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The Image of the Jews in Ps.-Gregory of Nyssa's Testimonies against the Jews

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

This article examines the implicit audience of Ps.-Gregory's Testimonies against the Jews, a late fourth-century collection of Old Testament proof-texts and commentary intended to prove the truth of Christian beliefs over against Jewish objections. As a "meta-collection" of previous Christian proof-text collections and exegetical traditions, it reflects disparate and sometimes contradictory images of the Jews. In comparison with other Christian adversus Iudaeos literature, however, the Testimonies is remarkable for its generally positive portrayal of Judaism. It argues, for example, that the purpose of the Jewish law was to keep the descendants of Abraham pure until the birth of the Messiah. While "proving" at length that Jesus' death was prophesied in scripture, it never blames the Jews for that death. Its tone is consistently civil, presuming that "the Jew" is not "blind" or "hard-hearted," but rather is a person who can be persuaded by rational argument.

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