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Caligula, the Church of Antioch and the Gentile Mission

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This study examines such data as are available regarding the impact of the crisis which confronted Jewish communities in many parts of the Roman Empire during the reign ofGaius Caligula (3 7-41 CE). Particular attention is given to Antioch on the Orontes, and to the Christian community which emerged there and was to become a major force both in the spread of Christianity and in the conversion of Gentiles to a hitherto Jewish movement. It is argued that the crisis was a major catalyst in changing the character of the Christian church in Antioch, so that it acquired an identity distinct from that of the Jewish community. The reappraisal of eschatological expectations occasioned by the crisis led to the conviction that Gentiles must be included in the Church before the parousia of Christ.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Theology Africa University PO Box 1320, Mutare Zimbabwe

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