Job 9:8; 38:16) and Jesus’ utterance of the divine name ἐγώ εἰμι (I am) and intent “to pass by” (παρελθεῖν) may imitate a theophany (cf. LXX Exod 33:17–23; 34:6). 71 Alternatively, ἐγώ εἰμι could be rendered “it is I” and Jesus may have planned to go ahead of the disciples so that they might follow after him.
Contra Gathercole, Pre-existent Son, 188. Crossley, “Christ of Faith,” 136. 69 Paul J. Achtemeier, “The Origin and Function of Pre-Markan Miracle Catenae” JBL 91 (1972): 202–204; Adela Collins, “Rulers, Divine Men, and Walking on the Water” in 68
Religious Propaganda and Missionary Competition in the New Testament World: Essays Honoring Dieter Georgi, ed. Lukas Bormann, Kelly Del Tredici, and Angela Standhartinger (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 215; Richard Horsley, Hearing the Whole Story: The Politics of Plot in Mark’s Gospel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 104–105. 70 Richard Hays, Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014), 24. 71 Joel Marcus, The Way of the Lord: Christological Exegesis of the Old Testament in the Gospel of Mark (London: T&T Clark International, 1992), 144–45; Collins, “Divine Men,” 212–13; Rikki E. Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000), 160–62; Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, 285–86; Gathercole, Preexistent Son, 62–64; Bauckham, God of Israel, 265; M. Eugene Boring, Mark: A Commentary (New Testament Library; London: Westminster John Knox, 2006), 189–90; Hays, Figural Christology, 24–26; Geddert, “Connect the Dots,” 332–34. For a similar portrayal of Greek and Roman divinities exercising power over the sea, see Collins, “Divine Men,” 214.
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J. R. Daniel Kirk and Stephen L. Young have uncovered that Ps 89:25 (LXX Ps 88:26) extends the power to restrain the tumultuous sea to the Davidic ruler. 72 The sole rebuttal that I have come across is in a blog post by Andrew Perriman and he interprets Ps 89:25 as restating the ideal size of David’s dominion to be from sea to sea (cf. Ps 71:8; 79:12). 73 It still seems to me that Ps 89:9–10 sets the context in the ancient Near Eastern combat myth where the celestial potentate subdues the forces of chaos symbolized in the raging waters and establishes order. By setting David’s hand on the sea, the human monarch exercises control over this extensive, newly ordered realm in Yahweh’s stead. Richard Horsley is incredulous that Mark replicated an imperial myth, 74 but Mark has no issue transferring imperial titles and imagery to Jesus. Other emperors could boast of their ability to control the sea. Xerxes ordered that the Hellespont be scourged when it did not comply with the Persians’ efforts to cross it, and the eventual crossing was mythologized (cf. Herodotus, Hist. 7.35, 56; Dio Chrysostom 3.30–31); the pretensions of Alexander the Great (cf. Menander frg. 924 K) and Antiochus IV “Epiphanes” (cf. 2 Macc 9:8) to walk upon the waters became the subject of satire. 75 Mark combines a Mosaic and a royal Davidic Christology in this episode. The transfiguration might also be an epiphany. Most exegetes agree that a Sinai typology undergirds Mark 9:2–8 based on the six-day time frame, the setting on a mountain, the three witnesses, the transformed appearance of the protagonist, the voice from a cloud, and the imperative to “listen to him” (cf. Exod 24; 34:29–35; Deut 18:15). 76 Rudolf Pesch’s finding that this was a 72
Daniel Kirk and Stephen L. Young, “I Will Set his Hand to the Sea: Psalm 88:26 (LXX) and Christology in Mark” JBL 133 (2014): 333–40; cf. J. R. Daniel Kirk, “Idealized Human or Identified as God? A Narratological Assessment of Mark's Christology in Conversation with Jewish Precedents” (Atlanta, SBL 2015), 16–17. I had access to this excellent unpublished paper since I was part of the panel on Christology in the “Mark Seminar.” 73 Andrew Perriman, “Jesus and the Sea: Arguments about Divine Identity,” www.postost.net/2015/11/jesus-sea-arguments-about-divine-identity [accessed July 15, 2016]. 74 Horsley, Whole Story, 105. 75 Collins, “Divine Men,” 218–20; Adam Winn, The Purpose of Mark’s Gospel: An Early Christian Response to Roman Imperialism (WUNT 2.245; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 112. 76 Dunn, Christology, 47; Marcus, Way of the Lord, 81–83; Candida Moss, “The Transfiguration: An Exercise in Markan Accommodation,” Biblical Interpretation 12 (2004): 72–73; Collins, King and Messiah, 131; Simon S. Lee, Jesus’ Transfiguration and
the Believers’ Transformation: A Study of the Transfiguration and Its Development in Early Christian Writings (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009), 17–22; Litwa, IESUS DEUS, 123. It is hard to explain why Mark 9:3 departs from Exod 34:29–35 in depicting Jesus’
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revelation of the Son of Man’s glory (cf. 1 En. 70) is less probable. 77 Mark 8:38 and 13:26–28 do not describe the clothing of this exalted figure, whereas Rev 1:14 blends his appearance with that of the Ancient of Days (cf. Dan 7:9, 13–14). It is Matthew that prefaces the transfiguration with a logion about the παρουσία (coming) of the Son of Man (16:28). Could Mark have been equally indebted to Hellenistic epiphany tales? Candida Moss highlights a striking example of how the goddess Demeter throws off her disguise as an elderly woman and her splendor radiates from her robes (Homeric Hymn II [To Demeter] 275–80). 78 Simon Gathercole and Simon S. Lee view Jesus’ metamorphosis into a luminous form and accompaniment by heavenly beings like Moses and Elijah as a glimpse of the otherworldly nature of Jesus veiled beneath human flesh. 79 Although Lee deduces from the transfiguration that Jesus’ divine sonship is ontological as well as functional, 80 Moss is careful to clarify that Mark is not preoccupied with Jesus’ pre-existence or essence (ousia). 81 Certainly, as M. David Litwa documents, “[e]lements like blinding light, terror, and the response of worship were cultural common coin in the ancient Mediterranean world.” 82 The evangelist could have drawn on epiphanic imagery prevalent in his or her Hellenized milieu to portray Jesus as exceeding Moses in mirroring the divine grandeur on the theophoric mountain. 83 The framing of the episode in Mark’s literary context, however, indicates that this standard imagery is re-deployed in a proleptic vision of Jesus’ future glory at the eschaton. Sandwiching the transfiguration between a logion about the advent of the kingdom (Mark 9:1) and a resurrection prediction (9:9), Mark contextualizes it in an eschatological frame of reference and Jesus resembles the glorified saints (Dan 12:3; 1 En.
glistening garments rather than his shining face (contra Matt 17:2), but Lee goes too far in taking this as a subtle clue that Mark superseded the Mosaic typology. 77 Rudolf Pesch, Das Markusevangelium (HTK; Freiburg: Herder, 1977), 2.73–74. 78 Moss, “Markan Accommodation,” 75–79; cf. Collins, King and Messiah, 131–32. 79 Gathercole, Pre-existent Son, 48–49, 276; Lee, Transfiguration, 23. 80 Lee, Jesus’ Transfiguration, 24–30, 31 n. 73. 81 Moss, “Markan Accomodation,” 85. 82 Litwa, IESUS DEUS, 120. Litwa documents how a range of divinities and rulers appear in dazzling light and shining clothes and evoke responses of terror and worship on pp. 121–22, 129–37. 83 Litwa (IESUS DEUS, 125–29) appeals to the noetification of Moses so that he might enter God’s incorporeal intelligible realm in Philo’s philosophy. I am more hesitant to impute the complex Platonic categories of an Alexandrian Jewish intellectual to Mark’s populist Gospel narrative. It is more plausible that there was a common stock of images widely used to depict the radiance of deities, demi-gods, and super-humans.
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91:38; 108:11f; 1 Cor 15:51–53; Phil 3:21; Rev 3:4; 2 Bar. 51:3, 5, 10). 84 His white clothing may symbolize ritual purity (Dan 11:35; Josephus, War 2.123; cf. Isa 1:18; 6:1–7). 85 On the whole, Mark seems to exemplify an exaltationist rather than an incarnational Christology. The Markan Jesus as the Ruler of All Things? It is more obvious that, for Mark, Jesus is destined to be the heir to the vineyard of Israel (12:7–10) and partake in the divine sovereignty over the cosmos (12:35– 37; 14:63). There is a reference in Mark 1:11 to a royal coronation psalm (Ps 2:7) and a possible allusion to the Isaianic Servant (Isa 42:1; cf. Matt 12:18). 86 At his baptism, Jesus is endowed with the Spirit to undertake the duties of his office (Mark 1:10; cf. Judg 3:10; 1 Sam 10:6, 10; 11:6; 16:13; Isa 42:1; 61:1). The intertextual biblical echoes are underestimated in Peppard’s superb study of the Roman background to the title υἱὸς θεοῦ (son of god). 87 Regardless, he complements this analysis by highlighting the use of the verb εὐδοκέω (I choose, consent, take pleasure in) in Roman adoption contracts and the role of bird omens in portending a victorious battle or an emperor’s ascension (Seutonius, Aug. 94; 96; Claud. 7; Dom. 6). 88 Legal adoption may be the means by which imperial power was perpetuated and transferred to the emperor, the supreme benefactor in the Roman world. 89 The most well-known illustration is how Octavian embraced the title divi filius (son of god) as the adopted great-nephew of Julius Caesar, and Mark’s incipit subverts the “good news” (εὐαγγέλια) that 84
Jack Dean Kingsbury, The Christology of Mark’s Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983), 99. Dunn, Christology, 47–48; cf. Kirk, “Idealized Human,” 7. 85 Crossley, “Christ of Faith,” 27. 86 Joel Marcus (Way of the Lord, 54) argues that the citation of Ps 2 may be an editorial addition to the earlier identification of Jesus with the Servant based on the Isaianic context set out in Mark 1:2 and the independence of John’s baptism account (cf. John 1:32–34). Conversely, Donald Juel (Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988], 79–80) stresses that the reference to the psalm is primary given the evidence of Jewish messianic interpretations of Ps 2 (cf. 2 Sam 7) and the royal ideology that permeates Mark’s baptism scene. Further, the allusion to the Servant is debatable as there is little verbal correspondence between Mark 1:11 and Isa 42:1 LXX, though adopting the translation of the Isaianic passage in Matt 12:18 would make the intertextual links more apparent. 87 Peppard, Son of God, 95–96. On the numerous biblical resonances, see Marcus, Way of the Lord, 49–54, 80–84. 88 Peppard, Son of God, 109, 116–18. 89 Ibid., 67–85, 95; cf. Ehrman, How Jesus Became God, 232–33.
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Augustus ushered in an era of peace in the Priene inscription. 90 The imperial cult had a presence in Palestine since Herod the Great built imperial temples in Sebaste, Caesarea Maritima, and Banias and, on the spectrum of negotiating it from accommodation (e.g. Mark 3:6; Josephus, Ant. 20.100) to resistance (e.g. Josephus, War 2.169–74, 184–203; Philo, Legat. 198, 208), one option was to defy Roman propaganda by re-inscribing it in the form of a native Jewish messianism via the process of colonial mimicry. 91 Although many commentators resist these implications, 92 the baptism account in Mark 1:9–11 intimates that Jesus inherits a new status when he is appointed as the royal Messiah. 93 M. Eugene Boring counters that Mark 1:11 must be read as a declaration of Jesus’ prior identity or else the repetition of the divine pronouncement in Mark 9:7 signals that Jesus was adopted twice. 94 In Mark 1:10–11 (contra Matt 3:16–17; Luke 3:21–22), however, Jesus alone “saw” (εἶδεν) the heavens ripped open (cf. MT Isa 63:9) and heard the bath qol or heavenly voice, whereas his election was ratified before three witnesses in Mark 9:7. Peppard explains, “[T]his gathering would then resemble the comitia curiata, or “representative assembly,” necessary to confirm Roman adoptions.” 95 Some exegetes construe Mark 12:35–37 as repudiating an inadequate Davidic Christology (cf. Barn. 12:10–11). 96 Richard Horsley believes that the Markan Jesus signifies an archetypal liberating prophet in the mold of Moses or Elijah and spurns the script of the Davidic monarch from the Judaean “great
90 Craig A. Evans, “Mark’s Incipit and the Priene Calendar Inscription: From Jewish Gospel to Greco-Roman Gospel,” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 1 (2000): 67–81; Tae Hun Kim, “The Anarthrous Υιος θεου in Mark 15.39 and the Roman Imperial Cult” Biblica 79.2 (1998): 222–41; Winn, Roman Imperialism, 97–98, 101–102; Peppard, Son of God, 46–47; Ehrman, How Jesus Became God, 233. 91 Collins, King, 48–54, 115–16; Winn, Purpose, 40; Peppard, Son of God, 24–26, 92–93. I disagree with Hurtado (Lord Jesus Christ, 75–76, 91–93, 103) that the imperial cult only had an impact on the Christians at a secondary stage when they countered the imperial propaganda of the Flavians by emphasizing Jesus’ divine sonship. 92 For the denunciations of adoptionism in select Markan commentaries, see Peppard, Son of God, 96–97. 93 See Brown, Christology, 144; Dunn, Christology, 47; Marcus, Way of the Lord, 74–75; Adela Collins, “Mark and His Readers: The Son of God Among Jews,” HTR 92 (1999): 394–95; Collins, King and Messiah, 127–28; Ehrman, How Jesus Became God, 238. 94 Boring, Mark, 46. 95 Peppard, Son of God, 130. 96 See Bousset, Kyrios Christos, 35; Marcus, Way of the Lord, 139–42; Telford, Theology, 50–51; Horsley, Whole Story, 20, 285.
