- The Monograph
- Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: St. Paul's Letters and Jewish Christians
- Chapter 2: What and when was "Parting of the Ways"?
- Chapter 3: Jews, Christians, and Roman Legitimacy
- Chapter 4: Jesus the Jew
- Chapter 5: Recruiting Gentiles and Effect of the name "Christian"
- Chapter 6: Christian Anti-Jewish Rhetoric
- Chapter 7: Christian Reinterpretation of the Jewish Bible
- Chapter 8: Labeling Jews as "Christ Killers"
- Chapter 9: Jewish Rebellion and Roman Destruction
- Chapter 10: Myths Used to Justify Christian Anti-Jewishness
- Chapter 11: Why did Jews find Christianity unacceptable
- Chapter 12: Gospel History
- Chapter 13: Christian Jew Hatred and Antisemitism
- Chapter 14: St. Paul and "Parting of the Ways"
- Chapter 15: The Jewish Messiah and the Role of Jesus
- Chapter 16: Religious Differences Among Jews
- Chapter 17: Christian Rants against Jews and Judaizers
- Chapter 18: Christian Opposition to Biblical "Law" Denouncing Jews who Observe It
- Chapter 19: The "Holy", "Unholy", and "True Israelites"
- Chapter 20: Do Christians Need to Demean Jews? What if Jesus had not been a Jew?
- Chapter 21: Currying Favor with the Romans; Roman Oppression and Jesus' Crucifixion
- Chapter 22: Christian Missionary Success and Accommodation to Roman Society
- Chapter 23: Christian Anti-Jewishness Before and After Gaining Power
- Chapter 24: The Psychology of Antisemitism
- Chapter 25: Christian Literature and Perpetuation of Anti-Semitism
- Chapter 26: Can New Testament Antisemitism be Deleted?
Some scholars claim that as long as Jewish Christians remained on the scene, there was no real “Parting of the Ways” between Jews and Christians (Becker and Reed; Jackson-McCabe). We should nonetheless keep in mind that however many kinds of Jesus-believing groups existed in the first several centuries (Ehrman 2003), ranging from partly or entirely Gentile to entirely Jewish, it was Gentile Christianity in its singular Pauline non-Jewish/anti-Jewish form that became ensconced from 50 C.E. onward as the popular and dominating form of “Christianity.” St Paul’s strictures against Jewish Christian “Judaizers,” branded as oddities and “heretics” by Christian Fathers (Note #17), separated them from St. Paul’s mainstream Gentile Christian movement from the first century onward.
In terms of belief and practice, St. Paul stands at the center of Gentile Christianity’s separation from Jews and Judaism (also Notes #7, #14). “In him [St. Paul] and his heritage the emergence of Christianity as a religion of gentiles as distinct from that Judaism which was still rather diverse (“Judaisms”) becomes apparent. Paul was a major impetus to this manifestation of two distinct world religions” (Pervo 2010, p. 235). Among the distinctive elements St. Paul used to separate his Gentile converts from Jews are the following:
- St. Paul repudiated the sanctity of the Scriptural covenant between Abraham and his progeny and the Jewish God Yahweh. “Every male among you shall be circumcised” (Genesis 17.10); “You must diligently keep the commandments of Yahweh your God, and his decrees, and his statutes” (Deuteronomy 6.17). Instead, he created a unique “Gentile Christian covenant” that “cursed” the basic Biblical commandments conferring Jewish identity. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the [Jewish] law … in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles” (Galatians 3.13–14). In the Letter to the Hebrews (8.6-7, 8.13), a first century document once attributed to St. Paul: “Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one. … [H]e has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.”
- St. Paul declared his unique vision of a new Gentile Christianity that had divine origin revealed only to him. “The Gospel that was proclaimed to me is not of human origin, for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1.11–12; see also Note #14).
- In this imagined “Gospel” (“good news”), St. Paul changed the image of Jesus, from a Jewish Messiah observing Jewish Scriptural law, to a transethnic divine figure venerative for non-observant Gentiles: “Christ Jesus, who … was in the form of God” (Philippians 2.5–6). “[T]he grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15.14–16). St. Paul’s letters thus initiated a new theology based on Jesus Christ. “Every assertion about God is simultaneously an assertion about ‘Christ,’ and vice versa. For this reason and in this sense Paul’s theology is, at the same time, Christology” (Matera, p. 217).
