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Parody And Polemics On Pentecost: Talmud Yerushalmi Pesahim On Acts 2?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses some patristic references on Pentecost/Shavuot that show that Christian religious leaders were acquainted with post-biblical Jewish Shavuot traditions. Then, it argues that Jewish sources as well wrestle with the challenge posed by the Christian Pentecost by demonstrating that a passage from Toledot Yeshu on the Christian festival calendar can be dated to the early Byzantine era and is acquainted with the Christian Ascension/Pentecost festival. Finally, in light of this, i.e. bearing in mind that the Christian Pentecost was not unknown to (some) rabbinic Jews, the chapter suggests reading a story from the Palestinian Talmud as a polemical parody of the foundational story of the Christian Pentecost. To be sure, there are differences between Acts 2 and the Yerushalmi story. Viewing the Yerushalmi story as parodying polemics of the Christian Pentecost plausibly solves some difficulties in traditional understandings of this passage.

Keywords: Acts 2; Christian Pentecost; Palestinian Talmud; polemical parody; Shavuot; Yerushalmi story



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