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tradition.” 97 Unless Mark 12:35–37 contradicts 10:47, it seems that Mark strains to alleviate the scriptural tension between the Messiah as David’s descendant (2 Sam 7:12–14) and David’s Lord (Ps 110:1) by confirming the truth of both descriptions. 98 James Crossley downplays the title “son of David” that Bartimaeus bestowed upon Jesus in Mark 10:47 as a respectful address—like calling someone a “son of Abraham”—and underscores that the crowd chants for “the kingdom of our father David” (11:10). 99 Again, the framing of Peter’s climatic confession of Jesus as the Χριστός or “anointed one” (8:28–30) between the healings of two blind men may be the key. The first healing occurs in two stages (8:22–25), and the sight of the second blind man is restored after he hails Jesus as “son of David” and before joining Jesus on “the way” to Jerusalem (10:46–52). 100 The acclamations of Jesus as the “Christ” and the “son of David” are equivalent and partially insightful, but Jesus’ identity is not completely grasped unless his suffering is affirmed and internalized (8:30–38; 10:52). There is an extra sense of dramatic irony that Bartimaeus sees what other characters metaphorically fail to see. 101 Mark 12:35–37 intimates that Jesus’ position will surpass David’s former majesty and the Davidic terrestrial kingdom was re-envisioned as a celestial one, at least until Jesus returns to earth in his eschatological triumph (cf. 8:38; 13:24–37; 14:62). 102 Jesus’ prediction that he would sit at the right hand of power provokes the high priest to tear his garments and utter cries of “blasphemy” (14:63–64). Darrell Bock states, “The self-made claim to sit at the right hand and ride the clouds would be read as a blasphemous utterance, a false claim that equates Jesus in a unique way with God and that reflects an arrogant disrespect toward the one true God.” 103 Bock references Philo’s rebukes of those who arrogate divine honors for themselves (Dreams 2.130–31; Decal. 13, 14.61–64). 104 Bock rightly qualifies 97
Horsley, Whole Story, 92–93, 247–53. Kingsbury, Christology, 109; Juel, Messianic Exegesis, 143–44; Watts, New Exodus, 287–88. 99 Crossley, “Christ of Faith,” 126. 100 Ernest Best, Following Jesus: Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark (JSNTSS 4; Sheffield: JSOT, 1981), 3; cf. Watts, New Exodus in Mark, 288. 101 Juel, Messianic Exegesis, 142. 102 Kingsbury, Christology, 112–14; Watts, New Exodus, 289–90. 103 Darrell Bock, “Blasphemy and the Jewish Examination of Jesus,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 17 (2007): 78 (emphasis mine). On page 77, Bock cites the biblical images of Yahweh as the rider on the clouds (Exod 14:20; Num 10:34; Ps 104:3; Isa 19:1). Nevertheless, clouds could be part of the divine transport for Moses (Ant. 4.325–26) and the Danielic “son of man” (Dan 7:13). 104 Ibid., 79. 98
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the uniqueness of this claim when he adds that the privileged few such as Moses in the Exagōgē or Enoch in the Similitudes received the same treatment, but the priestly leadership may have thought it to be the height of hubris for a humble Galilean carpenter (τέκτων) to expect a comparable fate. 105 Scholars must be careful to not import too much into the term “blasphemy.” Such accusations could be hurled around in a dispute over the office of the high priesthood, such as when Hyrcanus II wanted the Pharisees to implement the death penalty against Eleazar for his blasphemous invectives against him (Josephus, Ant. 13.293–95). 106 At his hearing, Jesus dared to turn the tables on the appointed leaders and judges of the people and proclaimed that he was going to judge them (cf. Exod 22:28). 107 In their perception, his audacity merited the verdict of blasphemy. Undoubtedly Jesus’ cosmic status transcended the limited extent of the Davidic empire, but the expectation to sit beside Yahweh on the throne would not include Jesus within the “divine identity” any more that it would include Enoch, Moses, Solomon, or Metatron (cf. 1 Chron 29:20; 1 En. 61:8; 62:2, 5; 69:27, 29; Eusebius, Praep. Ev. 9.29.5–6; b. Hag. 15a). The Markan Jesus and the Divine Name? The last key signifier of the “divine identity” is that the deity is known to the covenant people by the Tetragrammaton. 108 Nonetheless, a principal intermediary agent could bear the sacred name (Exod 23:20–21; Apoc. Ab. 10:3– 4, 8). 109 Mark 1:2–3 and 5:19 may be the strongest proof-texts to support the bestowal of the divine name upon Jesus. Mark 1:2–3 conflates LXX Exod 23:20, Mal 3:1, and Isa 40:3. After a meticulous examination of Mark’s composite citation, Rikki Watts finds that Malachi’s prophecy that a messenger would prepare for the arrival of the Yahweh in judgment upon the temple exerted the greater influence on Mark 1:2. 110 Mark 1:3 quotes LXX Isa 40:3 nearly verbatim, except αὐτοῦ (his) is substituted for τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν (of our God). Joel Marcus regards the shift from the second person address to Jesus (“your way”) in Mark 1:2 to the third person narration (“the way of the Lord”) in 1:3 to be awkward, and believes that Mark pictures one path shared between Jesus and God. In this
Ibid., 78. Crossley, “Christ of Faith,” 138; Bock, “Blasphemy,” 83. 107 Bock, “Blasphemy,” 83. 108 Bauckham, God of Israel, 7–8. 109 Fossum, Name, 318–21; Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology, 76–78; McGrath, True God, 12–13. 110 Watts, New Exodus, 53–90. 106
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way, Mark preserves the unity and the distinction between the two. 111 Daniel Johansson has a simpler explanation: verse two directly addresses Jesus (“your way”) and verse three has the messenger speak about Jesus (“his paths”). Mark 1:9 discloses that Jesus was the “Lord” whose way was prepared. 112 Timothy J. Geddert forthrightly states that Mark represents the central character as “Yhwh, bodily present on earth in the person of Jesus.” 113 Whatever the scriptural passages meant in their original literary contexts, Mark altered the first person possessive pronoun in “my face” (προσώπου μου) in Mal 3:1 to a second person one in “your face” (προσώπου σου) in Mark 1:2 so that there is a distinction between the divine speaker and Jesus. This might support Owen’s identification of Jesus as the theophoric Angel of Yahweh, 114 but the absence of any notion of Jesus’ pre-existence or heavenly descent should give one pause about an alleged angelomorphic Christology in Mark’s text. There is, in fact, a parallel to referring to a human as the referent of a text originally about Yahweh when the Dead Sea Scroll sectarians herald the year of Melchizedek’s favor (cf. 11QMelch II.9; cf. Isa 61:1). 115 Mark 1:3 ties Jesus’ mission closely with the divine purposes, just as Yahweh’s return to Zion in Deutero-Isaiah was linked to what was happening on the ground, namely that Cyrus II was the instrument for permitting the exiles to return to their homeland (cf. Isa 44:24–45:19). Turning to Mark 5:19–20, Jesus instructs the Gerasene demoniac to report the mercy of the “Lord” (κύριος) to his household and kin, but he spreads throughout the Decapolis what “Jesus” did for him. This could suggest a basic unity in the actions of the κύριος and Jesus, 116 or that Jesus performs miracles via the power of his divine benefactor. 117 Another way to read it is that Jesus redirected attention away from himself by crediting Israel’s God with the miracle, 111
Marcus, Way of the Lord, 38–40. Daniel Johansson, “Kyrios in the Gospel of Mark,” JSNT 33.1 (2010): 104–105; cf. Watts, New Exodus, 87, 90; Geddert, “Connect the Dots,” 334. 113 Geddert, “Connect the Dots,” 338. 114 Paul Owen, “Jesus as God’s Chief Agent in Mark’s Christology,” in Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado, ed. Chris Keith and Dieter T. Roth (LNTS 58; London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015), 42–43. Owen recognizes that the angel plays the role of the messenger guarding Israel’s way in Exod 23:20, but argues that Mark combined this with Malachi’s oracle about the coming of the “lord” and the “angel of the covenant” to the temple. 115 Kirk, “Idealized Human,” 19. 116 Johansson, “Kyrios,” 106. 117 Marcus, Way of the Lord, 40. 112
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but the demoniac spoils Jesus’ desire to maintain secrecy by naming Jesus as the source of the healing. A parallel example is when Jesus orders a leper to undergo the requirements of Torah for cleansing, but he disobeys the directive and publicizes Jesus’ healing powers instead so that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly (1:40–45). Owen detects an allusion to Ps 82 in the wider Markan pericope about “legion” as it references the “Most High,” and Jesus passes Yahweh’s sentence on the unjust spirits as they are cast into the depths (Mark 5:7, 13). 118 This allusion does not seem secure: “Most High” is a standard title by which non-Jews address the Jewish deity (cf. Gen 14:18–22; Deut 32:8; Isa 14:14; Dan 3:26; 4:34; Acts 16:17; Heb 7:1; Josephus, Ant. 16.163; Philo, Legat. 157, 317). There may be a more transparent allusion in the charging of the pigs into the sea to the drowning of Pharaoh’s army in the exodus. 119 We need to get a clearer picture of Mark’s usage of κύριος. Jack Dean Kingsbury denies that it is a christological title in Mark’s Gospel and judges that the term, when applied to Jesus, means no more than “sir,” “owner,” or “master.” 120 On the contrary, Johansson spots several supposedly ambiguous instances of κύριος that are unclear as to whether Jesus or Yahweh is the referent (1:3; 5:19; 11:3; 12:9; 13:20, 35). 121 Second, the term is often accompanied by divine functions, such as when Jesus exercises lordly prerogatives on the Sabbath (2:28). Johansson relates this to Jesus’ presumption to forgive sins in Mark 2:10. 122 Third, the polite address κύριε may have one level of meaning to a character in the narrative world (7:25), but a deeper level of meaning for the implied reader based on the prior usages of the term (cf. 1:3; 5:19). 123 Fourth, Johansson renders “the one coming in the name of the Lord” (ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου) to mean that Jesus bears the Lord’s name and comes to execute the divine sentence on the temple (11:9–11; cf. Mal 3:1). 124 Thus, Jesus and Yahweh possess the same name. Johansson over-interprets these verses. Mark 2:28 usurps a divine prerogative if it is severed from 2:27. Since the Sabbath was given for the benefit of humankind, this particular human speaker exercises lordship over the
Owen, “Chief Agent,” 52. Watts, New Exodus, 159–60; Horsley, Whole Story, 147. 120 Kingsbury, Christology, 110–11. 121 Johansson, “Kyrios,” 103–11. 122 Ibid., 112. 123 Ibid., 113. 124 Ibid., 114–15. 119
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institution. 125 The Matthean parallel to Mark 2:1–12 correspondingly displays that God can confer authority to forgive sins to humans (cf. Matt 9:8). The Syrophoenician woman addresses Jesus as “sir” as a token of respect (7:25), and Jesus is the “master” of the disciples commissioned to acquire a colt (11:3). I do not see the ambiguity in God being the κύριος in Mark 12:9 and 13:20: it is the son of the owner or lord who was murdered out of resentment that he would inherit the vineyard, and Jesus has no authority over the length of the tribulation since the Father sets the dates for the eschatological calendar (cf. 13:32). 126 Jesus is the κύριος or “owner” of the house who left servants to care for his property and may return at any moment in Mark 13:35. Despite the biblical traditions of the “day of Yahweh,” intermediary figures such as Melchizedek (11Q13) or Enoch (1 En. 62:2–3; 69:27–28) could enact the eschatological vengeance. It is farfetched that the crowd meant anything beyond blessing the divinely certified agent of their deliverance (11:9), and Johansson’s citation of the Philippians hymn is irrelevant as Jesus inherits the highest name as a consequence of his post-mortem exaltation (cf. Phil 2:9–10). 127 Owen may be guilty of over-reading Jesus’ use of ἐγώ εἰμι (6:50; 13:6; 14:62), which could be rendered “it is I,” and references to Jesus’ “name” (6:14) may just be an idiomatic way of narrating how Jesus gained a popular reputation as a healer. 128 Words take on meanings in semantic units. The meaning of κύριος ranges from a substitute for the Tetragrammaton to any social superior based on context. There need to be some interpretive controls before we tack on extra layers of meaning beyond what would have been apparent to the characters in the narrative world based on our reconstructions of the knowledge of the implied audience. Despite Johansson’s insistence that Mark re-defines the Shema in the immediately preceding passage by placing two κύριοι (Lords) on the throne (12:28–34), 129 the evident import of Mark 12:36 is that the first Lord (=Yahweh) is distinct from the second one, as the former conferred an elevated 125
Casey, Gentile God, 49. Johansson (“Kyrios,” 108–109) appeals to the awkwardness of Mark’s change in subject from ὁ θεός in 13:19 to κύριος in 13:20 and to the fact that the “elect” belong to Jesus in 13:27. However, Mark’s literary style is generally unrefined and the elect belong to God too if they have embraced Jesus’ message of God’s reign. 127 Contra Johansson, “Kyrios,” 115. 128 Contra Owen, “Chief Agent,” 46–48. 129 Johansson, “Kyrios” 117–19. The parallel that Johansson draws with 1 Cor 8:6 could be undermined if Paul did not split the Shema, but placed an additional confession of Jesus as Lord alongside the traditional affirmation of the oneness of God (cf. McGrath, True God, 39–43; Dunn, Worship, 109). 126
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status upon the latter. The Markan Jesus had a delegated authority. Mark is equally adamant that Jesus did not exercise every divine prerogative and submitted to his heavenly Father’s will (cf. 10:18, 40; 13:30; 14:35–36; 15:34). Conclusion: Marking a Difference Mark’s theological conceptualization of Jesus is more fittingly described as a “divine agency” rather than a “divine identity” Christology. Bauckham’s rubric for a “divine identity Christology” is arguably more applicable to the Pauline or Johannine corpuses, but Mark’s Gospel should not be squeezed into the same mold. Scholars should resist the tendency to gloss over differences and be rigorously historical in contextualizing the claims forwarded about Jesus and the functions they served in the symbolic universes and social formations of the varied early Jesus groups. It is more historically plausible that these groups exhausted whatever categories were available in their cultural milieu to articulate the significance of Jesus. It is the inclusion of a rich plurality of voices in the New Testament canon that enabled Christians to develop a full understanding of the humanity and divinity of Jesus. Partly due to the rise of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, some Christians were compelled to firmly locate Jesus on the eternal side of being rather than on the creation side of becoming. 130 The question of whether Mark’s Gospel should be regarded as an anomaly in the current “early high Christology” paradigm or is a sign that our reconstructions should leave room for a greater amount of diversity in first-century christological conceptions would take us beyond the scope of this inquiry.
Hayman, “Monotheism,” 3; McGrath, True God, 92; Peppard, Son of God, 11.
Synagogues and Voluntary Associations as Institutional Models: A Response to Richard Ascough and Ralph Korner Erich S. Gruen University of California, Berkeley | firstname.lastname@example.org JJMJS No. 3 (2016): 125---131
The passion for reconstructing the form, type, and purpose of the groups in which early Christians gathered has an obvious and understandable hold on scholars and laypeople alike. Just what was the model for these collectives to which Paul addressed his letters? The pursuit of that quest is a natural one. A desire to comprehend the nature of the fledgling communities retains a firm grip on researchers and students, not to mention churchgoers and synagogue members. And an understanding of Paul’s writings requires some grasp of the institutions within which he lived, worked, and preached. Yet investigation into this question has run into obstacles. The evidence is indirect, disputed, and tantalizingly ambiguous. Where is a model to be found? Two chief contenders have emerged in the scholarly wars: the voluntary association and the synagogue. Richard Ascough, a combatant in these wars for some years, has provided a very helpful and succinct survey of some of the chief recent contributions to this debate. Most significantly, he notes that the either/or dichotomy has itself misled us. Synagogues and voluntary associations (collegia or thiasoi) need not be mutually exclusive. Ascough is quite right to undermine the simplistic bifurcation. And he is not alone. A growing consensus now reckons that synagogues themselves drew upon the model of the voluntary association or indeed were a form of collegium or thiasos. 1
Arguments were set out fully long ago by S. L. Guterman, Religious Toleration and Persecution in Ancient Rome (London: Aiglon Press, 1951), 130–56. And a plethora of scholars, in one fashion or other, have followed his lead. See, e.g., P. Richardson, “Early Synagogues as Collegia in the Diaspora and Palestine,” in J. S. Kloppenborg and S. G. Wilson, Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World (London: Routledge, 1996), 90–109; A. Fitzpatrick-McKinley, “Synagogue Communities in the Graeco-Roman
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But where exactly does that get us? Even if one were to isolate one or the other as a model, it might not take us very far. The associations in GrecoRoman society, known largely from inscriptions, exhibit a great variety of forms, objectives, and interests. 2 And synagogues of the Second Temple period, of which we know a lot less, had a comparable diversity of aspects, ranging from houses of prayer and places for study to locations for manumission of slaves, and much in between, depending upon local circumstances, needs, and traditions. 3 No standard formulas applied, and one size does not fit all. So, as a model, neither associations nor synagogues, nor synagogues as associations, can definitively disclose the nature of Paul’s communities. Ascough wants to reframe the question, a laudable endeavor. But how? In his view, both synagogues and early Christian groups were species of associations, and as such each had some similarities and some differences with other types of associations. Our task then should be to explore both the parallels and the contrasts. Will this, however, get us any closer to understanding the nature of corporate bodies with which Paul communicated in Corinth or Philippi or Galatia or Rome? We know much less about them than we know about pagan collegia or even Jewish synagogues. Even to discern similarities or
Cities,” in J. R. Bartlett, Jews in the Hellenistic and Roman Cities (London: Routledge, 2012), 63–70; P. A. Harland, Dynamics of Identity in the World of the Early Christians (New York: Bloomsbury, 2009), 36–42. Skepticism regarding this notion was expressed long ago by J. Juster, Les Juifs dans l’empire romaine (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1914), 413–24; similarly, M. H. Williams, “The Structure of the Jewish Community in Rome,” in M. Goodman, Jews in a Graeco-Roman World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 216–21; E. S. Gruen, Diaspora: Jews Amidst Greeks and Romans (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 121–22. For a much more extensive survey of the scholarship, see Richard S. Ascough, “Paul, Synagogues, and Associations: Reframing the Question of Models for Pauline Christ Groups,” JJMJS No. 2 (2015): 27–52. 2 The classic discussion is that of J. P. Waltzing, Étude historique sur le corporations
professionnelles chez les Romains depuis les origins jusqu’à la chute de l’empire d’Occident (Louvain: C. Peeters, 1895–1900), who, however, sees much more homogeneity than the collegia actually possessed. See the valuable summary discussions of P. A. Harland, Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), 25–53; S. G. Wilson, “Voluntary Associations: An Overview,” in Kloppenborg and Wilson, Voluntary Associations, 1–15; J. Kloppenborg, “Collegia and Thiasoi: Issues in Function, Taxonomy and Membership,” in ibid., 16–30. 3 See the magisterial discussion of L. Levine, The Ancient Synagogue: The First Thousand Years (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), especially 125–59. See also D. D. Binder, Into the Temple Courts: The Place of the Synagogues in the Second Temple Period (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1999), 389–450. A brief summary in Gruen, Diaspora, 115–19.
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differences among these disparate groups would be a slippery task with few firm foundations. There are enough disparities within each of the categories to leave little of substance on which to seize hold. Problems arise right from the start. The prevailing view contends that Jewish synagogues should be classified as associations in the general category of Greco-Roman thiasoi or collegia. That premise certainly holds the field. Such institutions, so it is claimed, were understood by Jews and non-Jews alike as belonging to the wider category of Greco-Roman associations. 4 And some build on that proposition to infer that many Christ-believers who gathered in synagogues thought of them as Jewish associations on the Greco-Roman prototype. 5 But what is the basis for this subsuming of the synagogue under the heading of the pagan collegium? The evidence is surprisingly thin. A single passage in Josephus, quite rightly cited by Ascough, is our sole direct testimony. 6 The historian records a letter from a Roman magistrate to the island of Paros alluding to an earlier decree ostensibly by Gaius Caesar that prohibited thiasoi from assembling in the city but exempted the Jews alone from this ban. On the face of it, that might seem to suggest that Jewish gatherings were categorized as thiasoi, at least from the perspective of Roman officialdom. But nothing else in our sources uses that designation for the synagogue. The relevant passages in Philo and in Suetonius either do not mention collegia or thiasoi or do not mention Jews. 7 And the Josephus passage itself is riddled with difficulty. The very idea that Julius Caesar exempted Jews alone from a general ban on assemblies is extremely difficult to swallow. It could only have encouraged a flood of applications from other groups—or invited widespread resentment and hostility. The Roman magistrate may simply have misinterpreted Caesar’s decree for his own purposes (assuming that he had a copy of it with him in Asia) or responded to a special application by the Jews in Paros. It certainly does not show that Roman law classified Jewish communal gatherings as collegia—let alone that Jews set themselves under such a rubric. And without that shaky foundation, the whole notion of synagogues in the category of Greco-Roman voluntary associations loses substantive basis.
