Jewish-Christian Relations

chaired by Sheldon Isenberg and David Hay


(8.1a, September 29, 1970)

John Townsend, Resources for Studying Rabbinic Judaism


(8.1b, September 29, 1970)

David Hay, Jewish-Christian Relations, Methodical Questions


(8.2a, November 10, 1970)

Donald Winslow, The Maccabean “Martyrs” as a Prototype of Christian Martyrdom


(8.2b, November 10, 1970)

Robert Wilken, Judaism in Early Christian Thought


(8.3, January 26, 1971)

Robert A. Kraft, The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila


(8.4, March 16 1971)

Krister Stendahl, Jewish and Christian Messianism in the First Centuries C.E.


(8.5, April 6, 1971)

Rabbi Herbert A. Opalek, The Tannaitic and Amoraic Corpora Re-Examined and Their Usage in the Study Of Christian Origins,  


(8.6) April 27, 1971)

Robert A. Kraft, The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila (continued)


(8.7, May 13, 1971)

Morton Smith, Josephus and Judaism





Topic for 1970/71: Jewish-Christian Relations in the Early Centuries.

Meeting of September 29, l970; 7 p.m., Philadelphia Divinity School Library.


The initial session of the 1970/71 Seminar was convened by co-chairman Sheldon Isenberg. The Seminar elected the Bauer translation team as a preliminary committee to prepare plans for a series of inexpensive scholarly publications of texts, tools, and studies dealing with Christian origins, using the income from the English translation of Bauer’s Orthodoxy and Heresy. R. A. Kraft was appointed chairman of the committee. After customary introductions and announcements, the Seminar heard presentations by John Townsend of the Philadelphia Divinity School and David Hay of Princeton Theological Seminary.


Resources For Studying Rabbinic Judaism, John Townsend


Dr. Townsend presented an extensive Bibliographia Rabbinica, a listing of rabbinic sources with their main editions, translations, and concordances, along with a few of the relevant lexicons, introductions, encyclopedias, etc. Included are all the works of the Tannaim, most of the works of the Amoraim, and those later works commonly used by writers on Christian origins like P. Billerbeck. Excluded are the Dead Sea Scrolls and related finds, Jewish works written in Greek, works generally included under the heading of Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and works of Samaritan origin. This annotated bibliography, already 23 pages long, is still considered to be in a preliminary stage. Dr. Townsend would appreciate any notes, suggestions, or corrections which members and friends of the Seminar would have to offer. Additional copies of the bibliography are available at a cost of fifty cents each. Please address requests for copies to the PSCO in care of either secretary or the coordinator.


A surprising number of books of rabbinic sources are available in the Philadelphia area, including the collection at Dropsie College. In the Northeast, the most valuable library is the Widener Library at Harvard, which has published a catalogue of its Hebrew books in six volumes through 1968. Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati) also has a published catalogue, but it is older. The Jewish Theological Seminary library is also quite helpful.


In dealing with this material, certain complications arise from the nature of the material itself. Dating is quite difficult, especially of those works which themselves make use of earlier material. Sometimes this is made clear; other times the reader himself comes upon the earlier sources. When the name of a specific rabbi is attached to a particular teaching, this can be especially treacherous, since it is the name of the rabbi which seems to vary the most in various sources. However, the alternate rabbi is usually a near contemporary of the one mentioned in the text. It is sometimes quite difficult to follow a particular work through its various recensions, since a “recension” can amount to a complete rewriting. There are also tremendous difficulties of understanding and interpretation even for those knowing the languages and the literature. The legal terminology, especially in the earliest traditions, makes looking for anything of an historical concern rather tricky. The sources must be used creatively, as J. Neusner has done in his History of the Jews in Babylonia.


Certain technical terms used in describing this literature must be explained. The Tannaim are the rabbis from Gamaliel I (the time of St. Paul) to the beginning of the third century. The Amoraim are those from there to the mid sixth century; the Saboraim for the neat 100 years; and the Gaonim to the middle of the 1lth century. Other technical terms are explained in the basic introductions, such as those of H. L. Strack or G. F. Moore.


Much of the discussion by the Seminar consisted of specific items or notes for the bibliography. Of more general interest, it was mentioned that some work is now going on which questions whether the early rabbis really were Pharisees, or whether the Saducees can be identified in the literature. J. Neusner is coming out with a 3 volume collection of talmudic materials about the earliest rabbis, which will help greatly in the understanding of this period. It was also noted that the Hebrew University is completing its collection of rabbinic texts on microfilm, although it has not yet been wholly indexed,


Jewish-Christian Relations -- Questions of Definition, David Hay


A discussion of Jewish-Christian relations leads us at the outset to certain problems of definition: how to define and distinguish Christians and Jews; how to determine temporal or geographical limits for the studies; and what sort of relation we are considering. In this regard, we can hardly do better than to review in brief compass the major items presented by M. Simon in Verus Israel (1948(1), 1964(2)). This book is notable for the penetration of its questions and the relative comprehensiveness of its discussion, and more than any other recent work defines the major issues.


Simon’s basic thesis is that throughout the critical period with which he deals, 135-425 C.E., Jews and Christians confronted one another as religious rivals, attracting converts from each other and vying for the commitment of pagans. The development of each religion was decisively influenced by the presence of the other. The gradual decline of universalism and proselytizing in Judaism and its turning inward upon its rabbinic tradition stemmed in considerable part from the existence of Christianity. And, on the other side, Christianity came not only to claim the title and prerogatives of “the True Israel,” but out of its contacts with Jews it acquired a legalism in morality and patterns of worship which made it into “another Israel” (Justin, Dial 123.5). The first part of Simon’s book deals with the religious and political character of Judaism and Christianity, and their place within the Empire. Simon sees Palestinian Judaism and Diaspora Judaism as separate, but closely related, movements. Following the catastrophe of the Jewish wars, Judaism progressed from a brief season of apocalyptic despair to a time of optimism about the future, characterized by an openness to Hellenistic culture and an eagerness to proselytize. In the eyes of the Roman government, the Palestinian wars did not alter the fundamentally secure legal position of Jews in the Empire. At the same time, Christianity began to define its self-identity basically in terms of its claim to be the true Israel, in the process developing a range of views on the validity or non-validity of the OT Law, and the Jews themselves as apostates. Also developed were formulations dealing with ongoing relations between Jews and Christians. In contrast to the generally favorable attitude of the pre-Constantine Empire toward Judaism, the attitude toward Christianity was largely negative. After Constantine, Christianity was chiefly responsible for the escalation of unfavorable legislation against the Jews, although there is little evidence that in the earlier epoch the Jews contributed in a major way to the persecution of Christians.


The second part of Simon’s book deals with the conflict between Christianity and Judaism as both moved toward defining themselves along orthodox lines. In contrast to Harnack and others, Simon feels that the Christian works Adversus Judaeos testify to actual conflicts between Jews and Christians, rather than to a merely intra-Christian literary form. The Talmud does sometimes speak clearly of the Christians as Minim, but more often uses the term quite vaguely. On the development of anti-Semitism, Simon notes that Christianity differed in two main respects from the pagan adversaries of the Jews: 1) it had a basic theological reason for the hostility (the Jews refused to recognize Jesus as Messiah); 2) it used appeals to the OT itself as indicating the prophecy of the Jews’ apostasy and punishment. Generally, Christians did not aim at the destruction of Israel, but saw Jews as a continuing “witness people,” subject to final conversion to Christianity.


Simon’s concluding section deals with topics in the area of positive contacts and syncretism between Jews and Christians. He sees Jewish Christianity as a fossilized form of primitive Christianity, misunderstood by patristic writers after Justin, and ultimately rejected by both Jews and Christians. Christians, however, never felt the challenge of Jewish Christianity as seriously as the challenge of Judaism as held by non-Christian Jews. Throughout most of the period, Jewish proselytizing was a major phenomenon and a major source of competition for Christian missions, as evidenced by the positive opinions of proselytes by scattered rabbis, the persistence of Greek and Latin among Jews in the Empire, and the very repetition of anti-proselytizing decrees from Rome. Judaizers within the Christian Church were highly influential upon the development of liturgy and cultus, if not the doctrines. Part of the anti-Jewish polemic of Christian spokesmen like Chrisostom is intended not against Jews but against Christian Judaizers. Throughout the period, Judaism was often associated with magic, astrology, and superstition. Such practices were condemned by post-Constantine Christianity with extremely rigorous measures.


With this brief sketch of the contents of Simon’s book before us, we shall proceed to discuss methodological problems in several areas with which investigators in this field must deal, and which seem to remain open questions. It is still not clear how strong were actual contacts between Christians and Jews. Harnack sees such contacts as relatively insignificant; Simon sees actual adversary dialogues, but admits that there is no infallible criterion for establishing the reality of the contact behind the dialogue. Lukyn Williams has noted the low level of argumentation it takes for Christians to “win” the debates in the dialogues. Again, how far are the works which Christians wrote attacking Judaism really attacking Judaizing Christians rather than Jews? Simon contends that even some of Chrysostom’s anti-Jewish sermons were probably meant for Jewish Christians. Jewish Christians, in turn, need not be dependent on contacts with Judaism for survival; the literary influence of the OT coupled with their primitive tradition could have sufficed. V. Tcherikover has argued that Graeco-Jewish writings were read almost exclusively by Jews, and were not used as a real point of contact between Christians and Jews. So, a major problem for any investigator in this field remains that of determining what sorts of evidence will count as proof of contacts between Jews and Christians. Simon’s theses are attractive and helpful, but we must distinguish hard evidence of Jewish-Christian contacts from mere guesses or possible inferences.


Another general problem area concerns the ambiguity of our sources for this period -- Jewish, Christian, and pagan. Christian writers do not speak fully about Jews -- clearly it was not generally in their interest to describe Judaism impartially or comprehensively. Simon insists that the anti-heretical writers failed to understand Judaism or even Jewish Christianity. On the other hand, the Talmud and midrashic literature abounds in a lack of clear references to Jesus and Christianity, in spite of a few undeniable references. Rabbinic scholars find that they often have to argue in devious and vulnerable ways to discern the impact of Christianity on Judaism. The non-literary remains, likewise, are characterized by a seemingly impenetrable ambiguity. For instance, the Jewish art of Dura-Europas, obviously incorporating pagan elements, may or may not reflect a mixing of Jewish and pagan religious values. Erwin Goodenough saw it as basically religious but non-rabbinical in its mysticism. Simon, on the other hand, argues that the art is basically expressive of rabbinic Judaism. Heinrich Strauss sees the inspiration for the Jewish art at Dura in early Christian art, or at least in the common literary tradition of Jews and Christians.


An area of special interest to many of us is the relation between Judaism and Christianity in the area of Biblical exegesis: e.g. how rabbinic haggidic literature might have influenced Christian ideas. G. Vermes, S. Spiegel, and N. A. Dahl, among others, have done studies on the possibility of such influence in particular passages. Generally, their conclusion seems to be that direct influence was minimal, although the common Biblical tradition would lead to some obvious parallels in both content and method of Biblical interpretation.


* * * * * *


During the discussion following the presentation, several methodological problems were discussed. Simon’s acceptance of large scale Jewish proselytizing has been questioned, although some sources (e.g. Josephus) seem to indicate that it was a widespread practice. Most other sources seem more cautious, and some rabbis seem to warn against hasty acceptance of proselytes, since they can be more trouble than they are worth. Likewise, Simon’s stress on the Church’s vision of itself as the new Israel was thought by some to have been overstated, since this view does not seem to be of primary importance in the earliest Christian works. It was thought that the population balance between Jews, Christians, and pagans ought to be a more important factor than it usually is in determining the extent of religious interrelationships. Simon has considered this factor to a degree, but perhaps not sufficiently. In determining the sources of persecution of Christians, Simon has probably played down Jewish influence, especially in those areas where Christians were more of a minority than the Jews.


Selected bibliography of publications since 1960 on Jewish-Christian relations:


Barnard, L.W. “The Background of Early Egyptian Christianity,” Church Quarterly Review 164 (1963), 428-41.


____________”Hadrian and Christianity,” Church Quarterly Review 165 (1964), 277-89.


____________”The OT and Judaism in the Writings of Justin Martyr,” Vetus Testamentum 14 (1964), 395-406.


Bickermann, E. Studies in Jewish and Christian History. 1969.


Danielou, J. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. 1964.


Eichhorn, David (ed.), Conversion to Judaism. 1965.


Fascher, E. “Der Vorwurf der Gottlosigkeit in der Auseinandersetzung bei Juden, Griechen und Christen,” pp. 78-115 in Abraham unser Vater (1963).


Ferguson, E. “Jewish and Christian Ordination,” Recherches de Science Religieuse 51 (1963), 240-46.


