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Christianity, Diaspora Judaism, And Roman Crisis

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Chapter Summary

Radical critics sometimes say that Judaism was only partly the origin of the Christian faith, that paganism contributed just as much of the original DNA. Indeed, in some ways this reflects the traditional Jewish view of Christianity as far as the author understands it: Christianity is a somewhat paganized form of Jewish ethical monotheism and therefore inherently benign, though still heretical. The temptations and challenges of the diaspora served to increase the diversity of ancient Judaism, a diversity directly reflected in emerging Christianity, which demonstrably partakes of Jewish Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, the Mystery Cults, etc. As Rodney Stark has shown, diaspora Jews remained a major and continuous source of new Christian converts in the fifth century. Marcionism, Gnosticism, Jewish Christianity, and several other kinds of Christianity are now fossils in the theological museum, and for one simple reason. There came a moment of Christian consolidation, again, due to Roman influence.

Keywords: Christianity; diaspora Judaism; Roman crisis



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