See above, n. 1. A. Runesson, Origins of the Synagogue: A Socio-Historical Study (Stockholm: Almquiest & Wiksell Intl, 2001); P. Richardson, Building Jewish in the Roman East (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2004), 111–33; see the valuable summary of recent scholarship by R. Ascough, “What Are They Now Saying About the Formation of Pauline Christianity,” Currents in Biblical Research, 13 (2015): 207–44. 6 Jos. Ant. 14.215–16. 7 Philo, Legat. 311–13; Suet. Iul. 42,3; Aug. 32.1. 4 5
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One might, in fact, go further and question the whole idea of categorization or classification in this subject. Taxonomy may not be the best approach in a realm where fluidity and diversity prevailed, and where interconnections and overlappings constituted the principal features. How much do we gain anyway by labeling the Jewish synagogue a voluntary association? It might tidy up our categories, but it says little about how the Jews conceived their own communal assemblages or governed their own communities, let alone about the purposes of their gatherings. And with so much murkiness, the likelihood of shedding light upon the congregations with which Paul communicated becomes still more distant. Perhaps one should set aside this search for models that runs into blind alleys. Comparable complication exists in the terminology that Paul himself employs in addressing his epistles to the communities of Christ worshippers in Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome. The most common expression, of course, is ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ, and Ralph Korner is certainly right to focus attention upon its variegated significance. 8 The rendering as “church” remains common in modern translations but is obviously anachronistic for this period. As Korner observes, not all New Testament writers employ the term, so that its predominance still lay in the future. One might note also that Paul does not confine himself to that usage. He addresses the Roman congregation, for example, as “all those beloved of God who are called the holy ones.” 9 The same holds with the Philippians. 10 Paul can also employ the interesting phraseology of the ekklesia at the house, as in Romans and Philemon. 11 That has served as a basis for the hypothesis that the emergence of early Christianity had its roots in the household. But the language is not technical language. Nor for that matter was ekklesia universal usage for civic assembly in the Greek world. The Athenians employed it in the classical era, to be sure. And it appears occasionally, but only occasionally, in the Hellenistic period. References to the actions of the people in the inscriptional evidence overwhelmingly cite the demos, not the ekklesia. 12 It is far from obvious that Paul’s use of the term was designed to echo a civic institution of the Greek polis.
Ralph J. Korner, “Ekklēsia as a Jewish Synagogue Term: Some Implications for Paul’s Socio-Religious Location,” JJMJS No. 2 (2015): 53–78. 9 Rom 1:7. 10 Phil 1:1. So also, outside the authentic epistles, Eph 1:1. 11 Phil 2: τῇ κατ’ οἰκόν σου ἐκκλησία; Rom 16:5. 12 This is readily discernible, for instance, in the collection of testimony in H. H. Schmitt, Die Staatsverträge des Altertums, vol. III: Die Verträge der griechisch-römischen Welt von 338 bis 200 v. Chr. (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1969).
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What then did inspire him to resort to that expression? Korner makes the intriguing suggestion that the term would resonate most directly with Jews. In employing it with regard to the budding communities of Christ worshippers with which he was in communication or indeed had founded, Paul would underscore the continuity with Jewish tradition and would help to knit together the Diaspora communities with their Gentile adherents. This is a provocative idea that certainly deserves attention. But does ekklesia really have Jewish resonance? The passages that Korner presents offer only marginal and ambiguous support. This, of course, is not the place to parse each of the citations in detail. But a few remarks might illustrate the difficulties of interpretation. Ben Sirah uses the word ekklesia nine times. In five of those instances, however, it applies loosely to a public gathering which could be a civic assembly in a polis rather than a Jewish collective. 13 In one case that implication seems quite clear, as Ben Sirah makes reference to workers and craftsmen who are not sought out in the boule of the people, nor do they prevail in the ekklesia. 14 There is no obvious connection in any of this to a Jewish community as such. The use of political language occurs again in explicit fashion when Ben Sirah speaks of the “chief men of the people, the leaders of the ekklesia.” 15 This may allude to the Jewish congregation, but the verses appear to be metaphorical rather than technical. One other example is revealingly ambiguous. The author does speak of a man of great piety and learning, a devout follower of the Lord’s law, and one whose praises are sung in the ekklesia. That might appear to signal a Jewish assemblage. But since the same sentence asserts that his wisdom will be discussed by the nations (ta ethne), this puts it in a broader context than just the Jewish one. 16 A closely parallel phraseology occurs in one other passage, which speaks of the laoi discussing the sage’s wisdom and the ekklesia offering him praise. 17 Of the remaining two passages, one, as Korner himself acknowledges, signifies a heavenly congregation. 18 And only the last alludes to what appears to be a Jewish ekklesia, one in which an adulterer and adulteress who violate the law of the Most High are brought to be accused. 19 That hardly suggests that ekklesia was standard terminology for an organ of the
Sirah, 15.5; 21.17; 31.11. Sirah, 38.33. 15 Sirah, 33.19. 16 Sirah, 39.10. 17 Sirah, 44.15. 18 Sirah, 24.2. 19 Sirah, 23.24. 13 14
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Jewish congregation. Kroner acutely notes that 1 Maccabees uses ekklesia in one case to refer to a Jewish assembly before which the Spartans presented condolences to Simon on the death of Jonathan. 20 But a few lines later the same author, in speaking of the great assembly that accorded Simon the position of leader, high priest, and commander in chief, gives it the designation of synagoge. 21 So, ekklesia evidently does not possess technical force. Josephus utilizes ekklesia 48 times. There is certainly no need to go through each of those. Korner helpfully observes that only nine of those examples apply to a public assembly. Even if all of those nine reflect terminology of the Second Temple period, they do not allow the conclusion that it was common usage, let alone a terminus technicus in Jerusalem or the Diaspora for an assembly of Jews. Korner brings two selections from Philo to bear on the question. In one, the philosopher notes that a good number of undesirable persons find their way into ekklesiai, thus prompting measures to ban them. The reference does imply Jewish assemblies since the context is that of Mosaic laws and regulation. 22 But it is notable that the ekklesia from which these worthless characters, mostly eunuchs, homosexuals, and prostitutes, were excluded is described as the “holy congregation” (hieros syllogos). Labels for the institution appear to be synonymous, as Korner rightly observes. But that suggests that the phraseology is fluid, not that ekklesia serves as a customary term for a Jewish assembly. The other passage is a gloss on Deut 23:7–8, which enjoins the Hebrews not to despise the Egyptians, since they were sojourners in their land, and to admit them into their community in the third generation. Philo’s wording in the de Virtutibus is that if Egyptians wish to transfer to the politeia of the Jews, they should not only be allowed to do so but should, in the third generation, be invited into the ekklesia. 23 Although politeia has the connotation of a civic community, ekklesia in the context of conversion appears to signify a religious congregation. There is more complexity than clarity here. And the term ekklesia is just lifted by Philo from the Septuagint translation. It need not reflect the standard terminology for Jewish assembly in the age of Philo. In short, the hypothesis that Paul, by choosing the term ekklesia, sought to establish a connection with Jewish synagogue communities is attractive and appealing. But the available evidence is simply insufficient to sustain it. The term
1 Macc 14.19. 1 Macc 14.28. 22 Philo, Spec. Leg. 1.324–25. 23 Philo, Virt. 108. 20 21
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itself has multiple meanings, other phrases are used for similar purposes even by Paul, and the instances in which Jewish writers employ the word to denote a Jewish assembly are extremely sparse. The claim that Paul fastened upon ekklesia in order to establish a link with the heritage of Israel remains well short of compelling. The testimony that we do possess on Jewish congregations in the Second Temple period refers almost exclusively to Diaspora synagogues. What about synagogues in Judea, indeed in Jerusalem itself? We know that there were some. They receive mention three times in Acts, 24 most notably in a passage that identifies the synagogues of the freedmen (libertini), of the Cyreneans and the Alexandrians, and of the Cilicians and Asians. 25 Whether this disputed reference signifies one, two, three, or five synagogues need not be decided here. In any case, it may be no coincidence that the only explicit literary reference to synagogues in Jerusalem speaks of them as institutions of Diaspora Jews in the city. (The allusion to “freedmen” almost certainly signals enslaved Jewish captives brought to Rome, later manumitted, and now resettled in Jerusalem.) This seems quite congruent with the famous Theodotus inscription. That document records the building of the synagogue by Theodotus, son of Vettenus, a Roman name, thus indicating an Italian origin. And since the structure that he built explicitly included facilities to accommodate those from abroad, this synagogue too may well have been designed primarily for the needs of Diaspora Jews who had returned to the homeland. 26 Just as synagogues in the Diaspora served as vehicles to provide a sense of community and to supply continuity with tradition for Jews abroad, so the synagogues in Jerusalem served a comparable function for Jews from abroad who had resettled in the homeland but retained a communal connection to their Diaspora roots. For Saul of Tarsus, who moved from his Diaspora home to a different form of Diaspora in Jerusalem, this type of institution might have been quite familiar, even if it did not pattern itself upon pagan voluntary associations. As a model, it might well have sufficed.
Acts 6:9; 24:12; 26:11. Acts 6:9. 26 CIJ 2.1404 = SEG 8.170: τοῖς χρήζουσιν ἀπὸ τῆς ξένης. See the discussions in Binder, Temple Courts, 104–109; and Runesson, Origins, 226–31. 24 25
Interpreting the Syrophoenician Woman to Construct Jewish-Christian Fault Lines: Chrysostom and the Ps-Cl Homilist in Chrono-Locational Perspective Deborah Forger* University of Michigan | email@example.com JJMJS No. 3 (2016): 132---166
At the beginning of the 19th century, Ferdinand C. Baur first employed the Pseudo-Clementine literature to reconstruct what he labeled the “Jewish Christianity” of Peter, James, and the Jerusalem church. 1 In subsequent years, however, that term has been used to encompass a broad and often conflicting range of persons, 2 texts, 3 dates, 4 and criteria, 5 causing many recent scholars to
* This article profited from the feedback provided by the audience at the Jewish-Christian Dialogue and Sacred Texts section of the Society of Biblical Literature. The insights offered by Gabriele Boccaccini, Ellen Muehlberger, Karin Zetterholm, Alysa Handelsman, Katy Peplin, and the two anonymous reviewers for Journal of the Jesus Movement in Its Jewish Setting also enhanced the piece. 1 Ferdinand Christian Baur, “Die Christuspartei in der korinthischen Gemeinde, der Gegensatz des petrinischen and paulishchen Christentums in der alten Kirche, der Apostel Petrus in Rom,” Tübinger Zeitschrift für Theologie 5 (1831): 61–206. Though Baur was the first to employ the Pseudo-Clementine literature to describe Jewish Christianity, he was certainly not the first to coin the term. For the influence of British scholarship on Baur’s work and notable publications ever since, see James Carleton Paget, “The Definition of the Terms Jewish Christian and Jewish Christianity in the History of Research,” in Jewish Believers in Jesus, ed. Oskar Skarsaune and Reidar Hvalvik (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2007), 22–52. 2 By way of example, throughout the history of research, some scholars have deemed the apostle Paul the antithesis of “Jewish Christianity” [Baur, Schwegler, Lüdemann], while others have incorporated him into the definition [Ritschl, Hoennicke, Daniélou]. See Paget, “The Definition,” 22–52. Other persons or groups who have variously received the appellation include, but are not limited to: Peter, James, Barnabas, Justin Martyr, the Nazoreans, the Ebionites, the Elchasites, and the author-redactors of the PseudoClementine literature. 3 Some early scholars, for instance, insisted that the phenomenon of “Jewish Christianity” ceased to exist by the time of the composition of the New Testament. Accordingly, they
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underscore its inherent subjectivity, noting that its modern imposition connotes a uniformity of belief and practice, when in fact a pluriformity existed. 6 Daniel Boyarin has even gone on to suggest that imposing the appellation at all only reifies the boundaries between two religions, namely Judaism and Christianity, which did not, even in the fourth century CE, yet exist as such. 7 An obvious reason for these discrepancies lies in the nature of the extant evidence itself.
limited the scope of their analysis to texts found within the New Testament itself, pointing to texts like 1 Peter and the Epistle of James as proof texts. Others, however, have been much more expansive, considering texts such as, but not limited to, the
Apocalypse of Peter, Protoevangelium of James, Didascalia Apostolorum, PseudoClementine Recognitions and Homilies, Gospel of the Hebrews, Gospel of the Nazarenes, Gospel of the Ebionites, Testament of Abraham, and Testament of Job. 4
Early scholarship on this topic assumed that the phenomenon of “Jewish Christianity” was confined to the first or perhaps second century. In more recent years, however, evidence has been leveled dating to the 13th century CE. For more information, see John G. Gager, “Did Jewish Christians See the Rise of Islam?” in The Ways that Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Adam H. Becker and Annette Y. Reed. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 95 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 361–72. 5 At times used interchangeably and at others in opposition to one another, the three primary criteria by which scholars have defined the phenomenon include ethnicity, lawabiding praxis, and ideological beliefs about Jesus as the Messiah. As I will unpack at greater length below, the author-redactors of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies define persons as ’Ιουδαῖοι solely in relation to their law-abiding praxis. It does not matter if they are Jews or Gentiles by ethnicity. Likewise, it does not matter if they follow the pedagogical example of Moses or of Jesus. Rather, the Homilies are solely interested in whether a person follows God’s universal law. 6 For the recent proliferation of publications on this topic, see James Carleton Paget, Jews, Christians, and Jewish Christians in Antiquity. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 251 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), 1–39 and 289–324 in particular (the latter is a slightly revised version of the essay referenced in note 1 above); Edwin K. Broadhead, Jewish Ways of Following Jesus. Redrawing the Religious Map of Antiquity. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 266 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010); Matt Jackson-McCabe, ed., Jewish Christianity Reconsidered: Rethinking Ancient Groups and Texts (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007); Oskar Skarsaune and Reidar Hvalvik, eds., Jewish Believers in Jesus; and Annette Y. Reed, “‘Jewish Christianity’ after the ‘Parting of the Ways’: Approaches to Historiography and Self-Definition in the Pseudo-Clementine Literature,” in The Ways that Never Parted, 189–232. 7 Daniel Boyarin, “Rethinking Jewish Christianity: An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category (to which is Appended a Correction of my Border Lines),” JQR 99.1 (2009): 7–36.