Ford, J. M. “Was Montanism a Jewish-Christian Heresy?” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 8 (1966), 145-59. , Kretschmar, G. “Ein Beitrag zur Frage nach dem Varhaltnis zwischen judischer und christlicher Kunst in der Antike,” Abraham unser Vater, pp. 295-319.


Dahl, M. A. “The Atonement -- An Adequate Reward for the Akedah? (Ro 8.32),” Neotestamentica et Semitica (1969), pp. 15-29.


Kraft, R.A. “Some Notes on Sabbath Observance in Early Christianity,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 111 (1965), 18-33.


Lehmann, O. “Communal Worship in the NT and Contemporary Rabbinic Literature,” Studia Evangelica, Part II (1961), 246-49.


Lerle, E. “Liturgy Reform of Synagogue in Answer to Jewish Christianity,” Novum Testamentum 10, 31-42.


Mihaly, E. “A Rabbinic Defense of the Election of Israel; An Analysis of Sitre Deuteronomy 32.9; Pisqa 312,” Hebrew Union College Annual 35 (1964), 103-43.


Neusner, J. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 4 vols, 1965-69.


Parkes, J. The Foundations of Judaism and Christianity. 1960.


Rengstorf, K. H. and S. Kortsfleisch. Kirche und Synagogue, Bd. 1. 1968.


Rodinson, M. “Sur la question des ‘influences juives’ en Ethiopie,” Journal of Semitic Studies 9 (1964), 11-19.


Simon, M. and A. Benoit. Le Judaisme et le Christianisme Antique. 1968.


Spiegel, Shalom. The Last Trial. 1967.


Strauss, H. “Judische Quellen fruhchristlicher Kunst: Optische oder literische Anregung?” Zeitschrift fur NT Wissenschaft 57 (1966), 114-36.


Wilken, R. L. “Insignissima Religio, Certe Licita?” The Impact of the Church upon Its Culture (1968), 39-66.


--D. Hay, 1970


Respectfully submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary





Topic for 1970-71: Jewish-Christian Relations in the Early Centuries.

Meeting of November 10, 1970; 7 p.m., Philadelphia Divinity School Library.


The second session of the l970-71 Seminar was convened by co- chairman Sheldon Isenberg. After customary introductions and announcements, the Seminar heard presentations by Donald Winslow of the Philadelphia Divinity School and Robert Wilken of Fordham University.


The Maccabees--Prototypes of Christian Martyrs?, Donald Winslow


By the fourth century, August 1 was celebrated in both East and Rest as the feast day of the Maccabean martyrs, so that even John Chrysostom, anti-Semite as he was, spoke of these pre-Christian heroes as “holy martyrs.” Other witnesses to the acceptance of these Jewish martyrs in a Christian hagiology are Origen, Cyprian, Jerome, Leo I, and Eusbeius of Emesa. Heroic deeds are often quickly translated into the language of fable -- Jewish literature praising the loyal handful of those who resisted at the cost of their lives the hellenizing program of Antiochus Epiphanes; the literature of Christian martyrdom extolling the sacrifice of those early Christians who preferred to die rather than compromise their faith with an act of obeisance to the genius of the Emperor. It may help in our understanding of this mythologizing process if we examine how one culture treated the martyrs of another; i.e., how Christians thought of Jewish martyrs.


It seems obvious that one’s prior view of the essential relationship between Judaism and Christianity would tend to predetermine his conclusions about Jewish martyrs. If, for instance, Christianity is seen as a break with or repudiation of Judaism, one may not be entirely sympathetic. The Book of Hebrews tends in this direction (OT heroes could not reach their perfection before Jesus Christ). A modern example of this view is found in W.H.C. Freund, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church. If, on the other hand, one accepts the more charitable view of Judaism as nurturing and supporting the early Church, one is inclined to be more understanding; e.g. the gospel logion, “How blest you are when you suffer insults and persecution for my sake; in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.” This view is shared by R. B. Townshend in his introduction to 4 Maccabees in Charles’ Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.


Early Christian literature concerning the Maccabean martyrs tends to fall into two distinct categories: that which was written while under persecution in the 3d century, and the more reflective works of the 4th and 5th centuries. Of the first group, we shall consider Cyprian and Origen, both of whom suffered and died for their faith.


Cyprian, an administrator and ecclesiastic in time of persecution, exhorts his congregation to steadfastness in Treatise 11: Ad Fortunatum. He cites the inspiration of prior examples of martyrdom, including the 7 Maccabee brothers. While dwelling perhaps a bit too long on numerology (7 brothers -- 7 churches, and the Mater Ecclesia), he recites the incident largely as given in 2 Maccabees, with little embellishment. His comparison of Jewish and Christian martyrs is not as to their faith, but as to their numbers (Jews many, Christians more). He makes no contribution to the theology of martyrdom, and little to the understanding of Jewish-Christian relations.


Origen presented his Exhortation to Martyrdom at the beginning of the persecution of Maximinus Thrax, to the two deacons in Caesarea who had suffered. He, too, recites the events of 2 Maccabees, as “Scripture in abbreviated form,” citing the 7 as “a magnificent example of courageous martyrdom.” He sketches a tentative theology of martyrdom: a) “Sufficient to steel them to endurance was the conviction that the eye of God was upon them in their suffering;” b) God will inflict worse punishments to Antiochus and his seed, “for he who fights against those made god-like by the Word is fighting God;” c) the love of God and human weakness cannot dwell together. Origen is more reflective than Cyprian, but nowhere mentions that the Maccabees were not Christian. Perhaps, in time of persecution, the example of martyrdom is more important than the religious pedigree of the particular martyr.


From the later period, when the Church was not being actively persecuted, we have chosen as typical Augustine and Gregory of Nazianzus.


Augustine, in his Sermon 300, is not speaking to a crisis, but is giving a sermon dictated by the liturgical calendar. There is no exhortation to imitation, but instead the strong admonition, “Let no one imagine that before the Christians there was not a people under God. Arguing not only against Christians who wonder about the insertion of Jewish martyrs into a Christian liturgical calendar, but also against a hypothetical Jew who accuses Christians of claiming “our martyrs as your own,” Augustine claims that the death of Christ made true martyrs of the Maccabees. If the Maccabees died for the Law, and if Christ is veiled in the Law, then the Maccabees died for Christ: “Those who precede Christ are his followers.” Augustine even puts into the mouth of the mother of the 7 a fully Christian testimony: “In the time to come . . . Christ shall watch over you for me, whence Antiochus may never take you.”


2) Gregory of Naziansus, in his 15th Oration, In Laude Maccabaorum, is also reflective, although he does exhort to imitation as an ascetic ideal. His recitation of the events of the martyrdom is done in ghastly detail, based on either 4 Maccabees or the Triumph of Reason. Apart from the rehearsal of events, Gregory introduces many noteworthy points which may bear upon the Jewish-Christian relation. From the Maccabean literature itself, he notes: a) sacrifice is expiatory in nature; b) a living sacrifice is pleasing to God; c) the number of brothers is related to the Sabbath rest; d) the resurrection is to Jerusalem above, so that death purchases life; e) the persecutors will be punished; f) nothing is more invincible than men who are ready to die for something; g) the Greek athletic vocabulary well describes martyrdom; h) the endurance of the 7 was “for the sake of the traditions of their fathers.” There are, however, several points which are new in Christian literature on Maccabees: a) The mother of the 7 is “prototypical” of Mary, Mater Dolorosa; b) The sacrifice of the Maccabees is greater than Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, because they “saw it through to the end.” [it is intriguing to ask if Gregory knew of rabbinic tradition in this matter. See Midrash Rabba on Lamentations; S. Siegel, The Last Trial.] c) New also for Christians is Gregory’s use of the Stoic principle of “pious reason” (eusebes logismos) as superior to and overcoming passion, a notion found in 4 Maccabees. d) The “priest Eliezer” is described as the “first fruits of those who suffered before Christ, just as Stephen was the first fruits of those who suffered after Christ.” e) The Maccabean martyrdom, as prototypical of Christian martyrdom, is actually more praiseworthy, since the Maccabees did not have the passion and death of Christ to imitate. However, “no one who was martyred before the coming of Christ could have attained his goal apart from faith in Christ.`


* * * * * * * * * * *


In the discussion following the presentation, several new points were brought forth: 1) There appears to be no more rationale for celebrating the Feast of the Maccabean Martyrs on August 1 than for the selection of most other days in the liturgical calendar. Augustine mentions that there is a question as to the propriety of the celebration, but not the date. Gregory notes that it is not observed much. 2) The favorable attitude of early Christians toward the Maccabees may indicate a tendency to accept pre-Christian Judaism, while assailing contemporary Jews. It could also be a question of canon, since all of the writers cited seem to accept their sources as OT. 3) There seems to be some similarity between Christian and Jewish outlooks toward martyrdom, both condoning it in attempts to avoid idolatry.


Judaism and Early Christian Thought, Robert Wilken


Before discussing Christian theology and Judaism, it is necessary first to ask social-historical questions: How did the Jewish and Christian communities interact in the Graeco-Roman world? What was the influence of the relative size and prestige of each community upon topics of discussion and argument? How was each community viewed by the surrounding world? Geographical and chronological matters must be considered, along with an increasing use of non-literary sources. Instead of limiting our questions to the influence of one writer or school upon another, a more basic question might be: How did the polemic against Judaism (assuming the presence of Jews and interaction with Christians) shape the development of Christian thought? It seems very likely that Jews and Christians did interact, to the extent that Judaism was a real rival to the early Church. This continual preoccupation with the relation to Judaism caused many anti-Jewish arguments to become fundamental building blocks in the Christian mind, establishing a basic typology. Three examples may be set forth here:


1) Melito, Bishop of Sardis from 160 C.E. is bitterly anti-Jewish in section 72 of his Paschal Homily. Alf Thomas Kraabel, in Judaism in Western Asia Minor under the Roman Empire (unpubl. Ph.D. diss., Harvard, 1968), argues that Melito’s bitterness stems from the situation of Christians in Sardis at that time, as over against the Jewish community. The Jews in Sardis were men of social and economic status, who seemed to have little problem about being Roman citizens or even political functionaries. The Christian community, small and struggling, with no real sense of its own identity, could only be on the defensive against this established community whose heritage the Christians claimed for themselves.


2) John Chrisostom delivered his Homilies against the Jews in Stitch in 386-7 C.E. In warning Christians not to take part in Jewish festivals, he accuses the Jews in most immoderate terms of the murder of his Lord. His strong anti-Semitism seems to be occasioned at least in part by the fact of a flourishing Jewish community in Antioch, in existence since Hellenistic times, and apparently still prospering.


3) Cyril of Alexandria, known chiefly as a Christological thinker, was also bitterly anti-Semitic. (See the study of Cyril in Robert L. Wilken, Judaism and the Early Christian Mind, Yale U. Press, 1971.) Alexandria was another Jewish center, in spite of decline since Hellenistic times, as evidenced by an attempt to expel the Jews in 414, the mention in the letters of Isidore of debates between Jews and Christians, and Cyril’s own writings, Cyril tried to understand Judaism in his own terms, which led to his preoccupation with the relation between the Jewish Scriptures and Christian writings, and a strong preference for typology rather than allegory in interpreting the OT.


These three instances suggest a program of study: a) An inquiry into the history of Judaism independent of Christianity in local areas; b) close reading of Christian texts in the light of this information and of other Christian texts; c) greater discrimination between various Christian authors in their attitudes toward Jews, even though they share a basically similar frame of reference. Then, and only then, ought we to study the thought of these authors.


Perhaps this program can be illustrated by looking at the works of Eusebius of Caesarea. His two massive polemical works, the Evangelical Preparation and the Evangelical Demonstration, written between 315-320 C.E., were addressed one to Greeks and the other to Jews, treating different problems and giving different answers. Even though these two works are part of a larger work against both Jews and Greeks, their differences are instructive. It should be noted that Caesarea was a center of Jewry. It was there that Origen had discussions with Jews and studied with Hillel, the brother of Patriarch Juda II (see G. Bardy, RB 24 (1925), 217-52). Unfortunately, there is little real information on this Jewish community in the 4th century. The Preparation tries to show what Christianity is to those Greeks who do not know what it means. The stress is on the highest blessings, i.e. those of a spiritual nature. The chief blessing is piety (eusebeia), which includes the worship of the one and only God, life in accordance with this worship, and the consequent favor of God when lives are in friendship with him. The themes of this apology are traditional, dating back to the early 2d century, and kept alive as Christians answered the continuing anti-Christian polemic of the Greeks. The chief problems raised are superstition, polytheism, nature and creation; leading to treatment of good, cosmology and cosmogony, piety, and freedom of the will. In all this, Christianity is presented as something coming not from the human impulse, but from the power of God, preserved at first through the ancient Hebrews, teachers of the true worship of God. In the Preparation, Eusebius cites ancient Greek authors to prove his case. There is no use of Scripture, Christian or Jewish.


