At the entrances of many Gothic cathedrals throughout Europe one may observe female statutes which are personifications of Ecclesia (the Church) and Synagoga (the Synagogue). One notices that Ecclesia wears a crown, looking straight ahead, holding her head in a triumphant pose. On the other hand, Synagoga, her head bowed, having lost her crown and holding a broken staff and wearing a blindfold, stands defeated and rejected.[1] These personifications symbolize the consensus perspective of the church from the middle of the second century A.D. until the present day, with few exceptions...

Historical Factors until the Time of Constantine Affecting the Church’s Appropriation of Israel’s Blessings*

H. Wayne House

At the entrances of many Gothic cathedrals throughout Europe one may observe female statutes which are personifications of Ecclesia (the Church) and Synagoga (the Synagogue). One notices that Ecclesia wears a crown, looking straight ahead, holding her head in a triumphant pose. On the other hand, Synagoga, her head bowed, having lost her crown and holding a broken staff and wearing a blindfold, stands defeated and rejected.[1] These personifications symbolize the consensus perspective of the church from the middle of the second century A.D. until the present day, with few exceptions. Origen expresses the move from the people of Israel to the church of Christ:  “For what nation is in exile from their own metropolis, and from the place sacred to the worship of their fathers, save the Jews alone?”[2] This poses a problem often not debated in the seeming “magic” of the restoration of Israel, namely, the dispersion of a nation among the nations.

Throughout most of the period of the New Testament the recognition of Jesus and the apostles as Jews, and the importance of the Jerusalem church, kept in check any Gentile Christian tendency toward the denigration of Israel or the Jewish-Christian portion of the church. It was after all from this church that Gentile-Christians had their beginnings. Massive changes occurred, however, in the last several decades of the first century. The passing of the apostles, the destruction of the Jewish people and homeland in A.D. 70 and finally A.D. 135 signaled for many Gentile believers the end of the promises to Israel, a judgment from God. She would never rise from this ashheap to be restored to the grandeur and greatness prophesied by the prophets for her. Her rejection of God’s Son, Jesus the Messiah, had caused God to set her aside for another people, the church, who would receive all those blessings originally intended for His people. Israel, the church began to hold, had been replaced by the church. The blessings—the land, kingdom, covenants—intended for the physical seed of Abraham had been turned over to his spiritual seed.  Christian writers began to see the church as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises to the people of Israel.

The church's position on the future of Israel was influenced by misunderstanding of "in-house" discussion of the biblical writers and the Jewish community, the anti-Christian response of some Jews to Christian sufferings, including the encouragement of the persecution, and the development of a non-literal hermeneutic. The church began to develop an anti-Jewish attitude and believe itself to be the true inheritor of the eschatological blessings prophesied concerning the people of Israel. This theology has come to be known as replacement theology. The intent of this paper is to explore the reasons for the rise of this thinking from the time of the Zealot revolt (A.D. 66) and the triumphalism that occurred in the fourth century, after Constantine declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Before examining these historical reasons, though, we will first look at what is meant by replacement theology and the nature of the promises to Israel which supposedly the church has become the recipient.

Introduction to the Problem Regarding the Church's Appropriation of the Eschatological Blessings to Israel

Replacement theology

Its meaning

Many Christian scholars in our day advocate a view of Israel and the church known as Replacement Theology, what Tuvya Zaretsky prefers to call supersessionism.[3] Walter Kaiser has defined it thus: "Replacement theology, then, declared that the Church, Abraham's spiritual seed, has replaced national Israel in that it had transcended and fulfilled the terms of the covenant given to Israel, which covenant Israel had lost because of obedience."[4]  Because the church fulfills the covenant, it is expected that she receives the blessings that attend that covenant.  Essentially the view is that the church has replaced national Israel as the recipient of the blessings of God and that the church has fulfilled terms of the covenants given to Israel but which they rejected.[5]

Its origin

Those who would seek to support the idea that the church established by Christ has taken over the promises once given to the nation of Israel necessarily must find support in the writings of the New Testament and the understanding of such ideas at the earliest stages of the growth of Christianity. That this thinking has adherents, at least in some sense, in the second century and became essentially the only understanding of this nexus between the church and Israel by the time of Constantine cannot provide the required bricks from which to build this theological building of replacement theology. One must also find solid evidence for such a view in the New Testament writings.

Unfortunately, the dilemma for replacement theology is that both in the New Testament and in the earliest periods of the ancient church such a perspective is largely absent. One begins to find the concept of the church taking Israel's place in the prophecies of the Old Testament only after certain major events: 1) after the Jewish people ceased to be the primary source from which the theology of the New Testament sprang; 2) after those who learned from the apostles had died and new problems faced the largely Gentile church; 3) after several non-Jewish Christian authors began to adopt the anti-Semitism of their pagan counterparts; 4) and after the hermeneutic found in  the New Testament was replaced by Greek allegorism.

The move to replace Israel as the recipient of the eschatological blessings of the Old Testament did not occur all at once. One scholar, Jeffrey Siker, gives four stages in the development of this view:

  1. First, Paul argues that the Gentiles, not only the Jews, are included (A.D. 30-60).
  2. Second, other writers of the New Testament such as Matthew, Hebrews and Luke-Acts present the Gentiles as included but begin a discussion of the exclusion of the Jews (A.D. 60-90).
  3. In stage three, John, Ignatius, and Barnabas assume Gentile inclusion, but argue against Jewish inclusion (A.D. 90-120).
  4. Last of all, several works, ending with Justin Martyr, do not believe Gentile inclusion to be an issue but do assume Jewish exclusion (A.D. 120-150).[6]

Siker has provided a interesting paradigm to see a possible progression of the substitution of Gentiles for Jews, but as Ray Pritz points out, the New Testament records are not as negative toward Jewish inclusion as Siker has postulated.[7] The New Testament writers certainly mention the hardness of Israel to their Messiah (Acts 2:23; 3:17; 7:51-53) but there is never total exclusion; there is a remnant within Israel found in the Gospels and the epistles who follow after the Messiah Jesus (Acts 3:24-26; 5:13, 14; Rom. 11:25-27).

Others, such as Walter Kaiser, have argued that replacement theology probably had its origins in "an early political-ecclesiastical alliance forged between Eusebius Pamphilius and the Emperor Constantine."[8] He is probably correct if we should mean the formal development of the church's position but the roots of this theology run deep in the preceding two centuries, namely, the second and third centuries A.D.

For Replacement Theology to be correct, one of two scenarios must be true regarding the various covenants that we observe in the Old Testament between Yahweh and Israel:  the covenants must be bilateral agreements so that Israel's failure has caused them to be no longer in force, or the covenants must be able to be spiritually interpreted so that the church assumes the covenants in some non-literal sense. Are either of these two positions truly reflective of the nature and intent of the covenants of the Old Testament? An examination of these biblical covenants will reveal the correct understanding.

The Historical Understanding of Israel's Eschatological Blessings in Holy Scripture

The Blessings to Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures

The Seminal Covenants with Adam and Noah

The God of the Bible is a covenant making God. We find from the very initiation of Scripture that God seeks to establish a relationship with His people, committing Himself to blessings and promises, as well as judgment for disobedience of the covenant.

Though Genesis 1:26-28 does not specifically use the Hebrew word for covenant, components of covenant are found in this passage, especially as one parallels these components with the covenant text of Genesis 9. In Genesis 1, God places man and woman in the garden with specific duties (v. 28) and blessings (vv. 29-30).

Genesis 9 is a covenant renewal, the covenant to be renewed apparently that originated with Adam and Eve in view of the parallels with Genesis 1 and 2. Again, no word for “cutting a covenant” is present but the word qžm, “to establish” is used of establishing a covenant elsewhere (cf Gen. 6:18; 9:9, 11, 17; 17:7, 19, 21; Ex. 6:4).

Two important points must be emphasized about these two covenants. Neither appears to be bilateral. They simply come from a sovereign God, maker and ruler of heaven and earth. Second, the covenants are with all of mankind, in stark contrast to the covenants with Abraham and his descendants.

The Central Covenant with Abraham

The future blessings to the people of Israel rest solidly on the covenant that Yahweh makes with Abraham in Genesis 12, 15, and 17. Whether these covenants are unilateral (unconditional) or bilateral (conditional) is pivotal to whether the physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac can truly have their blessings taken over by the church.

The future of Israel is tied to the Abrahamic covenant. The covenant with Abraham and his seed was not conditioned on their obedience but the appropriation of any given generation was dependant on loyalty to Yahweh. For example, failure to obey the Sinaitic Covenant, which was strongly tied to the Abrahamic Covenant (Ex. 19:5 and 6:4 with Gen. 15), could bring loss of the blessings for disobedient Israel but not a revocation of the unconditional promises to the people of Israel.[9]

The Derivative Promises in the Covenants with Israel

The land

Springing from the central covenant[10] Israel had with Yahweh were three consequent covenants: a land, a kingdom, and the blessings to all nations. First, the people were promised a land: the land of the Canaanites, and from Egypt to the Euphrates (Gen. 15:18; cf. also the Mosaic Covenant's land commitments in Deut. 11:24). Israel has never yet occupied all the promised land and will only do so when she finally turns to God in the future. Ellisen elucidates on the scope of the land of future Israel:

In their final return, Israel will be divided by tribes in parallel strips of land running east and west (Ezek. 48:1-8). The boundaries will be the Mediterranean on the west, the Dead Sea . . . on the east, Damascus on the north, and Kadesh or the River of Egypt on the south.  At the center will be the prince's portion (v. 21). This will include the city of Jerusalem, the temple area, and the suburbs for the priests.[11]

This everlasting covenant was in force dependant on obedience by Israel. The covenant of the land was an everlasting covenant but any generation which refused to comply with the covenant code of Moses would be cast out of the land (Deut. 29:25).[12]

The kingdom

Secondly, Yahweh promised that the throne of David would never be empty (Ps. 89:3, 4).  Though the kings of Israel faltered in their obedience to God and although during the intertestamental period there were no kings on the throne, the promise is a guarantee that the line would not die out; Messiah would sit on the throne forever (2 Sam. 7:14-16; Jer. 23:1-8). Jesus (Yeshua) became the greater Son of David to assurance of the continuance of David's royal line (Lk. 1:32, 33, 54, 55).[13]

The blessings to the Gentiles

The third prong of the Abrahamic Covenant is the blessings to other nations and ultimately to whole world. This was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus the Messiah as He extended His redemptive benefits beyond Israel.[14]  Paul speaks of the grafting of the Gentiles into the natural branch (Rom. 11:16-24) but this should not be seen as a diminishing of the promises to Israel but the enhancement of the Gentile position.