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Since constituencies who were predominantly Gentile ultimately won the early Christian battles for orthopraxy, as well as orthodoxy, their writings have been transcribed, transmitted, cherished, translated, and preserved. By contrast, much of our evidence for the so-called Jewish Christians 8 has either been preserved in the writings of heresiologists, 9 who sought to undermine their credibility, or reconstructed based on the ideological content present within works of contested history or authorship. Even the relevance of the Pseudo-Clementine literature has been called into question; Graham Stanton, for example, cautions researchers to “proceed gingerly and in a critically responsible manner” if the “writings are to be used as evidence for Jewish believers in Jesus” at all. 10
I have included the qualifying term so-called because, as the proliferation of recent publications on this topic makes clear, I want to underscore the inherent difficulties in employing the appellation “Jewish Christian” to ancient texts. Despite this qualification, I have also chosen to retain the use of “Jewish Christian,” for two main reasons. First, although alternatives have been proposed, such as “Christian Jews,” “Jewish believers in Jesus,” “Christ-believing Jews,” “Judaistic Christianity,” or even “Judaizers,” in my estimation these options are not better than the category “Jewish Christian” nor do they avoid the inherent difficulties associated with that term. For scholars who have reflected upon the various terms employed to try to describe persons who, in some way or another, retained a connection to Judaism while simultaneously being associated with Jesus, see Oskar Skarsaune, “Jewish Believers in Antiquity—Problems of Definition, Method, and Sources,” in Jewish Believers in Jesus, 3–21, esp. 9–13; and Jackson-McCabe, Jewish Christianity Reconsidered, 1–6. Second, following Annette Y. Reed, I find “Jewish Christian” a helpful “heuristic for unsettling the modern scholarly assumptions about the mutual exclusivity of ‘Jewish’ and ‘Christian’ identities in Late Antiquity.” See Reed, “Jewish Christianity,” 190–91, n. 5. 9 Heresiologists who have been employed to reconstruct the phenomenon include, but are not limited to, Justin Martyr, Ignatius, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Eusebius. 10 Graham Stanton, “Jewish Christian Elements in the Pseudo-Clementine Writings,” in Jewish Believers in Jesus, 305. By contrast, I think that the intended readership of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies likely included persons who were both ethnically Jewish and ethnically Gentile, but that the author-redactors of this work intended their readership—whether Jew or Gentile—to conceive of themselves as “Jews.” I unpack this argument at greater length below. In this vein, note the recent work of Karin Zetterholm, “Alternative Visions of Judaism and Their Impact on the Formation of Rabbinic Judaism,” JJMJS 1 (2014): 127–53, who makes a compelling argument for the Jewish selfidentification of the author-redactors of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Recognitions, suggesting that these two works, in addition to the Didascalia Apostorum, provide evidence for non-rabbinic groups that self-identified as Jews. For similar arguments for Jewish self-identification, see Reed, “Jewish Christianity,” 222–23; and Annette Y. Reed, “‘Jewish Christianity’ as Counter-history? The Apostolic Past in
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Despite this scrutiny, one promising new line of research into these questions, initiated in large part by the challenges of postmodernity, has been for scholars to attend more carefully to authors and texts in terms of their specific locales and chronological frameworks, rather than assuming that they can represent centuries-long perspectives on all of Jewish Christianity or on all of Gentile Christianity for that matter. With respect to the Pseudo-Clementine literature, though scholarly efforts on these texts had long been predominated by source-critical questions, 11 in recent years scholars have begun to approach this literature with fresh perspectives. F. Stanley Jones, for instance, has interrogated the extent to which the περίοδοι πέτροι (Circuits of Peter)—otherwise known as the Grundschrift, which likely stands behind the Homilies—might provide insights into Jewish Christian practices. 12 The work of Annette Reed, Nicole Kelley, and Graham Stanton has emphasized the need to investigate the final compositional forms of various parts of the Pseudo-Clementine literature, 13 and Annette Reed’s work, in particular, has situated the Pseudo-Clementine
Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History and the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies,” in Antiquity in Antiquity. Jewish and Christian Pasts in the Greco-Roman World, ed. Gregg Gardner and Kevin L. Osterloh. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 123 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 173–216, esp. 191–94. 11 This unusual focus has persisted, as Reed has pointed out, because many scholars, heavily influenced by the “Parting of the Ways” model, assumed that out of the diversity of Second Temple period Judaism an early and irrevocable split between Judaism and Christianity occurred, which caused the two burgeoning religions to have little or no influence upon one another past the second century. See Reed, “Jewish Christianity,” 189–231. 12 F. Stanley Jones, Pseudoclementina Elchasaiticaque Inter Judaeochristiana: Collected Studies. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 203 (Leuven, Paris, & Walpole: Peeters, 2012), 138–51 and 491–514. 13 Reed, “Jewish Christianity,” 189–231; idem, “‘Jewish Christianity’ as Counter-history?,” 173–216; idem, “Parting Ways over Blood and Water? Beyond ‘Judaism’ and ‘Christianity’ in the Roman Near East,” in La Croisée des chemins revisitée, ed. Simon Mimouni and Bernard Pouderon (Leuven: Peeters, 2012), 227–59; idem, “Rethinking (Jewish-)Christian Evidence for Jewish Mysticism,” in Hekalot Literature in Context: Between Byzantium and Babylonia, ed. Ra’anan Boustan, Martha Himmelfarb, and Peter Schäfer (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 349–77; Nicole Kelley, Knowledge and Religious
Authority in the Pseudo-Clementines: Situating the ‘Recognitions’ in Fourth Century Syria, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Riehe (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006); idem, “Problems of Knowledge and Authority in the PseudoClementine Romance of Recognitions,” JECS 13 (2005): 315–48, esp. 340–48; Stanton, “Jewish Christian Elements,” 305–24.
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Homilies within their fourth-century Syrian milieu, probing into why this specific geographical region served as a “crucible for new approaches to [the] conceptualization of identity and difference.” 14 Despite these advances, one heretofore unexplored aspect of this discussion is the role that divergent exegetical practices of near contemporaries, living in proximity to one another, may have played in the creation of religious identity and differentiation. 15 Such a chrono-locational perspective, I suggest, offers fresh insights into how “Judaism” and “Christianity” were constructed in a particular place at a particular time, while simultaneously affording a rare—albeit indirect—glimpse of the real persons, namely those “Jewish Christians” who, in antiquity, did not fit easily into the categories so well-known in the current day. In Mark 7:25–30 and its parallel, Matt 15:21–28, wherein a distraught Gentile mother approaches Jesus to solicit his aid in alleviating the torments of her demon possessed daughter, 16 Jesus does not respond with the alacrity one would expect: he utterly humiliates her, insinuating she was less than human, no better than a dog. 17 In what follows I seek to further explore what we might know about the liminal boundaries of “Judaism” and “Christianity” in fourthcentury Syria, by attending to how two authors—namely, John Chrysostom and, as an indeterminate group, the author-redactors of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, hereafter simply called the Homilist—each made sense of Jesus’ troubling actions through their exegesis. 18 Since both authors not only
In addition to the citations of Reed’s work found in note 13 above, see also Annette Y. Reed and Lily Vuong, “Christianity in Antioch: Partings in Roman Syria,” in Partings: How Judaism and Christianity Became Two, ed. Hershel Shanks (Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archeological Society, 2013), 105–32, esp. 105. For a recent work that has placed the Recognitions, and R III 2-11 in particular, firmly in a fourth-century Roman Syrian milieu in the midst of the Trinitarian controversy over the correct definition of the relationship between the Father and the Son, see Emanuel Fiano, “From ‘Why’ to ‘Why Not’: Clem. Recogn. III 2-11, Fourth-Century Trinitarian Debates, and the Syrian Christian-Jewish Continuum,” Adamantius 20 (2014): 343–65. 15 The work of Donald H. Carlson also attends to the exegetical practices of the authorredactors who composed this piece, but his work, unlike mine, focuses solely upon the Pentateuch and not on passages that derive from the New Testament. For more information, see his Jewish-Christian Interpretation of the Pentateuch in the PseudoClementine Homilies (Augsburg: Fortress Publishers, 2013). 16 The gospel authors describe the woman as a Syrophoenician (Mark 7:26) and a Canaanite (Matt 15:22). 17 Mark 7:27; Matt 15:26. 18 As I describe at greater length below, the Homilies contain several redactional layers and later interpolations, making it difficult to determine when various parts of the text
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composed their works in Greek 19 but were also alive and active in the fourth century, 20 and possibly even in the city of Antioch, 21 I turn my attention in the
arose. Moreover, because the authorship of the Homilies is unknown, I like to think of the person(s) from the fourth century who produced the final redacted form of the Homilies as author-redactors, although for sake of convenience, I refer to these person(s) with the shorthand “Homilist” throughout. 19 John Chrysostom preached his sermons in Greek, and those selected for this study have all been preserved in this language. The Pseudo-Clementine Homilies are likewise preserved in Greek and likely derive from an earlier Greek Grundschrift. 20 Scholars typically date John Chrysostom’s lifetime from 349 to 407 CE, and date his time in Antioch as preacher and presbyter to 386–397 CE. See Isabella Sandwell, Religious Identity in Late Antiquity. Greeks, Jews and Christians in Antioch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 4, but 3–59 for context; see also Joshua Garroway, “The Law-Observant Lord: John Chrysostom’s Engagement with the Jewishness of Christ,” JECS 18:4 (2010): 591–615, esp. 592 (although he suggests the slightly amended dates of 386–398 CE). The dating of the Pseudo-Clementine literature is a bit more complicated. Though early scholarship, influenced by Baur, placed the PseudoClementine literature in the second century, already by the 19th century C. Biggs presented a convincing case for a fourth-century date based on the Homilist’s familiarity with the Arian controversy, his employment of Syriac words, and his general familiarity with words associated with fourth-century christological debates. See C. Biggs, “The Clementine Homilies,” in Studia biblica et ecclesiastica 2 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1890), 167, 191–92, and 368–69. As a result, most scholars now place the Homilies firmly in the early fourth century, with many suggesting a range between ca. 300 and ca. 320 CE. For subsequent debates on whether the Homilies were penned before or after Nicaea, see Reed, “‘Jewish Christianity’ as Counter-history?,” 173–216, esp. 177–82 and notes 29, 36, and 38. The Recognitions are often dated ca. 360–380 CE. For an early argument, see H. Waitz, Die Pseudoklementinen: Homilien und Rekognitionen: Eine quellenkritische Untersuchung, TU 10.4 (Leipzig; J. C. Hinriches, 1904), 372. For more recent works, see Kelley, Knowledge and Religious Authority, 179–212; idem, “Problems of Knowledge and Authority,” 315–48, esp. 340–48; Fiano, “From ‘Why’ to ‘Why Not,’” 343–65. 21 With respect to Chrysostom, John not only served as a preacher and presbyter in the city of Antioch from 386 to 398 CE, but he also grew up in the city, became a deacon there under Bishop Meletius, and later received his ordination as priest in Antioch under Bishop Flavian. See Christine Shepardson, “Between Polemic and Propaganda: Evoking the Jews of Fourth-Century Antioch.” JJMJS 2 (2015): 147–82, esp. 165; Wendy Mayer and Pauline Allen, John Chrysostom (New York: Routledge, 2000), 3–16; Garroway, “The Law-Observant Lord,” 592. With respect to the Homilies, prominent scholars place the Grundschrift—which likely stands behind the Homilies—in Syria, suggesting that the Homilies were also (by extension) composed in Syria as well. Moreover, Reed underscores how the Syrian provenance of the Homilies was already established by scholars, such as Ulhorn and Biggs, in the 19th century CE. See Reed, “‘Jewish
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first part of this essay to that region of the world, noting how both the Markan and Matthean authors place the encounter between Jesus and the Gentile woman in that very region. In the second and third parts, I examine how the Homilist and Chrysostom each dealt with Jesus’ harsh treatment of this suffering Gentile mother through their exegesis. My analysis reveals that while Chrysostom employs the narratives to construct for his congregants a “Christian” identity that was disassociated from the Jewish ethnicity of their founder, Jesus, the Homilist suggests the woman receives Jesus’ aid only after she becomes a “Jew” herself. 22 Since the Homilist’s work predates that of Chrysostom’s by about sixty years, but emerges in geographical proximity, I suggest that their different exegetical responses shed light onto the dynamic manner in which Christian and Jewish identity formation played out in Roman Syria, complicating past assumptions that the parting of the ways between these two religions occurred in a manner that was unilinear in character and global in scope. The evidence suggests instead that, in Roman Syria at least, efforts to draw the boundary between who was a Jew and who was a Christian constituted
Christianity’ as Counter-history?,” 180, n. 28. Whether their place of composition was near Antioch or Edessa, however, has been disputed. F. Stanley Jones suggests a location just outside of Antioch near the Orontes River (Pseudoclementina Elchasaiticaque, 138– 51 and 491–514). Likewise Reed and Vuong, “Christianity in Antioch,” 105–32, place the Homilies in Roman Syria, focusing their attention on Antioch in particular. By contrast, Jan Bremmer, ed., The Pseudo-Clementines (Leuven: Peeters, 2010), 1–23, advocates for Edessa. Although I think that the Homilies likely originated out of or near Antioch, even if the final redacted form of the text arose from a locale that was closer to the city of Edessa instead, there was significant cross fertilization between the cities of Antioch and Edessa. As Hans Drijvers has argued, “northern Mesopotamia and the little kingdom of Osrhoene with its capital Edessa were not isolated from the rest of Syria; there was on the contrary a continuous exchange of goods and ideas along the busy highroads from Antioch to the east and vice versa” (“Syrian Christianity and Judaism,” in The Jews among Pagans and Christians: In the Roman Empire, ed. Judith Lieu, John North, and Tessa Rajak [London: Routledge, 1992], 124–46, esp. 125). To be clear, in situating the Homilies in a Roman Syrian milieu, I am not excluding the possibility that the final redacted form of this work could have arisen from Roman Mesopotamia or Osrhoene. The Roman province of Syria is distinct from the Roman province of Mesopotamia, but both regions can be classified as being a part of Syria. 22 In making this claim I am not suggesting that Chrysostom had no “Jewish” congregants in his audience (i.e. that there were no ethnic Jews in his midst) or that he was only addressing Gentiles with his remarks. Rather, I am arguing that Chrysostom constructed a Christian identity for his various congregations that was dissociated from the Jewish ethnicity of Jesus himself.
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a long and involved process. Indeed, it is even possible that Chrysostom’s harsh anti-Judaizing rhetoric arose in response to the sort of ’Ιουδαῖοι that the Homilist sought to inculcate with his words, or who already existed within the broader Syrian milieu, insinuating that—at least in this geographical context—religious identity was far from fixed, even toward the end of the fourth century CE. The Syrophoenician Woman amid Ongoing Roman Syrian Identity Formation Situated on the eastern edge of the Roman Empire, in close proximity to both Roman Palestine and the Parthian/Persian border, the geographical region of Roman Syria—spanning from Antioch in the east to, at times, Edessa in the west—functioned as an important center for Christian identity formation long before the fourth century CE. 23 It was in the Roman-Syrian city of Antioch, for instance, that the term “Christian” (Χριστιανός) was first employed to describe members of the Jesus movement. 24 Likewise, it was also in Antioch where, in the second century CE, Ignatius famously coined the term Χριστιaνισμός, which later developed into our concept of Christianity, in opposition to Ἰουδαϊσμός, which in his day meant “Judaizing,” “Judeanness,” or “Jewishness.” 25 That the attempts to define these categories did not immediately translate into a clear line of division between what would later become known as Christianity and Judaism, 26
For scholars who have placed both Antioch and Edessa within a Syrian province, or within the region of Roman Syria in particular, see Drijvers, “Syrian Christianity and Judaism,” 124–46, esp. 125; Reed and Vuong, “Christianity in Antioch,” 105–32, esp. 110; Christine Shepardson, Anti-Judaism and Christian Orthodoxy: Ephrem’s Hymns in Fourth-Century Syria. North American Patristics Society Monograph Series 20 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008), esp. 15–16. 24 For further New Testament evidence from Matthew and Acts, which describes the early spread of the message about Jesus into Syria, as well as reflections about the importance of that region for the conceptualization of Christian identity, see Reed and Vuong, “Christianity in Antioch,” 112–18. 25 Ignatius, Magn. 10.1–3 (cf. Ign., Phld. 6.1). On how to understand these terms and other -ισμός nouns in Greek, see Steve Mason, “Jews, Judeans, Judaizing, Judaism: Problems of Categorization in Ancient History,” Journal for the Study of Judaism 38.4–5 (2007): 457– 512, esp. 470–71. For further reflection on Ignatius and the subsequent development of Christianity in Syria, see Reed and Vuong, “Christianity in Antioch,” 118–24. 26 Steve Mason argues that it was Greek and Latin Christians, in the third and fourth centuries, who established Χριστιaνισμός and Ἰουδαϊσμός as “formally contrastable systems” (“Jews, Judeans, Judaizing, Judaism,” 470). While I do not dispute that these early church fathers played a pivotal role in this process, the primary example that Mason cites, namely Tertullian, not only transported these terms outside of the Roman Syrian context but also
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however, can be seen in the Didascalia Apostolorum. This third-century text also derives from a Syrian milieu. As Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert has demonstrated, that work takes as its literary framework the conflict over identity formation found in Acts 15 and “employs it as a lens through which to read the current conflict in its audience.” 27 That is to say, “[t]he conflict of the first century” over what constituted proper practice “seems to repeat itself in the same geocultural environment two centuries later.” 28 Thus, despite multiple attempts to construct identity, and to make it an entity that excluded what would later become known as Judaism, fluidity persisted within the Syrian milieu. But Roman Syria, and Antioch in particular, also played a pivotal role in Jewish identity formation. According to the reports of the Jewish historian Josephus, ever since Seleucus I extended the right of citizenship to Jews after founding the city in 300 BCE, 29 a sizeable number of Jews resided not only in Antioch but also in the broader region of Syria. 30 This favorable treatment by Seleucus I and his successors likely provided many Jews with the initial incentive to reside there, 31 but Syria’s proximity to Judea compelled them to stay. 32 Less
operated in an entirely different language. Thus, what I am suggesting is that the pace and trajectory of this demarcation likely happened more rapidly in places like Carthage, and took on a different character than it did in Antioch or the broader Syrian context. 27 Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert, “The Didascalia Apostolorum: A Mishnah for the Disciples of Jesus,” JECS 9.4 (2001): 483–509, esp. 490 (cf. Acts 15). 28 Ibid., 490. 29 Josephus, Ant. 12.119; c. Ap. 2.39; War 7.43–45. See also Philo, Prob. 75, for the widespread presence of Jews in Roman Syria in the first century CE. 30 For recent scholars who have made this observation, see Isabella Sandwell, Religious Identity, 46; Reed and Vuong, “Christianity in Antioch,” 108; Shepardson, “Between Polemic and Propaganda,” 152; Tessa Rajak, “The Maccabean Martyrs in Jewish Memory: Jerusalem and Antioch,” in Envisioning Judaism: Essays in Honor of Peter Schäfer on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday, ed. Ra’anan Boustan et al. (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 63–80, esp. 70. 31 Josephus, War 7.43–45. 32 With respect to the first century, Gal 2:11–14; Acts 11:19; 14:19; and Josephus, War 7.43–45 all describe Jews residing in Antioch. Moreover, Acts 22:12 notes that Jews lived in Damascus, and Philo, Prob. 75, suggests that numerous Jews lived in the broader region of Syria. Likewise, in the fourth century, material evidence from Apamea and Beth She’arim, as well as literary evidence from Libanius and the Palestinian Talmud, exists, causing scholars to claim that there was an ongoing and perhaps even vibrant presence of real Jews residing throughout Syria in the first several centuries of the Common Era. See Shepardson, “Between Polemic and Propaganda,” 152–64; Reed and Vuong, “Christianity in Antioch,” 108–109; Rajak, “The Maccabean Martyrs,” 71.