In the Demonstration, the first thing that strikes the reader is the change of tone, mood, and emphasis. Immediately, we are presented with a Christological discussion, expressed in the language, ideas, and metaphors of the Jewish Scriptures. Had it not been for the continuing presence of the Jews, such a presentation might not have been necessary. Jesus could have been presented on the basis of comparison with ancient Greek heroes, but instead he is shown to be the fulfillment of Judaism. Eusebius’ historical-theological interpretation of Judaism places the Law of Moses as a second stage in religious history after Abraham, and not applicable to all men. Thus, Judaism becomes an intermediate period after men departed from the ancient and original revelation but before Christianity. This interpretation makes the whole history of ancient Judaism fair game for Christianity. Christians can find there what suits because Moses was not a superstitious Greek, and can reject what does not suit since Moses gave a Law for only part of mankind. Theological history thus becomes a basis for typology. Eusebius considers the doctrine of Christ “peculiar and common to the Hebrews and ourselves,” but notes that the Jews do not recognize his divinity. The Demonstration is in large measure a catena of Biblical texts, many of which were actually disputed between Christians and Jews.


Tentative conclusions: It is necessary to think ourselves back to a time when Christianity was a minority religion, on the defensive and trying to find its identity. Although it had from the beginning firm roots in Judaism, it could have cast its lot elsewhere as soon as it tried to make its way in the Graeco-Roman world. The continued presence of strong Jewish communities, however, forced Christians to legitimate their claims out of Jewish Scriptures, and to defend their interpretations to pagans who were also aware of contrary interpretations by the Jews themselves, This is why typology became so fundamental in Christian thinking; it grounds every aspect of Christology in the Jewish Scriptures. This understanding, however, presupposes the demise of Judaism. That Judaism still prospered could account for the bitterness of Chrisostom, Cyril, and others. It is the task then for students of early Christian theology to lay out in as much precision and detail as possible exactly how the encounter with Judaism has shaped the Christian mind.


* * * * * * * * * *


During the discussion following the presentation, the Seminar considered rather extensively whether or not a development as described required the presence of an actual and large Jewish community. Several points of note: 1) The bitterness of Christians toward Jews seems indeed to stem from direct contact, even though the Jewish community need not have a preponderance in the particular town. It is the quality of interaction which is the vital factor. 2) In spite of the use of the OT in the NT, the use of Jewish Scriptures by Christians was still at question in the 2d century. Interaction with the Jewish community could have been the deciding factor, although it is at least possible that the question was resolved out of an inter-Christian conflict. 3) Christian theology did not, of course, develop only as response to adversary polemics and negative critique. However, the particular doctrines of history, and the relation of Christianity to Judaism, could have been largely shaped from the outside, i.e. from the Jewish community.


Respectfully submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary




Topic for 1970-71: Jewish Christian Relations in the Early Centuries.

Meeting of January 26, 1971; 7 p.m., Philadelphia Divinity School Library.


The third session of the 1970-71 Seminar was convened by co-chairman Sheldon Isenberg. After customary introductions and announcements, the Seminar heard a presentation by Robert A. Kraft and several members of the Christian Origins Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.


The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila, Robert A. Kraft et al.


In recent months, the Christian Origins Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania has been investigating the literary genre of early dialogues between Christians and Jews, with a rather intensive study of The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila. This work, known to us from three MSS (Vatican, 12th cent.; Paris, 12th cent.; Escorial, 15th cent.) has been published by Conybeare (1898), but never fully translated, nor have the MSS been completely collated. (For the literature, see the outline sent with the notice of the meeting.) The UP Seminar has completed a rough translation, and is currently studying certain aspects which could give clues as to date, place of origin, etc. Two of the 3 MSS give the title as “Dialogue of a Christian and a Jew, whose names respectively were Timothy and Aquila, which took place in Alexandria in the days of Cyril, the (most holy) Bishop of Alexandria.” The 3d (Escorial) gives simply, “Disputation of a Christian by the name of Timothy with a Hebrew philosopher by the name of Aquila.”


At this point, there seems no positive way of dating the work, even though A. Lukyn Williams places it with confidence at the beginning of the 3d century. The Seminar suggested several techniques which might be helpful. Perhaps a basic core could be discovered in the work, which could then be more easily dated. Such a core might be set apart by differences in style and/or approach. Likewise, the text types of the biblical quotations could help in establishing date and place. Unfortunately, this work does not take well to such techniques. There seems to be no readily ascertainable core; the style is rather informal throughout; the text types seem to fit no pattern as yet. The most promising leads appear to be attempts being made to relate the work to various Jewish targumim and to the work of Epiphanius.


An outline of the work was sent out with the notice of the meeting. (For additional copies, contact R. A. Kraft at Box 36 College Hall, Univ. of Pa., Philadelphia, Pa. 19104.) The most striking characteristic of the dialogue as outlined is its division into two main blocks. The first deals with the Jesus story as related to various OT materials. It includes a catena of proofs for Jesus as God’s Son, and for the larger Jesus tradition. The second block takes up various particular problems of biblical interpretation. An interesting digression is found in chapters 39-40, where Aquila the Jewish translator is accused of deliberately perverting not only the Greek scriptures, but also the Hebrew.


Betsy Purintun of the UP Seminar led a discussion on the background and structure of the dialogue. The dialogue narrative tells of a Jew named Aquila who has been possessed by Satan to preach against the Christian messiah in the synagogues, and is challenged to a debate by Timothy, a Christian layman. The debate is held before an audience of both Christians and Jews, and even begins with a recital of the shema (heis theos!). On occasion, the reactions of the crowd are noted in the text, indicating very little overt anti-Semitism. In the end, without giving in to the Christian’s arguments, the Jew suddenly converts. The Christian is then ordained so as to be able to baptize his former opponent. So full a narrative is rather unusual in the dialogue genre, both Jewish and Christian.


The arguments themselves are not so much differences of doctrine as they are of ways to interpret the scriptures. In the beginning, both disputants agree to base their arguments on Jewish scriptures, listing 22 books accepted by both. They agree not to use apocryphal books. The Jew consistently adopts an “historical” approach to interpretation, while the Christian insists on a wholly “symbolic” approach. The only concession that Timothy gives to the historical approach is to try to show that certain passages, when taken as historical prophecies are not literally fulfilled. In the arguments, the Jew is not just a straw man, setting up questions for the Christian to answer with confidence. The Jew asks intelligent questions, which the Christian does not always really answer; the Christian sometimes continues to cite texts which may or may not be relevant. The construction of the dialogue gives the Christian the edge; i.e. the Jew poses the questions and the Christian gets the last word in on each. However, were it not for the framework in which the dispute is placed, it would be difficult to declare the Christian the winner; it seems something of a standoff. In most other dialogues, the Jew seems almost incidental; however, for Justin and Evagrius he plays a real role in the discussion. The arguments are carried on with numerous digressions, and some name calling, insults, and less than gentlemanly behavior on the part of the Christian. There seems to be almost no pressure on the Jew to convert, although a few hints suggest that something like that will happen. It is difficult to say at this time to what extent the arguments used are traditional, or whether they are original. Research in these areas is being continued by the UP Seminar.


Donal Nilsson of the UP Seminar reported on the gospel and Jesus traditions in the dialogues:


(1) T-A distinguishes between “inspired books” of a received “covenant” on the one hand, and “apocryphal” books on the other. The authoritative books are listed beginning with “the first book, the Gospel,” later referred to as “memoirs” (hupomnemata, cf. Justin). The list continues with the Acts of the Holy Apostles, their epistles (catholic epistles?), and 14 epistles of Paul (Hebrews?). It is puzzling, in view of this clear conception of a NT “canon,” that T-A cites as authoritative material not embraced within its own self-established limits. Possibly, T-A is working with a text form which had already incorporated apocryphal elements into it; or else our present gospels represent a “purged” edition of an older tradition. T-A gives abundant evidence of having known our four gospels, as it cites episodes peculiar to each, cites two by name, and otherwise parallels wording and grammatical constructions in them. T-A also explicitly cites Acts, Romans, and Philippians, while alluding to others.


(2) There are several instances which T-A knew more than one form of “canonical” text. The most significant of these is the preservation of three different forms of Mt 1.16. Knowledge of “western” readings can be traced in the dialogue.


(3) T-A introduces traditions not paralleled anywhere in present “canonical” materials, and does so in such a way as to make it apparent that they are considered authoritative. Among these are: knowledge of Jesus’ parentage (Conybeare, p. 68); the “thirsting” of Jesus at the temptation (pp. 68f.); the waving of “olive” branches at the triumphal entry (p. 71); the “again becoming light” at the crucifixion (p. 100); the “shaking of the mountains” and the “shattering” of the rocks at the crucifixion (p. 101); the account of the risen saints who visit the holy city during the crucifixion and carry on an extended conversation with the living (p. 101); the disciples’ deep sorrow which turns into joy at the news of the resurrection (p. 101); Jewish elders at the tomb to witness the resurrection (p. 101); and finally the Jews mourning for what they had done to Jesus (p. 102). Some of these traditions are found also in the Gospel of Peter, the Old Latin, Tatian’s Diatessaron, and other versions.


(4) There are forms of statement in T-A which seem to be explained by a hypothesis of “conflation” between present “canonical” traditions. The statement that the spirits called Jesus Son of David (p. 87) could have been formed from elements of Mt 8.29 and Lk 4.34, with the phrase “Son of David” read in from other sources. So also the episode of the children praising Jesus in the temple has material in common with both Mt and Jn. T-A’s form of the parable of the wicked husbandmen (p. 93) interweaves material common to all the synoptics. The description of giving to Jesus “vinegar mixed with gall” (p. 103) could be explained as an interweaving of Jn 19.29, Mt 27.34 and 27.48.


These features suggest that T-A’s gospel was quite close to our “canonical” gospels, but included some other traditions as well. It may have been a primitive harmony, but not Tatian’s as we know it.


Robert V. Hotchkiss of the UP Seminar gave a brief report on the way the Christian in T-A uses Ezekiel 44.2 as a proof text for the perpetual virginity of Mary (p. 78, chapter 20.5). This rather forced interpretation of the passage appears not to have surfaced before the latter part of the 4th century, thus casting some doubt on Williams’ dating of the dialogue. The text as cited is unique, difficult to relate to the “LXX” or to any other Greek citation of the passage in this context. It illustrates some of the difficulties met in attempting to use scriptural text types as a clue to the background of the dialogue. In the course of the dialogue argument, this is the third text used to prove the point, after which the argument is simply dropped and the subject changed.


Two lists of possible clues as to the relation of the dialogue to Judaism were circulated to those present. They are available on request from R. A. Kraft. They will form the basis of a special meeting of the Seminar to be held in the future.


Add to the literature: B.P.W. Stather Hunt, “Dialogue between Timothy and Aquila, a late survival of an early form of Christian apologetic,” in Texte und Untersuchungen 93 (1966), 70-75.


Respectfully Submitted,  Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary



Dialogues With/Against Jews (and related literature), Robert A. Kraft

A Select Bibliography for relatively early materials 1970


General Treatments (arranged chronologically)


(cf also A. von Ungern-Sternberg, Der traditionelle alLtestamentliche Schriftbeweis ‘de Christo’ und ‘de Evangelio’ in der alten Kirche bis zur Zeit Eusebs von Caesarea (Halle, 1913).)

(cf J.R.Harris and V. Burch, Testimonies, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1916-20).)


A.Marmorstein, “Jews and Judaism in the Earliest Christian Apologies,” The Expositor 17 (1919), 73-30 and 100-116.


G.F.Moore, “Christian Writers on Judaism,” HTR 14 (1921), 197- 254.


A.B.Hulen, “the Dialogues with the Jews as Sources of Early Jewish Arguments against Christianity,” JBL 51 (1932), 58-70.


A.L.Williams, Adversus Judaeos: a Bird’s-eye View of Christian Apologiae until the Renaissance (Cambridge, 1935).


B.Blumenkranz, Die Judenpredigt Augustins: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der judisch-christlichen Beziehungen in den ersten Jahrhunderten (Basle, 1946).


M.Simon, Verus Israel: etude sur les relations entre Chretiens et Juifs dans l’empire Romain (135-U425) (Paris, 1948, 1966(2)); see especially chs. 5-6 and the bibliography.


R.Wilde, “The Treatment of the Jews in the Greek Christian Writers of the First Three Centuries,” (Cath.U. Patr.Studies 81, 1949).


B.P.W.Stather Hunt, Primitive Gospel Sources (London, 1951); see especially part 3 of this somewhat over-enthusiastic treatment.


