Sisters, not parent and child

An interesting and important point from John Barton’s essay on conceptions of the afterlife in the current TLS (not online):

Jews and Christians do not of course believe the same things, but the structures of the two faiths are much more similar than people think. This is not surprising, since they are siblings (rather than parent and child), both deriving from the religious culture of Israel in the last few centuries BC (the so-called Second Temple period) with influences from the surrounding Greco-Roman world and its philosophies. The impression that the two religions are so vastly different derives partly from the tendency among Christians to think that Judaism is the same as the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament, as they call it) – whereas in fact the religion of the Second Temple period had changed markedly from that of the ancient Israelites who are the source of the Hebrew Bible; and among Jews, to think of Christianity as a Greek religion only marginally related to Hebrew culture.

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3 Responses to Sisters, not parent and child

  1. Pingback: Topics about Christian life and Bible readings » Archive » Sisters, not parent and child

  2. Mrs Tilton says:

    Cousins at many removes, surely, rather than sibs?

    Contemporary Judaism and Christianity can both trace a direct line back to the pharisaical tradition within the Judaism of the 1st c CE, but each has changed a great deal since the speciation event. Christianity in particular has diversified mightily, and few if any of these lineages much resemble anything that Paul of Tarsus would have recognised as the religion he founded.

  3. Simple Country Vicar says:

    Cousins is better because Christianity went in one direction, The Talmud another. There was some unexpected cross-fertilization as the Seder was influenced by the Mass, which I’ve only just learned.

    But for writers in the New Testament, particularly the writer to the Hebrews, Paul and the fourth gospel, depend for their meaning of Jesus, on 1st temple sacerdotal tradition.

    For the first couple of centuries of Christian life, being Christian was a version of being Jewish, indeed Paul built his churches from those he met in synagogues in Roman provincial capitals.

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