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than three hundred miles stand between Antioch and Jerusalem, making travel between the two cities relatively easy, even in antiquity. Such proximity had both an upside and a downside. As Tessa Rajak has observed, it fostered frequent cultural exchange and “highly permeable religious boundaries, open to renegotiation.” 33 Yet it also opened the door to violent hostilities between the two, particularly in the wake of the First Jewish Revolt. 34 We know, for instance, from Josephus that there was not only “widespread Syrian curiosity” and interest in Jewish festivals and practices, but that the boundaries between Syrian Jewry and pagan Syrians were also quite porous. 35 On the one hand, Josephus tells stories about the wives of those in Damascus and the “conversion of various pagan rulers from the Mesopotamian kingdom of Adiabene.” 36 Thus, there seem to have been some pagan Syrians who were regularly engaging in Jewish practices or behaviors, some of whom even went so far as to be circumcised. 37 On the other hand, Josephus also reports that some persons such as Antiochus, who were ethnically Jewish, abandoned Sabbath observance in the wake of the Jewish War, around the time when Vespasian arrived in Syria, 38 choosing to partake in sacrificial practices after the manner of the Greeks instead. 39 They did so to avoid the negative stereotypes directed toward Jews living at that time. This evidence suggests that in the first several centuries of the Common Era in Roman Syria at least, who was a Jew and who was a Christian—or even who was a pagan—was not static, but open to renegotiation and reconfiguration. Telling in this regard is the observation that both the Markan and Mathean authors place the original encounter between Jesus and the Gentile woman in this very region. Mark 7:24, for instance, suggests their encounter occurred in the vicinity of Tyre (τὰ ὅρια Τύρου), while Matt 15:21 mentions both
33 Rajak, “The Maccabean Martyrs,” 70. 34
Josephus, War 2.461–463; 7.43–45. See Reed and Vuong, “Christianity in Antioch,” 108–112; Mark Nanos, “Paul’s Non-Jews Do Not Become ‘Jews,’ But Do They Become ‘Jewish’?: Reading Romans 2:25–29 within Judaism, alongside Josephus,” JJMJS 1 (2014): 26–53, esp. 52; Rajak, “The Maccabean Martyrs,” 70. 35 Josephus, War 2.461–463; 7.43–45. Reed and Vuong, “Christianity in Antioch,” 108; Nanos, “Paul’s Non-Jews,” 52. 36 Josephus, War 2.559–561 and Ant. 20.17, 34–5, 38–47, 75, respectively. See also Reed and Vuong, “Christianity in Antioch,” 108. 37 Josephus, War 2.454 (Metilius); Ant. 20.38–47 (Izates). For more information on the significance of circumcision, see note 66 below. 38 Josephus, War 7.46. 39 Josephus, War 7.50, but War 7.47–53 for context. See also Reed and Vuong, “Christianity in Antioch,” 110.
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Tyre and Sidon (τὰ μέρη Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος). Moreover, though Mark describes her as a Greek (Ἑλληνίς) and a Syrophoenician (Συροφοινίκισσα), 40 and Matthew a Canaanite (Χαναναία), 41 both narratives unequivocally stress that she was not Jewish. Mark emphasizes that she was Syrophoenician by birth (τῷ γένει), suggesting that her people derived from a region of Syria that bordered Antioch. 42 Matthew’s choice of the derogatory word Χαναναία, itself an anachronistic imposition from an earlier period, 43 would have conjured up images of “Israel’s deeply-engrained fear of and revulsion toward Gentile ways,” thereby echoing the harsh manner in which both the Septuagint and other Second Temple–period Jewish literature described persons who stood outside of the people of Israel. 44 Thus both the Markan and Matthean authors place the encounter between Jesus and the Gentile woman—which in the biblical retellings centered around the question of whether Gentiles could be included in what had previously been an exclusively Jewish movement—just within the border of Roman Syria. Writing from a similar locale, both the Homilist and Chrysostom reinscribe these first-century questions over “Jewish” and “Gentile” identity formation into their respective hermeneutical projects of identity formation. So just as the author of the Didascalia Apostolorum resituates an earlier first-
Mark 7:26. Regarding the term Ἑλληνίς, Joel Marcus notes, “Greek [in addition to Syrophoenician] may also mark the woman out as a Greek-speaker and thus perhaps as a member of the upper crust of Phoenician society” (Mark 1–8, The Anchor Bible: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary [New York: Doubleday, 2000], 462). For a similar perspective, see Jennifer A. Glancy, “Jesus, the Syrophoenician Woman, and Other First Century Bodies,” Biblical Interpretation 18.4 (2010): 342–63, esp. 352. 41 Matt 15:22. 42 Mark 7:26. I have chosen to translate the Greek words τῷ γένει as “by birth” rather than “by race,” due to the different connotations associated with the word “race” today. See Denise Kimber Buell, Why This New Race: Ethnic Reasoning in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005). 43 For more information on when the Canaanites were prominent in the land of Israel, see W. D. Davies and D. C. Allison Jr., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, ICC 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1991), esp. 541–44. 44 With respect to the Septuagint’s negative portrayal of Canaanites, see Davies and Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 544. With respect to other Second Temple–period Jewish literature, see T. Jud. 13.3; 14.6; and 17.1, which emphasize how Canaanite women, and Bathshua in particular, were a source of temptation for Israelite men; Jub. 14.7 and 14.18, which claim that God sanctioned the removal of the Canaanite people to make room for the Israelites; and Mart. Ascen. Isa. 2.5, which associates the Canaanites with an increase in witchcraft, magic, divination, and fornication.
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century biblical conflict over identity formation into his third-century Syrian setting, 45 so too both the Homilist and Chrysostom reinterpret a first-century narrative, arising out of a similar geo-cultural context, with their own distinctive hermeneutics. What the Homilist and John Chrysostom do with this story, however, is an entirely different matter. The Homilist Encourages Jesus-Followers to Embrace the Law The Homilies, which date to the early fourth century CE, 46 and most likely originate from a locale in or near the city of Antioch, 47 are a part of a much larger collection of Pseudo-Clementine literature that together narrate the conversion of Clement of Rome to Christianity, his catechesis under the apostle Peter, his struggles with the magician Simon Magus, 48 and ultimately his unexpected reunion with several members of his family whom he had not seen for years. 49 Throughout the history of research on this topic, scholars have consistently used this literature to better understand the category of “Jewish Christianity.” More recently, however, some have begun to question whether the Homilies can be employed with respect to the question of “Jewish believers in Jesus” at all. 50 Yet the Homilist’s exegesis of the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Gentile woman reveals that those responsible for the final redacted form of this text maintained a vested interest in remaining connected to the Jewish religious practice of their Lord. My interest in the Homilies lies not only in unearthing what the final, redacted form has to say about the fourth-century author-redactors who wrote and compiled it, but also in the impact that the final redacted form was intended to have upon its readership. Two primary yet interrelated factors, however, complicate my study of this literature. First, the text’s authorship is uncertain. As Graham Stanton points out, the “complex corpora present literary-critical
Fonrobert, “The Didascalia Apostolorum,” 489–91. For more information on how past scholarship has placed the Homilies within fourthcentury Syria, see notes 20 and 21 above. 47 For recent scholarly debates on whether the Homilies derived from Antioch or Edessa, see note 21 above. 48 Acts 8:9–24 provides the impetus for this lengthy chronicle. 49 For an introduction to the history of research on this literature, see F. Stanley Jones, “The Pseudo-Clementines: A History of Research,” SCe 2 (1982): 1–33 and 63–96. For an updated history of research, on the Recognitions in particular, see Kelley, Knowledge and Religious Authority, 17–27. 50 Stanton, “Jewish Christian Elements,” 305. 45 46
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problems of an almost insurmountable kind.” 51 Of the eight extant writings, the lengthy Homilies and Recognitions are clearly composite works. Both texts contain several redactional layers and later interpolations, making it difficult to know who wrote what part of the work and when particular pieces of the finalized version first arose. 52 Moreover, though the Homilies exist in Greek and the Recognitions in translated Latin, both likely derive from a common Greek Grundschrift that dates much earlier, again calling the text’s authorship into question. Second, the date of composition of the Homilies has also been heavily debated. Though early scholarship, under Baur’s influence, placed the Homilies and Recognitions firmly in the second century, 53 scholars today agree that both texts belong in the fourth century. 54 Because of these challenges, it is impossible to know whether the Homilies reflect the thought of one lone person or of an entire early Christian group, but the fact that they were preserved in different manuscripts and translated into different languages demonstrates that particular persons had a vested interest in preserving their content. 55 That is, the influence of the Homilies on a broader group of persons remains probable. Framed within this context, the way that the Homilist reinterpreted the story of Jesus and this pagan woman can thus be compared constructively with
Stanton, “Jewish Christian Elements,” 305. The corpora of the Pseudo-Clementine literature also include two short introductory writings and three later dating epitomes. These texts are preserved in Arabic, Georgian, Armenian, Slavonic, and Ethiopic fragments, making the connections between them difficult to trace. 53 For a challenge to the sharp divide between Petrine Christianity and Pauline Christianity, see Markus Bockmuehl, The Remembered Peter in Ancient Reception and Modern Debate (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), 94–113. 54 See Biggs, “Clementine Homilies,”191–92 and 368–69; Waitz, Die Pseudoklementinen, 372; Kelley, Knowledge and Religious Authority, 179–212; Stanton, “Jewish Christian Elements,” 307; Reed, “‘Jewish Christianity’ as Counter-history?,” 177–82; Bremmer, Pseudo-Clementines, 9–12; Fiano, “From ‘Why’ to ‘Why Not,’” 345; Zetterholm, “Alternative Visions of Judaism,” 133. Moreover, Karin Zetterholm’s forthcoming article, “Jesus-Oriented Visions of Judaism,” to appear in Scripta Instituit Donneriani Aboensis 27 (2016), which she kindly shared with me in pre-print form, also advocates for this position. 55 As Stanton notes in “Jewish Christian Elements,” 307, the Homilies “are extant in Greek in two codices with a similar text: P (Parisinus) from the 11th or 12th centuries; O (Ottobonianus) from the 14th century . . . [and] a Syriac manuscript from Edessa which is dated to 411 contains parts of the Homilies.” For a further discussion of the reception history of the Homilies and its translation into Syriac, Arabic, and other languages, see Reed, “‘Jewish Christianity’ as Counter-history?,” 211–12. 51 52
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how John Chrysostom reappropriated the same text, because the persons behind both interpretive streams sought to influence others through their exegesis. 56 In particular, when commenting on Jesus’ interactions with this suffering Syrophoenician mother, the Homilist’s earlier hermeneutics differ from that of Chrysostom’s later interpretations in a number of ways. There is among us a certain one, Justa, a Syro-Phoenician [Συροφοινίκισσα], by race a Canaanite [Χανανῖτις], whose daughter was oppressed by a grievous sickness [ἥς τὸ θυγάτριον ὑπὸ χαλεπῆς νόσου συνείχετο]. And she came to our Lord crying out and beseeching that he would heal her daughter. But He, being asked also by us, said, “It is not possible to heal the Gentiles [Οὐκ ἔξεστιν ἰᾶσθαι τὰ ἔθνη], who are like dogs [κυσὶν] on account of using various foods and practices, while the table in the kingdom has been assigned to the children of Israel [τοῖς υἱοῖς ’Ισραήλ].” But she, hearing this, and begging to partake like a dog [κύων] of the crumbs, which fall from this table, having changed the very woman who she was [μεταθεμένη ὅπερ ἤν], 57 by living like the children of the kingdom [τῷ ὁμοίως διαιτᾶσθαι τοῖς τῆς βασιλείας υἱοῖς], she obtained healing for her daughter, as she asked. For she being a Gentile [ἐθνικὴν οὖσαν], and remaining in this course of life
I have chosen to employ the word “pagan” instead of “Gentile” to describe the woman Jesus encountered in order to underscore that she was not merely a theologically neutral non-Jew, but rather a “pagan,” that is, a person who worshipped false gods. My subsequent descriptions of this woman as a “pagan,” a “Gentile,” a “pagan Gentile,” and a “Syrophoenician” reflect this point. 57 The citation I have quoted above does not explicitly describe Justa as a Ἰουδαῖος. Rather, it merely claims that she changed who she was [μεταθεμένη ὅπερ ἤν] and that she took up a course of life [πολιτείαν] observant of the law [νόμιμον]. However, as I point out below, a bit later in the text, Homilies 13.7 explicitly states that Justa becomes a “proselyte of the Jews [’Ιουδαίοις προσήλυτος]” and Homilies 11.16 suggests that even those from other tribes who practice the law can be described as ’Ιουδαίοι. Although not precisely the same, the Jewish historian Josephus relays a similar story in which a Gentile woman, namely Helena of Adiabene, ostensibly rejects the Gentile lifestyle and “converts” to what only later, in retrospect, has come to be labeled as “Judaism” (Ant. 20.17–95). Accordingly, Justa and Helena offer interesting test cases with respect to what was required for women to become “Jews [’Ιουδαίοι],” since neither would have been required to undergo circumcision by law (cf. Gen 17:9–14; Lev 12:3).
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[καὶ ἐπὶ τῇ αὐτῇ πολιτείᾳ μένουσαν], he would not have healed her, at first, on account of it not being possible to heal her as a Gentile [διὰ τὸ μὴ ἐξεῖναι θεραπεύειν ὡς ἐθνικήν]. She, therefore, having taken up a course of life [πολιτείαν] observant of the law [νόμιμον] . . . 58 The account here, unlike John’s later interpretations, reads more like a harmonization of the narratives found in Mark and Matthew than a full commentary. In contrast to Chrysostom, for instance, who embraced the notion of authoritative written Scripture, the Homilist does not quote directly from the words of Jesus as preserved in those gospels. 59 Instead he provides his own “free retelling of the story.” 60 Yet despite these differences, the Homilist’s exegesis of this story is striking. For the first time in all of early Christian literature, the suffering pagan mother receives a name: Justa. The narrative conflates Mark’s “Syrophoenician” (Συροφοινίκισσα) 61 and Matthew’s “Canaanite” (Χαναναία) 62 to describe the woman’s identity, but she clearly remains—at least initially—a nonJew, a Gentile, a pagan who stands outside of the people of Israel. Moreover, though not explicitly stated in the context of this citation, the larger literary framework of the Homilies suggests that her daughter remains plagued by demon possession. Accordingly, she seeks Jesus’ aid.
Hom. 2.19.1–2.20.1 The Greek text can be found in Bernhard Rehm, Die Pseudoklementinen, I: Homilien, GSC (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1969), referenced here at 42–43. Unless otherwise noted, all citations from the Homilies (labeled as Hom.) will come from this source. An English translation of the Homilies, along with other portions of the broader corpus of the Pseudo-Clementine literature, is available in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Clementine Homilies, ANF 17 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1870). I have referenced this translation in making my own from the Greek text. 59 Both the unusual quotations from Scripture and the strange sayings of Jesus found in the PsCl H have intrigued scholars for centuries. See Jones, "The Pseudo-Clementines,” 63–69. Moreover, as Carlson, Jewish-Christian Interpretation, has more recently noted, “[w]hat dominates [the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies] are the recollections of the True Prophet’s [i.e., Jesus’] words as spoken, not as written—that is, not as they appear in any one particular Gospel” (219). Indeed, the Homilist also does not quote directly from the Diatessaron, but seems—like some of the rabbis living near him—to have an inherent distrust for the notion of a written, canonized text altogether. 60 L. L. Kline, The Sayings of Jesus in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies. SBL Dissertation Series, 14 (Missoula: Society of Biblical Literature and Scholars' Press, 1975), 79. 61 Mark 7:26. 62 Matt 15:22.