Those who believe that the church has somehow taken over the blessings of Israel must explain the revoking of these apparently irrevocable callings of God on His people. The future blessings to Israel are directly connected to the unconditional covenants with Israel, namely, the Abrahamic, the "Palestinian" or land, and the Davidic, which were developed earlier. The Mosaic covenant was not an unconditional covenant and would be superceded by the New Covenant.

The Future of Israel according to the New Testament

In the Teachings of Jesus

Jesus came offering the kingdom to the people of Israel. He is declared in His birth to be Savior of His people (Matt. 1:21) and king of the Jews in His death (Luke 23:38). He cried over the Jewish rejection of His offer to them (Matt. 23:37-39), and in His parables He spoke of the kingdom being taken from them and given to another (Matt. 21:43, 44). Prior to His ascension, however, when the disciples asked regarding the offer of the kingdom, Jesus' response was not that Israel had no future but that this happening was in the authority of the Father so that they were to concentrate on the task of the great commission given to them (Acts 1:6-8).

In the Teachings of the Apostles prior to A.D. 70

The inclusion of the Gentiles in the redemptive plan of God is not viewed as a replacement of God's promises to the Jewish people in the proclamation of the apostles.  Rather, for example, Peter anticipated the restoration of Israel (Acts 3:17-26) based on their acceptance of Jesus as their Messiah (a prophecy still to be fulfilled from Zech. 12:10).  Moreover, Paul envisioned the future salvation of Israel to come upon the completion of God's work among the Gentiles (Rom 11:25, 26).[15]

In the Teachings of the Apocalypse of John

The last book of Holy Scripture, the Apocalypse of John, provides the final glimpse of God's purposes for the Jewish people. This book is replete with Jewish allusions from the Old Testament.  The future sufferings of the Jewish people are foretold as well as Israel's participation, along with the church, in the final blessings of God's redemption during a millennial age.[16] The heavenly Jerusalem has the twelve tribes represented and the reign of God's Messiah[17] over the people of Israel.[18]

The teaching of John in the Apocalypse was generally understood consistent with Jewish thought during the first century, especially before A.D. 70, and was the basis of the chiliasm found in the earliest Christian writings of the second century.  Post-apostolic fathers who were acquainted with the apostle John, or his own disciples, shared a similar view of end-times events. This perspective, however, changed with the introduction of non-literal interpretation due to the increasing dependence on allegorical thought introduced by non-Jewish writers.

The Old and New Testaments portray a future blessing for the Jewish people which will have lasting results. There is no glossing over of [[is of needed?]] Israel's forsaking of God but are the promises to Abraham thereby set aside regarding his seed, the inheritance of the land of Israel, or the promises of an everlasting Davidic throne?  These promises appear to be taken literally by the prophets, in the teachings of the New Testament writers, as well as the early Fathers of the church. Only with the destruction of Israel by the Romans, the subsequent anti-Christian rhetoric and actions of many Jews, and the rise of Greek philosophical interpretation of the biblical texts, does the church begin to view itself as the inheritor of Israel's promises.

As we have seen, the God of the Bible made a commitment that is irrevocable. The covenant included provisions of a land and kingdom to His people Israel, as well as many blessings to all other nations through her. The fact that Gentiles are benefited by the coming of Jesus (Gal. 3:15-18) in no way eliminates the remainder of His covenant to the children of Israel after the flesh. Such a view is in no way demanded by the New Testament text and this would certainly be a violation of the plain reading of numerous Old Testament passages.  God will fulfill all of His covenant, not just the part that applies to the non-Jewish world.

The Historical Understanding of Israel's Eschatological Blessings in the History of the Post-Apostolic Church until the Time of Constantine

Jewish Christianity before and after A.D. 70

The church, as Paul so strongly argues in Romans 11, finds it roots in Israel. Moreover, it is the Jewish people that continued the revelation of God and to whom God made great promises and performed great works as seen at the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, the large response of Jews to Peter's sermon, the miracles of the apostles, the deliverance of Peter from prison (Rom. 3:1-4; 9:4, 5). Early Christians for approximately ten years after the ascension of Christ consisted of entirely those Jewish converts. Only after the preaching of Peter to the Jewish proselyte Cornelius in Joppa, were Gentiles made heirs to the redemption (Acts 10:44-48; 11:18). That Gentiles were able to participate in this gospel was not transparent since Peter had to make a formal defense before the apostles and elders in Jerusalem (Acts 11). Even this Gentile convert, Cornelius, was one who sought to adhere to the practices of the Jewish faith.[19] The first missionary journey of Paul in the middle forties first offered the gospel of Christ to Gentiles in the fullest sense and it was this non-Judaistic proclamation that brought the wrath of some from Jerusalem who sought to bring this new teaching of Paul to a halt. It was this Jewish element in the church from Jerusalem that precipitated the letter to the Galatians, and subsequently the Jerusalem Council.  The Jerusalem Council became necessary to bring peace between the different parties and to resolve the dispute as to whether Gentiles had to follow Jewish practices and laws to become disciples of Jesus. Only minimal requirements, ones whose violation would greatly offend Jewish believers, were imposed on the Gentile converts (Acts 15).

At this initial stage of the church it is evident that Peter, James, and John were the major figures within the Jewish church. The worship and fellowship was simple (Acts 2:44; 4:32-37) and the Christian community stayed in fellowship with Judaism. They visited the temple (Acts 3:1) and participated in Jewish practices. Jewish Christians were recognized by Jew and Roman alike as but another sect within Judaism (Acts 18:12-15).

Though the apostles clashed with the Jewish authorities, they continued their ministry and generally were well accepted by the people (Acts 2:47). Even when the Hellenistic Jew, Stephen, was killed by the Jewish leaders because of his brash and accusatory speech (Acts 6:8—7:60), the persecution seems to be launched primarily against Greek speaking Jews since the leaders in Jerusalem, at this time, apparently were not disturbed (Acts 8:1).  When some of the early leaders were apprehended by Jewish authorities, Gamaliel the Elder, grandson of Hillel,[20] was a moderating influence arguing that if their teaching was spurious, as many others had been, it would come to nothing, but if it was from God, they would find themselves fighting against God (Acts 5:33-39).

Judaism was much more multifaceted than many have supposed and Christ's message was not entirely out of accord with the teaching of many Pharisees in his proclamations of moral theology. His rejection of certain teachings and practices of the Pharisees was consistent with the internal squabbles among the Pharisees, and their concern about the corruption of the Temple. It was only His teaching on His Messiahship that confused the Jews, since the majority were looking for a political-military Messiah.

Only as the church spread beyond Judea into more Gentile controlled areas did the believers in Jesus receive a designation that became prominent in Gentile lands, that of Christians (Acts 11:19ff).  As we shall see below, followers of Yehsua had many names, the most prominent being Nazarenes[21] and Ebionites.

Though Peter was the natural choice for leader in the beginnings of the church, eventually the family of Jesus began to play a more important role[22] with James, the Lord's half-brother becoming the leader of the Jerusalem congregation. Judea was without a procurator for a brief time after the departure of Festus.  At this time (A.D. 62) James was called to the Sanhedrin on the orders of the high priest Annas II and stoned to death for having broken the law. This execution was greatly opposed by more moderate Jews and the Pharisees, who then brought charges against Annas II to King Agrippa II and the newly arrived procurator Albinus.  Annas was then deposed as high priest by Agrippa II.[23]

The Drifting of Jewish Christianity and Judaism after A.D. 70

The Rise of Judaism in Yavneh

The destruction of Jerusalem, its temple, and the halting of temple sacrifices caused major changes in Judaism. During this period Judaism moved toward a bloodless religion of ceremonies and ethics. The liturgy of Jewish worship[24] was finalized. All other competing systems—the Sadducees, Herodians, Zealots, the Essenes—largely ceased to exist. The Pharisaic center at Yavneh served as the alternative to the temple cult of Jerusalem. Also, the synagogue, in order to save Judaism from extinction, sought to eradicate any competing systems within it, thus pushing Jewish Christians outside its walls. It was made plain that Christianity was not an accepted sect of Judaism, as it was in its initiation.

The person who had the most impact on the new beginnings for Judaism was Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, who, according to one tradition escaped from the Zealot held city of Jerusalem in a coffin before its fall.[25] Whether this is true or not is not germane to this chapter. What is important is that his survival and move to Yavneh (Jamnia), with the encouragement of Rome, helped to solidify "Pharisaic Judaism's control over the life and doctrine of Jewish life in the Empire after the fall of Jerusalem."[26] With this solidification of religious expression, the Yavneh rabbis were not willing to share this status with Christians, and so caused the Roman government to understand that Christianity was not a part of Judaism. As Boer well says, “As Christianity spread, however, the Jews made it plain to the government that the followers of the Mosaic law and the followers of Christ were not one and the same.”[27] This collaboration of ben Zakkai and Rome allowed these rabbis "the power of Rome to enforce their brand of Judaism on world Jewry, a fact that should not go unnoticed in light of the waves of persecutions the early church would have to face."[28]

Different Sects of Jewish Christianity

Jewish Christianity was not restricted to Christians in Palestine. The Therapeutae of Egypt, described by Philo, supposedly were converts of Mark. They are acknowledged by Epiphanius, who lived for some time among Egyptian monks, and the historian Sozomen called them "converted Jews, who continue to live after the Jewish fashion."[29]

Another Jewish Christian group, who was clearly orthodox in theology but Jewish in many practices, was the Nazarenes. Supposedly the Church of Mesopotamia was founded by this community. The first mention we have of them is the mention by Paul's opponent in Acts 24:5. Pritz says that the "name of the sect came from the title NAZORAIOS/NAZARENOS, evidently applied to Jesus from the beginning of his public ministry."[30] Bagatti says regarding the origin of the name: "In origin the name came from the contempt in which the Jews held the new faithful, naming them from a village without a history and without renown."[31] It may be, according to Pritz, that two different names were used for Christians in the earliest periods. "The Greek name, Christian, was first applied in Antioch, probably the earliest mission to non-Jews, and it is well known that 'Christian' was originally used by non-Christians to designate believers among the Gentiles, while 'Nazarenes' was already used in Palestine to describe Jewish adherents to the new messianic sect."[32]

Anti-Christian Sentiment in Post-A.D. 70 Pharisaism

One of the major reasons usually given for strong anti-Christian attitudes among the later Jewish population is that Jewish Christians fled Jerusalem in A.D. 66, shortly before the Romans laid siege to the city of Jerusalem. They are thought to have crossed the Jordan and went to the rocky mountains called Petra (Pella).[33] This abandonment of the Jewish plight in Jerusalem caused many to believe that the Jewish Christians were disloyal to Israel.[34]

Another reason for the hostility is much more pragmatic and personal, namely, the desire to maintain a hegemony over the religious life of the people. There was a danger, according to C.K. Barrett, that “Judaism would simply assimilate itself to other religions.”[35] Whereas Judaism had been a cacophony of ideologies, rabbis at Yavneh sought to ensure that Judaism should sing one religious song. This was especially true with Jewish Christianity for it was not even viewed as being a Jewish sect.