- To invest his views with ancient Scriptural authority, St. Paul instituted the practice of reinterpreting and misinterpreting the Jewish Scriptures (Note #7), changing the meaning of ancient Jewish history into accounts and revelations that sanctified newly created Gentile Christianity.
- St. Paul insisted that Jews who did not agree with his reinterpretations and his Gospel were obstinately perverse because “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4.4). To St. Paul and the theologians that followed, the dilemma of how non-Jews can claim antique ancestry in Jewish Scriptures was resolved by insisting that the Scriptures were not truly meant for Jews to whom they were incomprehensible, but for Gentiles. Gentile Christian need for antiquity showed little concern that the plain meanings and intentions of Jewish Scriptural writers did not at all comply with those of Christian theologians appearing many centuries later.
- St. Paul established a cornerstone sacrament of Gentile Christianity by changing a Jewish purification rite (the “mikvah”) into a mystical baptism signifying death and rebirth. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6.3–4).
- St. Paul changed the celebration of a communal Jewish meal from blessing God’s gift of bread and wine into a mystical “Eucharist” ceremony of eating Jesus’ flesh and blood. “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread … broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’” (1 Corinthians 11.23–25). The Eucharist and Baptism were “the central liturgical practices of early Christians” (Lynch, p. 117).
- St. Paul established the doctrine replacing “fleshly” literal-minded Jews in God’s favor with “spiritual” Gentile Christians (“supersessionism”). “Our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of [Jewish Scriptural] letter but of spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3.5–6). Gentile Christians thus took on the status of “True Israelites” (Note #19), becoming “God’s people, now redefined around Jesus the Messiah” (Moo, p. 403).
- St. Paul introduced the concept of two distinct Abrahamic lineages: one through Abraham’s “faith,” inherited by uncircumcised Christian “children of the promise”; and the other through Abraham’s “flesh,” inherited by circumcised Jewish “children of the flesh.” The former, Gentile Christians, are Abraham’s “true descendants, true Israelites, the children of God,” whereas the latter, Torah-observant Jews, do not “truly belong to Israel” (Romans 9.6–8). Ignored was the fact that the Jewish Scriptures, Israel’s religious documents, are concerned only with the history and welfare of Father Abraham’s biblical descendants, circumcised Jews. It is essential to note that before St. Paul invented the mainstays of Gentile Christianity, there is no evidence that any congregation or church of uncircumcised “faithful” Gentile Christians — Abraham’s imagined “children of the promise” — existed during the fifteen-hundred-year interval between Abraham and St. Paul. (See also Notes #7, #14, #18.)
- St. Paul preached that rituals prescribed for “fleshly” Jews were worthless: that one is “justified by Christian faith” and not by the “deeds” prescribed by Scriptural laws — a source of delinquent “sin.” “Gentiles who did not strive for righteousness have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but Israel [Jews] who did strive for the righteousness based on the law, did not succeed in following the law. Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works” (Romans 9.30–32). “For his [Jesus Christ’s] sake I have suffered the loss of all [Jewish] things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the [Jewish] law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness of God based on faith” (Philippians 3.8–9).
- By using “faith” and “spirit” rather than “works,” St. Paul thus provided the rationale allowing Gentile recruits to reject Jewish Scriptural rules (“works”) and thus separate themselves from observant Jews, whether Jesus-believing or not. To the question of whether “faith” really replaces “works,” a modern Christian theologian replies: “‘Works of the law,’ like any other human ‘work,’ always fall short of what God expects of his creatures, leaving incorporation into Christ by faith as the only means of achieving righteousness” (Moo, p. 27). However, since Yahweh’s righteousness correlates with behavioral deeds/“works” (Genesis 18.19 “Keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice”), the question arises why and how does the presumed righteousness of “faith in Christ” exclude or exceed the Scriptural righteousness of “works”? Ignored in all such claims of “faith” over “works” was an implicit motivation: by replacing Covenantal Scriptural “works” with “faith” in Jesus Christ, proselytized Gentiles achieve Scriptural sanctity without interfering with Gentile life styles.