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Yet the way the Homilist narrates how the woman acquires the help she needs from Jesus only after she has become a ’Ιουδαῖος is the most striking difference of all. According to the story, after Jesus informs her that he is not able to heal Gentiles, due to the foods they eat and the practices they engage in, the reader discovers that “she changed what she was [μεταθεμένη ὅπερ ἤν].” 63 The woman altered her very identity. A few lines later, the Homilist is more explicit: Jesus “would not have healed her, at first, on account of it not being possible to heal her as a Gentile [διὰ τὸ μὴ ἐξεῖναι θεραπεύειν ὡς ἐθνικήν].” 64 Consequently, according to the Homilist, the only way for this pagan woman to obtain the gift of healing for her daughter was for her to cease being a Gentile. In fact, a bit later in the text, Homilies 13.7 states that she became a “proselyte of the Jews [’Ιουδαίοις προσήλυτος].” 65 To unpack the significance of this claim, I address two important, interrelated points with respect to how the Homilist constructs Jewishness. That is, how he conceives of a “Jew (’Ιουδαῖος),” especially since the Homilist’s perspective on this issue differs from other authors. 66 First, the Homilist does
63 Hom. 2.19.3 (Rehm, 43). 64 Hom. 2.19.4 (Rehm, 43). 65 Hom. 13.7.3 (Rehm, 196). Not only does Justa stop being a Gentile, but the storyline of the Homilies also presents the orphaned children whom she raises, namely Faustus and Faustinus (cf. Hom. 20.22.3), and Clement and Clement’s mother, Mattida, ceasing to be Gentiles as well. 66 The way the fourth-century Homilist defines a ’Ιουδαῖος differs quite radically from many other authors. In the first century CE, for instance, as Mark Nanos has recently argued, the apostle Paul, like many of his contemporaries, defined a “Jew” as “being born to parents who are Jews, being circumcised if male (on the eight day of life),” and, ideally, behaving according to the standards that define that identity (Rom 2; 9–11; 2 Cor 11:22; Gal 1:14–14; 2:15–16; Phil 3:4–6) (“Paul’s Non-Jews,” 27–28). For a similar perspective, see Skarsaune, “Jewish Believers,” 11–14. The focus on circumcision derives from texts such as Gen 17:9–14 and Lev 12:3, which establish the ritual on the eighth day as an important identity marker for Abraham and his male descendents (cf. Jub 15:26, which reifies this position). As a result, circumcision was also a primary concern among early Jesus followers, particularly in the city of Antioch where there was a mix of Jews and Gentiles, as confrontations over whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised to be fully included in the movement took place there (cf. Gal 2:11–14; 5:2–3, 11–12; 6:12–13; Acts 15: 1–2, 22–35). Starting in the second century BCE, however, there is evidence that some persons thought that circumcision later in life could enable non-Jewish males to become Jews (LXX Est 8:17; Josephus, War 2.454 [Metilius]; Ant. 20.38–47 [Izates]). See Matthew Thiessen, Contesting Conversion. Genealogy, Circumcision, and Identity in Ancient Judaism and Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), esp. 67–89. Moreover,
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not define Jews in terms of their ethnicity, but in terms of their law-abiding practice. Peter’s remarks in Homilies 11.16, illustrate this point well: 67 But some one will say perhaps, [even] some of the worshippers of God fall under such misfortunes [i.e. on account of the demons]. I say that this is impossible. For he is a worshipper of God, of whom I speak. He is really a worshipper of God, not one is only called [this], but one who really performs the commands of the law, which has been given to him. If someone acts impiously, he is not pious; in like manner, if one
who is of another tribe practices the law, he is a Jew; but the one who does not practice is a Greek [ἐὰν ὁ ἀλλόφυλος τὸν νόμον πράξῃ, Ἰουδαῖός ἐστιν, μὴ πράξας δὲ Ἕλλην]. For the Jew [ὁ γὰρ ’Ιουδαῖος] believes in God and keeps the law [τὸν νόμον]. . . . But
the one who does not keep the law, it is clear that he is a deserter through not believing God; and thus is no Jew [οὐκ ’Ιουδαῖος], but a sinner [ἁμαρτωλὸς]. 68 For the Homilist, then, Jews can be considered Greeks if they fail to follow God’s preordained universal law. Likewise, those from other tribes can be considered Jews if they follow God’s preordained universal law. In other words, the Homilist defines Jews solely in terms of their law observance. Second, the Homilist defines the “law” and “law-abiding practice” not as referring to the mosaic Torah, nor as something akin to what we find in the Mishnah or later rabbinic writings, nor even, like the third-century Syrian author of the Didascalia Apostolorum, as a sort of biblical law that can be
as Maren Niehoff has pointed out, there “have always been male Jews who were not circumcised,” (cf. Philo, Migr. 89–93), and during the Second Temple period this phenomenon “appears to have increased as a result of acculturation to Hellenism” (“Circumcision as a Marker of Identity: Philo, Origen, and the Rabbis on Gen 17:1–14,” JSQ 10 : 89–123, esp. 89). So views on the importance of circumcision were not monolithic. In fact, by the third century CE, although the author of the Didascalia Apostolorum employs Acts 15 and the so-called Apostolic Council as the guiding framework for his discussion of identity, he downplays the significance of circumcision, at least in terms of conflict within his community, and places more emphasis on having Jewish converts abstain from food practices, ritual immersion, and Shabbat observance instead. See Fonrobert, The Didascalia Apostolorum, 487–91. 67 See Zetterholm, “Alternate Visions of Judaism,” 136, for a similar perspective on this text. 68 Hom. 11.16.2–4 (Rehm, 162).
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distilled down to the Ten Commandments. 69 Rather, the Homilist describes the law as a perpetual and preordained universal entity that God gave to all persons, which can neither be “abrogated by enemies, nor is vitiated by any impious one, nor is concealed in any place, but can be read by all.” 70 This universal law covers all persons and enables them to connect with God. Moreover, the consequences of either following or failing to follow this universal law are as follows: If humans follow God’s universal law, then the demons will have no power over them. If humans, however, of their own accord “sacrifice and pour libations, and partake of [the demon’s] table, or accomplish something other that they ought not, or shed blood, or taste dead flesh, or fill themselves with that which is left behind of beasts, or that which is cut, or that which is strangled, or some other thing that is unclean,” 71 then God will give permission to the demons to inflict suffering upon them. Given these consequences, it seems that part of what the Homilist has in mind in terms of this “universal law” is something akin to what we find in the so-called Apostolic Council of Acts 15, wherein Gentiles are requested to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood. Since the storyline of the Homilies presents pagans as continuing to persist in these behaviors, this backdrop helps to explain why the Homilist portrays them—like the daughter of the woman in our narrative at hand—as susceptible to the influence of demons, whereas the Jews are impervious to their advances. 72 The underlying difference between Jews and pagan Gentiles, then, is their knowledge of God’s universal law and the attendant consequence of whether or not they are able to follow it. Since the instruction of Moses points Jews toward God’s universal law, they can avoid activities that enable the demons to enter. By contrast, pagans, without the benefit of the instruction of Moses, remain ignorant of these preordained universal laws. As a result, they engage in destructive behavior by partaking of meat offered to idols and
For more information about how the third-century Syrian author of the Didascalia Apostolorum distinguishes between the first law, constituted by something akin to the Ten Commandments, and the laws or burdens of the second legislation, constituted by something akin to the Mishnah, or even the Mishnah itself, see Fonrobert, “The Didascalia Apostolorum,” 502–506. Accordingly, though the author of the Didascalia Apostolorum and the Homilist are both interested in identity formation, and both focus on issues of law-abiding praxis, they define what constitutes the law quite differently. 70 Hom. 8.10.3–4 (Rehm, 125–26). 71 Hom. 8.19.1–2 (Rehm, 129). This translation has been slightly altered to fit with the syntax and grammar of my sentence. 72 Hom. 9.16.1 (Rehm, 138) states that the demons “do not appear to the Jews.”
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participating in other illicit activities. As a consequence of these actions, they have become afflicted “by the prince of evil,” 73 and admit demons into their bodies “through the food having been given to them.” 74 Much of the storyline of the Homilies presents them learning through the exhortations of the apostle Peter how they are to live in order to avoid the influence of demonic powers. Peter instructs them to receive baptism for the remission of sins, 75 to follow the instructions of Jesus, to cease living like Gentiles, 76 and to begin living like the Jews by following God’s universal law. Yet, because the Homilist presents God’s law as a universal law—and not the Mosaic Law per se—these pagans need not learn about it through the instruction of Moses. They can gain their own knowledge of God’s law through the instruction of their own teacher—Jesus— instead. Both Moses and Jesus function as pedagogues for the Homilist, instructing Jews and Gentiles in how they are to follow God’s universal law: the Jews gain knowledge of God’s universal law through Moses and the Gentiles have the ability to acquire the essentials of that same law through Jesus. 77 That is, both Moses and Jesus provide the same teaching. For this reason, Jesus is hidden from the Hebrews, 78 who have taken the teacher Moses, and Moses is hidden away from those who
73 Hom. 7.6.3 (Rehm 119). 74 Hom. 9.9.2 (Rehm, 135). 75 Hom. 9.19.4–5 (Rehm, 139–40). 76 Hom. 11.16.3 (Rehm, 162). 77
As Karin Zetterholm has recently observed, “Moses and Jesus are presented as two teachers of the same truth to two different peoples, Moses for Jews and Jesus for non-Jews (Rec. 4.5; Hom. 8.5)” (“Alternative Visions of Judaism,” 135). Throughout this piece, Zetterholm appears to define Jews and non-Jews vis-à-vis their ethnicity (although note her further comments on this topic with respect to Hom. 11.6 on pages 136–37). By contrast, I think that the Homilist intentionally redefines what it means to be a Jew (’Ιουδαῖος) based on an individual person’s law-abiding praxis. Thus, there are some Jews, by ethnicity, who the Homilist would no longer consider to be ’Ιουδαῖοι. Likewise, there are some non-Jews, by ethnicity, who the Homilist would consider to be ’Ιουδαῖοι. Practice, not ethnicity, is the primary determining factor. For more information, see my discussion of Hom. 11.16 above. 78 The word used here is the plural of Ἑβραίος (i.e., Ἑβραίων) and not the plural of ’Ιουδαῖος. By employing Ἑβραίων, the Homilist appears to be making an intentional distinction between a person who is a Jew by ethnicity, or in a genealogical sense—and thus described as a Ἑβραίος—and a person who is a Jew by faithful law observance—and thus
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have believed in Jesus. For, there being one teaching by both [μιᾶς γὰρ δι’ ἀμφοτέρων διδασκαλίας οὔσης], God accepts the one who has believed either of these. But to believe in a teacher is for the sake of doing the things spoken by God. 79 Because the Homilist portrays Moses and Jesus as pedagogical—and not divine—figures, 80 their role is to guide the Jews and Gentiles, respectively, by instructing them in how they are to live in accordance with God’s law. Particularly striking in the quotation above is the comment that God will accept the one who has believed either of these, which suggests that Moses and Jesus carry equal value in the eyes of the Homilist. With respect to this theme, the Homilist even asserts, “There would have been no need of Moses, or of the coming of Jesus, if of themselves [i.e., if the Jews and Gentiles on their own] they would have perceived what is reasonable.” 81 Yet, since neither the Jews nor the pagan Gentiles understood how to follow God’s law on their own, God provided them with Moses and Jesus, respectively, to teach them how to live. Because the Jews benefited from Moses’ instruction, they have had a great advantage over pagan Gentiles. Through Moses’ teachings, Jews have been pointed in the direction of God’s universal law; consequently, they have not been affected by demons. In contrast, pagans have been at a great disadvantage. Because they had no teacher to instruct them in God’s universal law, they have been afflicted by demons. The coming of Jesus affords them a second chance. Like the Jews who followed the pedagogical instructions of Moses before them, the teachings of Jesus enable them to follow God’s universal law. In this manner, they can cease being Gentiles, by abstaining from foods that have been sacrificed to idols. Once they have learned to do this, they will begin to follow God’s law.
called a ’Ιουδαῖος. That is, the Homilist describes Jews by ethnicity as Hebrews (Ἑβραίων), and Jews by faithful law observance as Jews (’Ιουδαῖοι). 79 Hom. 8.6.1–3 (Rehm, 124). 80 The ubiquitous appellations of “teacher” or “prophet of truth,” assigned to Jesus and Moses respectively throughout the Homilies, only serve to underscore this point. For instance, the Homilist frequently refers to Jesus as a “teacher” or a “prophet” of truth (cf. Hom. 2.3, 8, 12; 3.15; 7.6; 8.22; 12.29; 15.7; 19.2; and 20.19). Likewise, the Homilist refers to both Jesus and Moses as “teachers of truth (διδασκάλοις ἀληθείας)” (cf. Hom. 8.5.3 [Rehm, 124]). 81 Hom. 8.5.4 (Rehm, 124).
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The difficulty with this assertion is that once the Gentiles begin to follow God’s law—because of their law-abiding practice—they actually become “Jews,” too. 82 The way the Homilist reinterprets how the Roman Syrian woman ultimately acquires Jesus’ help on behalf of her afflicted daughter only after she becomes a “Jew” demonstrates how she has learned to do just that. If she had continued “being a Gentile [ἐθνικὴν οὖσαν],” if she had remained “in this course of life [τῇ αὐτῇ πολιτείᾳ μένουσαν]” by eating of “various foods” sacrificed to idols and engaging in various illicit “practices,” 83 both she and her daughter would have continued to be afflicted by the torments of the demons. But because she learned to follow Jesus’ instructions, because she took up “a course of life [πολιτείαν] observant of the law [νόμιμον],” Jesus agreed to heal her daughter. 84 In effect, she receives Jesus’ aid only after she had given up her former lifestyle, had begun to follow God’s law, and thus, through this law-abiding practice, had come to be a “Jew (’Ιουδαῖος).” The Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, then, provide a poignant example of the religious diversity present in early fourth-century Roman Syria, revealing that not all Jesus-followers were attempting to distance their present religious experience from the fact that their Lord, Jesus, was Jewish. For the Homilist, the Syrophoenician woman receives Jesus’ aid not because of her faith in Jesus, but because she follows the pedagogical example of Jesus. That is, she receives Jesus’ aid because she learns to follow God’s law, thereby becoming a “Jew” herself. Preaching in a similar locale about a half century later, John Chrysostom interprets the same narrative in a manner that distances the “Christian” identity of his Antiochene congregations from the fact that their founder, Jesus, was a Jew. Although at this point it seems too far of a stretch to suggest that John’s well-known anti-Judaizing rhetoric arose in direct response to the success of the Homilist in fostering a group of ’Ιουδαῖοι for whom both Moses and Jesus mattered, what is clear is that John had to work hard to construct a “Christian” identity for his congregants that was disassociated from the law-abiding praxis of their Lord, Jesus. Thus, within the broader Roman Syrian milieu and within John’s Antiochene congregations in particular, a lack of clarity persisted—beyond Ignatius’ second-century rhetoric and beyond the Didascalia Apostolorum’s third-century claims—regarding what was proper orthodoxy and orthopraxy for followers of Jesus. If this wasn’t the case, then why
For my discussion of how Gentiles can become Ἰουδαῖοι, see my analysis of Homilies 2.19–20; 8.6; 11.16; as well as notes 57 and 77 above. 83 Hom. 2.19.2–4 (Rehm, 42–43). 84 Hom. 2.20.1 (Rehm, 43).
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would Chrysostom, toward the end of the fourth century CE, still have reacted so vehemently against it? Chrysostom’s Hermeneutics Construct “Christian” Identity Exclusive of “Jews” When confronted with the story of Jesus’ harsh cruelty directed toward a suffering Gentile mother, John Chrysostom, himself a Gentile—yet newly bolstered by Roman imperial power—addressed it. Yet his radical reshaping of the narrative, especially in light of what the Homilist had done with the same story, makes the biblical accounts found in Matthew and Mark nearly unrecognizable. This remarkable shift in focus arises because in the postConstantinian era, John found himself operating under entirely new circumstances. By the time that John preaches about this story in various congregational settings throughout fourth-century Antioch, 85 the Jesus movement in the city was no longer composed of a small number of mixed Jews and Gentiles vying for survival, but instead was constituted by much larger, predominantly Gentile groups, many of which were vested with Roman imperial power. 86 In particular, John’s twelve years as priest and preacher in Antioch, spanning from 386 to 398 CE, proved fortuitous in that they corresponded with
85 The sermons that I have selected for this study almost certainly derive from Chrysostom’s time in Antioch. For an important study that has reassessed the provenance of Chrysostom’s sermons, scrutinizing the standards by which past scholarship has placed them in either Antioch or Constantinople, see Wendy Mayer, The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom—Provenance. Reshaping the Foundations, Oriental Christiana Analecta 273 (Rome: Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 2005). For an earlier study of hers that pushed scholars to attend more carefully to the specific locales in which he preached, see “John Chrysostom and His Audiences: Distinguishing Different Congregations at Antioch and Constantinople,” Studia Patristica 31 (1997): 70–75. Regarding the location of John’s Adversus Iudaeous series, scholars consistently place these sermons in Antioch in the years 386–387 CE. For a recent scholar who has argued that Chrysostom preached his homilies on Matthew and John in Antioch in the years 390–391, see Garroway, “The LawObservant Lord,” 594. 86 The story of how Christianity ultimately became vested with Roman imperial power is too lengthy to recount here, but as Ellen Muehlberger notes, by 380 CE, “Christians had received imperial support, in varying forms, for much of the previous six decades. Though that support was fickle—different emperors had championed one or another faction of Christians, to the disdain of the disfavored, and there was a severe interruption in that support during the reign of Julian . . . the fact that emperors were aligning themselves and their resources with any Christians at all was a significant change in policy” (“Salvage: Macrina and the Christian Project of Cultural Reclamation,” CH 81.2 : 279).