The former Benediction Concerning Heretics was revised to include Christians. Paul Johnson comments:

The collapse of the Jewish-Christian church after 70 AD and the triumph of Hellenistic Christianity led the Jews, in turn, to castigate the Christians. Jewish daily prayers against heretics and opponents date from the Hellenistic reform programme of the second century BC . . . . The prayer against heretics, originally known as 'the Benediction to Him who humbles the arrogant', became part of the daily service, or Amidah, as the Twelfth Benediction. At one time it was specifically directed against the Sadducees. Under the rule of Raban Gamaliel II (c. 80-115 AD), the Twelfth Benediction or Birkat ha-Minim ('Benediction concerning heretics') was recast to apply to Christians and this seems to have been the point at which the remaining Jewish followers of Christ were turned out of the synagogue. By the 132 rising Christians and Jews were seen as open opponents or even enemies. Indeed Christian communities in Palestine petitioned the Roman authorities to be given separate religious status to Jews, and the Christian writer Justin Martyr (c. 100-C. 165), who lived in Neapolis (Nablus), reported that the followers of Simon bar Kokhba massacred Christian as well as Greek communities.  It is from this period that anti-Christian polemic begins to appear in Jewish Bible commentaries.[36]

The collapse mentioned by Johnson really only occurred after the Bar-Kokhba defeat in A.D. 135 and the subsequent limitation on Jews entering the city of Jerusalem (Jewish Christians were still found throughout Israel though). At this time Gentile Christians were left in Jerusalem to develop a church absent for the first time from the Jews who gave life and growth to that church and provided its unbroken leadership.  Johnson is correct that there was opposition against Christians at synagogue meetings but as seen below these were largely addressed against the still vibrant Jewish Christian element within Israel.

There has been debate as to whether this curse on the "minim" refers to Jewish Christians, to Gentile Christians, both or neither.[37] Certainly the term "heretics" may have been used earlier for other groups or sects but at this time probably came to include, though maybe not exclusively, Christians in general. Jocz believes it to be a reference to both Christian and Jew at different times:  "The Minim were thus Christians, first Jewish Christians, then also Gentile Christians; later, when Christianity removed itself from the Jewish horizon, the appellation was given to any Jews of dissenting views."[38]

We have seen that in the aftermath of A.D. 70, alternative parties and rival ideologies to the Pharisees, namely, the Sadduccees, Herodians, Zealots, and Essenes, largely fell into oblivion. Only the vibrant Jewish-Christian movement posed a threat to the type of Judaism desired by those at Yavneh. In order to solidify their hold through the teaching and discipline of the synagogue, an attempt was made to remove Jewish-Christians from the religious life of the Jewish community. This only caused a larger rift between Jewish Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism, one which grow larger with the influx of Gentiles into the formerly pervasive Jewish Christian movement, eventuating in the development of replacement theology in the second century A.D.

Reasons for the Development of Replacement Theology in Early Christianity

Confusion between Orthodox Jewish Christianity and Heretical Jewish Groups

Candidly, as the church's membership became more and more Gentile, and the influence of the Jewish community became less pronounced, the church's knowledge of Jewish Christianity became minuscule. Only a few of the theologians of the church seem to have serious contact with the Jewish Christian community. Origen and Eusebius preferred to call these Christians, the Nazarenes, by the term "believing Jews" and to use particular names for those they considered heretical such as the Ebionites and Elkesaites. Bagatti says, "Since the Nazarenes did not differ much in faith from the gentile Christians, they were considered without more ado as faithful, albeit separated through national customs; all the other Judaeo-Christians were considered heretics."[39]

Epiphanius, who often appears hostile to Jewish Christianity, confuses Nazarenes and Ebionites. He seeks to distinguish Nazarenes who he believed lived in Pella, having left Jerusalem before the Roman siege, with other Jewish Christian groups. The Nazarenes according to Epiphanius, "have nothing to do with Christ; they observe the Sabbath but they have no animal sacrifices, nor do they accept the Patriarchs of the Old Testament."[40] Origen, also, seems to make this mistake:

Let it be admitted, moreover, that there are some who accept Jesus, and who boast on that account of being Christians, and yet would regulate their lives, like the Jewish multitude, in accordance with the Jewish Law,—and these are the twofold sect of the Ebionites, who either acknowledge with us that Jesus was born of a virgin, or deny this, and maintain that he was begotten like other human beings . . . .[41]

Pritz rightly concludes, "If the more orthodox Jewish Christians (who can only be faulted for keeping the Law) are Nazarenes, then we have an early misuse of the name Ebionite to include all Jewish Christian Law-keepers."[42]

Rise of Anti-Semitism in the Early Church

Perceived Anti-Semitism in the New Testament [[get the book by Levine on Galilee; Jews and Christians, ed. James Charlesworth, Cross Road, N.Y.; and Verus Israel, Marcel Simon, Vallentine Mitchell and Co. Ltd., c/o ISBS, 5804 N.E. Hassalo St., Portland, OR 97213; Sandmel, Anti-Semitism in NT]]

One reading the New Testament does not need to read far to see statements of condemnation of Jewish leadership, and eventually the general populace for rejecting the offer of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel (Matt. 23:37-39; 27:20, 25). Especially, the gospel writers do not portray the Pharisees in favorable light (Matt. 23:27; Lk. 11:44), though largely they were not finally much involved in the condemnation of Jesus (Matt. 27:22-27).[43] In reality, the Talmud itself identified good and bad Pharisees, the bad being little different from what Jesus described.

The gospel of the apostle John, more than any other gospel, is viewed as expressing hostility toward the Jews. Kaufmann Kohler, a well-known Reform Jewish scholar, called John’s Gospel “a Gospel of Christian love and Jew hatred.”[44] That Kohler’s assessment is incorrect is established in at least three ways.  First, there are many passages in the Gospel of John that are equally philo-semitic, to coin a term (John 4:22; 11:45-48). John has no animosity against Jewish people in general, it is clear.  Second, the writer John, Jesus and the disciples, after all, were Jews. As Feldman says,

how could the New Testament condemn Jews as a group, when it clearly acknowledges Jesus as a Jew and also his predecessor John the Baptist, his 12 apostles and most if not all of his immediate followers? Even when Jesus prophesies the destruction, he refers to it as “my Father’s house’ (John 2:16). For Christianity, the daughter of Judaism, to be anti-Semitic would be a clear case of matricide.[45]

Last of all, the Jewish nature of the book and that John himself was a Jew has caused scholars difficulty in determining what he meant by the term “the Jews” which occur sixteen times in his gospel.[46] The term must refer to Jewish people in a non-anti-Semitic manner, as Rabbi Louis Feldman has so poignantly demonstrated. The evidence seems to lean toward the term being used against “a group of Jewish leaders who exercise great authority among their compatriots and are especially hostile to Jesus and his disciples.”[47]

Luke, in Acts particularly, has been viewed as anti-Jewish since he placed little judgment on Rome but instead saw the Jewish leadership as being the major persecutor of the Way.  Surely, this may have been in part, to present a good front to Roman authorities, but it nevertheless truly reflects the type of opposition that the sect of the Nazarenes as well as Christians in missionary locales of Paul encountered from Jewish leadership. He as well, however, softened the impact of his statements against the Jews (Luke 23:27-31, 48; 23:34; Acts 3:17), and distinguished between the Jewish people (Luke 19:47, 48) and the Jewish leadership. He is by no means uniformly against the Jewish people as a whole in the speeches he includes in the Acts (Acts 7:52, 60; 28:24,25; cf. Acts 2:36; 4:10; 10:39 with 13:43 and 18:6 with 21:20).[48]

Even Paul, the apostle, viewed by many as the beginner of a new religion and a radical rabbi who left the teachings of Jesus[49] is, according to Feldman remarkable for his lack of anti-Judaism.[50] In his first letter to the Corinthians there are three dominant personalities, all of them Jews. Moreover, Paul actually was proud of his Jewishness (cf Phil. 3:5, 6) and put himself under Jewish discipline (2 Cor. 11:24). In fact, the letters of Paul lead us to the reason for much of the confusion regarding tension among Jewish and non-Jewish Christians and Judaism, the presence of an intra-mural discussion in the New Testament.

Misunderstanding of "in-house" discussion

If the writings of the New Testament are not really addressed against the entire Jewish people and only against certain rulers of the Jews who were hostile to Christ, the apostles and early Christianity, then how did the fathers of the church so wrongly understand the situation in the New Testament? It is this writer’s view that they eventually forgot the context of these writings and saw the teaching of the texts of the New Testament to be opposition to Jews in general, rather than, for what it was, an in-house debate. Consequently, the greatest difficulty in properly understanding the supposed negative attitude of the New Testament writings to the Jewish community is that we are listening to a family squabble.

