A fresh exploration of the category Jewish Christianity, from its invention in the Enlightenment to contemporary debates
For hundreds of years, historians have been asking fundamental questions about the separation of Christianity from Judaism in antiquity. Matt Jackson-McCabe argues provocatively that the concept “Jewish Christianity,” which has been central to scholarly reconstructions, represents an enduring legacy of Christian apologetics. Freethinkers of the English Enlightenment created this category as a means of isolating a distinctly Christian religion from what otherwise appeared to be the Jewish culture of Jesus and the apostles.
Tracing the development of this patently modern concept of a Jewish Christianity from its origins to early twenty-first-century scholarship, Jackson-McCabe shows how a category that began as a way to reimagine the apologetic notion of an authoritative “original Christianity” continues to cause problems in the contemporary study of Jewish and Christian antiquity. He draws on promising new approaches to Christianity and Judaism as socially constructed terms of identity to argue that historians would do better to leave the concept of Jewish Christianity behind.
Matt Jackson-McCabe is a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Comparative Religion at Cleveland State University. He is the author of Logos and Law in the Letter of James and editor of Jewish Christianity Reconsidered.
“Through an incisive and critical analysis of the history of the concept of ‘Jewish Christianity,’ Matt Jackson-McCabe shows persuasively how abandoning the concept enables different voices and social formations to be heard and mapped in their own terms.”—Judith Lieu, University of Cambridge
“Future investigations under the rubric of ‘Jewish Christianity’ will be unable to avoid reckoning with the argument of this volume, namely that the category ‘Jewish Christianity’ inevitably encodes a Christian metaphysics of Christianity itself.”—John W. Marshall, University of Toronto
“Jackson-McCabe’s Jewish Christianity is a brilliant book, navigating the complex issues surrounding this vexed term with incredible clarity and insight, while providing a cutting-edge vision of how attention to the historiography of modern scholarship can enrich our understanding of religion and identity in both antiquity and modernity.”—Annette Yoshiko Reed, New York University
“The term ‘Jewish Christianity’ has always been problematic. This book is a provocative and stimulating plea for an abandoning of the term, in spite of its long history of study, and is sure to engender discussion and reassessment.”—James Carleton Paget, University of Cambridge
“In this excellent study, internationally renowned scholar Matt Jackson-McCabe has given us an essential tool for a deeper understanding of Christian origins. An indispensable resource and a must read for anyone interested in Jewish–Christian relations.”—Anders Runesson, University of Oslo
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