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a recent switch of Roman imperial support from the Homoian branch of Christianity in the city to one of the pro-Nicene branches of Christianity with which John had aligned himself from the beginning. 87 What this meant for John, practically speaking, is that as he sought to shape the identity of those who listened to him through his interpretation of various passages from Scripture, his position in the pulpit would have received additional backing by the authority of his imperial patrons. In each of the three main instances that John refers to the story of Jesus’ encounter with the pagan woman—in one of his sermons on the Gospel of Matthew, in one of his sermons on the Gospel of John, and in his first sermon in the Adversus Iudaeous series—John employs the narrative to construct a new, “Christian” identity for his congregants. But in doing so, he makes Jesus unlike, or foreign to, his entire first-century Judean/Jewish context. For instance, in one of his homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, Chrysostom allegorizes the text. To do so, he begins by lauding the woman, noting “how worthy this woman is of every kindness [Ὅρα γοῦν πῶς ἐστιν εὐεργεσίας ἁπάσης ἀξία ἡ γυνή],” but then he transforms the story into something entirely new. 88 For him the story is no longer about a Jewish Jesus encountering a Gentile woman, but becomes radically reshaped. . . . when Christ [ὁ Χριστὸς] came out [ἐξῆλθεν] of Judea, then the church [ἡ Ἐκκλησία] had courage to approach him, and she also came out [ἐξελθοῦσα] from her borders [ὁρίων]. For it is said, “Forget your people and your father’s house [ἐπιλάθου . . . τοῦ λαοῦ σου, καὶ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ πατρός σου].” For both Christ came out of his borders [γὰρ ὁ Χριστὸς ἐκ τῶν ὁρίων αὐτοῦ ἐξῆλθε], and the woman out of her borders [καὶ ἡ γυνὴ ἐκ τῶν ὁρίων αὐτῆς], and so they were able to join together [καὶ οὕτως ἠδυνήθησαν
As Sandwell has underscored, there were at least three active versions of Christianity within the city of Antioch during John Chrysostom’s lifetime: A Homoian branch and two pro-Nicene branches. John grew up in Antioch, but when he was baptized by Bishop Meletius, later became a deacon under him in 381, and was appointed presbyter by his successor Flavian, he clearly aligned himself with that particular branch of pro-Nicene Christianity within the city (Religious Identity, 45–46). See also Shepardson, “Between Polemic and Propaganda,” 165. 88 Chrysostom, hom. in Mt. 52.1.17–18 (PG 58:519). English translations of ancient sources are my own. Here and elsewhere I have used the work of Migne when a critical edition of the Greek text has not been created.
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coming out of her borders.” 89 In particular, through an allusion to the Septuagint’s rendition of Ps 45:10, “forget your people and your father’s house,” 90 John suggests that Christ abandoned one of the defining features that made him Jewish, namely his people, and the woman left behind her identity as well. Their combined actions enabled them to join together (συντυχεῖν ἀλλήλοις) in order to inaugurate the foundation of a new joint identity. 91 Moreover, by making dual references to Christ coming out (ἐξῆλθεν) of Judea, and the woman coming out (ἐξελθοῦσα) of her homeland, and to Christ coming out of his borders (ἐκ τῶν ὁρίων αὐτοῦ), and the woman coming out of hers (ἐκ τῶν ὁρίων αὐτῆς), John suggests that the two entered into a new liminal space together, a place where the church could approach Jesus, unassociated with their prior respective homelands, thus inaugurating something new. These allusions reveal a subtle yet significant epistemic shift in how John sought to construct “Christian” identity for the persons who composed his Antiochene congregations, which, in contradistinction to the Homilist, was disassociated from any prior appreciation for how their founder, Jesus, was a Jew. In particular, since these hermeneutical reappropriations were not a part of an esoteric piece of literature but rather embedded directly by John into one of his sermons, whose specific purpose was to shape the behavior of his congregations, they perform a distinct pedagogical function. The actions that both Jesus and the woman took in leaving behind their previous identities become a paradigm for how identity formation ought to proceed within his congregations. Rather than forming social cohesion by protecting the previously established ethnic lines of his congregants, or by suggesting that they observe similar practices, John suggests that they “forget” or disassociate themselves from their previous identities in order to create a new collective identity, which renders them acceptable for inclusion in the church instead. The encounter between Jesus and the woman thus functions as a heuristic tool to instantiate a new, “Christian” identity for John’s congregants.
Chrysostom, hom. in Mt. 52.1.23–28 (PG 59:519). Note that this language also resonates with the Septuagint’s version of Gen 12:1, wherein Abram, as the first “convert” pre-circumcision, is instructed to ἔξελθε ἐκ τῆς γῆς 89 90
σου καὶ ἐκ τῆς συγγενείας σου καὶ ἐκ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ πατρός σου. 91
Chrysostom, hom. in Mt. 52.1.28 (PG 59:519).
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Another way that John radically reinterprets the narrative is to suggest that a role reversal had occurred between “Jews” and “Gentiles,” precisely because the latter, and not the former, had come to believe in Jesus. In constructing “Christianity” in this manner, in opposition to what, in hindsight, we consider “Judaism,” John also, quite distinctly from the Homilist, disassociated Jews from their history, language, and land, in order to maintain the de-ethnicized parallel to Christianity. 92 This construction reoccurred frequently within the predominantly Gentile church. By way of example, Steve Mason has argued that in setting up “Christianity” as a religion in opposition to “Judaism,” the church father Tertullian stripped away “all that was different in Judean culture—its position among ancient peoples, ancestral traditions, laws & customs, constitution, aristocracy, priesthood, philosophical schools” in order to abstract “only an impoverished belief system.” 93 Likewise, as Daniel Boyarin has suggested, “Christianity . . . needed religious difference—Judaism—to be its other, the religion that was false,” in order to establish itself as its own entity. 94 The work of both of these scholars demonstrates that part of the intellectual project of these church fathers was to construct both “Judaism” and “Christianity” in terms of the ideological beliefs of their adherents instead of in terms of their shared ethnicity or shared practices. Here I am suggesting that this same focus on ideological beliefs emerges in the way that John Chrysostom interpreted the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Gentile woman. For instance, in one of his homilies on the Gospel of John, when Chrysostom alludes to details of the encounter between Jesus and this woman, he remarks:
This a striking development, especially in light of the fact that ancient gods were ethnic. For a discussion of how the apostle Paul continued to retain the ethnic boundaries of Jews and Gentiles within the communities that he established, see Paula Fredriksen, “Judaizing the Nations: The Ritual Demands of Paul’s Gospel,” NTS 56 (2010): 232–52. 93 Mason, “Jews, Judeans, Judaizing, Judaism,” 473. 94 Boyarin, “Rethinking Jewish Christianity,” 20. See also his seminal article on this topic: “Semantic Differences; or ‘Judaism’/‘Christianity,’” in The Ways that Never Parted, 65–85.
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For it is indeed worthy of alarm, how they 95 who were educated in the prophetical books and heard Moses daily and the other prophets thereafter, who, besides, beheld Christ daily working miracles for them and speaking to them alone, who neither during that time allowed his disciples to depart into the way of the Gentiles [εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν] or to enter into a city of Samaritans [πόλιν Σαμαρειτῶν], nor did so himself [μήτε αὐτὸν τοῦτο ποιοῦντα], but who said up and down [i.e. everywhere], to be sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel [πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα ἀπεστάλθαι τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ], who all the same had the benefit of the signs and who daily heard the prophets: yet once for all they made themselves so blind and dumb, as by the power of influence of none of these things to be brought to faith in Christ. While they of the Gentiles [Οἱ δὲ ἐξ ἐθνῶν], who had enjoyed none of these things, who had never heard the divine oracles, not even, as one might say, so much as in a dream, but ever moving in the myths of the madmen (for this is the philosophy of heathens) . . . [believed]. 96 Here Chrysostom creates a sharp dichotomy between pagan Gentiles and “Jews.” The “Jews,” according to Chrysostom, occupied a privileged position in the family of God; God had given them prophetic Scripture, the words of Moses, and even Jesus himself, who like them was Jewish. All of this shared patrimony, he argues, ought to have caused them to believe in Jesus. Indeed, even Jesus himself, Chrysostom notes, specifically instructed his disciples not to go to the
This excerpt derives from a part of John’s sermon that addresses the phrase Εἰς τὰ ἴδια
ἦλθε, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ περιέλαβον. The specific referent of “they” is not provided here. In
the broader context of the sermon, however, John clarifies the referent of “they” in two main places. First, he writes that “Εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθε” refers to “ἰδίους Ἰουδαίους λέγων νῦν, ὡς λαὸν περιούσιον, ἢ καὶ πάντας δὲ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ὡς αὐτοῦ γεγενημένους,” and second he suggests that this phrase describes οὕτω καὶ ἐνταῦθα πάλιν, ἐπι τῇ τῶν Ἰουδαίων καὶ τῇ τῶν πολλῶν δυσανασετῶν ἀγνωμοσύνῃ. So, although the primary referent of “they” is chiefly those who, like Jesus, were ethnically Jewish, in the context of the sermon, Chrysostom’s “they” is expansive enough to also refer to the “stupid many” who have chosen to engage in the sorts of practices that are typically associated with Jewish identity. That is to say, Chrysostom’s “they” could refer not only to ethnic Jews, but to the sort of Ἰουδαῖοι that the Homilist sought to inculcate with his words. 96 Chrysostom, hom. in Jo. 9.1.48–68 (PG 59:69–70).
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Gentiles or to the Samaritans, because his mission was exclusively directed to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 97 Yet their obtuse nature had obscured their ability to believe in Jesus. By contrast the Gentiles, despite having none of these aids along the way, came to believe. This role reversal between Jews and Gentiles enables Chrysostom to craft a version of these two groups based primarily upon their ideological belief systems. While he defines the former by its lack of belief in Jesus, the latter gains standing by its faith in him. For Chrysostom, the “Jews” and the “Christians” have become two distinct religious groups. Consequently, what I am suggesting here is that though in reality there is much in common between what would later become known as Judaism and Christianity, since both religions emerged out of the same cultural milieu of Second Temple Judaism, 98 through his reinterpretation of Jesus’ encounter with this pagan woman, Chrysostom constructs “Judaism” and “Christianity” as distinct binary opposites, defined in relation to their respective beliefs about Jesus. 99 In recent years, a highly charged debate has occurred among specialists on late antique Christianity that questions whether early Christian discourse about Jews reflects mere rhetoric, which, as Andrew Jacobs points out, would “deprive it of any reliable facticity,” or reality, which would “signify that
Chrysostom, hom. in Jo. 9.1.58–59 (PG 59:70). For a clear yet concise articulation of Christianity’s indebtedness to Judaism, see Paula Fredriksen, Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism (New York: Doubleday, 2008), xiii, final paragraph. 99 The parallel growth of Judaism and Christianity as rival, sibling religions in the aftermath of the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 CE was first popularized in the work of James Dunn, The Partings of the Ways: Between Christianity and Judaism and Their Significance for the Character of Christianity (London: SCM, 1991). Yet subsequent scholars have demonstrated that inherent methodological flaws and theological biases render this model insufficient, causing many to overlook the remarkable fluidity between these two developing religions long after their so-called parting. See Judith Lieu, “‘The Parting of the Ways’: Theological Construct or Historical Reality?” JSNT 56 (1994): 101– 19; Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999); idem, Borderlines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004); Annette Y. Reed and Adam H. Becker, “Introduction: Traditional Models and New Directions,” in The Ways that Never Parted, 1–33; Adiel Schremer, Brothers Estranged: Heresy, Christianity, and Jewish Identity in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). For a helpful review essay on scholarly critiques of this model, see Megan H. Williams, “No More Clever Titles: Observations on Some Recent Studies of JewishChristian Relations in the Roman World,” JQR 99.1 (2009): 37–55. 97 98
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historians can safely use this material as evidence to reconstruct the ancient past.” 100 Early scholars aligned themselves rigidly on one side or the other, 101 but the work of scholars such as Brakke, Shepardson, and Jacobs presents a more nuanced approach. 102 The work of all of these scholars moves beyond the mererhetoric-versus-reality debate, asking instead how early Christian discourse about the Jews helped to construct a new identity for early Christians. Their scholarship does not deny the presence of real Jews living in the diverse religious landscape of late antiquity, but it suggests that early Christian language about Jews says more about how early Christians sought to define both their “orthopraxy” and “orthodoxy” than it does about the Jews themselves. 103
Andrew Jacobs, The Remains of the Jews: The Holy Land and Christian Empire in Late Antiquity (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004), 200. 101
Jacobs provides an excellent survey of the history of research on this topic, which traces how the pendulum has swung back and forth from Adolf von Harnack’s position at the end of the 19th century, which stated that early Christian rhetoric said nothing about real Jewish-Christian interactions, to Marcel Simon’s research after World War II, which stressed the opposite, to Miriam Taylor’s 1995 monograph, which again emphasized the rhetorical nature of these works. See Jacobs, Remains of the Jews, 200–209. For similar sketches, focusing on this debate’s relevance for the question of ancient Jewish-Christian relations and on the contra Iudaeos tradition in particular, see Paget, Jews, Christians, and Jewish Christians, 18–20; and Fredriksen, Augustine and the Jews, xv–xviii. 102 In his analysis of the anti-Jewish rhetoric present in Athanasius’ Festal Letters, David Brakke acknowledges that while “contemporary Jewish Passover practices may indeed lie behind Athanasius’ anti-Jewish rhetoric,” this influence is, at best, only indirect. Instead, for Brakke, Athanasius merely employs the term Jew as a rhetorical device to construct the identity of his opponents in order to consolidate his own power and to universalize the form of Christianity that he is promoting (David Brakke, “Jewish Flesh and Christian Spirit in Athanasius of Alexandria,” JECS 9.4 : 466). For a similar perspective with respect to John Chrysostom’s rhetoric, see Christine Shepardson, “Controlling Contested Places: John Chrysostom’s Adversus Iudaeos Homilies and the Spacial Politics of Religious Controversy,” JECS 15.4 (2007): 483–516, esp. 516; and Jacobs, Remains of the Jews, who argues that early Christian language was in “itself a site for the production of reality” (204) which “instantiated and elaborated a new mode of Christian identity, one that was explicitly and unapologetically imperial” (12). For a foreshadowing of this perspective, see Andrew S. Jacobs, “The Lion and the Lamb: Reconsidering JewishChristian Relations in Antiquity,” in The Ways that Never Parted, 95–118. See also Judith Lieu, Image and Reality: The Jews in the World of the Christians in the Second Century (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996). 103 Note, however, that in her most recent work Christine Shepardson intentionally seeks to “revisit the evidence for Jews in fourth-century Antioch between the extremes of John
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My analysis of how John Chrysostom reappropriated the story of Jesus’ interactions with a suffering pagan mother reveals a similar trend; namely, in his homilies John employs the narrative as a rhetorical means to construct the identity of his Christian communities. In making this claim I am not suggesting that there were not real Jews living in the diverse religious landscape of fourthcentury Antioch. Far from it! For, as Christine Shepardson has recently argued, 104 if we look more closely behind Chrysostom’s official rhetoric, especially in light of the Homilist’s work about a half century earlier, we can glimpse, albeit only slightly, something of the way in which Jewish and Christian identity formation was playing out in the Syrian context, extending beyond traditional ethnic boundaries. Indeed, this is particularly true when we consider that the Homilist labels everyone to whom he writes, whether a follower of Jesus or of Moses, as a ’Ιουδαίος (i.e. a Jew) if they followed God’s universal law. In contradistinction to the Homilist, John’s interpretations of this narrative are not interested in the question of how Jesus’ background as a Jew affected his treatment of a distraught Gentile woman per se. Instead, he reshapes the story to construct a form of “Judaism,” composed of persons who had failed to believe in Jesus, in order to solidify the new, “Christian” identity of the various congregations under his purview. Yet, in the process of reinterpreting a story that originally stressed Jesus’ Jewishness to emphasize how “Christianity” had superseded “Judaism,” John distances his burgeoning and predominantly Gentile Christian communities from the Jewish ethnicity and practices of their Lord. Nowhere is this role reversal between Jews and pagan Gentiles more readily apparent than in John’s Adversus Judaeos series. 105 In the year 386 CE, John delivered a homily to his congregation in Antioch, which ostensibly included persons attending both the synagogue and the church. Here, he strives to snuff out this tendency by carefully crafting the words in his sermon into a series of four chiasms. 106 The final one climactically concludes the point by referring directly to the narrative of Jesus’ encounter with the pagan woman.