- In rejecting Jewishness, St. Paul contrasted his “sinful” Jewish-Christian opponents (“Judaizers,” Note #17) to his “sanctified” Gentile Christians in most vituperative ways: “Beware of the [Jewish] dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we [Christians] who are the true circumcision, who worship in the spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3.2–3).
- In castigating his Gentile converts for assuming an alleged bad habit of “observing special days and months and seasons and years” (Galatians 4.10), St. Paul obviously referred to the Jewish festivals, disparaging them as “slavery” to “weak and beggarly elemental spirits” (Ibid. 4.9). This opposition to “Jewishness” of any kind thus precedes later reproofs by Christian Fathers that one cannot be simultaneously Jewish and Christian (Note #1).
- In focusing on Jesus Christ as a divine savior (“we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” Philippians 3.20), St. Paul changed emphasis from Jesus’ messianic call for social action (Note #15) to ecclesiastical piety and forgiveness of sin. Colossians 1.13: “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” While anticipating heavenly reward, Christian faithful were to patiently accept one’s station in life — whether oppressed, slave, or master (Colossians 3.18–22). “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward” Colossians 3.23–24. In substituting saving Christian souls for improving Christian lives, St. Paul thus justified what became a common ecclesiastical defense of social stratification — a far cry from the social struggle for which Jesus was executed. St. Paul gives “nonpolitical applications to [Scriptural] passages that originally had primarily sociopolitical implications. … [H]e displayed no interest in using his ministry for broader humanitarian concerns” Ellis (p. 154). “None of [St. Paul’s] writings would lead one to understand that good news for the poor was a central feature in the message of Jesus. [St. Paul’s] focus is rather on the reconciling effects of the cross for humanity alienated by sin” Loader (p. 31). “Messianism, we must reiterate, is not the salvation of souls, but the redemption of bodies, the redemption of history” Ruether (1979, p. 246).
- St. Paul’s attacks on Jewish “works of the law” also had a strong racist tone, helping to mark distinction between his Gentile converts and ethnically/racially different “Jews.” Dunn (2008, p. 109) makes clear that St. Paul’s opposition to Covenantal Jewish Scriptures specifically meant opposition to those Jewish features (circumcision, dietary restrictions, Sabbath observances, etc.) functioning as “identity markers, they served to identify their practitioners as Jewish in the eyes of the wider public, they were the peculiar rites which marked out the Jews as that peculiar people.”
Although St. James and others of the Jerusalem Jewish Christians recognized St. Paul as a fellow apostle, there is not the slightest historical evidence they authorized any of St. Paul’s anti-Jewish themes. It was not belief in Jesus as Messiah that separated St. Paul’s Gentile Christians from observant Jews, Jesus-believing or not, but rather St. Paul’s insistence on preventing Jewish ethnicity and rituals from affecting Gentile recruitment. “There was no sign of any fissure in the united body of Jesus’ followers until [St. Paul’s] principle that non-Jews could become full members of the Jesus movement without passing through Judaism. Paul’s successful missionary activity among gentiles is the primary source of the parting of the ways” (Vermes 2013, p.23). “The split (as we see it in the New Testament sources) was brought on by what was primarily the ethnic division between Gentile (Pauline) Christianity and Jewish/Palestinian (Petrine? Jacobite?) Christianity” (Porter and Pearson, p. 115).
Among those who followed St. Paul’s example, The Epistle of Barnabas (ca. 100) devotes full chapters denouncing Jewish rituals and practices such as Temple sacrifices (II), Jewish fasts (III), circumcision (VIII), dietary restrictions (X), Sabbath observances (XV); exclaiming that it is not Jews who are the heirs of Abraham’s covenant with God but Jesus Christ believers who are in “a state of uncircumcision [Gentiles]” (XIII, ANF vol. 1, p. 146). Further Barnabas anti-Jewish denunciations are included in two chapters entitled: “Antichrist is at hand: Let us therefore avoid Jewish errors” (IV, Ibid., p. 138); “The New Covenant, founded on the sufferings of Christ, tends to our salvation, but to the Jews destruction” (V, Ibid., p.139). Horbury comments, (p. 12): “Christian sense of accepted separation from the Jewish community seems first detectable in writings from about the end of the first century onward, notable the Epistle of Barnabas.”