Particular Texts of Special Interest


“Dialogue (dialexin/antilogian) between Papiscus and Jason”: For the relevant texts, see J.C.Otto’s ed of the Apologists, vol . 9, 3 56ff. The dialogue is attributed to Aristo of Pella.


Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho: see especially A. von Harnack, Judentum und Judenchristentum in Justine Dialog (TU 39 1, 1913). For the text, see Otto’s 3rd ed and E.J.Goodspeed’s ed of 1914.


Tertullian (?), Against the Jews: Text in CSEL (ET in ANF); new ed. with introduction and commentary by H. Trankle (Wiesbaden, 1964)


Hippolytus (?), fragment of Dialogue against Jews: Text in Migne PG 10, 787-794 (ET in ANF). See Williams, ch.6.


Ps-Cyprian, Against the Jews (3rd cent.): Text in CSEL (ed. Hartel), ET in ANF.


Fragments of Anti-Jewish Dialogue (3rd c.): P.Oxy 2071 (6th c.).


Aphrahat’s Homilies sometimes related directly to the subject (4th c.): For text and latin transl., see Patr.Syr (ed. Parisot, 1894); I know of no complete ET (cf. NPNF for partial ET).


Dialogues of Simon and Theophilus (by Evagrius, Latin), Timothy and Aquila, Athanasius and Zacchaeus, and Papiscus and Philo:cf.esp A.Harnack, Die Altercatio Simonis Judaei et Theophilis Christianiae bst Untersuchungen fuer die antijud. Polemik...(TU 1.3, 1883; P.Corssen, Die Altercatio Th....(Berlin, 1390); A.C.McGiffert, A Dialogue... (Papiscus and Philo) (New York, 1839); see also E.J.Goodspeed in Amer.J. of Theol. 4 (1900), 796-802; F.C.Conybeare, The Dialogues of A-Z and T-A (Anec.Ox., C1.Ser.8,U’98 see also E.J.Goodspeed in JBL 24 (1905), 58-73.


Dialogue of Timothy (Christian) and Aquila (Jew)

Outline and Contents (text published by F.C,Conybeare, Anecdota Oxoniensa, 1898)






Introduction of the Participants



The Dialogue Proper



Basis of Discussion: Jewish scriptures



Starting point: Who was with God at creation?



Two “persons” are presupposed (cf. esp. Gen 1.26). God had a “counselor” -- was it his Wisdom, or Son?



Problem: How could the Jesus of the Gospels be God?



Catena of proofs for Jesus as God’s Son. Outline of the Jesus tradition, with catena of proofs.



(Digression: does Ps 2.7 apply to Solomon or Jesus?) (70)



The name “Jesus” and the title “Christ” foretold Priest of Zach 3.1ff not from rejected Aaronites. Israel rejected, Jacob’s blessing falls on Jesus, of whom Isaac and Abraham had visions.



How was Jesus born?



Predictions of the “cross”



Proofs of the three “persons”



Problem restated: Is Christ proclaimed in the Law and Prs.?



Abraham’s ecstatic vision. Blessings on Isaac, Jacob, Judah fulfilled in Isa 7.14.



Problem: Why is he called “son of David”?



Jesus’ physical/fleshly genealogy. Jesus’ virgin birth (“from a shoot”).



Problem: Is the Lord abolishing his covenant with Israel?



Israel has rejected the covenant! Acceptance of gentiles, scattering of Jews.



(Digression: Christians have perverted the scriptures



Aquila the Jewish translator really perverted them! The 72 translators were inspired by the Holy Spirit).



Problem: Has not God promised to restore Jerusalem?



Jew argues for restoration, fulfillment of promises to Abraham and David. Christian appeals to texts blessing gentiles and calling for judgment on Jerusalem; to Jesus as “truth” and “branch” associated with David.



Problem: In what sense did God become man?



Catena of texts relating to incarnation, some of which are referred to Jerusalem by the Jew. Discussion of texts on “old” Jerusalem, destroyed by Hadrian, and “new” Jerusalem, with “new name” on it. Jews would not have opposed Jesus had they known he was God. They did know and judged him (passion story). Jesus suffered voluntarily, as predicted. Jesus will judge the living and the dead.






Jew is convinced, believes, is baptized and renamed. Christian is ordained as a presbyter (so he can baptize Jew!).



Conybeare includes some introductory material on the dialogue, especially on its gospel materials, its relation to Epiphanius, and its relation to the Dialogue of Athanasius and Zacchaeus (included in the same volume).


A.L.Williams, Adversus Judaeos (1935), includes a chapter on this dialogue.


H.B.Swete, Intro. to OT in Greek (1902(2)), summarizes relevant material from T-A.


(RAK for PSCO, Jan, 1971)




Topic for 1970-71: Jewish Christian Relations in the Early Centuries.

Meeting of March 16, 1971; Princeton University.


The fourth session of the 1970-71 Seminar consisted of a discussion of a public lecture by Krister Stendahl (Harvard Divinity School) given earlier on the same afternoon at Princeton University. A precis of the lecture follows:


Jewish and Christian Messianism in the First Centuries C.E, Krister Stendahl


It has long been a standard claim of biblical and historical criticism that “the Jews expected the messiah; Jesus (or the church speaking about Jesus) claimed to be it.” Both parts of this statement are open to question; this presentation deals mainly with the first. The thesis is: to make “the messiah” an overarching term for Jewish expectations is a Christian interpretation of Jewish material -- an interpretation which came to be accepted by the Jews, perhaps because of developments in Judaism near the end of the first century. In the pre-Christian era, the Jews did not use “messiah” as a major religious term, but Christians have tended to read it back into literature where the term itself is absent. It would probably be more proper to interpret “christos” in the intertestamental literature in a less specific way than “messiah” or “the anointed one” -- perhaps, in a more adjectival sense, as “someone anointed.” This would be analogous to Jewish scriptural usage, where “anointed” can refer to prophets, priests, or kings, to mean installed, endowed by God, God-sent, with authority, etc., without necessarily having messianic connotations. The early church seems to have settled rather quickly on the royal connotations of the word in Psalm 2, and thus greatly narrowed the interpretation of the term.


The term “messiah/christos” occurs in several passages from the “intertestamental” period for example:

1) Psalms of Solomon 17-18 speaks of the great Davidic kingdom to come; 17.36 refers to “the king, the anointed of the Lord -- the anointing serves only to indicate the relationship of the king to God, stressing that for this king and this people, the Lord himself will really be king; 18.6-8 also refers to “the anointed” who is “God’s man,” the man picked to do the job -- a Cyrus type figure (see Isa. 45.1). Commentators have tended to combine these two ways of using “the anointed” in Psalms of Solomon, but with little justification.

2) The Enoch material has much to do with “messianism”, but uses the actual term “messiah” very few times. One is an obvious reference to Ps 2, others are to “God’s man” without additional theological overtones. In 1 Enoch 48-50, the elect one is spoken of as “the anointed”, but there does not seem to be any special meaning implied.

3) The Qumran Manual of Discipline 9.11 anticipates the coming of “the prophet and the messiahs of Aaron and Israel.” This would at least indicate a plastic concept of “messiah”, which did not insist on the coming of only a single figure.

4) The Samaritans spoke of a reformer/returner (Tared) who would come, but the term used is not “messiah”, and it is questionable whether the motifs are really messianic.

5) Josephus does not use the title “messiah”, except in the much debated passage about Jesus, although he does tell of revolutionaries who gathered followers.

6) There are two possible references to a messianic figure in Philo, but both are difficult to interpret satisfactorily.

7) In 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, etc., “messiah” is partly the result of Christian interpolations and partly reflects general usage without technical meaning.

8) The Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs have no single passage in which the term “messiah” is unambiguously attested in a messianic sense for a person.


Rabbinic materials also require examination for whatever light they can shed on early uses of the term messiah. Mishnaic passages in Sota 9.15, “on the heels of the messiah,” and Berakhoth 1.5, “days of the messiah,” seem to be idiomatic excursions without doctrinal bases. Sanhedrin 93b, 93b-99a (=ch.ll) tells of a messiah, certainly Davidic in nature, who is delayed in coming, and who must be distinguished from pretenders, but this material dates after the separation of Jews and Christians, and was probably triggered by the Bar Kochba (Koseba) rebellion. Material in Sanh. 98h has been used to support the hypothesis of a Jewish “doctrine” of a suffering messiah -- the one among the lepers -- but this passage speaks not of the messiah’s suffering, but only of the problems involved in the delay of his coming. Even the use of Isa 53.4 to illustrate “his name is the leper scholar,” does not indicate a doctrine, but is part of an anecdote which shows his humility.


Thus, evidence for a first century Jewish expectation of a carefully defined figure to whom the title “the messiah” is applied is far more meager than is usually supposed. There were a variety of expectations about an age to come, and the designation of the figure who was to come also varied -- he was not usually called messiah. The Pharisees expected a general resurrection, restoration, vindication, a return, heavenly banquets, etc., but messiah seems to have been only a minor term in their expression. It would probably be more proper to say that the Jews had expectations which we in retrospect would call “messianic.” After the destruction of the temple, and the Akiba-Bar Kochba rebellion, such expectations of the return of an individual became more important. In the early Jewish polemics against Jesus, messianism does not seem to be a major factor; accusations were made about other things -- that Jesus used black magic, that he was a teacher who led people astray, etc. -- but not that he was a false “messiah.” It was the Christian sources which saw Jesus’ messiahship as so important.


On the Christian side, studies of the messianic consciousness of Jesus are based on the assumption that his Jewish contemporaries expected such a messiah. The church from the outset seems to have used messiahship as a necessary handle to get hold of the idea of Jesus. But if such “messiah” centered expectations, already clear in the NT, were not a major aspect of the Jewish outlook, the whole question about Jesus’ selfconsciousness is affected. It may be that we are faced once again with the timeworn slogan that “Jesus preached the kingdom, but the church preached Jesus.” The gospel of John shows the end product of such a tendency -- the metaphors which the synoptics apply to the kingdom are applied to Jesus in John (cf. the studies of Riesenfeld). Acts 4.26 seems to be the only NT Passage to show a clear consciousness of the relationship between the title/name “christos” (in Ps. 2.1-2) and the verb “to anoint” (chriein). With the stress on the person of Jesus, christos was rapidly transformed from a title to a name. Perhaps Jesus’ followers were first called “Christians” at Antioch (Acts 11.26) because their use of “christos” was striking to outsiders. This leads us to the important question of how and why the church, out of the richness of possibilities concentrated on this specific term in a way which very soon carried so little theological weight -- i.e. without its accompanying connotation of Davidic royalty. This seems to be an inter-Christian development, and not an answer to Jewish expectations. By postulating that no one should take for granted that the first century Jews expected “the messiah” and the Christians claimed he had come, we may be forced to a new consideration of the kingdom in our studies. The fact that there seems to be in the NT no explicit connection between christos, the king, and the kingdom may indicate that there was little formalized expectation along these lines.


* * * * * * * * * *


In the discussion, a number of related matters were treated which can be grouped conveniently as follows:


“Messiah” in Jewish Scriptures


It was suggested that the term “messiah,” even if not a title, might be used somewhat less ambiguously in Jewish scriptures than was allowed by the paper; i.e. even when it means “God’s man,” it more often than not refers to royalty. Unfortunately, adequate tabulations were not available for pursuing this matter further.


“Messiah” in Post-Biblical and Rabbinic Jewish Materials


Although it is difficult to determine when the change in emphasis took place, it seems quite clear that there was far more emphasis on a Davidic “messiah” after the destruction of the second temple than before. Sometime in the first century or later, the Davidic king seems to have become an essential part of Jewish eschatology whereas earlier such a figure was but one among several options. Apparently this development has already taken place by the time of the third generation of Tannaim. It is obvious that the political situation was an important factor -- there were times when it was not expedient to engage publicly in messianic speculations -- but it is hard to say exactly how this may have affected messianic expectations.


Various texts were discussed:


1) The “two messiahs” evidence from Qumran may find further support as an accepted expectation in Judaism from the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs, where a special future priestly figure appears along with a kingly figure. Although in T. Levi 18 the new and coming Priest is not specifically said to be anointed, (anointing of earlier priests is mentioned in T. Levi 17), we may be missing the point by insisting on the appearance of technical terminology rather than looking for the development of an idea.


2) Also with regard to the problem of royal and priestly expectations, Josephus and the Talmud note that complaints were leveled against the Hasmoneans not because they were exercising political rule over the Jews, but because they obtained the high priesthood. Thus it is not always clear that the Jews insisted that the king be of the Davidic line.


3) A yet unpublished text from Qumran cave four uses the term son of God in reference to the eschatological kingship. But until more information is available it would be unwise to assume specific messianic overtones or theological connotations here.