As we have already seen in the biblical passages, the gospel writers often cast the Jewish community in disparaging ways, either seeing them as an obstacle to genuine ethics (the Pharisees, Matt. 5:20; 23:26; Luke 7:39), perverters of true religion (the chief priests, Matt. 27:21, 41-43; Mark 15:10-13), connivers with those opposing Jesus (scribes and lawyers, Luke 10:25; 11:46; 20:19) and rejecters of the Word of God (Sadducees, Mark 12:24). The synoptic gospels give adequate testimony to these tendencies but probably none is so harsh as John's gospel where he repeatedly uses negatively the term "the Jews" and the Acts where the Jews are depicted as constantly in opposition to the Gospel. It may be that the reference to the "synagogue of Satan" and those "who say they are Jews but are not" in Revelation 2:9 is a participation in this controversy.[51]

The in-house discussion among the Jews, however, caused some at the end of the nineteenth century to disassociate Jesus from His Jewishness. H. St. Chamberlain, for example, contended that Jesus was not a Jew, that He had been born in Galilee where there was not a pure race of Jews, that in fact He was Aryan, and that He then was eventually killed by the Jews.  In the past, even when His Jewishness was recognized, His humanity has often been so downplayed that He has been severed by His Jewishness.[52]

Even the ancient church shared this misconception.  Many of the church fathers believed that the New Testament authors, and the early church, were anti-Jewish. Such a view should be seen as preposterous in view of the fact that all of the authors (except Luke) were Jews and that our Lord was a Jew.  Rather than the theology of these biblical writers being anti-Jewish, they were expressions of an in-house dispute which the writers and their hearers knew well. Such actions were very consistent with other such disputes in Judaism at the time and even in other cultures of the time.

One discovers very strong language against fellow Jews in much of the literature that is found among the Jews of the time,[53] at Qumran,[54] the Hebrew Bible,[55] and in the Talmud.[56] Moreover, among Jews there were many factions at war with each other.  The authors of the Psalms of Solomon called other Jews "sinners." Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes were against each other. In A.D. 63 a supposed Jewish miracle worker from Galilee named Honi was stoned outside Jerusalem by Jews who could not get him to curse some Jews they were against. That Jesus, Stephen, and James were killed by a certain group of Jews should not be viewed as unusual. Though Jesus speaks against different groups of the Jews, namely, the Pharisees and Sadducees, He was not against all Pharisees. Many of these Pharisees admired or followed Him (Luke 11:37; 13:31). When the Gospel of John says that the death of Jesus was brought about by Jews, this does not mean all Jews and does not mean He was not a Jew.[57]

This phenomenon, as mentioned above, was not restricted to Judaism. In the Hellenistic world there are many examples of in-house fighting. For example, Dio of Prusa called the sophists "ignorant ones," "liars," and "flatterers" and Colotes, an Epicurean called some philosophers "prostitutes."[58]

Moskowitz understands the dispute not that the Jewish Christians sought to replace the nationality of the Jewish people with a faith community but the replacement of the moral leadership of the nation with a faith community. "The remnant of Israel understood that even Gentiles were to be allowed into this new faith community, but that God was still going to use national Israel to accomplish His ultimate plan of redemption (Romans 11:11-12, 28-36)."[59] He then ruminates that it is

both ironic and sad to face that the Jewish Christians' understanding of their replacing the present leadership of Israel may have been one of the causes of the Gentile church adopting this doctrine which led her so far from favoring her twin sister Israel. This misunderstanding of the church's relationship to unbelieving Israel has led some of the great men of the church to postulate theories that have led to so much persecution of Israel.[60]

There are a number of instances in the second through fourth century for the belief that the church supersedes Israel, receiving the blessings intended for the nation upon God's rejection and judgment of her. We will examine these presently. However, are there examples of this development in the earlier periods of the church's history? One may discover this Replacement Theology developing in two early books, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Didache. The former book represents early second century thought and the Didache represents how many Christians thought around the turn of the first century or early second century A.D.[61]

The Didache purports to represent the teachings of the twelve apostles (thus didache, meaning teaching). The book was apparently written for Gentiles but it has strong Jewish flavor.  The book has several clear Jewish elements:[62]

  1. The book starts with "the way of life" and then gives the Golden Rule in negative form, similar to how Hillel taught the rule.
  2. The book emphasizes the Ten Commandments and then follows these commands with moral instruction:

In Jewish literature, we not only have Halachah, but there is also a good deal of general moral instruction, exhortation to self-discipline, modesty, gentleness, patience, respect for old age, forgiveness, and family harmony.  The Didache is very similar to three Rabbinic books of the same or later period: Derech Eretz Rabbah—what's good and bad, the way of life and death, lists of proper conduct; De Zuta—a long treatise on modesty with the last chapter on eschatology; Perek haShalom—we have the fear of sin, exhortation to modesty, perseverance, and the final eschatological chapter.[63]

  1. The section on moral instruction ends with "If you can bear the whole yoke of the Lord, you'll be perfect" (6:2). This is similar to the saying of the rabbis about the "yoke of Torah."
  2. The statements in the Didache about pouring of water over the head in baptism is very similar to Pharisaic regulations for a mikveh.
  3. In the section on fasting one may observe an interesting anti-rabbinic attitude: "You shall not fast on Monday and Thursday as the hypocrites do, but on Wednesday and Friday." (8:1). Monday and Thursday were fast days in the teaching of the rabbis (Mishnah Taanith 2:9).  This difference indicates a definite attempt to distinguish the believers from rabbinic Judaism based on growing hostility between them.

Other features that reveal a Jewish influence is mentioned by Bagatti as being in the Didache written when the descendants of David were at the head of the community, when it alludes to David on two occasions: 'through the holy life of David thy servant' (IX, 2) and in saying: 'to the Son of David', or to the 'house of David' (X, 6).[64]

No early Christian document speaks so loudly and clearly of a supercessionist perspective than does the Epistle of Barnabas. Though portions of Clement and Ignatius have isolated comments, Barnabas easily exceeds them in teaching replacement. The author of Barnabas wrote his epistle probably somewhere between A.D. 117-138, a time of Jewish persecution of the church.  This most likely explains  the tone of this Christian letter.  According to Kleist beginning with Hadrian’s reign in A.D. 117 Rome had a more lenient policy toward the Jewish people. This in turn caused many zealous Jews to aspire for independence leading to the Bar Kochba revolt. During the interval the aspirations led to heightened interest of Jewish Christians in Jewish religion and rituals. The author seeks to discourage the Jewish believers from defection.[65] This letter has many similarities in tone and intent with the canonical book of Hebrews (cf. Hebrews 10:1 with Barnabas 7:6), and there are also similarities with the Didache.

In one place Barnabas says “. . . do not imitate certain people by heaping sin after sin upon yourselves and saying: “their covenant is ours also.’ Ours indeed: but in the end they lost it.”[66] He speaks elsewhere of the Israel’s loss of the covenant because of their sins:  “Yes indeed! But let us see whether the covenant which He had sworn to the fathers to give their people was actually given. He has given it; but they, owing to their sins, proved unworthy of the favor.”[67] Such teaching does not indicate anti-Semitism on the author’s part but does serve as additional foundation to a later setting aside of Israel in favor of the church.

Anti-Semitism in the Second and Third Centuries

The predominantly Gentile church became increasingly anti-Semitic after the middle of the second century. One often observes harsh statements about the Jews. For example the non-Jew Commodianus harshly states:

There is not an unbelieving people such as yours. O evil men! in so many places, and so often rebuked by the law of those who cry aloud.  And the lofty One despises your Sabbaths, and altogether rejects your universal feasts according to the law, that ye should not make to Him the commanded sacrifices; who [[check to see if capital w]] told you to throw a stone for your offense. . . . ye with indurated heart insult Him [God].[68]

Impact of Pagan Anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is not difficult to find in the world surrounding Israel. To the Greeks who themselves had an extraordinarily high view of their culture and religions, the Jews appeared quaint if not anti-social. While the entire Mediterranean world was being Hellenized, the Jewish people to varying degrees were resistant to this assimilation. This is especially true in Israel, largely due to the rise of the bludgeoning policies of the Seleucids and Maccabees. It looked as if the Jewish people would be assimilated slowly but the events leading to the Maccabean era largely reversed this trend and the religious and nationalistic spirit of Israel led to temporary freedom and ongoing struggles with rulers stronger than itself. Johnson comments that "As Greek ideas on the oneness of humanity spread, the Jewish tendency to treat non-Jews as ritually unclean and forbid marriage to them was resented as being anti-humanitarian. . . ."[69]  Moreover, the civilized world of the Greeks became an irresistible force that developed a multi-racial and multi-national society. Any people who opposed these changes were viewed as enemies of man.[70] Whereas the church saw its mission to infiltrate all nations with the truth of Jesus Christ, Judaism remained exclusive and elusive. The evaluation of the earlier pagan writer Hecataeus of Abdera is informative where in writing a history of Egypt he calls Moses the creator of a form of religion which was strange, narrow, exclusive, and antisocial.[71]

The church becomes primarily Gentile.[72] The revolt of Bar-Kokhba has indirect negative results to Jewish Christianity in Judah because Hadrian forbade Jews to come within sight of Jerusalem.[73] Until this decree, fifteen Jews had occupied the Jerusalem bishopric.[74] Now because of Hadian’s decree Jerusalem had its first Gentile bishop, Marcus, to head the church.[75]

Apparently, according to Bagatti, Jewish Christians returned to Jerusalem whereas those who were non-Christian Jews were forbidden. Bagatti explains, "This is explained by the fact that with the war a distinction was made between the Jews and the Judaeo-Christians, and that the decree of expulsion, promulgated by Hadrian, concerned only the Jews."[76] These Jewish Christians continued in prominence for several centuries.  They are referred to in controversy over the date of the celebration of Easter. Eusebius speaks of Christians of Zion who preserved the throne of James.[77] In other places, Christianity had become for all intents and purposes a Gentile religion.