Thus, although Jewish Christians may seem like intermediaries joining Jewishness with newly emerging Gentile Christianity, their presence was regarded by Gentile Christian leaders as an unwelcome incursion. Virulent resistance to adopting Jewish practices in St. Paul’s churches far overwhelmed sharing common beliefs in Jesus as Messiah.
Since there was little if anything recognizably Jewish remaining in St. Paul’s Christianity, the Jesus concept he bequeathed to Gentile Christianity was not the transition of Jesus from a Jewish Messiah to a divine Jewish Prophet, such as Elijah — a concept that some Jewish Jesus-believers may have already initiated. Instead, he changed Jesus from a Jewish Messiah into a universal “Christian” spiritual divinity, only peripherally related to Jews by birth. Since Christianity was not presented to Gentiles in the form of either Jewish beliefs or rituals, the prime advantage of preserving Jesus’ Jewish natal connection was to enable St. Paul and his successors to endow this new Christian divinity with age-old historic credentials through bold and fanciful reinterpretations of the Jewish Scriptures, and to develop a theology (“Christology”) centered on Jesus’ divine sacrifice. For St. Paul’s Christianity, “Parting of the Ways” thus became tied to its fundamental Gentile needs: (1) to present Jesus as a divine savior transcending the Jewish cultural ethos, (Note 11.b); (2) to supplant Jews with Gentiles as the true “Israelite” possessors of the antique Jewish Scriptures (Notes #7, #19), (3) to decry Jewish Scriptural law that interferes with Gentile traditional practices (Note #18).
As noted above (Galatians 1.11–12), the authority that St. Paul gave to these innovations was a self-proclaimed apostleship he received from an imagined vision of Jesus, unshared and unwitnessed by any of Jesus’ disciples. It seems reasonable to ask: What “divine” criteria allowed Gentile Christian leaders to claim that St. Paul’s imaginary views against Jewishness were more authoritative than those of Jews and Jewish Christians who derived their outlooks and practices from the Jewish Scriptures?
Although it is continually debated (Carleton Paget, pp. 3–24), there is little doubt that however nebulous or firm the early boundaries between Christians and Jews, it did not take long for Romans to recognize these two groups as separated both religiously and ethnically. St. Paul’s “ecclesia” (“churches”) did not engage in Jewish male circumcision, Jewish Sabbath observances, Jewish dietary restrictions, Jewish holiday celebrations, Jewish pilgrimages to the Judean homeland, nor Jewish Temple worship. Leaders of St. Paul’s churches did not identify themselves as “Jews” but as “Christians” (Note #5) and made clear that Jews were mostly hostile elements ranging from “Christ killers” to “demons” (Notes #6, #8, #10, #17, #19). Thus, despite clothing itself with antiquity by postulating exclusive possession of the Jewish Scriptures (Note #7), Gentile Christianity rejected Scripturally based rituals and practices to nullify any identification with Jews in either history or practice.
The earliest unequivocal mention of Christians in Roman literature is by Tacitus writing about the great fire in Rome (64 C.E.). Years before any of the New Testament Gospels appeared, division between Christians and Jews at that time was already sufficient for Emperor Nero to persecute Christians without any reference to Jews or their Jewish origin. “Picking out Christians as his victims was probably no random choice for the emperor in that respect. Especially those Christians who were not Jewish and could not claim the right to the Jewish privilege of monotheism could immediately be seen … as people who had turned their backs on Roman society by distancing themselves from the Roman gods. Their behavior could disturb the pax deorum [“Peace of the Gods”], jeopardizing the well-being of the Roman state and its citizens” (Heemstra, pp. 92–93; see also M. H. Williams, pp. 158–159).
Similarly, in his letter to Emperor Trajan on investigating Christians for presumed disloyalty (ca. 112 C.E.), Pliny the Younger uses the term “Christian” without any mention or connection to “Jews” (Ferguson, pp. 556–558). According to Carleton Paget (p. 254), late first century and early second century Christian writings (1 Clement, and Hermas), “[B]etray no signs of any interactions with a wider Jewish community; Judaism is no longer an issue for these writers.” As noted by Judge (p. 366): “A socially clear-cut separation from an early stage must be assumed if we are to explain the fact that Romans seem to have been unaware of the links between Jews and Christians.”
