The Reluctant Parting: How Did the Followers of Jesus Stop Being Jewish?
Christianity did not exist as a self-defined religious movement until well into the second century, when it began to distinguish itself from its Judaic roots. How and why did such an evolution occur? In a study that is by turns fascinating and unoriginal, Galambush, a religion professor at William and Mary, performs a close reading of the texts of the New Testament. From Matthew to Revelation, she shows how their authors—Jews themselves—addressed the conflict between their audience's Judaism and this new movement within Judaism. Thus, for example, Matthew, which was written to Jewish Christians, is the most anti-Jewish of the Synoptic Gospels. At the center of the conflicts in the New Testament is the question about whether and how to allow Gentiles to hear the message of this movement. One of Paul's letters, 1 Thessalonians, has long been interpreted to support the Jews' responsibility for the death of Jesus. Galambush observes, however, that Paul is angry at his fellow Jews for hindering him from speaking to the Gentiles. Galambush demonstrates that the development of the religion that became Christianity was a slow and torturous journey, but her tedious summaries of each of the New Testament writings and her often uninventive readings diminish the promise of this otherwise important book. (Nov.)