With the end of the Second Jewish War against Rome, Jewish influence and importance became marginalized. It had become so irrelevant to the majority of the church that by the fourth century, at the council at Nicea, eighteen members had come from Palestine.  Every one was Gentile and not a single Jewish bishop attended.  The council knew nothing of the Jewish-Christian community and took free hand in subjects like the dating of Easter without any opposition.  Bagatti notes:

Once the way was open, future councils followed the same track, ever widening the division among Christians. The point of view of the Judaeo-Christians, attached to their own tradition and devoid of Greek philosophical formation, was to remain firm on the Testimonia and therefore would not admit any extraneous word, homoousios included. The point of view of the Greek Fathers accustomed to the deductions of philosophical reasoning, and unburdened by traditionalistic Jewish baggage, was this, that the Holy Spirit had inspired this word, even though it were not biblical, because it corresponded to the Christian truth of the nature of God; he was therefore a heretic who did not accept it.[78]

Another possibility for the lack of Jewish names on the roster of bishops at Nicea is that though they were known they were omitted due to anti-Semitic bias. We cannot know for sure the real reason.

Mutual exclusivity of Christianity and Jewish Practices

There were numerous practices of the Jews which various councils and fathers forbade, which would necessarily burden Jewish Christians who confessed the orthodox perspectives of Christ but followed their Jewish heritage.

The general sentiment expressed by many fathers and bishops of the church may be illustrated in the words of Ignatius, at the beginning of the second century: “If any one celebrates the passover along with the Jews, or receives the emblems of their feast, he is a partaker with those that killed the Lord and His apostles.”[79]

This condemnation was not universal. Origen toward the end of the second century seeks to provide relief to Jewish followers of Jesus. bolstering his perspective with examples from Peter and Paul in the New Testament.[80]

Stereotype of Jews as Christ killers. Several fathers speak harshly of the Jews as killers of Christ without differentiating between the rulership who were involved in the conspiracy against Jesus and Jews as a group. They simply set aside that Jesus, the disciples, and most of the early Christians were Jewish. This anti-Semitism is not equivalent to replacement theology but it certainly makes the abducting of Israel’s blessing much easier to perform.

An early father, Ignatius, in his letter to the Magnesians, speaks of Jesus’ enduring of the cross “at the hands of the Christ-killing Jews.”[81]

The judgment against Israel was seen as God's judgment due to its grave sin against Jesus, as stated by Origen (c. 185-254) "And these calamities they [the Jews] have suffered, because they were a most wicked nation, which, although guilty of many other sins, yet has been punished so severely for none, as for those that were committed against our Jesus."[82]

For example, Melito (died c. 190) bishop of Sardis, said in his Homily on the Passion,

He who hung the earth is hanging;
he who fixed the heavens has been fixed;
he who fastened the universe has been
     fastened to a tree;

the Sovereign has been insulted;
the God has been murdered;
the King of Israel has been put to death by
     an Israelite right hand.[83]

The anti-Semitism of the early church based on the misunderstanding of an in-house debate, suspicion of Jewish theology and practices, the accusations of Jews as Christ-killers, and the reinforcement of anti-Semitism in the pagan community was reinforced by how the apologists and other Christians viewed the treatment of Jewish Christians by the synagogal community, the slaughter of Christians by Bar-Kokhba, and Jewish complicity in the martyrdom of Christians.

Reaction to anti-Christian sentiments

Cleansing the synagogues. The fathers of the church viewed the Benediction against the minim as Jewish hostility to the faith of Christianity. As mentioned, earlier, there is debate as to whether the benediction was specifically addressed against Christians since even before Christianity a similar benediction had already been in use in the Jewish synagogues.[84] That the Jews were apt to exclude other groups besides Jewish Christians is not in doubt, however, but whether within those excluded were the Jewish Christians becomes the concern for this study.[85] In regards to these Jewish minim they were to be more avoided than pagans and were to be hated. Note the benediction, “For the apostates let there be no hope, and may the reign of pride be quickly uprooted in our day; and may the Nazarenes and the Minim perish in an instant, and may they be cancelled from the book of the living, and may their name never appear amid the just.”[86]

Not only did Pharisaic Jews seek to rid themselves of Jewish Christians by expulsion from the synagogue. They also sought to differentiate themselves from believers in Christ by introducing a double manner of wearing the phylacteries. This backfired on them, though, because the Jewish Christians—who were minim—adopted the custom with a different meaning seeing the sign of the cross, changing this Jewish practice to a Christological significance.[87]

The Jewish believers in Jesus caused the unbelieving Jews to make other changes because of investing practices with Christological meaning. Bagatti illustrates this:

One was not to use in salutation the word “Adonai,” because the Minim referred it to Christ. A second change was that of terminating prayer with the name of God. In the Mishna (Berak, 9, 5). . . we read: “At the close of every Benediction in the Temple they used to say, ‘For everlasting’; but after the heretics had taught  corruptly and said that there is but one world (eternity) it was ordained that one should salute his fellow [with the use of] the Name [of  God]’.[88]

Even the change to the Greek election of Aquila’s translation of the Hebrew Scriptures in preference to the Septuagint was largely due to the appropriation of the latter by Christians. The opposition to the Jewish Christians by the post-A.D. 70 Pharisaic Jews is understandable. To these Jews Jesus was an imposter[89] while to the Jewish Christians (specifically the Nazarenes) He was the promised Messiah, even Deity. On the other hand, Gentile Christians would see this rejection and cursing of Jewish brothers, and even themselves, as hatred of Christianity and Jesus Christ.[90]

Persecution of Jewish Christians by Bar-Kokhba.  Justin, for whom Bar-Kokhba was recent history, mentions in his First Apology that during the revolt this extremist severely punished Christians if they did not blaspheme Yeshua:

They are also in the possession of all Jews throughout the world; but they, though they read, do not understand what is said, but count us foes and enemies; and, like yourselves, they kill and punish us whenever they have the power, as you can well believe. For in the Jewish war which lately raged, Barchochebas, the leader of the revolt of the Jews, gave orders that Christians alone should be led to cruel punishments, unless they would deny Jesus Christ and utter blasphemy.[91]

Jewish collaboration in the persecution of Christians. Segments of the Jewish populace were against Christ and His followers from the beginning of the Christian era, whereas others were accepting, or at least moderate in their response. There is some evidence of earlier hostility between Jews and followers of Christ under Claudius. Suetonius says that there was a disturbance among the Jews led by one Chrestus, probably a misunderstanding on his part regarding the followers of Christ.[92]  This hostility was probably reaffirmed when the sect of Christians were blamed by Nero for torching Rome for Jews were instigators against Christians.[93]

After A.D. 70, and especially after A.D. 135, the Jewish religion increasingly became the enemy of the Gospel of Christ and the followers of Christ. The Roman empire began to persecute Christians in these days and it appears that some non-Christian Jews were willing participants with Rome.

A famous example of this complicity with Rome is the martyrdom of Polycarp: "These things then happened with so great speed, quicker than it takes to tell, and the crowd came together immediately, and prepared wood and faggots from the work-shops and baths and the Jews were extremely zealous, as is their custom, in assisting at this."[94]

Several other statements made in the Martyrdom implicate certain Jews in rousing the animosity of the crowds,[95] protestation to the authorities to deny the Christians permission to bury Polycarp's body,[96]  and causing the body of Polycarp to be burned.[97]

Another letter written about the same time is the anonymous letter to Diognetus. The author speaks of the difficulty of second century Christians and attaches to that persecution activities from the Jews:  "They are warred upon by the Jews as foreigners and are persecuted by the Greeks, and those who hate them cannot state the cause of their enmity."[98]

Hermeneutical Factors Affecting this Change

How the church interpreted the Hebrew Scriptures and how it saw itself in the prophetic passages of the Old Testament had a great impact on the appropriation of the blessings of the Jewish people. The struggle between the enormous impact of Greek philosophical thought and the church’s interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures caused the church to see itself as the new Israel, replacing the one they visibly saw destroyed in the biblical land in A.D. 70 and 135.

The church's use of the Jewish Scriptures

The church not only appropriated the special status of the Jewish people; it took over their Bible, the Septuagint (LXX). Gentile Christians, who generally could not read Hebrew, appropriated the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, for themselves.  This translation had been done for the Hellenistic Jewish Diaspora between the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. Justin speaks of the church’s use of the Septuagint.[99] Not only the particular translation was at issue but whether the church had a legitimate right to the Bible used by the Jews at all:

But if any of those who are wont to be forward in contradiction should say that these books do not belong to us, but to the Jews, and should assert that we in vain profess to have learnt our religion from them, let him know, as he may from those very things which are written in these books, that not to them, but to us, does the doctrine of them refer. That the books relating to our religion are to this day preserved among the Jews, has been a work of Divine Providence on our behalf; for lest, by producing them out of the Church, we should give occasion to those who wish to slander us  to charge us with fraud, we demand that they be produced from the synagogue of the Jews, that from the very books still preserved among them it might clearly and evidently appear, that the laws which were written by holy men, for instruction pertains to us.[100]

It was not only the adoption of the Septuagint by the church but the way the church interpreted various statements from the Septuagint and referred them to Jesus as Messiah that caused consternation from many Jews and their eventual rejection of the Septuagint. Barrett says that the disapproval of the Septuagint may seen in the type of debate that occurred between Justin and Trypho. When the LXX translates hml[ as parqevno" in Isaiah 7:14, for example, this proves to be problematic for the Jewish interpreter. “Justin (Trypho 39) maintains that the Jews hate the Christians on account of their interpretation of scripture: oujde;n qaumasto;n eij kai; hJma'" misei'te tou;" tau'ta noou;nta" kai; ejlevgconta" uJmw'n th;n ajei; sklhrokardivan gnwvmhn.”[101]

Rise of Greek philosophical interpretation

Though the church was greatly benefited by a common and readable translation of the Hebrew text, and though it had good basis to argue from the Septuagint concerning the identity of Jesus as the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, it made a fateful move in adopting the Greek philosophical interpretation being popularized in the Alexandria’s neo-classical resurgence. By the end of the first century the allegorical method had gained considerable sway in the church. The more literal interpretation of the New Testament authors and post-apostolic fathers gave way to the influence of Greek philosophical interpretation found in Philo and later in Hermes and Justin Martyr. By the time of the brilliant Alexandrian theologian Origen, allegory was readily used to move beyond the literal sense of the text.  In a criticism of Jewish interpretation that was literal, he says:

Many, not understanding the Scriptures in a spiritual sense, but incorrectly, have fallen into heresies. . . . it seems necessary to explain this point . . . how certain persons, not reading them correctly, have given themselves over to erroneous opinions, inasmuch as the procedure to be followed, in order to attain an understanding of the holy writings, is unknown to many. The Jews, in fine, owing to the hardness of their heart, and from a desire to appear wise in their own eyes, have not believed in our Lord and Savior, judging that those statements which were uttered respecting Him ought to be understood literally. . . .[102]

Another example is fourth century historian Eusebius,

An example of the allegorical method may be seen in how Eusebius explained away the millennial texts of the Scripture. In speaking of Isaiah 11:6-7 on the peace among animals during the future utopia “He used the peace among animals to prove not the millenarianist [sic] thesis but that of the coming of Christ in the present church. Eusebius speaks of it twice . . . and St. Cyril . . . repeats: “After the coming of this divine spirit into the ark of the church, the wolves, in the field of the spirits, feed beside the lambs, and the calf and the bull with the lion, as history shows us today, when the kings and princes of the earth allow themselves to be led and instructed by the bishops and by the priests of the church.”[103]

From the early third century, then, with few exceptions, until the reformation the allegorical method held sway. The reformers removed this grotesque dealing with the text in most of the scriptures except for matters of eschatology and the identification of the promises to Israel with the church.