4) The passage in Sanhedrin 93b lists six “sons” of Ruth: David, “Messiah,” Daniel. and his three companions. All but the second are proper names, and are in chronological order. The “messiah” references could be explained as an emendation, or might be due to a traditional need to link messiah with David. (Bar Kochba is mentioned later as one who failed to qualify as messiah because of his inability to judge by “sniffing”.


“Messiah/Christ” in NT and other Early Christian Literature


We seem to have abundant evidence for only the first and the last stems in the development of the term “christos” from a descriptive designation (“annointed” of the Lord, or similarly, in construct state) to a proper name for Jesus. The stage at which “christos” came to be used in an absolute sense as “the messiah,” with reference to Jesus, is more difficult to document. And what factors might have been at work in this entire process are not clear. Could the adoption by early Christians of “messiah” as a favorite designation for Jesus have been purely coincidental? Adequate tools are not yet available for examining such developments from a psychological or sociological perspective, although such studies would doubtless prove most helpful.


The use of “Christ” as a name appears quite early in Christian literature -- it is already present in the creedal formula of 1 Cor 15.3 while “Christ” appears often in such formulas (see W. Kramer’s work on this material, 1963), the main thrust usually is that Jesus is Lord, not that Jesus is Christ. Indeed, the most frequent title given Jesus in NT literature is Lord, not Christ (which usually functions as a name). There is clear evidence in Christian literature, however, for the use of ho christos as a technical designation for “the messiah” (used absolutely): John 1.41, 4.25, 4.29 and 7.40 ff. are unambiguous and show that the author of John wanted to leave the impression that certain Jews and Samaritans expected a figure that could be called simply “the messiah” (among other titles). Although Luke has the construct use in 2.26 (“Lord’s Christ”), in 20.41 “the Christ” is used absolutely of Jewish expectation of a Davidic successor, following Mark 12.35 ff. (Mt 22.42; see also Barn 12.10b), and in Luke 23.2 “Christ” is linked with kingship ideas; further, Acts 2.31 and 36 use the title “the Christ” in an absolute way. There are also a series of usages in which tou christos could be interpreted as functioning technically in an adjectival sense -- e.g “messianic sufferings/woes” (2 Cor 1.5, cf Phlp 3.10, Col 1.24 f), thus possibly reflecting technical Jewish apocalyptic concepts current in the early first century.


The question also was raised as to why, if Jewish use of technical “messiah” terminology was not yet formalized in the early first century, such a strange and even potentially offensive Greek term as “christos” should be adopted so quickly as a title/name for Jesus in Greek-speaking Christian circles? Can this be understood without already positing some clear background in Greek speaking Judaism?


Was Jesus called “Christ” because he was associated with royal concepts or Davidic descent? Such associations appear not only in the passages already mentioned, but also in Paul (1 Cor 15.24 and Rom 1.3f). The evidence of the inscription on the cross and of the “dynasty” of Jesus’ relatives in early Jerusalem Christianity may add support to the idea that early Christians thought of “Christ” in terms of kingship. (Although the fourth Gospel also emphasizes Jesus’ kingship at some level [see John 18.36f; cf 6.15], it is interesting that it leaves unanswered the question of Davidic [Bethlehem] descent in 7.40ff.) Perhaps Jesus’ claims about God’s in-breaking kingdom served as a catalyst to the identification of Jesus with a messianic Davidic figure but it at least remains an open question whether Jesus himself used the term “messiah” in connection with the kingdom.


It was suggested that another possible link between Jesus and the title christos may be provided by the baptism and anointing traditions, and especially the use of Jewish scriptural passages such as Ps 2 and Isa 61 in connection with the start of Jesus’ ministry (see the baptism voice, the story in Luke 4.18, and the treatments in Acts 4.25ff and 10.38). With the possible exception of the baptism, however, no connection seems to have been attempted between other anointing stories and the title christos -- Matt 26.12 parr could almost be interpreted as anti-messianic since the anointing is interpreted there as preparation for burial.


Finally, the seminar discussed whether, in Jewish-Christian controversy, the Jews made an issue of the claim of the title “messiah” for Jesus. (It should be noted that Jesus is not mentioned at all in the Palestinian Talmud, but only in the Babylonian, which increases the difficulty of isolating early Jewish arguments against Jesus.) The arguments in Justin’s Dialogue, or in works like the Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila, may be of questionable genuineness, but they do treat directly of the “messiah” question.


Respectfully submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Secretary




Topic for 1970-71: Jewish Christian Relations in the Early Centuries.

Meeting of April 6, 1971; 7 p.m., Philadelphia Divinity School Library.


The fifth session of the 1970-71 Seminar was convened by co-chairmen Sheldon Isenberg and David Hay. After a brief discussion of possible topics for next year, the Seminar heard a presentation by Rabbi Herbert A. Opailek of the University of Pennsylvania. A precis of this presentation, presented immediately below, was sent out with the notices of the meeting. The summary which follows augments this precis, and includes contributions by members of the Seminar during a discussion period.


The Tannaitic and Amoraic Corpora Re-Examined and Their Usage in the Study Of Christian Origins,  Rabbi Herbert A. Opalek Univ. of Pennsylvania


The Precis


Two considerations come to the fore in the reexamination of early Rabbinic literature: the material that comprises this literature is so vast that complete familiarity with it is precluded, and there is a serious lack of critical editions for the complete Talmudic and Midrashic texts. Unfamiliarity with the materials often leads to misinterpretation and an incomplete picture -- a methodology for dealing with aspects of this problem is found in E. Rivkin, “Defining the Pharisees: the Tannaitic Sources,” HUCA 40-41, 205-249. On the problem of a textus receptus for Rabbinic literature, see A. Marx’s review of The Romm Mishna in JQR 2 (NS), 266-270, and I. Sonne, “L’bakoret HaText shel Perush RaSHI al HaTorah” (Hebrew), HUCA 15.


Even if we were completely familiar with the literature and were blessed with adequate critical editions, the problem of dating the materials would still remain. Intrinsic to this problem is the relationship of the text’s redaction to when an actual Halaka or Midrash was formulated originally. The problem and its solution have been concisely but definitively stated by D. Weiss-HaLivni in the 1963 ed. of Encyclopedia Brittanica under “Talmud: Source Criticism,” and expanded upon in his major Hebrew work M’korot U’Mesorot (D’vir: l968).


The problem of dating will be dealt with by examining selected passages of the literature and applying a new methodology to the problem of references to Jesus in the Talmud. The problem of Hanuka also will be discussed to illustrate the difficulties in using the Talmud for historical purposes. Participants are encouraged to peruse the Rabbinic sources on Jesus as collected in Herford’s Christianity in the Talmud, and to read the accounts of Hanuka in Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 21b--22a and Pesikta Rabbati 2 (ea. Buber, pp.4f) -- for translations and additional literature, see J.T. Townsend’s Bibliographia Rabbinica listings.


A critical investigation of the character of Rabbi Tarfon will be attempted in order to answer the oft-debated question whether he is to be identified with the Trypho of Justin’s Dialogue. Special attention will be given to little known works of Hebrew scholars such as Armand KamiOnka’s treatment of “R. Tarfon and his Discussions with Justin Martyr” in his Mehkarim B’Ta1mud (Hebrew).


These and other data will be dealt with for historicity, dating, and exactness of text, with frequent reference to contemporary scholarship in Hebrew and English. Selected Rabbinic texts and their translations will be made available to participants at the seminar. In short, the presentation will suggest a method for using Rabbinic literature in general, and will examine the relationship between these materials and Christian origins.


The presentation and discussion


The translation of the word MISHNA depends not so much on the linguistic meaning of the word, as it does on the Pharisee/proto-rabbi who authored the texts. Perhaps the best approach is that of Prof. Ellis Rivkin (HUC-JIR) who sees the Pharisees as bearers of a revolutionary doctrine: God gave Moses the Oral Law as well as the Written (2-fold law). This involved an immutable principle (not immutable laws): that the legitimate leadership had the authority in any given age to determine which Written Laws were operative, which were prescribed by the Oral Law, and which were not operative at all -- a sort of legalized continual inspiration. Thus, the traditional translation of Mishna (derived from shaneh, “to teach”) as “the teachers” appears to be less satisfactory than a translation of the vocalization MISHNE, “second to,” denoting a revolutionary scholar-class who saw their work as an ongoing continuum. To support this translation, note that the Roman Emperors and the Church Fathers refer to the Mishne as deuterosis, Justinian does so in his Novellae, and Epiphanius (Haeres. 15.2 and 33.9) counts four different mishne-deuteroses: Moses, the Hasmoneans, Rabbi Akiba, and Judah the Prince. (It is interesting that J. M. Epstein speculates that the Church Fathers must have heard this translation of Mishne from the Palestinian Amoraim of their day.) Traditionally, the Aramaic term GEMARA, used for the Amoraic portion of the Talmud, is considered to be derived from gemar, “to finish.” In following the above argument, we might state that Gemara is instead derived from gemir, “a study or continual delving into traditions” (Consult Jastrow’s Dictionary).


Upon examination, the Mishna appears to be topically arranged (“six orders”). However, this is not the order in which the various tractates were written. One tractate, Eduyot, is a listing of rabbinic arguments without any introduction as to why they were placed together in tractate form. However, the same Tractate is found in the Tosefta, a Tannaitic source which bears some close relationship to the Mishna. Here, Ch. 1.1 begins an elaborate introduction, which explains that the Oral Law was not put down to writing before 70 C.E., and that this first “writing” began from Hillel and Shammai and was done at Jamnia. Thus, Eduyot is the first tractate of Mishnayot to be compiled.


The last Mishna tractate to be compiled was Avot, called Ethics of the Fathers, consisting of 5 chapters. An additional chapter written in the Tannaitic style was added later. This is the only non-legal tractate of the Mishna, and is found virtually at the end of every MS of the Talmud. (See Alexander Guttmann, JQR MS 41.2, “Tractate Abot.” His arguments may be faulty, but he marshals most of the sources.) As of now, no thorough study of the purpose behind the redaction of these 5 chapters of ethical teachings has been published. There can be no doubt that the original stratum of Avot was the 1st chapter, wherein the ethical teachings are used to introduce the chain of Pharisaic legitimacy. A selective study of Chapter 3 leads us to a better understanding of why other ethical teachings were added on and finally redacted. In various ways, this chapter gives advice on methods of keeping Judaism alive during times of oppression (135 C.E.), but does so by hints only, since open instruction could lead to immediate Roman punishment. Due to the timeliness of these teachings, they were garbed as ethics and taught. Later, their meaning was lost, and they were placed with the other ethical chapters and were topically redacted together.


As we re-examine the corpora, we note that other problems exist in the study of Mishna. Names change in different editions and redactions (e.g. Ben Antignos vs. Ben Antinos in Hallah 4,2). Translation, also, has been subject to rather serious error. (Cf. the problem of translating and defining Pharisee in Rivkin, “The Pharisees: A Tannaitic Definition.”) This has led to misconceptions in dating various Halakot, arguments and historical data. In differentiating between halaka (law) and agada (legend), scholars have often neglected maaseh (actual happening related in story form). In several cases where the law was determined by the maaseh (as in Berakot 1.1), the occasion helps to date the text. There are also many scribal errors in the Mishna. Every redaction or collection of Mishnayot includes its own local alterations or changes.


The Talmudic passages that mention Jesus are all found in the Babylonian Talmud. An interesting one is Sanhedrin 43a (according to the Variae Lectiones), which tells us that a messenger was dispatched through the land for 40 days to proclaim that Jesus was adjudged guilty of beguiling and leading Israel astray. Not one person came to his defense, and he was hanged. Those who deal with the “Jesus passages” reject this text as late, Babylonian and not Palestinian, and have not studied it in relation to the Amoraic corpus as a whole. A major problem is whether Jesus was stoned or hanged. This difficulty might be resolved by reference to the custom of hanging the person who was stoned (Deut 21.21-23; Sanhedrin 6.4). Or, the later reference to hanging might indicate that the rabbis could not overlook the widely known fact that Jesus was crucified. The 40 days in the passage could be 40 days before Passover, somehow remembering the tradition expressed in John 11.45-57 that Jesus hid himself before Passover, while he was being sought for arrest.


That the Jesus references are not found in the Palestinian Talmud should not surprise us, since there seems to be evidence that the rabbis used internal censorship and reconceptualization as tools of reformulation and obfuscation. A case in point is the story of Hanuka as remembered in the Palestinian Midrash Pesikta Rabbati, wherein the candle lighting was an expedient made on the spot and the holiday was celebrated as a nationalistic Hasmonean holiday. Eventually, the Pharisees withdrew their support from the Hasmoneans. (The reasons are given by G. Allon in Scripta Hiersolymitana 7.53-78.) With the rejection of the Hasmoneans, the rabbis had to reconceptualize Hanuka. This reworking of the Hanuka story found its way to the Babylonian Talmud. Hence, it is no wonder that the rabbis should ask the seemingly capricious question in the Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 21a, “what is Hanuka?”, and answer that a miracle occurred so that a casket of oil lasted for 8 days; making the holiday religious in nature.


