Item description for Jewish Christianities Reconsidered: Rethinking Ancient Groups and Texts by Matt Jackson-McCabe...
Overview For decades, scholars have used the phrase "Jewish Christianity" and, more recently, "Christian Judaism." But just what do those terms mean? Who were the first Jewish Christians? What counts as Jewish Christianity? Those questions receive current and definitive treatment in essays drawn together by Matt Jackson-McCabe, founder of the consultation on Jewish Christianity at the Society of Biblical Literature.
Publishers Description For decades, scholars have used the phrase "Jewish Christianity" and, more recently, "Christian Judaism." But just what do those terms mean? Who were the first Jewish Christians? What counts as Jewish Christianity? Those questions receive current and definitive treatment in essays drawn together by Matt Jackson- McCabe, founder of the consultation on Jewish Christianity at the Society of Biblical Literature.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Jewish Christianity Reconsidered: Rethinking Ancient Groups and Texts?
Uneven but Helpful Jul 23, 2007
It is encouraging to note that the study of early Jewish Christianity has experienced something of a revival in recent years, after decades of serious neglect. The neglect can most likely be traced to the influence of such scholars as Adolph Harnack and Rudolph Bultmann who saw Jewish Christianity as a primitive form of the faith that was quickly replaced by a Gentile Christianity influenced by Paul. The volume before us could be viewed as something like a status quaestionis regarding the subject. The book is an edited collection of papers most of which were originally delivered in the Jewish Christianity Consultation at recent meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature. The chairman of that consultation, Matt Jackson-McCabe, also is the editor of the book. The first chapter by Jackson-McCabe discusses the problem of what to call this early movement - Jewish Christianity, Christian Judaism, etc. The following chapters are divided into two main sections: "Part 1: Groups" and "Part II: Texts." The authors, who evidently have thought deeply about their subjects, discuss familiar themes: the early composition of the Jerusalem church (Hebrews and Hellenists); the identity of the so-called "Judaizers" opposed by Paul; and the continuing history of those Jewish groups called by the Fathers "Ebionites" and "Nazarenes." Later chapters deal with the Jewish-Christian character of the mythical "Q" document, the Gospels of Matthew and John, the Apocalypse, and the Didache. The final chapter is a very helpful discussion of what is often considered the last ancient writing by a Jewish Christian author, the Pseudo-Clementines, written by the world's authority on that composite document, F. Stanley Jones. As is always the case in a collection of different authors, the chapters are uneven with some more valuable than others. In this reviewer's opinion, the most insightful and helpful chapter for the non-specialist and/or pastor is the one by Patrick Hartin, "The Religious Context of the Letter of James." It is so good in analyzing the thought of this neglected epistle, that it alone is worth the price of the book. The chapter on the Didache by Jonathan Draper is also quite insightful, especially serving as an excellent introduction to the issues raised by the study of this unique little gem from the early church. Sadly, the editor's introduction is perhaps the weakest part of the book. Because Jackson-McCabe's credentials as a scholar are evident, I am dismayed by the following unscholarly statement revealing his own bias, "No serious scholar believes that the canonical Letter of James . . . was produced within the Jerusalem community, let alone by James himself" (11). Having been engaged in a serious study of this subject myself, I am dismayed at his describing such recognized scholars as Luke Johnson and Richard Bauckham as "not serious" scholars because they suggest that there is no better alternative to the authorship of the epistle than James the Lord's brother! This flaw is fortunately not indicative of the other excellent chapters. Readers will benefit greatly from becoming more familiar with a movement in the Christian world that (sadly) disappeared after ca. 400 AD. The current revival of "Messianic Judaism" both in Israel and in the Diaspora is just one indication that we need to explore further the deep Jewish roots of the Christian faith. This volume is a good place to do just that, as well as is the more conservative work by the evangelical Norwegian scholar, Oskar Skarsaune, In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity (InterVarsity Press: 2002).