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Christianity And Judaism

The Christian Church grew up not on Jewish but on Gentile soil. In a very
short time the Gentiles formed the overwhelming majority within the
Church. As they did not become Jews and did not observe the Jewish
ceremonial law, a problem arose as to the place of the Jewish law, which
was accepted without question as of divine authority. One solution is
given by the author of the so-called Epistle of Barnabas, which should be
compared with the solution given by St. Paul in his epistles to the
Galatians and to the Romans. The number of conversions from Judaism
rapidly declined, and very early an extreme hostility toward Christianity
became common among the Jews.

(a) Barnabas, Epistula, 4, 9.

The epistle attributed to Barnabas is certainly not by the Apostle
of that name. Its date is much disputed, but may be safely placed
within the first century. The author attempts to show the contrast
between Judaism and Christianity by proving that the Jews wholly
misunderstood the Mosaic law and had long since lost any claims
supposed to be derived from the Mosaic covenant. The epistle is
everywhere marked by hostility to Judaism, of which the writer has
but imperfect knowledge. The book was regarded as Holy Scripture
by Clement of Alexandria and by Origen, though with some
hesitation. The position taken by the author was undoubtedly
extreme, and not followed generally by the Church. It was,
however, merely pushing to excess a conviction already prevalent
in the Church, that Christianity and Judaism were distinct
religions. For a saner and more commonly accepted position, see
Justin Martyr, Apol., I, 47-53 (ANF, I, 178 ff.). A
translation of the entire epistle may be found in ANF, I, 137-149.

Ch. 4. It is necessary, therefore, for us who inquire much concerning
present events to seek out those things which are able to save us. Let us
wholly flee, then, from all the works of iniquity, lest the works of
iniquity take hold of us; and let us hate the error of the present times,
that we may set our love on the future. Let us not give indulgence to our
soul, that it should have power to run with sinners and the wicked, that
we become not like them. The final occasion of stumbling approaches,
concerning which it is written as Enoch speaks: For this end the Lord has
cut short the times and the days, that His beloved may hasten and will
come to his inheritance. (5) Ye ought therefore to understand. And this
also I beg of you, as being one of you and with special love loving you
all more than my own soul, to take heed to yourselves, and not be like
some, adding largely to your sins, and saying: "The covenant is both
theirs and ours." For it is ours; but they thus finally lost it, after
Moses had already received it.(6)

Ch. 9. But also circumcision, in which they trusted, has been abrogated.
He declared that circumcision was not of the flesh; but they transgressed
because an evil angel deluded them.(7) Learn, then, my beloved children,
concerning all things richly, that Abraham, the first who enjoined
circumcision, looking forward in spirit to Jesus, circumcised, the
teaching of the three letters having been received. For the Scripture
saith: "Abraham circumcised eighteen and three hundred men of his
household." What, then, was the knowledge [gnosis] given to him in this?
Learn that he says the eighteen first and then, making a space, the three
hundred. The eighteen are the Iota, ten, and the Eta, eight; and you have
here the name of Jesus. And because the cross was to express the grace in
the letter Tau, he says also, three hundred. He discloses therefore Jesus
in the two letters, and the cross in one. He knows this who has put within
us the engrafted gift of his teaching. No one has learned from me a more
excellent piece of knowledge, but I know that ye are worthy.(8)

(b) Justin Martyr, Dialogus cum Tryphone, 17. J. C. T. Otto, Corpus
Apologetarum Christianorum Saeculi Secundi, third ed.; 1876-81. (MSG,

Justin Martyr was born about 100 in Samaria. He was one of the
first of the Gentiles who had been trained in philosophy to become
a Christian. His influence upon the doctrinal development of the
Church was profound. He died as a martyr between 163 and 168. His
principal works are the two Apologies written in close connection
under Antoninus Pius (138-161), probably about 150, and his
dialogue with Trypho the Jew, which was written after the first
Apology. All translations of Justin Martyr are based upon Otto's
text, v. supra.

For the other nations have not been so guilty of wrong inflicted on us and
on Christ as you have been, who are in fact the authors of the wicked
prejudices against the Just One and against us who hold by Him.(9) For
after you had crucified Him, the only blameless and righteous Man, through
whose stripes there is healing to those who through Him approach the
Father, when you knew that He had risen from the dead and ascended into
heaven, as the prophecies foretold would take place, not only did you not
repent of those things wherein you had done wickedly, but you then
selected and sent out from Jerusalem chosen men through all the world to
say that the atheistical heresy of the Christians had appeared and to
spread abroad those things which all they who know us not speak against
us; so that you are the cause of unrighteousness not only in your own
case, but, in fact, in the case of all other men generally. Accordingly,
you show great zeal in publishing throughout all the world bitter, dark,
and unjust slanders against the only blameless and righteous Light sent
from God to men.

(c) Martyrdom of Polycarp, 12, 13.

Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, died at Smyrna February 2, 155, at the
age of at least eighty-six, but he was probably nearer one hundred
years old. He was the disciple of John, probably same as the
Apostle John. His epistle was written circa 115, soon after the
death of Ignatius of Antioch. At present it is generally regarded
as genuine, though grave doubts have been entertained in the past.
The martyrdom was written by some member of the church at Smyrna
for that body to send to the church at Philomelium in Phrygia, and
must have been composed soon after the death of the aged bishop.
It is probably the finest of all the ancient martyrdoms and should
be read in its entirety. Translation in the ANF, I, 37-45.

Ch. 12. The whole multitude both of the heathen and the Jews who dwelt at
Smyrna cried out with uncontrollable fury and in loud voice: "This is the
teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians and the overthrower of our
gods, who teaches many neither to sacrifice nor to worship." Saying these
things, they cried out and demanded of Philip, the Asiarch, to let a lion
loose upon Polycarp. But he said he could not do this, since the sports
with beasts had ended. Then it pleased them to cry out with one consent
that he should burn Polycarp alive.

Ch. 13. These things were carried into effect more rapidly than they were
spoken, and the multitude immediately gathered together wood and fagots
out of the shops and baths, and the Jews especially, as was their custom,
assisted them eagerly in it.

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