Chrysostom’s polemic and rabbinic propaganda,” in order to unearth the contemporary practices of fourth-century Antiochene Jews (“Between Polemic and Propaganda,” 149). 104 Ibid. 105 For how Chrysostom’s rhetoric helped to control the religious geography of late antique Antioch, see Shepardson, “Controlling Contested Places,” 483–516. 106 In the first chiasm John alludes to Mal 4:2, a text that describes how only the righteous within Israel will receive salvation, but he reappropriates this argument into an indictment against the Jews. In the second, John alludes to Rom 11:16–17, but instead of
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1: The Jews [they (κἀκεῖνοι)] had the sun of justice rise for them in the morning, but they spurned its rays (A). Now they sit in darkness [σκότῳ] (B). We [ἡμεῖς] who were brought up in darkness [σκότῳ] (B1) drew the light to ourselves and escaped the gloom of wandering. (A1). 2: The Jews [they (Ἐκεῖνοι)] were branches of the holy root [τῆς ῥίζης τῆς ἁγίας] (A), but were broken off (B). We [ἡμεῖς] were
not a part of the root [τῆς ῥίζης] (A1), but produced fruits of piety (B1). 3: They [Ἐκεῖνοι] read the prophets [προφήτας] from an early age (A), but crucified the one whom the prophets foretold [τὸν προφητευθέντα] (B). We [ἡμεῖς] did not hear the divine oracles (A1), but worship the one whom the prophets foretold [τὸν προφητευθέντα] (B1) . . . 4: They [Κἀκεῖνοι] were called to adoption as sons [υἱοθεσίαν] (A), but were denigrated to the kinship of dogs [κυνῶν] (B). We [ἡμεῖς] who were dogs [κύνες] gained strength through the grace of God to put away our former irrationality (B1) to rise to the honor of sons [υἱῶν] (A1). 107 In the Matthean telling of the story, Jesus likened this suffering Gentile mother to a dog, incontrovertibly stating that his mission was directed toward his people. 108 But Chrysostom tacitly reverses the narrative’s original claims. The “Jews” have been denigrated to dogs, while those in his congregation have been elevated to sons. Through this artful literary arrangement, John vividly depicts a role reversal that has occurred between “Jews” and “Gentiles” with respect to their place in the kingdom of God. 109 Chrysostom, in attempting to construct this “Christian” identity for members of his congregation, interprets the narrative in a manner that is diametrically opposed to that of the Homilist.
considering the historical context of Paul’s letter or Paul’s Jewishness, Chrysostom employs the text to construct a role reversal between Jews and Christians in God’s family. 107 Chrysostom, Jud. 1.2.5–21 (PG 48:845). 108 Matt 15:26–27 (cf. Mark 7:27–28). 109 Chrysostom, Jud. 1.2.14 (PG 48.845).
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Rather than encouraging his listeners to become ’Ιουδαῖοι as the Homilist had done, he distances his church from the Jewish identity of their very founder, Jesus. It is impossible to know if John’s harsh rhetoric against “Jews” arose in direct response to the sort of persons that the Homilist sought to foster with his work, but John does exhibit intentionality in constructing a new, “Christian” identity for his congregants that was disassociated from any prior or current inclination toward a “Jewish” identity. Although done by different means, this is similar to the calculated efforts that I underscored earlier from the author of the Didascalia Apostolorum in the third century, from Ignatius in the second, and even, to a more limited extent, from the Matthean and Markan authors in the first. Chrysostom’s attempts to disassociate “Christian” identity from “Jewish” identity in his Antiochene congregations was not an isolated endeavor. Rather, within the specific locale of Roman Syria it constituted part of a long and convoluted process, re-inscribed through different means, many times over, in the first several centuries of the Common Era. Thus, it should come as no surprise that even sixty years after the Homilist composed his work, John remained familiar with the exegetical arguments that the Homilist sought to promote: either because he knew of actual Jesus followers who also engaged in the sorts of Jewish law observance that the Homilist had advocated, or because he had encountered the types of hermeneutical arguments the Homilist had promoted through different means. Given the preponderance of evidence from this particular locale, perhaps it is time to take a hard look at our sources and ask whether what has long been seen as the anomalous “Jewish Christians” might, in fact, have been the norm instead. Concluding Remarks: The Liminal Boundaries of Judaism and Christianity in Fourth-Century Roman Syria Much of our literary evidence from antiquity arises from the winners in the early battles for Christian orthodoxy and orthopraxy—such as John Chrysostom—but by contrasting Chrysostom’s harsh “anti-Jewish” rhetoric with evidence from Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, we gain a glimpse, albeit only slant, of something else. Having already surveyed how Chrysostom’s later dating hermeneutics differ from the Homilist’s earlier interpretations of the same story, I can now turn to address how evidence from both authors better informs discussions of the category of “Jewish Christians,” at least within fourth-century Roman Syria. Specifically, I focus on how the final redacted form of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, especially in contradistinction to Chrysostom’s later sermons, offers insight into how certain persons who self-identified as Jews, living in fourth-
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century Syria, expressed their faith in Jesus. 110 Underscoring the significance of this claim are two particular ways in which the Homilist attempted to straddle elements of what now, only in hindsight, persons identify as “Judaism” and “Christianity.” After unpacking those, I conclude with a few brief remarks on what this might say about the Homilist’s intended audience and whether such persons persisted within the region, even as late as Chrysostom’s works. First, in contradistinction to John Chrysostom’s later homilies to his Antiochene congregations, the Homilist’s earlier hermeneutics deriving from a similar locale do not attempt to construct his readers’ identity by emphasizing their shared ideological beliefs about Jesus; rather, they encourage them to follow the pedagogical example of Jesus’ behavior by also learning to observe the law. For the Homilist, law observance remained paramount; indeed, it was the primary requisite for a person’s inclusion in this group. Whether a person followed the instructions of Moses or Jesus in this regard, however, was irrelevant, so long as he or she remained faithful to the practice of law. Since the Homilist considered both Moses and Jesus as pedagogical—and not divine— figures, their significance lay in the fact that they pointed others toward salvation, which could only be acquired through the practice of the law. Jesus may have had extraordinary powers; indeed, his miraculous powers healed the Gentile woman’s daughter. But he remained human. Accordingly, for the Homilist, salvation ultimately came through the law, not through Jesus. Second, while John Chrysostom employs the original biblical narratives to distance his burgeoning Antiochene congregations from any connection to Jesus’ “Jewishness”—or what would later become known as “Judaism”—in a manner that resembles the earlier efforts of Ignatius and the author of the Didascalia Apostolorum, the Homilist underscores precisely the opposite. For the Homilist, becoming a Jew by following the law is exactly what the pagan, Roman Syrian woman needed to do in order to achieve the healing that she sought for her afflicted daughter. With respect to this point, it is important to keep in mind that the Homilist defined a Jew (’Ιουδαίος) as someone who kept the Jewish law and who worshipped the Jewish god. Like Chrysostom, the Homilist
Christine Shepardson has recently lamented that “[u]nfortunately, no first-person voice like Libanius’s or John Chrysostom’s survives from fourth-century Antiochene Jews, so we are left to imagine them . . . through the voices of others and the scant material remains” (“Between Polemic and Propaganda,” 181). While that may be true, evidence from the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies offers something quite similar. Although certainly not an expression of rabbinic Judaism, here we have a text whose authorredactor(s) self-identify as “Jews” and who also redefine who can be included in that Jewish identity.
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also stripped “away all that was different in Judean culture—its positions among ancient people, ancestral tradition, laws and customs, constitution, aristocracy, priesthood, philosophical school.” 111 But instead of “abstracting only an impoverished belief system,” as the early Gentile interpreters did, the Homilist left in his wake a definition of a ’Ιουδαίος that was synonymous with faithful observance of the law, and thus with worship of the “true”—that is, the Jewish— god. In other words, for both John and the Homilist, the Jewish ethnic background of Jesus no longer mattered, albeit for very different reasons. For the former, ethnic identity was replaced by ideological belief. For the latter, ethnic identity was superseded by faithful observance. The net effect of these interpretive moves was that while John attempted to divorce himself and his congregations from “Jews” and “Judaism,” the Homilist embraced them instead. Accordingly, the intended readership of the Homilies likely included some persons who were ethnically Jewish and others who were ethnically Gentile, the sort of mixed Jesus-following ethnic groups that had persisted in Roman Syria ever since Paul originally preached in the region. For them, the Homilist wanted to make clear that Moses and Jesus were equivalent figures, since both of their teachings pointed persons toward God’s universal law. 112 Since the Homilist did not conceive of Jesus as divine, salvation did not come through belief in him directly, as would be the case for Chrysostom, but rather through observance of God’s law. In this manner, law-abiding practice would have been one of the defining features of the community that the Homilist sought to establish with this work or that had already been established prior to his time. Through the instruction of the Homilies, these persons would not have conceived of themselves as Christians, but rather as Jews for whom Moses and Jesus held equal weight. It did not matter whether they followed Moses or Jesus, as long as they became Jewish through their faithful observance of God’s universal law. The Homilist could thereby claim that Jesus’ acts of healing remained unequivocally directed to the Jews alone, since all Jews, even those who had previously been identified as pagan Syrians, were defined by their lawabiding practice.
Mason, “Jews, Judeans, Judaizing, Judaism,” 473. The references to the “school of Moses and Christ” and elsewhere to the “‘followers of Moses and Christ’ (de Puls. Diff. 2.4 and 3.3, respectively)” in the work of “the wellknown [second-century] medical writer,” Galen, in combination with the evidence that I have been presenting from the Homilies, suggests that there may have been a community, or several communities, in antiquity that revered both Moses and Jesus simultaneously. For a discussion on the merits of Galen’s testimony, see Paget, Jews, Christians, and Jewish Christians, 10–11 and 16. 111 112
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In this respect I am certain that those associated with the PseudoClementine Homilies did not conceive of themselves as Jewish Christians. The Homilist avoids labels like Christian or Christianity intentionally, even with respect to the apostle Peter’s preaching about Jesus. Instead he prefers the term “God-fearer,” and identifies those Gentiles who have come to follow the law of God through Jesus as “Jews.” 113 Rather than thinking of themselves as Jewish Christians, those associated with the Homilies would have simply thought of themselves as Jews for whom Jesus played a fundamental role. Despite this observation, I retain the term Jewish Christianity because the very fact that both John and the Homilist were employing the same scriptural passage to construct a “Christian” or “Jewish” identity for their respective audiences suggests that in fourth-century Syria, the liminal borders between what would ultimately emerge as two separate religious categories was much more fluid than what the official rhetoric of either John or the Homilist would have us suspect. Thus, contra Skarsaune, I do not think that “by the fourth century the normative, mutually exclusive self-definitions of Jews and Christians had become so clear to everyone that there no longer were any border-crossers or border-dwellers, or at least only very few.” 114 Instead, in fourth-century Syria, there were a number of border-dwellers. That is to say, “Jewish Christianity” in this specific context encompassed ethnic Jews incorporating Christ-followers in their midst and Gentile Syrian Jesus-followers enacting Jewish practices, because both authors suggest this, albeit indirectly. That Chrysostom reacts so forcibly—even sixty years after the Homilist composed his work—to oppose such an ideology and practice suggests that what has long been construed as the anomalous or in-between category of “Jewish Christians” was likely, in reality, more of the norm. Indeed, if Shaye Cohen is right in his claim that “the diaspora Jews of antiquity were not easily recognizable—if, indeed, they were recognizable at all,” 115 and if Tina Shepardson is correct that “[l]ate antique Jews joined their neighbors at the theater and the baths, and talked with them on the streets . . . owned slaves like other Romans of their social position . . . [and in Antioch] bought and sold in
For the designation of Gentile followers of Jesus as Jews, see Hom.11.16.2–4, as well as Zetterholm, “Alternative Visions of Judaism,” 133, 135–38. For more information on how the author-redactor(s) of the Homilies stress the Jewish ethnicity of Peter and Barnabas throughout the narrative, see Reed, “‘Jewish Christianity’ as Counter-history?,” 203–204; idem, “Rethinking (Jewish-)Christian Evidence,” 363–64. 114 Skarsaune, “Jewish Believers,” 9. 115 Shaye J. D. Cohen, The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 67.
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the marketplaces . . . and participated in local, regional, and imperial patronage systems,” then a construction of their religious identity as Jews, not just in terms of their ethnicity, but also in terms of their practice, seems to have been necessary. 116 For the fourth-century Syrian Homilist, this new religious identity was broad enough to include persons who were Jews not only by ethnicity but also by practice. It would be too much of a stretch, however, to suggest that this evidence from John and the Homilist can be extrapolated to all persons who straddled the boundaries between what are now, only in hindsight, considered Judaism and Christianity, or that it somehow had a global effect. Rather, in my estimation, the most profitable work in the future study of “Jewish Christianity” will occur when we no longer focus on one text or one author, asking whether that particular text or author is “Jewish Christian,” but instead look at the broader evidence for what is happening on the ground in terms of particular locales and particular chronologies. Indeed, I am uncertain whether the term “Jewish Christian” will ever be able to define a universal group or party, which can encompass persons from Rome to Alexandria to Antioch during various centuries throughout history, unless such specific and detailed analyses come first. For just as Wendy Mayer’s work has called scholars to attend more carefully to the social and physical setting of John’s sermons—whether they were delivered in Antioch or Constantinople, or even more specifically the precise church they were delivered in—so, too, we can further refine and nuance our investigations into the topic of Jewish Christians. Moreover, such a chronolocational perspective has the additional advantage of allowing us to expand our investigations of the topic of Jewish Christians beyond the confines of a set of previously prescribed texts—which meet a specific list of pre-determined criteria—and to look for evidence in the most unsuspecting of places, such as the exegesis of the Gentile Christian author John Chrysostom, for instance, instead. Such an chrono-locational approach is our best chance of understanding, refining, and retaining this elusive term. www.jjmjs.org
Shepardson, “Between Polemic and Propaganda,” 150–52. For a similar perspective, see Drijvers, “Syrian Christianity and Judaism,” 128. Such proximity and exchange further explains why this particular geographical region long served as an important site for religious identity formation.
The Synagogue Inscription from Kursi * Haggai Misgav, Michal Artzy, and Haim Cohen Hebrew University | firstname.lastname@example.org University of Haifa | email@example.com University of Haifa | firstname.lastname@example.org JJMJS No. 3 (2016): 167–169 Excavations in late 2015 at Kursi Beach, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee near the foothills of the Golan Heights, uncovered a large marble slab with a Hebrew inscription dating back at least 1,600 years. No similar artifact has ever before been found in Israel, and it confirms for the first time that the ancient settlement at the site was Jewish or Judeo-Christian. Dr. Haim Cohen and Prof. Michal Artzy, from the Hatter Laboratory at the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa, led the excavation in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority’s Kursi Beach site. The inscription reads as follows: ידכרון לטב ולברכה. . . דמן טיבריה . . .] ניה ברה די אתנדבון. . . קדישה[ מרמריה לאיקרה דאתרה. . . [מה יתן חלקה]מלכה דעל[ ומן פעלהון. . . [ובמצוות. . .][ן א]ו[ביה וסייע ית. . . . . .] עלמה[ אתרה קדישה מלך. . .
ויסי יתה ויברך יתה אמן *
The discovery of a unique synagogue inscription at Kursi in 2015 has generated great interest among scholars and laypeople alike, not least since it confirms the existence of a Jewish community in an area otherwise known since the fifth century as a Christian pilgrimage site housing Galilee’s largest Byzantine monastic complex. There has been some speculation with regard to the reading of the inscription, which has made publication of an authoritative interpretation by experts in the field a desideratum. While the stone itself is currently in the Israel Museum for cleaning and restoration, JJMJS is pleased to offer its readers a first reading and interpretation of the inscription coauthored by epigraphist Haggai Misgav (Hebrew University) and the excavators of the site, Michal Artzy and Haim Cohen. ~The Editors
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Will be remembered to good memory and blessing from Tiberias? . . .]nia his son who contributed . . . Marble for the honor of (this) holy [place] from their property. [King of the w]orld will give (their) part[. . .] And commandments . . . and will help them . . . In this land (?) of holy place. King [of world . . .] And will heal him and bless him . . .
Â The words â€œfrom Tiberiasâ€? are inscribed between the first and second lines, probably because the writer forgot to write them in the right place, i.e. after the name of the donor, who came from Tiberias on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
Misgav, Artzy, Cohen, The Synagogue Inscription from Kursi 169
The marble tablet (approximately 120x60 cm) was found on the synagogue’s floor surrounded by a simple one-color opus sectile. It is a unique find, as no other such marble tablets have been found in ancient synagogues. The inscription is a dedication and commemoration of a donor or donors of money (or work?) to the synagogue. “Marble” is mentioned here as a part of the donation. This corresponds to finds in many other synagogues, where inscriptions mention architectural elements such as pillars, gates, and so on. Since the synagogue has not been excavated fully, we do not know yet whether there were other places where marble was incorporated in the building. The excavation is only in its beginning, and a mosaic floor was discovered next to the tablet. Besides this detail, the inscription contains all the usual elements of dedication inscriptions: a blessing, the names of the donors, and a short prayer for their wealth and health.
Issue 1 (2014)
Introducing JJMJS: A New Interdisciplinary Journal Eschatology and Messianism in the Gabriel Inscription TORLEIF ELGVIN Paul’s Non-Jews Do Not Become ‘Jews,’ But Do They Become ‘Jewish’? MARK NANOS Shared Interpretive Traditions of Joseph’s ‘s w f r o s u /n h ’ and ‘Silence’ in De Iosepho and the Testament of Joseph DIETER ROTH The Epistle of James as a Witness to Broader Patterns of Jewish Exegetical Discourse SERGE RUZER Heresy Without Orthodoxy: Josephus and the Rabbis on the Dangers of Illegitimate Jewish Beliefs JONATHAN KLAWANS Alternative Visions of Judaism and Their Impact on the Formation of Rabbinic Judaism KARIN HEDNER ZETTERHOLM The Jewish Annotated New Testament: A Review Article CRAIG A. EVANS
JJMJS Issue 3 2016