The theologians of the church seeing the church as the genuine continuation of the Old Testament faith

Church Fathers saw Christians as the proper inheritors of the Old Testament faith and saw proof for this in the teachings of Christ when he said "Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it" (Mt 21:43). For example, Origen in his debate against Celsus says, “. . . we have to say to him, that our Lord, seeing the conduct of the Jews not to be at all in keeping with the teaching of the prophets, inculcated by a parable that the kingdom of God would be taken from them, and given to the converts from heathenism.”[104] So much did the church view itself as the true "Israel" that Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) said, "They [the Jewish Scriptures] are not yours but ours."[105] Justin indicates that the former gifts to the Jews were transferred to the church.[106]

Not only was the church the proper deposit for the Jewish Scriptures and the gifts of God but also for the covenants in the view of the Epistle of Barnabas (end of 1st and beginning of 2nd century, "Take heed to yourselves now, and be not made like unto some, heaping up your sins and saying that the covenant is both theirs [the Jews'] and ours [the Christians']. It is ours."[107]  The church also inherited the blessings of Israel according to Barnabas. [108] Even the attempt on the part of Jewish Christians to continue Jewish practices was totally unacceptable, according to Ignatius (c. 36-108), "It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ and to practise Judaism. For Christianity did not base its faith on Judaism, but Judaism on Christianity."[109]

This view of the church being the true continuation of the Old Testament promises becomes a major theme in the apologetics and polemics of the second and third century.  Certainly Ignatius overstates the case to say that Judaism is built on Christianity.  That both Christianity and Judaism share a common root, however, is not only true to Paul in Romans 11 but conforms to the reality of the dynamics of the first century. Jhan Moskowitz speaks of these two faiths as "twin sisters":

It has been generally understood that Christianity is the daughter of Judaism. This is a poor understanding of the realities of that time. Both Christianity and normative, pharisaic Judaism are twin sisters. . . .  Both look back to the Old Testament and claim themselves to be rightful heirs of her promises and authority.

It is in the conflicting claims of that birthright that we can see the emerging hostility of both camps. In the beginning, at a crucial time when her theology and ecclesiology was [[were? ck quote]] forming, the church did not have the power of the state to enforce her claims, and the synagogue could not afford to allow any heir to the faith other than themselves for fear of losing the inheritance altogether.  Forged in the theology of the Martyr the church saw itself as the true daughter of the faith. Along with the growing number of Gentiles that now were entering the church, she no longer saw herself connected to an ancient national identity, but saw the unbelieving Israel as unworthy of the promise of God in her rejection of the Messiah.[110]

Christianity and Judaism initially, then, shared the same Scriptures, the same prophetic hope, and the same faith. The destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple caused some Jews to develop along different lines than did that of the Jewish Christian community, the latter assuming the entrance of the blessings of Abraham through Jesus the Savior beyond the nation and the Jewish community. Christianity opened its arms to the world (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8) while Judaism moved inwardly.

Perspectives on Jewish theology

Jewish millennialism

Several of the fathers who were generations removed from the apostles developed a firm hostility to teachings of the Jews on matters relating to the millennium and the restoration of Israel. This teaching gave way to a spiritualizing of the literal promises to Israel and the rejection of a future reign of the Jews, including the presence of the temple. Many of these fathers believed that the judgment on the Jews for rejecting—even killing—the Lord Jesus was permanent. This was compounded by the anti-Christian feelings of early second century Pharisaic Judaism. The idea that this obviously rejected people would once again enjoy God’s blessings and the rebuilding of their temple seemed preposterous. Yet the promises of restoration in the Old Testament and the teachings of the Apocalypse had to be explained.

John’s teaching had great influence on the Jewish community of Asia Minor as well as the post-apostolic fathers. Both of these groups tended toward literal interpretation of the future restoration of Israel and the millennium. Bagatti says,

Well known is the movement of Asia Minor with Ephesus as centre, where St. John had lived, and where he left a very personal imprint. His tomb . . . was a lighthouse, down the centuries, where devout people had manifested, with many graffiti, their attachment to the influence they had undergone. The movement depends in great part on the Judaeo-Christian ideas regarding millenarianism, the cult of angels, the celebration of Easter on the 14th of Nisan, the use of Johannine phraseology, the continuation of architectonic motifs originating in Palestine etc. Yet if the imprint of these churches was near tto [sic] the Judaeo-Christian current, it did not identify itself with it, because the churches were composed in great part of gentile Christians and they did not adopt circumcision. The heterodox Judaeo-Christians currents were always treated as heretical and combated without let.”[111]

Justin Martyr strongly supported a literal understanding of a millennial reign in answering Trypho on inconsistency between himself and those who claimed to be Christians but denied Christian doctrines:

But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare. . . whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem. . . .[112]

Some even, due to their rejection of millennialism, attempted to disavow the Apocalypse as being from John the Apostle. For example, Bishop Dionysius attributed the Apocalypse to “the priest John, and not to the Apostle, especially because “many brethren were enthusiastic about it’, and more so, because they founded on it their extravagant doctrines.”[113] Moreover, Eusebius repudiated millenarianism but not with the same extremism as Dionysius. Likewise, Origen “who, in good faith, contented himself with deriding the simpletons “who refused to work intellectually, preferring to dream in joy and peace; interpreting Scripture literally, after the manner of the Jews’.”[114]

Epiphanius (in 375--77) sought to disavow this Jewish Christian community since he held them to be heretics[115] and Gregory of Nyssa rejected the Christians of Zion after he was not accepted by some Christians in the city who held to "three resurrections, the millenarianism, the restoration of the Temple with bloody sacrifices," doctrines of Jewish Christians.[116] Similarly Jerome rarely passed up the opportunity to ridicule millenarianism and the idea of the reconstruction of the temple.[117]

Nicean view of Jewish thought

Not only were Jews excluded from most of the deliberations, observed earlier, and their perspectives viewed as suspect or heterodox, but their thinking was also viewed as the fountain from which the heresies of the fourth centuries spewed regarding Christ.

The Christological doctrine which denies the divinity of Christ in the 3-4 century [[check this]] was not looked upon as an Ebionitistic formulation, but as developments from it; first the heresy of Paul of Samosata, and then that of Arius.  The Jewish root of these deviations was very clear to the minds of the defenders in the Council of Nicaea, as we gather from St. Athanasius who accused Paul [of Samosata] of having a Jew as patron, namely, Zenobia . . . who for his doctrine merited to be called “a disciple of the Jews’ (26, 381-2), and of the Arians he says that “all their stupid doctrine was Jewish’ (26, 381-2). The same affirmation is made by Alexander of Alexandria . . . and by Lucifer of Cagliari . . . who calls the Arians—who made him to suffer atrocious persecution in Palestine- “the cursed disciples of the Jews’.”[118]

Skarsaune, seeks to demonstrate, contrary to this perspective, that in reality the ideas about Christ propounded at Nicea came from Jewish theology, albeit clothed in Greek garb.[119] This form of thinking is certainly what one observes developing in the Jewish Christian community within Israel and the Diaspora as evidenced by the teachings found in the Pauline and Johannine corpus. Paul, in his letters presents a strong case for the deity of Jesus Christ (cf. Phil. 2:5-11; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13) and the Trinity in his several benedictions (cf. 2 Cor. 13:14). John, as well, develops a profound statement in his gospel of the deity of the Son (1:1-3, 18; 8:58; 20:28) and personal relationship of the Father and the Son (14:15-18; 17:1-5).

The hope of Israel's restoration

Tertullian speaks of the ignorance of the Jews in putting Christ to death, their subsequent expulsion from their land and the hope of future restoration.

For the Jews are pronounced “apostate son, begotten indeed and raised on high, but who have not understood the Lord, and who have quite forsaken the LORD, and have provoked unto anger the Holy One of Israel’ . . . he has likewise had every more savory morsel torn from his throat, not to say the very land of promise . . . the Jew . . . is a beggar in alien territory.[120]

Having said this, he goes on to say, however, “for it will be fitting for the Christian to rejoice, and not to grieve, at the restoration of Israel, if it be true, (as it is), that the whole of our hope is intimately united with the remaining expectation of Israel.”[121]

Origen, apart from his allegorical interpretations, has a fairly balanced presentation of judgment on the Jewish nation, on the one hand, and a recognition of their future restoration, on the other hand.

