Recherche – Detailansicht
Reed, Annette Yoshiko
Jewish-Christianity and the History of Judaism. Collected Essays.
Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2018. XXX, 505 S. = Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism, 171. Lw. EUR 174,00. ISBN 978-3-16-154476-7.
Peter J. Tomson
The eleven essays contained in the volume almost all deal with the Pseudo-Clementine literature, i. e., the pseudepigraphic writings ascribed to or associated with Clement, the presumed author of the late first century CE epistle of the church in Rome to the one in Corinth. Apart from Clement, a gentile Christian, main characters are Jesus’ Jewish apostle Peter and his brother and apostle, James. Preserved in two recensions, the Homilies and the Recognitions, these fourth century CE writings are considered main documents of the variant of ancient Christianity that attached prime im-portance to Jewish tradition and is conventionally called ›Jewish-Christianity’‹. As the author explains several times, these sources were first brought before the limelight of modern scholarship by August Neander (1789–1850), a baptised German Jew who came to be considered the ›modern father of Church History‹. In turn, they gained a significant place in the work of Ferdinand Christian Baur and Heinrich Graetz, the ›fathers‹, respectively, of modern early Christian and Jewish historiography. An earlier modern ›discover-er‹ was the English Deist John Toland (1670–1722), who used a part of the Pseudo-Clementines, the Epistle of Peter to James, in his proposal for a rational, Torah-observant Christianity.
Thus the focus of the volume alternates between the ancient sources to be studied and their modern students themselves, and this is reflected in its structure. The author has arranged the essays in part I under the title »›Jewish-Christians‹ and the Historiography of Early Jewish/Christian Relations«; those in part II under »›Jewish-Christianity‹ in Jewish History and Jewish Studies«. The term ›Jewish-Christianity‹ always carries quotation marks, except in the volume title, which could reflect the publishers’ taste. In-vented by Toland and adopted by Baur and Graetz ( Judenchristentum), it is a tautology insofar as Peter, James, and Paul were all Jews, but it is also indispensible because the prevailing paradigm pic-tures Judaism and Christianity as mutually exclusive categories, making those apostles plus Jesus himself into anomalies. The laud-able overall aim, programmatically laid down in the opening chapter, »›Jewish-Christianity‹ after the ›Parting of the Ways‹« (first published in The Ways That never parted, edited by the author with Adam Becker, 2003), is to force the binary paradigm of ›Judaism‹ versus ›Christianity‹ by jamming in the ›anomalous‹ category of ›Jewish-Christianity‹ from every possible angle. This involves discussing such items as purity concerns, drawing in Mishnah Niddah (chapter 2), the dialogue with Hellenism (chapter 4), heresy and minut (chapter 5), and Jewish mysticism (chapter 9).
The papers were written between 2003 and 2017, a rather short period of time for a volume of collected papers, which may explain the many repetitions and overlappings, reflecting the author’s occupations in those days. It was also, as the Epilogue states, a period of ›dynamically productive years for scholarship on ancient identities‹, particularly in North-America. This may explain the profusion of postmodernist jargon like ›definitional‹, ›narrativization‹, ›discourses of difference‹, and ›articulation of collective identities‹. At this point, a certain methodological ambiguity appears. While on the one hand adopting post-modern hesitations vis-à-vis positivist-historicist methods and their fixation on temporal ›origins‹ (›parting of the ways‹ – when?), the author on the other hand consciously ›historicises‹ both her ancient sources and their modern readers including herself, and she uses ›historiography‹ as a positive category. A more pronounced contradiction is that while the Pseudo-Clementines are emphatically situated in the fourth century and compared with rabbinic and patristic sources, producing a fascinating ›counter-history‹ to Eusebius’ gentile-Christian Church History, ›Jewish-Christian‹ sources such as Matthew and Didache are not so compared due to the difficulties of using rabbinic sources for late-first and early-second century history, here echoing e. g. the extreme caution of Peter Schäfer, the author’s one-time mentor.
Indeed, one may disagree with the contention (chapter 9) that, instead of the Pharisees becoming ›rabbis‹ around the turn of the first century CE as conventional modern interpretations of Matt 23 have it, the rabbis ›became‹, i. e. were construed as, Pharisees only in the fourth century, as witnessed by the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies and their interpretation of the ›chair of Moses‹ in Matt 23. Having taken note of the Homilies’ surprising openness towards ›rabbinic‹ values and ideas, one may also register that not only does Matt 23:8 report that the Pharisees liked to be called ›rabbi‹, but in addition, Matt 19:3 phrases the Pharisees’ question on divorce as, ›May a man divorce his wife for any cause?‹ Matthew ›corrects‹ the general question from Mark 10:2 by reformulating it in terms of the Pharisaic-rabbinic dispute on the matter, betraying knowledge of its existence (Mishnah Gittin 9:10; more in my Studies on Jews and Christians in the First and Second Centuries, 2019, 96–9, 514–21). Nor is it true that second-century Christian authors do not associate Pharisees with rabbis at all. Not only does Justin, Dial. 103.1–2 make the identification (as the author concedes, 314, n. 80), but similarly Irenaeus, Haer. 4.12–13 links the ›masters of the Jews‹ (magistri ipsorum) with the ›Pharisaic law‹ (lex pharisaica), reading Matt 5:17 and John 7:22 f. in a Tora-affirming, anti-Marcionite way and in effect endorsing the ›Jewish-Christian‹ interpretive framework summarily advocated by Hegesippus apud Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 4.22. This suggests continuity from Matthew through the Pseudo-Clementines as to the association of Pharisees and rabbis.
The volume is concluded by appendices containing a timeline of significant developments involving ›Jewish-Christianity‹ from 67 to 1890 CE, an annotated bibliography on the same, and two notes on Ioudaios and ›Jew‹, plus two modest indices of sources and modern authors. There is no cumulative bibliography, and the reader has to retrieve full data of any item from its first occurrence in the footnotes of the respective chapter. The most successful chapters to my mind are no. 6 confronting the Pseudo-Clementines with Eusebius and no. 1, the seminal article from The Ways That never parted. As it stands, the book forcefully energises a discussion that should never again be allowed to go silent.