Reviews - What do customers think about Judaism and the Early Christian Mind: A Study of Cyril of Alexandria's Exegesis and Theology?
Excellent Overview of Early Christianity vrs Judaism Nov 8, 2003
Wilken has done an excellent job of describing Cyril's exegetical approach to dealing with fundamental issues that Jews (and pagans) routinely challenged the early Christians with, specifically the usage of the Old Testament by the Church to justify contravening the Mosaic Law. I came away from reading this book with the distinct impression that the early Church had a definite problem convincing the masses that Judaism and Christianity had to be treated as distinct and separate beliefs, and that a certain amount of propaganda as well as intimidation was required to get the message across. While the theologians and exegetes like Cyril were debating the consequences of fitting angels onto pinheads, the people were routinely mixing and matching Jewish and Christian rituals bad doctrines. Little wonder that "heresy" found fertile ground in which to mushroom. Wilken does a good job, if at times repetitively, of describing Jesus' portrayal as The New Adam, the redeemer of Adam's sin, who, as Man and God, was able to defeat death, a feat that Moses, still only a mortal, and the law brought down from Sinai was unable to do. This was the basis of Cyril's refutation of Nestorius, which seems like a bit of an overreaction to what Nestorius really meant. I would have liked to have seen a bit more discussion of why Cyril was so adamantly anti-Jewish, though from his discussion it's pretty clear that this was partly because Cyril perceived them as "mad" and "blind" for their failutre to accept Jesus. But Cyril's orchestration of the pogrom in Alexandria deserved a bit more exposition vis-a-vis Cyril's ongoing polemical war on Judaism. This is a trifling criticism, though. A must text for patristic history buffs.