Replacement Theology and the Triumph of Christianity in the Roman Empire

With the Jewish roots of Christianity virtually lost in the church’s memory, the minimalization of the Jews with their destruction, the need for Christian apologists to justify the church’s antiquity before the Roman government, and the theological orientation of the church altered by Greek philosophical interpretation the stage was set for the church taking the blessings and identity of Israel to itself. The coup d’tat [[spelling on this phrase]] to the change to replacement theology was the triumph of Christianity in the Roman Empire. For example, Kaiser says that when Constantine gathered all the bishops together on the thirtieth year of his reign he viewed it as a "foreshadowing of the eschatological Messianic banquet."[122] To Eusebius, then, it was no longer needful to distinguish between the Church and the Empire; they were viewed as "one fulfilled kingdom of God on earth."[123]


Israel is the chosen people of God. Unfortunately they so often as a people have failed to participate in God’s blessings due to their disobedience. The last major judgment of God against His people was with their rejection of the Messiah who came to them. Rather than believing the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures or the living Torah of God (the Messiah), they had unbelief and were driven in large part from their land and their temple worship. Due to this rejection and their consequent rejection of the message of the church, gradually the church turned hostile to the Jewish people and began to believe that the church became the recipients of the blessings of God irrevocably given to the physical lineage of Jacob. In so doing, the church began to reject Jewishness itself as well as the Jew.

Such response is dangerous to Christianity itself for it, along with Judaism, has its roots in the faith and Scriptures of Israel. Bagatti rightly perceives the actions of Eusebius toward the Jewish people in not losing the anchor of Israel for the faith of the church: "Evidently Eusebius foresaw the disastrous consequences which would have followed regarding the origin of Christianity, if he associated himself with the extremists who obstinately rejected the Christians of the Jewish race as nongenuine."[124] To reject Israel is to reject the tree from which the church has received its life and its future.


* H. Wayne House, Distinguished Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, Faith Seminary, Tacoma, WA, Oregon Theological Seminary, Salem, OR.

[1] R. Steven Notley, “Anti-Jewish Tendencies in the Synoptic Gospels,” Jewish Perspectives 51 (April-June, 1996), 27. Pictures of Ecclesia and Synogoga may be seen here.

[2] Origen, Origen against Celsus, 2.8, from Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1995; originally published by Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885). (Unless otherwise noted, all references of ante-Nicene Fathers are to this publication in ten volumes).  It is interesting that later in his debate with Celsus, Origen uses the staying power in the land as a argument for the prophetic authority of the Bible. Origen against Celsus  3.2. Later in this work, though, he says with confidence that the Jewish people will never be restored to their “former condition” because of their great sin against Jesus. Origen against Celsus 4.22.

[3] Tuvya Zaretsky, "The Church Has Replaced the Jewish People—A Perspective," Mishkan 21 (2/1994):33. Most of this issue of Mishkan is dedicated to the matter of Replacement Theology.

[4] Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., "An Assessment of 'Replacement Theology:' The Relationship Between the Israel of the Abrahamic-Davidic Covenant and the Christian Church," Mishkan 21 (2/1994):9.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Jeffrey Siker, Disinheriting the Jews (Louisville: Westminster, 1991), 28-76, 77-127, 128-143, 144-184, 190, 191.

[7] Ray Pritz, "Replacing The Jews in Early Christian Theology," Mishkan 21 (2/1994):22.

[8]  Kaiser, Jr., 9.

[9] David Larsen, Jews, Gentiles & the Church (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1995), 22.

[10] Ibid., 26.

[11] Stanley A. Ellisen, Biography of a Great Planet (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1975), 216. Ellisen also lists the Persian Gulf as a possibility but few would hold to this. For a chart providing key biblical texts for the land promises, see Larsen, 26.

[12]  Larsen., 34. David Larsen explains this dynamic: "Abraham and his immediate descendants did not in God's purpose possess the promised land (but Abraham indeed purchased the burial-place for Sarah as described in Genesis 23). Later the chosen people were dispersed in captivity because of their disobedience. 'Any member of the line of David may by sin forfeit his own share in the promise, but he may not forget that which belongs to his successors to eternity.'  The promissory covenants of the Old Testament guarantee both the physical posterity and property of God's ancient people in perpetuity. Temporary dispossession does not mean loss of the inheritance. The fulfillment of the land-promise becomes critical for anyone contemplating the fidelity of God to any or all of His promises." Larsen, 22.

[13]  See H. Wayne House, "David's Role in Prophecy," Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, gen. ed. Mal Couch (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997), 85, 86.

[14] Paul Johnson sees Jesus within the Hillel camp, for most part, taking the thinking of Hillel to logical conclusion: "Jesus' rigorism in taking Hillel's teaching to its logical conclusion led him to cease to be an orthodox sage in any sense which had meaning and, indeed, cease to be a Jew. He created a religion which was sui generis, and it is accurately called Christianity. He incorporated in his ethical Judaism an impressive composite of the eschatology he found in Isaiah, Daniel and Enoch, as well as what he found useful in the Essenes and the Baptist, so that he was able to present a clear perspective of death, judgment and the afterlife.  And he offered this new theology to everyone within reach of his mission: pious Jews, the am ha-area, the Samaritans, the unclean, the gentiles even." Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1987), 120.

[15] See Larsen, 52-54 for a discussion of the future of Israel based on Romans 11.

[16]  See Larsen for a discussion on the various ages to come, the millennial age, and the great likelihood of an intermediate kingdom.  Larsen, 55-56.

[17]  Ibid.

[18]  Some believe the present reign of Christ in His Father's throne is the fulfillment of Jesus to sit on David's throne.  Sitting on the Father's throne in heaven in no way fulfills the literal reign predicted in the Old Testament nor is it in agreement with Jesus' own words. In Matt. 25:31-32, Jesus indicates that this reign on David's throne to rule the nations occurs only in His second coming: "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him. . . ." See H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1988), 26.

[19] The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch under Philip (Acts 8:26-40) is an aberration from this; the Gospel to the God-fearer Cornelius, as evidenced by Acts 11 is the public, decisive offer of gospel to the Gentile world.

[20] Johnson, 125.

[21] The Nazarenes were one of two major Jewish groups who were viewed as sects within Judaism,; they considered themselves to be equal to Christians of Gentile stock.  They wished, as one of their exponents, Hegesippus, says "to appear as true Christians distinct from the heretics, even though of their own stock." Fr. Bellarmino Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision: History and Archaeology of the Judaeo-Christians, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, No. 2 (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1984).

[22] James and then Simeon became leaders, the first being a half-brother of Jesus and Simeon was elected because of being cousin of Christ. Ibid., 9.

[23]  Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 20.19.1, as found in Josephus, Complete Works, trans. William Whiston (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1960). Also see Henk Jagersma, A History of Israel from Alexander the Great to Bar Kochba (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1986), 136.

[24] It was thought earlier that the Hebrew canon was completed at Jamnia but recent studies have demonstrated that the canon was finished no later than the second century B.C. and possibly as early as the fourth century B.C. Jack P. Lewis, "What Do We Mean by Jabneh?" Journal of Bible and Religion 32 (1964):125-132 and Sid Z. Leiman, The Canonization of Hebrew Scripture: The Talmudic and Midrashic Evidence (Hamdon: Conn.: Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Acts and Sciences, Archon Books, 1976).

[25] Ray Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, Studia Post-Biblica (Jerusalem-Leiden: The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University, E.J. Brill, 1988), 126.

[26] Jhan Moskowitz, "Some Possible Causes for the Rise of Anti-Jewish Sentiments in the Early Church" (unpublished paper), 2.

[27] Harry R. Boer, A Short History of the Early Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976), 44.

[28] Ibid. Jews were often involved in stirring up trouble against Christians and so brought on themselves severe response at times from Christian apologists.

[29] Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, 28.

[30] Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, 11.

[31] Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, 31. See the discussion on several possible derivations of the name in Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christinaity,11-12.

[32] Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, 13.

[33] Bagatti identifies this withdrawal to Pella with a passage from the Ascension of Isaiah: “And many of the faithful and of the saints who saw him crucified in whom they had hoped, Jesus Christ our Lord, and of those also who had believed in him (without seeing him) during these days will remain his servants in a small number, fleeing from desert to desert, awaiting his coming.” Ascension of Isaiah, 4:13, as cited by Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision , 8.

[34]  Jagersma indicates that the flight to Pella has been the standard position of the past and still is among most scholars but also speaks of recent scholarly questioning of this fact. He says, "in recent times it has been increasingly challenged. Among other things, scholars point out the great distance between Pella and Jerusalem (about sixty miles), involving a journey through a region controlled by the Romans, and that in 66 Pella was plundered by Jewish partisans, which certainly would not have encouraged the Jewish Christians to settle there. It therefore seems most likely that the members of the earliest community in Jerusalem shared the fate of their fellow-citizens in the siege and after its capture by Titus in 70. All this does not exclude the possibility that individual members of the Jerusalem community like Johanan ben Zakkai . . . could have fled before or during the siege." Jagersma, 136, 137.

[35] C.K. Barrett, The Gospel of John & Judaism, trans. D.M. Smith ((Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975), 69.

[36] Johnson, 146, 147. D. Moody Smith comments on this benediction designed against Jewish Christians: “Presumably its purpose was to smoke out Christ-confessors within the synagogue, who could not pronounce this benediction, or malediction, against themselves. This reformulation of the Twelfth Benediction took place in the Rabbinic Academy at Jamnia. According to tradition, it was done by a sage called Samuel the Small under the auspices of Rabbi Gamaliel II, and it has been dated in the ninth decade of the first century.” D. Moody Smith, “Judaism and the Gospel of John,” in Jews and Christians, Exploring the Past, Present, and Future, ed. James H. Charlesworth, Vol. 1 of Shared Ground Among Jews and Christians, a Series of Explorations (New York:  Crossroad, 1990), 85.

[37] See the study by Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, 102-107, especially the identification of the Nazarenes within the minim; also Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, 95,  98-106.

[38]  Jacob Jocz, The Jewish People and Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1949), 180.

[39] Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision 31.

[40]  Ibid., 34, 35.

[41]  Origen against Celsus, 5.61.

[42]  Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, 21.

[43] See Notley, 20-34 for the view of the synoptic Gospels being anti-Semitic.

[44] Quoted in Louis Feldman, “Is the New Testament Antisemitic?” Moment , vol. 15, no. 6 (Dec 1990):35.

[45] Feldman, 33, 34.

[46] See the review of options given by Smith, “Judaism and the Gospel of John,” 79-83.

[47] Smith, 82.

[48] Feldman, 35.

