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image of Journal for the Study of Judaism

Compared to other Christian authors of the late 4th, early 5th century A.D. Jerome and Epiphanius of Salamis frequently write about Jews and Judaism. And they do so in a historical and biographical context which they largely share. Their frequent use of anti-Jewish polemics, however, has earned them a certain notoriety. But, as is argued in this paper, while their attitude in this respect is, of course, deplorable, it may be less a sign of their ignorance of, and distance from, than their proximity to, the Judaism of their time. Both, Jerome and Epiphanius, draw from very early Christian sources, sources still close to their Jewish roots. They define orthodoxy and heresy in terms of religious practices, very similar to Rabbinic Judaism, they are obsessed with scriptural detail, they reject the veneration of images, and they are interested in the languages and cultures of the Bible, far more than any other of their Christian contemporaries, or, indeed, Christians of any age. Considering their influential role in the history of Christian theology it may be worth looking at some of these aspects in detail, and see how they could have contributed not so much to the exclusion as to the preservation of the Jewish heritage in Christianity.


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