Also, in spite of Roman persecution, Christian leaders stressed their ethnic backgrounds and social habits as more like Romans but definitely unlike Jews. Epistle to Diognetus (ca. 130): “For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked by any singularity” (V, ANF vol. 1, p. 26). Tertullian (ca. 198): “We are from among you [Romans/Greeks]: Christians are made, not born [like Jews]” (Apology 18, see Lieu 2004, p. 298). “We neither accord with the Jews in their peculiarities in regard to food, nor in their sacral days, nor even in their well-known bodily sign [circumcision], nor in the possession of a common name” (Ibid. Apology XXI, ANF vol. 3, p. 34). We “are living among you, eating the same food, wearing the same attire, having the same habits, under the same necessities of existence. … We sail with you, fight [as soldiers] with you, and till the ground with you” (Ibid. Apology XLII, ANF vol. 3, p. 49).
“By the middle of the second century, Christians had separated from Judaism, but had also lost many of the cultural markers that defined them in Roman eyes as members of a distinct society. There was no distinctively Christian dress, no food or purity rules, no one quarter of the Roman city where Christians alone lived.…it is impossible to distinguish Christian from non-Christian culture in funerary art, symbols, inscriptions, and even buildings” (Denzey, p. 503). Such accommodation to Roman society helped diminish persecution and, as described in Note #22, enhanced their Roman identification, allowing extensive periods when the Church could grow “at peace.” Eventually, the Church even permitted Christians to become magistrates in Roman civil colonies as long as they “keep away from Church and worship during their year in office” (Markschies, p. 123).
With few exceptions, the second century and beyond provided Gentile Christianity with significant intervals of amity and expansion. For example, despite suppressing Jewish rebellions in Cyrene and Alexandria, as well as the large Bar Kochba Palestinian rebellion (132–135 C.E.; see Note #15), Emperor Hadrian (117–138 C.E.) launched a process of tolerance towards divergent religious groups providing they maintained loyalty to Rome.
Considering the rapidity in which Jewish Christians became isolated from St. Paul’s Gentile Churches (Note #1), there is little to support the view that they or their “Jewishness” played a significant role in Gentile Christianity’s transition from its first century beginnings to its fourth century Nicene creed (325 C.E.). According to Neusner (2001, p. 18): “Christianity was born on the first Easter with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as the Church saw matters. That event was unique, absolute, unprecedented. Christianity did not have to present itself as a reformation of Judaism, because it had nothing to do with any other formation within Israel.” That Jewish Christians saw Jesus as an inspired messianic Jew who maintained his Jewishness, (Notes #4, #15) not only aroused the ire of Christian Church Fathers during this period but were also subject to St. Paul’s vituperative strictures against “Judaizers” (Note #17).
However, no matter the many invectives Gentile Christianity threw against Jews and Judaizers, inherent contradictions in claiming Jewish Scriptural antiquity while rejecting Biblical religious practices remained difficult to justify authoritatively. St. Paul repeatedly claimed but never clarified why “faith in Jesus Christ” circumvents observance of expressly decreed Biblical commandments. Statements, such as that in Galatians 5.4 are unexplained: “You who want to be justified by the [Jewish] law have cut yourself from Christ; you have fallen from grace.” Also inexplicable is St. Paul’s insistence that circumcision and observance of Sabbath and Jewish holidays would be no different from enslavement to idolatry. “How can you want to be enslaved to them [idols] again?” (Galatians 4.9).
Similarly, St. Augustine’s claim that “all the things in the Old Testament which you think are not observed by Christians because Christ destroyed the law are in fact not observed because Christ fulfilled the law” (ca. 400, Reply to Faustus XIX.11, NPNF Series 1, vol. 4, p. 243), left the matter of “Christ’s fulfillment” at issue. That is, why would fulfillment of the “Law” by Jesus (Note #4) preclude fulfillment of the Law by others? St. Augustine’s somewhat lame explanation that Jesus’ “fulfillment of the law” was not seriously meant but done only to appease the Jews (Ibid. NPNF p. 239) seems contradictory to all we know from the Gospels on law-observant historical Jesus and Jesus’ law-observant disciples who sent out law-observant “Judaizers.” Essentially, as mentioned earlier, Christian condemnation of Jews and Jewish Christians for observing Biblical commandments had no divine authorization other than St. Paul’s Gentile Christianity’s need to reject Biblical practices which conflict with Gentile life styles.