[49] Ibid., 50. Feldman speaks of Rabbi Lewis Browne who “remarked that Jesus was not the founder but the foundling of Christianity, or, as the jingle would have it, “A man named Saul, later called Paul, came and spoiled it all.’” Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] On the other hand, the use of sunagwghv (synagogue) may simply refer to a "assembly" of believers, into whose midst some come claiming to be Jews but are not really.

[52] James H. Charlesworth, "Exploring Opportunities for Rethinking Relations among Jews and Christians, "Jews and Christians: Exploring the Past, Present, and Future, Shared Ground Among Jews and Christians, A Series of Explorations, vol. 1, gen. Ed. James H. Charlesworth (New York:  Crossroad Publishing Company, 1990), 43.

[53] An important form of rhetoric at the times was taught by Jews such as Theodorus and Caecilius of Calacte and vituperative rhetoric was well used at this time. Feldman, 52.

[54] The Dead Sea Scrolls, in the Manual of Discipline, urges the readers to hate the children of darkness. Manual of Discipline 1.10, 11a. Also see Hymns 4.10, 20. See Feldman, 52.

[55] See Ezek. 16:48; 23:37 and Isa. 56:8-11; 57:3.

[56] Pesachim 57a.

[57] James H. Charlesworth, "Christians and Jews in the First Six Centuries," in Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism, ed. Hershel Shanks (Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1992), 309

[58] Ibid.

[59] Moskowitz, 12.

[60] Ibid., 12.

[61] The dating of the Didache has been the subject of much debate. Part of the problem resides in the probable development of the Didache in several recensions over several decades. Kirsopp Lake views the "Two Ways" to reflect most likely the early first century while the remainder may be late first century or  early second century .  Kirsopp Lake, "The Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," The Apostolic Fathers, Vol. 1 in The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 1965), 306, 307; the International Standard Bible Encylopaedia places the date between A.D. 80-120 (The International Standard bible Encyclopaedia, vol. III, James Orr, gen. Ed. [Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1946], 1898) whereas the Enchiridion Patristicum places it between A.D. 80-100. M. J. Rou‘t de Journel, Enchiridion Patristicum (Barcione: Herder, 1969), p. 1. The earliest suggestion (at least of some portions of the Didache) is that of Geoff Trowbridge with a date between A.D. 60-100., 1.

[62] I have largely followed the presentation of Moskowitz on evidence of Jewish influence in the Didache.

[63] Moskowitz, 13-14.

[64] Bellarmino Bagatti, The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine,  trans. Eugene Hoade (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1971; reprinted 1984), 26.

[65] James Kleist, Ancient Christian Writers, The Works of the Fathers in Translation (New York: Newman Press, 1946), 31, 32.  That this letter, even as Romans, was not written to an audience entirely composed of Jews is clear from passages such as Rom. 11:6-14.

[66] Epistle of Barnabas 4:6-9, in The Apostolic Fathers, Vol. 1 The Loeb Classical Library, 351, 353.

[67] Epistle of Barnabas 4.1, in The Apostolic Fathers, Vol. 1 in The Loeb Classical Library, 391.

[68] The Instruction of Commodianus,  210.

[69] Johnson, 134.

[70] Ibid., 134.

[71] Ibid.

[72] Eusebius 4.6.4. The Church History of Eusebius, trans. Arthur Cushman McGiffert, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wall, second series, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA:  Hendrickson Publishers,  1995). (Unless otherwise noted, all references to Eusebius are to this publication); Begatti, The Church from the Circumcision,   87.

[73] Eusebius, in abridging the account of Ariston of Pella, says, “After these things a decree and a disposition of Hadrian forbade the whole people to put a foot in the region adjoining Jerusalem; and so for the Jews, alas! it was forbidden to contemplate even from afar their homeland.  So does Ariston of Pella tell us.”  Bagatti, The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine,  8.

[74] Eusebius 4.5.1-4: ". . . until the siege of the Jews, which took place under Adrian, there were fifteen bishops in succession there, all of whom are said to have been of Hebrew descent, and to have received the knowledge of Christ in purity, so that they were approved by those who were able to judge of such matters, and were deemed worthy of the episcopate. For their whole church consisted then of believing Hebrews who continued from the days of the apostles until the siege which took place at this time; in which siege the Jews, having again rebelled against the Romans, were conquered after several battles. But since the bishops of the circumcision ceased at this time, it is proper to give here a list of their names from the beginning. The first, then was James, the so-called brother of the Lord; the second, Symeon; the third, Justus; the fourth, Zacchaeus; the fifth, Tobias; the sixth, Benjamin; the seventh , John; the eighth, Matthias; the ninth, Philip; the tenth, Seneca; the eleventh, Justus; the twelfth, Levi; the thirteenth, Ephres; the fourteenth, Joseph; and finally, the fifteenth, Judas."

[75] Eusebius, The Church History 4.6.4.  See Yigael Yadin, Bar-Kokhba (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971), 22, for a treatment of the banishment of the Jews from Jerusalem.

[76] Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, 10.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Ibid., 87. For the view that the Nicene council was heavily influenced by Jewish theological ideas see, Oscar Skarsaune, "The Christological Dogma of Nicaea—Greek or Jewish?," Mishkan 1 (1/1984), 40-49. Also see Oscar Skarsaune, Incarnation: Myth or Fact? trans. Trygve R. Skarsten (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946). Also see various influences that Jewish Christianity had on Gentile Christian writers in Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, 82-86.

[79] Ignatius, Epistle of Ignatius to the Philippians, 14.

[80] Origen, Origen against Celsus, 428, 429.

[81] Ignatius, Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians, 11. Elsewhere he says the Jews are “murders of the Lord,” Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, 11., and a “murderer of Christ.” Epistle of Ignatius to the Philippians, 13.

[82] Origen, Against Celsus, 2.8.

[83] Melito, Homily on the Passion, lines 711-716.

[84] Pritz clarifies the broader use of the term minim: “A survey of the term reveals minim who clearly lived before Christianity, minim who reject the resurrection from the dead and therefore cannot be Christians, etc. However, one will also see many places where the minim clearly are Christians and most likely Jewish Christians. Generally, it is safe to say that minim are Jews who reckon themselves to be Jews but who are excluded by the rabbis.” Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, 103.

[85] See the text accompanying footnote 38.  MAKE SURE THIS IS STILL CORRECT AFTER EDITING.

[86] Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, 102.

[87] Ibid., 101.

[88] Ibid.

[89] These Jews, still smarting from the Roman defeat and the loss of their temple probably had great difficulty with Jesus who spoke of the destruction of the temple and who also was not a liberating Messiah they had anticipated. The Talmud does seem to indicate that they viewed Jesus to be in the line of David but never received official anointing as was true of former kings and priests.  See Sanhedrin 43a in the Babylonian Talmud where it is recorded “(Rabbi)Ulla said, “Would you believe that any defence would have been so zealously sought for him?  He was a deceiver, and the All-merciful says: “You shall not spare him, neither shall you conceal him.’ It was different with Jesus, for he was near to the kingship.” Cf. chart in H. Wayne House, Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 77.

[90] Though the widespread treatment of Jewish Christians was hostile there were those among the Jews who were more moderate. “Of  Rabbi Judah b. Levi (3rd cent.)  . . . we read “that he was tolerant also of the Judaeo-Christians, albeit often they annoyed him; that he refused to curse one of them, saying rather the words of Psalm 149, 9:  “The mercy of God embraces all his creatures’.” Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision , 108.

[91] Justin Martyr, First Apology, 31. This was also noted by Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History, 4. 8. Translation by Kirsopp Lake, The Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann Ltd. and Harvard University Press, 1926), 322, 333: "only Christians whom Bar Chocheba, the leader of the rebellion of the Jews, commanded to be punished severely, if they did not deny Jesus as the Messiah and blaspheme him."  See Barrett, 10.

[92] Suetonius, Claudius, 25

[93] Suetonius, Nero, 16.

[94] Martyrdom of Polycarp 13:1 trans. Kirsopp Lake in The Apostolic Fathers, Loeb Series, vol. 2 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1913), 329.

[95] Martyrdom of Polycarp 12:2.

[96] Martyrdom of Polycarp 17:2-3.

[97] Martyrdom of Polycarp 18:1.

[98] The Epistle to Diognetus, 5:17.  A contrary opinion on all of this was forcefully argued by James Parkes in an appendix to The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue (New York: Hermon Press, 1974).

[99] Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 137.

[100] Justin Martyr, Justin’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks 13.

[101] Barrett, 51; Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 39.: ““Now it is not surprising,’ I continued, “that you hate us who hold these opinions, and convict you of a continual hardness of heart.”

[102] Origen, de Principiis, 4.1.8. (Latin). Origen provides examples of what he understood as the proper method of interpretation in that the Jews were physical shadows of the spiritual people of God. He speaks of “spiritual Israelites,” the church, of whom the physical Jews were the type. Ibid.

[103] Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, 90.

[104] Origen, Origen against Celsus, 2.5.

[105] Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 29.2.

[106] Ibid.

[107] Epistle of Barnabas, 4.6-7, trans. Kirsopp Lake, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965).

[108] Epistle of Barnabas 13.

[109] Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians, 10.2-3, trans. Kirsopp Lake, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965).

[110] Moskowitz, 7-8.

[111] Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, 26. The millennial idea was not confined to Asia Minor but existed in Egypt (5th-6th cent.) Bagatti, 28. Origen, likewise, speaks of Jews as persecutors of Christians, placing Christians in the same category as the Hebrew prophets and the Lord persecuted by the Jews. Origen, Origen to Africanus,  389.

[112] Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 240.

[113] Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, 89.

[114]Ibid., 90.

[115] Ibid., 11. Epiphanius greatly erred in this assessment as the fathers Justin, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius indicate and the research of Pritz on the Nazarenes, in contrast to other Jewish sects, demonstrates.

[116] Ibid.

[117] See Ibid., 90-91 for a description of Jerome’s arguments.

[118] Ibid., 90.

[119] Skarsaune, “The Christological Dogma,” 40-49.

[120] Tertullian, On Modesty, 4.54.

[121] Ibid.

[122] Walter Kaiser, An Assessment of "Replacement Theology," Mishkan 21 (2/1994):9.

[123] Ibid.

[124] Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, 84.