If reconceptualization and reformulation were the trademarks of the rabbis, why are there “Jesus passages” in the Babylonian Talmud? Posing this question in relation to Sanhedrin 67a further elucidates our problem. The passage deals with witnessing a beguiler, and the case of Ben Stada (equated by tradition with Jesus), who was hanged in Lydda, is mentioned. Why must we equate Ben Stada with Jesus? Do we know of Jesus being in Lydda? Would the rabbis bring up Jesus to prove an halakhic point? Are not all “Jesus passages” in the Talmud haggadic (narrative) and not halakhic? Can we not equate Ben Stada with the Egyptian prophet mentioned by Josephus in Ant. 20.169-172? Thus, it is impossible for Ben Stada to be Jesus. For, if we were to maintain the identification, the rabbis would have omitted the whole tale. Indeed, the medievalists were on the right track when they posed the question, “Were there two Jesuses mentioned in the Talmud?” (See Halper’s catalogue of Geniza fragments #162.) It may be that there is no real reference to Jesus in the Babylonian Talmud other than one or two later references created as a response to Christian activity! Note that the Sanhedrin 43a passage mentioned above finds a counterpoint in Justin’s Dialogue 69.


There are possibilities that the NT could shed light on the Judaism of its period. For instance, John 19.31 speaks of the Sabbath after the crucifixion as the Great Sabbath (“Great was the day of that Sabbath”). The Martyrdom of Polycarp 8.1 also seems to make the same reference. Interestingly, the first rabbinic reference to a Great Sabbath is from the 10th or 11th century. Having found it in Christian sources, it seems likely that the earlier Jewish sources would have it also. Let us study the month of Nissan in the early rabbinic tradition, to find out if the month in which Passover falls has any special “greatness.” Mishna Rosh HaShana 1.1 tells us that on the 1st of Nissan, there falls the new year for kings, months, and holidays. The Mekilta and Tosefta state that these new year occasions fall in Nissan, but on the 15th rather than the 1st, in line with the holiday. Prof. Louis Ginzberg has shown that the Tosefta and Mekilta readings are the earlier. The Seder Olam, a chronology first compiled in Amoraic times, tells us how important this Sabbath was to those who left Egypt (ch. 5). Exodus Rabbah, quoting an early tradition (15.1), calls Nissan a “great month.” See also Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 146a for usage of the term “Great Sabbath.” Also note that the Megillat Taanit (mentioned in B. T. Hullin 129b) contrasts the Great Passover with the Lesser Passover (Pesach Sheni). When these are seen together, it seems likely that there might be early rabbinic evidence for this Shabbat HaGadol. The author of John was acquainted with this tradition but got the details wrong.


The question has been raised as to whether Justin’s Trypho is really Rabbi Tarfon of the Mishna, and whether the dialogue really occurred. A review of Tarfon’s biography might be helpful. Tarfon, a rabbi of some importance (see B.T. Qid. 40b and M.K. 28b), is seen as a rather harsh law-giver in his relations with the Christians (B.T. Shabbat 116a). He is associated with Jamnia and disappears from the tradition after 135 C.E. As he is presented in Tannaitic literature, it does not appear that he would have dialogued with Justin for two complete days. However, as Tarfon might have escaped during the Bar Kochba fighting, there could have been a meeting of sorts, the account of which formed a nucleus for Justin when he later composed the Dialogue. There are some quotes of Trypho that only a learned rabbi might utter; some are even traceable in style and form to Tarfon-utterances. (Examples will be given in a forthcoming article by H. Opalek, “The Actuality of Early Jewish- Christian Dialogue.”) Since there was no written Talmud at that time, personal contact seems to be the only possible alternative. In Dial. 85.6, a friend of Tryplois is named as Mnaseas (Menashe?). Justin could have named such greater rabbis as Akiva or Gamliel if he were fabricating. The use of an unknown name lends authenticity to the actuality of a meeting. There can be no doubt that the greater part of the dialogue comes from the mind of Justin Tarfon’s personality and character show no leanings to Christianity. Quite the contrary! Were we to claim that we do not hear of Tarfon after 135 because the rabbis were blotting out his relations with Christians, it would be a great mistake. Rather than remove all traces of this stage of his life, they would probably have designated him as an object lesson as they did with Elisha ben Avuyah.


There can be no doubt that several tools are badly needed for a renewed study of early rabbinic literature. Besides critical editions of the texts, we need a new and updated introduction to the literature as well as a Rabbinic primer to Christian origins. In the past, attempts to use rabbinics to shed light on Christian origins have been concerned with the historical Jesus figure, and done by conservative Christians looking for the ipsissima vox Jesu to which the early church and its kerygma is simply a response. Christians now are generally more agnostic about the historical Jesus, and are more concerned to look for the development (trace the trajectory) of the tradition. A study of the Tannaitic texts should yield a series of trajectories, through form critical and redactional methods, which occasionally intersect with those of the Christian heritage and could be of significance to the study of Christian origins of the late 1st and 2d centuries -- the time of the formation of the gospel and later traditions -- while not so much so in the study of the historical Jesus. Usually, the significance of such studies will be in the discovery of important detail rather than in a massive realignment of the pertinent data.


The Palestinian Talmud sheds light on the land where Jesus ministered; the Babylonian Talmud on Judaism and early Christianity. Were the literature more available, it would prove a valuable tool to the study of Christian origins. It is in this direction that this presentation has pointed.


Respectfully submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary




Topic for 1970-71: Jewish Christian Relations in the Early Centuries.

Meeting of April 27, 1971; 7 p.m. Philadelphia Divinity School Library.


The sixth session of the 1970-71 Seminar, was convened by co-chairman Sheldon Isenberg. After customary introductions and announcements, the Seminar continued a discussion begun at the January 26 meeting on The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila, led by members of the University of Pennsylvania Chr istian Origins Seminar, Robert Kraft, Betsy Purintun, and Donal Nilsson. In place of a formal presentation, several items were distributed to the membership with the announcement of the meeting. These were (1) a sample of a translation of the work, consisting of the first 3 chapters and the last, as prepared by the UP Seminar; (2) a list of passages in which Semitic words are interpreted, as revised from the earlier session; (3) a list of other passages of possible interest. Highlights from the evening’s discussion follow.


The translation is still a tentative one, based on the text as presented by Conybeare, and two other MSS collated by Goodspeed. A few emendations have been made when they seemed relatively certain. The chapter and verse divisions are by the UP Seminar; all words in parentheses are in the text. So far, we have no knowledge of any other MS of this work, or of any versional material. The portions distributed to the Seminar give the narrative setting of the work, and also the explanation of the scriptural canon used. Note that the narrative section at the end does not seem to follow through with that given at the beginning. Perhaps the framework is really part of another work, or of several works.


There seem to be no firm clues as to the date of the dialogue, although it would seem that it is no earlier than the 4th century. This work and Epiphanius seem to have had access to many of the same sources, although neither can be said to be derived from the other. This similarity of sources is most evident in their somewhat analogous approach to the canon and to Jewish/Roman history.


A most unusual aspect of this dialogue is its treatment of scriptural citations, especially those from the Gospels. The Jew on several occasions quotes from the Gospels by name, while the Christian ordinarily cites Jesus material without direct attribution or even a necessary connection to a Gospel source. The apocryphal material cited does not seem to agree with any known source, although it resembles parts of the Gospel of Peter in its description of the conversations of the dead who rose at the crucifixion. For the most part, the Christian handles the Jesus material in a nonliterary manner, but gives literary “proofs” from Jewish (OT) sources.


Likewise, it may be noted that many of the usual arguments found in Jewish-Christian dialogues are missing. The Jew does not accuse the Christian of ditheism, but instead readily admits the possibility of a co-agent with God at the creation. Nor is there much by the Christian about the futility of works of the Law, or other such Pauline arguments. It may be that at the time this literature was produced, these arguments were no longer cogent.


Sample of Translation by Betsy Purintun, Don Nilsson, Harold Remus, and Robert Kraft; edited by RAK


Dialog Between a Christian and a Jew, Whose Names Were, Respectively Timothy and Aquila, Which Took Place in Alexandria in the Days of Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria


            title P: V adds “The Most Holy” (Archbishop) -- See 57.11; E has “Disputation Between a Christian by the Name Of Timothy and a Hebrew Philosopher by the Name of Aquila” When our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ had been manifested throughout the whole inhabited earth, and the prophetic voices had been fulfilled, and the apostolic teachings shone forth, and faith in the holy triad had been confirmed for everyone and everywhere in the whole inhabited earth,


       holy triad PV: E has “holy and homoousian triad” licentiousness was being routed and virtue was establishing its rule, animosity was being expelled and hospitality was flourishing, the devil was being put to shame and God was being glorified.


1.2 But the demon who hates good, seeing that God was being glorified and worshipped and that his own works were coming unstrung and being despised,


1.3 was extremely provoked. And he entered into a certain Jewish man by the name of Aquila, just as in the garden of paradise he entered the ‘weak vessel,’ the woman, by means of the serpent -- so also now he entered a Jew.


1.4 Now it is clear that he could not speak against Christ through a Christian, and it is also clear to all that our Lord Jesus Christ (who was, humanly speaking, Jewish) was proclaimed by Jews, for all the prophets were Israelites.


            1.4 the syntax and meaning are not entirely clear (there are also several minor variants); perhaps read “announced” for “proclaimed”


1.5 This Aquila, then, went around in the synagogues interpreting the divine scriptures and saying that the Christ is still to come; “for,” he said, “the one whom the Christians worship is not the Christ but is a man just as we are, and he was condemned to be crucified as a blasphemer because he claimed to be God’s son.


                1.5 still to come: or perhaps, “about to come” 1.5 worship PV: now worship E 1.5 God’s son EP: God (?) V (text not clearly legible)


1.6 For the divine scriptures also teach us to worship one God alone, for thus it is written:


Hear Israel, the Lord your God is one, and beside me there is no God (Dt 6.4).


1.7 And again, he says to Moses at the bush: I am the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, your fathers (Ex 3.6).


            1.7 at the bush: or perhaps, “in the passage concerning the bush’ (see Mk 12.26 par, Philo Somn 1.194)


1.8 And he teaches us through all the prophets and in the historical books


1.9 and everywhere in general to worship one God and not two. As for this Jesus, we know whence he comes and we know the name of his father and of his mother.


                1.9-10 almost the same words are attributed to a Christian gospel writing below in 5.12 (“as the memoirs about him have it in the so called gospels...”)


1.10 But when the Christ comes, no one will know whence he comes!”


2.1 Now one day Aquila was sitting in a certain place frequented by the Jews and speaking to the Jews who were present concerning such matters.


2.2a  And while he was saying these things, a certain Christian by the name of Timothy who was present and heard him saying these things, after making the seal of Christ (that is, the sign of the cross) on his forehead and heart, said to Aquila: 


                2.2a or possibly, “a certain Timothy who was called a Christian” (?)


                2.2a of Christ: literally, “in Christ”


2.2b Would you like to get together with me somewhere so that we might conduct an investigation of this matter based on the holy scripture?


2.3 And the Jew said: Certainly -- if you would like to, let’s do so!


2.4 And the Christian said: When would you like?


2.5 And the Jew said: Tomorrow.


3.1a So it happened on the morrow that they sat at a place called Dromos, and when a large audience had gathered, the Jew immediately said:


                3.1a the word Dromos means public walk, concourse (or even racecourse)


.lb On the basis of which writings do you want to conduct the discussion, my good man?


            3.1b=3.7 the Greek has a double form “which and what writings/books”)


3.2 Timothy the Christian said: You don’t reject any book from the law or the prophets, do you?


3.3 The Jew said: Before God almighty, far be it from me to repudiate any of the inspired scriptures!


3.4 The Christian said: By your mentioning the name of the almighty God the one who speaks through you is now put to shame!


3.5 The Jew said: And who is the one who speaks through me?


3.6 The Christian said: You are not yet able to learn, but afterwards you will hear.


3.7 The Jew said: So then, what are the books on the basis of which you wish to conduct the dialogue with me?


3.8 The Christian said: I mentioned this matter to you because there are also certain other apocryphal books; for they are also included in the covenant of God.


                3.8 covenant: with specific reference to the scriptural writings (“testament”)


3.9 And the 72 Hebrew translators translated them, as did Aquila and Symmachos and Theodotion.


                3.9 72 Hebrew translators P: om. 72 V; Hebrews E; perhaps read “72 translators”


3.10a And two other versions were also found hidden in jars, one in Jericho and one in Nicopolis (which is Emmaus);


3.l0b  but we do not know who translated them, for they were found in the days of the desolation of Judea which took place under Vespasian.


