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The "Sociology of Sectarianism" in Matthew: Modeling the Genesis of Early Jewish and Christian Communities

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the appropriate concepts to be used in describing the social setting of Matthew's community. It proceeds on the level of modeling by tracing typical causes and responses effective in the formation of early Jewish and Christian movements. Drawing on Stark and Bainbridge's theory of religion, the chapter sketches a model for describing the development of these communities in the post-70 CE situation, suggesting that Matthew's community is best understood as a cult movement. In Saldarini's view the social context of Matthew's group is to be found "somewhere in Syria or Coele Syria" and Matthew's "setting and set of social and intellectual relationships will have to be sought within the Judaisms of the Roman Empire in the late first century". The role Matthew gives to Jesus marks the boundary between Matthew's group and his Jewish contemporaries.

Keywords: early Christian movements; early Jewish movement; Judaisms; Matthew's community; Roman empire; Saldarini; Syria



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