The first of the New Testament Gospels, that of St. Mark, created a prime narrative justification for St. Paul’s anti–“Judaizing” ideology by extending it back to the time of Jesus the Jew. In St. Mark, Jesus gains little unqualified regard from his allegedly self-centered Jewish disciples (later to become St. James’ “Jewish Christians”) who are perplexed by Jesus’ announcement of his death and resurrection, and blind to his claim to be the divine “Son of Man” (Chapters 8–10). The disciples appear “remarkably obtuse, even fearful, stupid, cowardly, and treacherous” (Telford, p. 238). Separating Jesus from his Jewish background and relationships (even his family rejects him), St. Mark’s Gospel essentially recreates St. Paul’s Jesus. That is, not a Jewish Messiah attempting to liberate his people from oppression (Note #15), but a divine god-like figure vainly trying to convince Jews of his role as a savior from sin, a role that only becomes properly espoused by Gentiles.
Disconnecting Jesus from the Jews was further extended in St. John’s Gospel in which Jesus is a God or semi-God, whose earthly opposition, in almost every respect, are “Jews” (Note #12). To the following famous quote by E. Käsemann (Telford, p. 180), we need add only one bracketed word: “John changes the Galilean teacher into the [persecuted] God who goes about on earth.” From Jesus onward, New Testament “Jewishness” is set up as an ungodly affront to Christianity, and the accusation of being tainted with any sign of “Jewishness” became sufficient for Christian clerics to excommunicate other Christians as “heretics” (Note #17).
It is also clear that although “Parting of the Ways” — whether assigned to an early or later century — may have intensified Gentile Christian anti-Jewishness, such animosity did not await “Parting of the Ways.” St. Paul’s persistent polemics against “Judaizers” and their Jewish practices show that the gap between his Gentile Christian churches and the synagogues of Jews (and even of Jewish Christians) was already significant within his lifetime. “As the [first] century proceeded, the boundary becomes ever clearer and ever more stable” (S. J. D. Cohen 2013, pp. 232–233).
St. Paul’s oft-quoted “There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3.28), is not a claim for equality on earth for all people, nor does it erase boundaries between Gentile Christians and other groups, but applies only to those desiring entrance into St. Paul’s future spiritual “Heavenly Kingdom” by: 1) embracing faith in the divinely sanctified “Christ Jesus’; 2) being baptized into St. Paul’s Gentile Christian community; 3) curtailing Jewish religious practices (the “Law”). Even then, St. Paul insists that economic, social, and gender differences be sustained. “In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God. For the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7.24–31).
Unlike Jesus and the Jewish prophets (Note #15), St. Paul never protests injustice in wealth and power. Nor does he challenge the great extent of unremitting poverty and slavery in the Roman empire. In the fourteen letters ascribed to St. Paul, his three appeals for “giving alms” and “remembering the poor” (Romans 15.26, 2 Corinthians 9.9, Galatians 2.10) are matters of personal discretion, not a plea for social change. For St. Paul, “equality exists ‘in the sight of God’ and has no relation whatever to temporal affairs. The distinction between slave and master in this world is no more seen as needing to be changed as that between male and female” (Ste. Croix 2006, p. 349).
Whatever the religious differences among his recruits, St. Paul makes clear that “Jewishness” is a flawed attribute. As noted by Nirenberg (p. 56), “To the extent that Jews refuse to surrender their ancestors [e.g., Abraham], their lineage, and their scripture, they could become emblematic of the particular, of stubborn adherence to the conditions of the flesh, enemies of the spirit, and of God.” Since anti-Jewishness played such a significant role in early Gentile Christianity, how could it not have affected “Parting of the Ways” between Gentile Christianity and Judaism? How easy then for Christian Fathers to move on from anti-Jewishness to anti-Jew?