3.11a Now these are the inspired books, acknowledged by both Christians and Hebrews:


3.llb the first book, that of Genesis; second, Exodus; third, Leviticus; fourth, Numbers -- these are the books dictated by God’s mouth  and written by the hand of Moses.


                3.11b So V: P reverses Leviticus and Numbers


                3.11b books V: inspired books P


3.12a And the fifth book is Deuteronomy, which was not dictated by God’s mouth --


                3.12a not dictated by God’s mouth: E adds “but was given as a second law through Moses”


3.12b thus neither was it deposited in the Arona (that is, in the ark of the covenant).


                3.12b Arona V: Aron P (= Epiphanius)


3.13 This constitutes the Mosaic Pentateuch.


3.14 The sixth book is Jesus [=Joshua], son of Naue; seventh is Judges with Ruth; the eighth book is 1 and 2 Chronicles; the ninth book is 1 and 2 kingdoms [= 1-2 Samuel]; the tenth book is 3 and 4 Kingdoms [= 1-2 Kings];


3.15 eleventh, Job; twelfth, the Psalter of David; thirteenth, the Proverbs of Solomon; fourteenth, Ecclesiastes with Canticles; fifteenth, the Twelve Prophets;

then Isaiah, Jeremiah, and further, Ezekiel; then Daniel, and  further, Esdras [Ezra-Nehemiah = 1 Esdras ?] makes twenty.

                3.16 then (om V)... then (om V)... and further EV: 16... 17... 18... 19... 20 PE


3.17a The twenty-first book is Judith; twenty-second, Esther; 

3.17b for the 72 translators handed down to us Tobit and the Wisdom of Solomon and the Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach among the apocrypha.


3.18 These are the 22 books that are inspired and canonical -- there are, in fact, 27, but they are counted as 22 because five of them are double and because there are only 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet -- but all the rest are included among the apocrypha.


            3.18,21 Canonical... canon (Endiathetos... diathetos

  3.18 27 EP: 26 V


3.19 The Jew said: And which are the ones handed down to you in what you call the “new covenant”?


3.20 The Christian said: What need do we have for them?


3.21 The Jew said: So that just as you intend to refute me on the basis of the canon, I may refute you on the basis of the covenant you accept.


3.22 The Christian said: The first book is the Gospel, then the Acts of the holy apostles, and further, their epistles and 14 epistles of the apostle Paul.


3.23 We acknowledge these, but all the rest are apocrypha; and if you wish to say anything based on the apocrypha, you yourself will also have to listen.


[Skip to the Conclusion]


57.1 The Jew remained dumbfounded for about an hour, saying nothing.


                57.1 (57.10) remained or perhaps, “sat” (“sit” in 57 10)


57.2 The Christian said to him: Have you understood all these things, O man of God?


57.3 The Jew said: I have understood.


57.4 The Christian said: And what is your opinion concerning all these things’


57.5 The Jew said: In truth you have persuaded me from every side that he is God of gods and Lord of lords and King of kings, and that our fathers sinned greatly by laying hands on him.


57.6 Now, then, man of God, tell me what I may do to be saved.


57.7a The Christian said: If you believe with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and with all your understanding, get up, be baptized and wash away your sins by calling on the name of the lord Jesus, so that you, along with the others who hear, may hear the psalmist-king and prophet and patriarch David when he says:


   57.7a mind M: power V (see text problems of Dt 6.5, Mk 12.33 parr, etc.)


57.7b Blessed are those whose transgressions have been forgiven and whose sins have been covered over (Ps 31(32).1).


57.8 And when he had said these things, the Christian stood up, because the crowd clamored for the believer and said: “The faith of the Christians is victorious!” while the king and his revered bishop applauded.


                57.8 the crowd clamored for the believer: or perhaps, “the believing crowd cried out” (the imagery of contestants in an amphitheater ?!)


                57.8 his revered bishop: literally, his angelic bishop (angelic in the sense of celibate or even monastic - ascetic? cf Lk 20.36)


57.9 And the Jew got up and fell at the feet of the Christian, and raising his voice in wailing he said to the Christian. The Lord will require my soul at your hands if you do not make me a Christian.


57.10 And the Christian made him get up, telling him to remain there.


57.11 And the Christian went before the most holy bishop (and told him of the Jew’s request.


   57.11-12 the text is obviously faulty, and requires that something like the material in parentheses be supplied


57.12 Whereupon the bishop replied:) “My son, the husbandman who toils ought to be first to partake of the fruits; you have toiled, so you first take the fruit.”


57.13 But when he said, :”I am not one of the clergy, the bishop went quickly into the church.


                57.13...16 kyriakon...ekklesia


57.14 And when he had given the salutation of Peace, he ordained him deacon; and once again giving the salutation of Peace, he made him presbyter.


57.15 And he gave him other presbyters and deacons for the service of the liturgy, and they gave him a parchment inscribed with the invocations and prayers of the rite.


57.16 And the most holy Timothy, henceforth a presbyter, went off with the other priests and deacons to the place where Aquila was waiting eagerly,


57.17 and taking him, he brought him into the church. And he performed the entire rite, and baptized him in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit, renaming him Theognostos.


57.18 And partaking of the undefiled mysteries, the latter became a receptacle of the holy spirit -- once a Jew, but now a Christian by the grace of God, once a wolf, but now become Christ’s sheep.


57.19 And the presbyter Timothy took him into his own house, and they were continually glorifying together father and son and holy spirit -- to whom be all honor and glory for ever and ever, amen.


                57.19 benediction as in P: V has “glory, honor, power and adoration, now and always, and for ever and ever, amen” J




Note on the special material distributed (and now appended to these minutes): In 9.7, the citation from the Testament of Solomon may be the earliest reference to that work by name.


Passages in which Semitic words are interpreted


3.13b (f.77r/p.66): the book of Deuteronomy was not dictated by God, and thus was not deposited (with Gn-Ex-Lv-Nm) in the ARONA -- that is (tout’ estin), in the Ark of the Covenant. The same tradition and etymology is found (with additional details) in Epiphanius Weights and Measures 35 (see also 4b).


8.5f (f.82v/p.69bf): after quotation from Isa 7.14=Mt 1.23 (EMMANOUEL, which means ‘God is with us’); but so that you may know this too, half is Syriac and half Hebrew; for EMMA in Syriac means ‘with US,’ while NOUEL in Hebrew means ‘God.’ We have found no parallels for this strange explanation


9.3 (f.83r/p.70a) (Aquila speaking) Wherefore also when Solomon was born, he (God?) said DIDICH, which means ‘mine.’ Probably 2 Sm 12.25, where Solomon is called YeDiDYaH (=beloved of YHWH), lies in the background. By dropping the initial Y, we are left with DIDIH in Hebrew, which could be transliterated into Greek as DIDICH (see, e.g. SIRA=SIRACH). In Aramaic, DIDI=‘mine’ (DIDIH=‘yours’). The imagery of Qohelet (my beloved, mine) also is relevant here. In 9.3 (DIDICH), we see a quite common confusion. The Midrash on the appropriate verse in Qohelet is a play on this corruption of meaning.


20.15 (f.97v/p.785): ...even down to the NECHOTA, which means ‘hidden vault.’ See 2 Kg 20.13=Isa 39.2 (storehouse). Also Jerome Hebrew Names 46.27, NECHOTHA= styracem eius vel aromata.


22.8 (f.99r/p.79f): Did they not...cast contempt on the manna which the Lord rained on them, and they said MA AN OUDEN (read MAAN HOU DENA ?), which means ‘what is this?’ In Ex 16.15, MT has MaN HU’; targ Onk has MaNa’ HU’; Targ Ps-Jon has Ma’aN HU’. In Aramaic, DeNa’=‘this’; thus perhaps Ma’aN HU’ DeNa (?).


23.4 (f.99v/p.80): (after allusions to the Ex17.8-11 Story)...but AMALEK means ‘anti-christ’ -- wherefore he was also compared to the devil (in Ex14.14). Justin identifies Amalek with ta daimonia Dial (49.8; see also Cyprian ad Fortun 8, Theodoret Quest Ex 34), and T Reub 6.12 (Slavonic) speaks of messiah of Judah conquering the devil in the seen and unseen wars (see Ex 17.8ff in the fathers).


32.2 (f.109r/p.85): (the binding of Isaac story)...a ram caught by its horns in a plant SABEK, that is (tout’ estin), ‘of forgiveness/loosing’ -- for SABEK thus means ‘forgiveness/loosing. ‘ The reference to SBK in Gen 22.13 was frequently interpreted to refer either to forgiveness or to the cross by Christian commentators. The idea of forgiveness probably arises from a confusion of SBK/SBQ, since the latter (with initial shin) can mean ‘to loose, forgive’ in Aramaic. The same identification is already found in a fragment attributed to Melito (Otto #12)-- see also Athanasius, Quaest 98, ad Antiochum, and Procopius (6th cent.) Comm Gen (PG 87/1.391). But more usually SABEK symbolized the cross.


34.16 (f.111r/p.87): (on the Greek translations of Isa 7.14) If he indeed said ‘neanis,’ it is because NEANIS is in the Hebrew! But so that I also may be correctly understood by you, NEANIS means ‘virgin’ (parthenos), for it says in Deuteronomy, ‘If a man comes upon a virgin -- NEANIS -- in the field...” (see Dt 22.25 and 28). Know, then, O Jew, that NEANIS is the same as ‘virgin’ (parthenos). Probably this interpretation rests on the use of the nifal form of ‘ANS = one who is raped in some midrash of the Dt 22 passage. We have found no parallels.


55.24 (f.136v/p.103): the ELOEI ELOEI LEMA SABACHTANI passage (Ps 21(22).1) is presented here in the same manner as in MT.27.46, with the meaning ‘my God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’


Selected passages of possible interest


4.20 (f.79r/p.67): In discussing the phrase ‘let us make man (Gn 1.26), the Jew interprets the plural to refer to angels, and the Christian replies that ‘if it were not that you have admitted angels (as a possible interpretation), you would be putting forth a teaching of Samaritans [if that is what the Greek means!]. Something similar is said in Justin Dial 62 about an unnamed ‘sect’ known to Trypho which refers Gn 1.26 to angels, while ‘Jewish teachers’ are said to interpret the passage as referring to God himself or to the stoicheia. Among Christian heresiologists (e.g. Epiphanius) there is a tendency to equate Samaritans with Sadducees as denying the existence of angels; there are also gnostic groups of Samaritan origin which claim the world is the creation of angels.


5.12 (f.8Or/p.68): The Jew quotes material attributed to “his [Jesus’] memoirs” = the gospels (see also T-A 1.9-10 note): We have found out whence he comes, and his parents are with him, so how can this one be God? Compare Johannine materials such as Jn 6.42, 7.27f, 8.14, 9.29f.


9.7 (f.83r/p.70): Among Solomon’s shortcomings is mentioned the tradition “that he worshipped graven images and slaughtered locusts to them.” The Jew objects that Solomon did not slaughter, but against his will he crushed them in his hand -- and that this story comes not from the book of Kings, but from Solomon’s Testament. Indeed, in T Sol 26.1ff (ed.McCown), Solomon sacrifices five locusts in the name of Raman and Moloch (Jebusite gods) in order to win a lovely Jebusite woman whom he wants to add to his harem -- “thinking nothing of the blood of locusts” he did so.

9.17/20 (f.83v/p.70): The king of Babylon who deports and then restores Manasseh (see 2 Chr 33.10-13) is named THEL(L) ASARASAR. For the name SARASAR in the Greek materials dealing with this period, see 2 Kg 19.37 = Isa 37.38.


16.2/4 (f.92v/p.75b): Abraham’s unnamed servant of Gn 24.2f is called JEBLAEM here (although T-A 31.2 gives no name), not ELIEZER as in Gn 15.2. Rabbinic tradition knows of various names applied to the servant, but this exact form is not present.


20.21 (f.98r/p.79a): Hadrian is said to have used the stones of the Jewish temple destroyed in 135 C.E. to build a theater.


39-40 (f.115v-119r/pp.89-92): The detailed list of Hellenistic kings (with lengths of rule) is unusual at points, and has interesting parallels in the Paschal Chronicle and in Epiphanius Weights and Measures. The tradition that Ptolemy Philadelphus wrote two letters to the Jerusalem Jews to procure texts and translators for the Septuagint is alluded to in Justin Apol 31 (see Augustine City of God18.42) and is paralleled in detail in Epiphanius (W & M 10-11) -- the more widely known Aristeas tradition speaks of only one letter. The Jewish Greek translator Aquila is pictured as a proselyte and former convert to Christianity who was brother-in-law of Hadrian and was appointed overseer of Hadrian’s works; Aquila not only corrupted Greek scriptures, but also Hebrew. After Hadrian found Jerusalem devastated in 135 C.E., he took the remaining Jews to Hebron and slew them ‘four at a time for (? eis) a measure of barley’ (repeated in T-A 49.32); see Paschal Chronicle to the year 119 (PG 92.613/254) -- Jews were sold for a horse’s ration.


49.31 (f.130r/p.98): Jerusalem was overthrown, in accord with what was written in Isaiah, by Vespasian and Titus, and its inhabitants were slain by the sword, for then mothers ate (or perhaps, slew) children (cf. Isa 14.21, 57 5 ??). The theme of cannibalism at the fall(s) of Jerusalem is present in other sources such as Josephus and Melito’s Paschal Homily. It is not clear what Isaiah material is intended here.


Respectfully submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary




Topic for 1970-71: Jewish Christian Relations in the Early Centuries.

Meeting of May 13, 1971; 7 p.m., Philadelphia Divinity School Library.


The final session of the 1970-71 Seminar was convened by co-chairman Sheldon Isenberg. After customary introductions and announcements, the Seminar voted to make The Paschal Homily of Melito of Sardis the topic for next year. The members then heard and discussed a presentation (summarized below) by our guest, Morton Smith of the Department of History, Columbia University.


Josephus and Judaism, Morton Smith


The “traditional” picture of 1st century Judaism, that of G. F. Moore, is actually a misrepresentation of the Jewish religious situation. Moore’s “normative Judaism” is an anachronism, utilizing 2d century and later materials, and neglecting the many varieties within 1st century Judaism itself. Five centuries earlier, there were perhaps 100,000 Jews, concentrated in a particular territory. But by the 1st century, there were Jews throughout the Roman world and Mesopotamia, numbering in the neighborhood of 3,000,000. Josephus accounts for this rather startling increase by the processes of natural multiplication, and the fact that the Jews did not expose their infants. Yet, since the infant mortality rate in the ancient world was still more than 50%, more likely reasons for the increase in Jewish numbers would be the process of adhesion in the Diaspora, and in Palestine, conquest and forced conversion. The Jewish population of Palestine in the 1st century, then, was of mixed ancestry, with a mixed religious tradition.


Was there in all this a common form of Judaism? Moore said it was Pharisaism, as evidenced by the rabbinic material and by the witness of Josephus, who claimed that the Pharisees were most influential and had the greatest following. Josephus’ claims are not borne out either by events or by his writings. The primacy of the Pharisees is not mentioned at all in the War, but only in later works when Josephus had joined the Pharisaic party. In his accounts of the sects of the Jews, Josephus is describing small parties who practiced peculiar forms of life: the Pharisees numbered about 6000, and the Essenes and Sadducees about 4000 each. If these are peculiar forms of life, we still need to discover the form of life of ordinary 1st century Jews, who are called “people of the land” by the Pharisees, “those outside” by the NT, and “children of darkness” by the Essenes. Josephus often uses Jew as a territorial term, including even Herod, or for ordinary partyless Jews. On the other hand, in War 2.43 and Ant. 17.254, he distinguishes true “Jews” from Judea from those others of Galilee, Idumea, Jericho, and trans-Jordan. Herod Antipas settled Tiberius with Galileans, since the site was too impure for true Jews from Judea (Ant. 18.37). Even Galilee was divided, including also people of Tiberius and Sepphoris; yet all were “Jews” in some sense. Josephus appears to differentiate between true Jews and Jews who behave like aliens in War 5.443, defining a Jew by his cultic and political conformity. (See also War 7.254-5.)


For the most part, in the 1st century the term Jew had a double meaning: (1) territorial and ethnic identification, and (2) a member of the religious group. In War 2.463-4, Josephus lists 4 classes of people in the cities of Syria and trans- Jordan: (1) the ioudaioi, adherents to the Jewish religion; (2) the ioudaizontes, imitators of Jewish ways, but not official members of the Judean group; (3)the memigmenoi of mixed religious background; and (4) the allophuloi, completely Gentile. In order to determine just what religion the first group adhered to, it is necessary to find relatively reliable 1st century sources. This is difficult because of the vast changes in Judaism wrought by the events of 70-130. What came after 70 is hardly a good source for the earlier period. This limits us: The earliest rabbinic sources are extremely exiguous and difficult to pick out of the large body of literature. Of the NT material, Paul is pre-70, but witnesses to an eccentric, non-Palestinian Judaism. The Gospels and Acts are post-70 in their present form. The Dead Sea material is extremely sectarian. The pseudipigraphical material is often sectarian, extremely difficult to date, and requires much caution in its use, as this tentative list of possible 1st century works would indicate: Martyrdom of Isaiah, Apocalypse of Moses, parts of the Testament of Solomon, Lives of the Prophets, 2 Baruch 27-74, Antiquitatum Biblicum, Sibyllines book 5, 4 Maccabees, Life of Enoch, 2 Enoch, and 4 Esdras 13. The fragments of Graeco-Roman authors are few and of dubious value, Philo describes Judaism at Length, but as an unusually well educated and wealthy Jew of the Diaspora, he probably reflects a form of Judaism as peculiar as his social position. This leaves, for better or for worse, Josephus.


The problem with Josephus, of course, is that he was an unabashed liar and proud of it. Yet, in his published works, he was neither careful nor consistent in his lies. By looking for contradictions, the scholar can see several strata as the works developed. For instance, in the Life, John of Gischala is presented in the earliest stratum as a pro-Roman whose neighbors forced his hand, reflecting that Josephus was at the time of writing a prisoner of the Romans in Caesarea. When Josephus was released and secure with the Romans, John becomes a scoundrel from the beginning (to dissociate him from the author). In the present form of the Life, which is an attack on Justus Of Tiberias, the former view of John is brought back.


We should keep in mind Josephus’ major misrepresentations. In the War: He sought to (1) defend the Romans and whitewash Titus, and even more (2) to defend the Jews by softening the intensity of their rebellion and taking away its religious implications. To excuse the Jews, he blames a succession of incompetent Roman governors. He also (3) praises himself and slanders his opponents, showing both a (4) pro-Hasmonean and a (5) pro-priestly bias, since he fit into both groups. [Against Apion may rely on a source earlier than Josephus. At any rate, Josephus does not defend the high priestly group.] Finally (6), he defends Agrippa II (and Herod, although the latter material may have come from Nicholas of Damascus). In the Antiquities, there are new themes (1) Josephus claims special privileges for Jews throughout the empire, He is strongly (2) anti-Herod and (3) pro-Pharisee. He alters the account of the course of events of the earlier period to make it as the Pharisees would have liked it to have happened (cf. the accounts of the trial of Herod in War 1.208 and Ant. 14.165 ff.). A new stress on Sabbath years and other cultic matters is used to provide a basis for Pharisaic claims of authority. With these misrepresentations in mind, we can, by looking out for Josephus’ motives, carefully distinguish between his claims and the facts indicated by the course of events. The claims are usually extremely dubious; the course of events is more likely, but not ultimately reliable.


Josephus shows us an era when, as a result of the Maccabean wars, religion and politics were inseparable, By subjugating a whole territory by force, the Judeans had created violent local hostilities. Only the presence of the Romans kept them from continuing their conquests, or resubjugating formerly subject peoples. To be a Jew in Palestine was to be a member of a potentially irredentist military group, intensely hated by and hostile to its neighbors. Being a Jew was not an abstract religious choice, but a political adherence. The Maccabees forced many of the conquered peoples to convert to Judaism, probably for several reasons: (1) Forced conversion was a deliberate imitation of early Rome, which increased its manpower by granting citizenship with conquest. Thus, the Judeans could obtain sufficient manpower to conquer Palestine and Galilee. (2) Such forced conversions built up a large body of supporters united by political, military and economic interests, and by a common religion, but not a detailed religious tradition. (After all, the Maccabean tenure of the high priesthood was in itself a violation of the Law.) There was needed a large body of non-pietist supporters who would be “Jewish” but not legalist, and who would follow their military and religious leaders. (3) With such supporters, the rulers could make themselves independent of the most religiously observant Judeans. Thus, Agrippa could be observant of the Law in Jerusalem, but hailed as a god in Caesarea (Ant. 19.344-5).


Through Josephus, we can obtain some knowledge of this common Judaism. Our sources are mainly (1) the War, (2) the later books of the Antiquities, and (3) some information from the earlier books, although Josephus’ OT exegesis there is not typical of Palestinian ideas. His picture of Judaism is, of course, not complete, but it does show these characteristics:


(1) Judaism was a “male chauvinist” society, set apart by the practically ineradicable marks of circumcision. This putting the seal of God in the flesh formed an irrevocable attachment to the group. Circumcision was characteristically Jewish, and not so common among the Syrians. Not only the Maccabees, but also Herod were uncompromising in their insistence upon universal Jewish circumcision.


(2) The Sabbath was observed, but it is hard to say to what extent. The Sabbath is mentioned by Josephus either when it is violated or when it is used as an excuse in martial trickery. Observance seems to have been more general than specific, and in dealing with Gentiles was strictly a matter of practical convenience.


(3) The festivals were unquestionably big events in Jerusalem. Being a Jew gave one the right to go up to Jerusalem, to be in the Court of the Men and participate in the show. It is hard to say how much the festivals meant outside of Jerusalem, if anything. Jerusalem, the temple, and the temple vessels were revered as both religious and national symbols,. The “universal” temple tax, collected on a more or less voluntary basis, shows there was a general concern for the temple among the Jews. Custodianship of the temple vessels proved to be a valuable political tool; their political value eventually outshone their cultic value. Because of the temple, Jerusalem was thought to be impregnable and under the special protection of God. When it fell, Jews from all the Jewish territories were found there looking for safety.


(4) There was reverence for priests and the high priests. This reverence seems to have been widespread, although since Josephus was himself a priest, it may be exaggerated. War 6.114 indicates that many priests survived until the end as part of the resistance, instead of siding with the Romans as did much of the other aristocracy.


(5) Synagogues were widespread, noted in Caesarea, Tiberius, Dora, etc. Josephus tells little of synagogue worship, except that there was a weekly reading of the Law. Ordinary worship was probably quite varied and adaptable to the situation, as evidenced by the time Herod himself offered sacrifice before battle.


(6) Josephus says that the Law was held in greatest reverence; certainly legal considerations are crucial to his plot. When he describes magicians and messianic pretenders, he omits all mention of the Law to make them seem non-Jewish. Some aspects of the Law do indeed seem to have been “universally” observed; i.e. abstinence from pork and considerations of purity with relation to the temple and Jerusalem. Otherwise, there seem to be strange combinations of observance and non-observance. The most important aspect of the Law to Josephus’ history is the prohibition of images -- the use of images seemed to provoke major crises: e.g. the empty armor used for decoration in Herod’s theater in Jerusalem (Ant. 15.277-279), the eagle on the temple (Ant. 17. 151-163), Pilate’s standards in Jerusalem (War 2 169-174, Ant. 18.55-59), the statue of Caesar in the synagogue in Dora (Ant. 19.300-311). However, there were statues of Agrippa’s daughters in Caesarea, which were eventually destroyed for non-religious reasons (Ant. 19.357). Much importance was attributed to the scrolls of the Law, indicating great reverence for them. A soldier’s destroying of such a scroll led to his execution. The rest of the OT and the Apocrypha are not mentioned in the events of Josephus’ story.


(7) Even monotheism seems to have been a less than universal belief. Herod built temples to pagan deities (War 1.422- 424, Ant. 15.147), and at one point was accused by the people of Gadara of overthrowing their temples, or permitting his Jewish troops to do so (Ant. 15.357). Other Herods consulted holy men. Agrippa, as mentioned before, was hailed as a god in Caesarea (or could not stop the clamor). There was still a temple of the golden cow near Dan, but the worshippers may have considered themselves Israelites rather than Jews. War 4.382 tells how the Zealots prohibited burial “in order to violate both human laws and be divine.”


(8) There is already much literature on prophets and messianic expectations as presented by Josephus, so it need not be enlarged upon here.




Following the presentation, a few minutes were spent in discussion and questions by the Seminar. In answer to a question about the role of the Pharisees: The Pharisees ware probably quite influential in Jerusalem. Josephus does not speak of the split between Hillel and Shammai, indicating that he knew of the Pharisees earlier (in Herod’s time) and then just before the war. Counting women and children, the Pharisaic party numbered about 24,000. Their presence in the Gospels, particularly in Galilee, is highly dubious. Jesus’ arguments against the Pharisees seem to be a special tradition. There is not much evidence of Pharisaic teaching outside Jerusalem before 70.


Respectfully submitted, Robert V. Hotchkiss, Recording Secretary