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Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism (Figurae)by Daniel Boyarin
Synopses & Reviews
Not long ago, everyone knew that Judaism came before Christianity. More recently, scholars have begun to recognize that the historical picture is quite a bit more complicated than that. In the Jewish world of the first century, many sects competed for the name of the true Israel and the true interpreter of the Torah—the Talmud itself speaks of seventy—and the form of Judaism that was to be the seedbed of what eventually became the Christian Church was but one of these many sects. Scholars have come to realize that we can and need to speak of a twin birth of Christianity and Judaism, not a genealogy in which one is parent to the other.
In this book, the author develops a revised understanding of the interactions between nascent Christianity and nascent Judaism in late antiquity, interpreting the two “new” religions as intensely and complexly intertwined throughout this period. Although the “officials” of the eventual winners in both communities—the Rabbis in Judaism and the orthodox leaders in Christianity—sought to deny it, until the end of late antiquity many people remained both Christians and Jews. This resulted, among other things, in much shared religious innovation that affected the respective orthodoxies as well.
Dying for God aims to establish this model as a realistic one through close and comparative readings of contemporary Christian texts and Talmudic narratives that thematize the connections and differences between Christians and Jews as these emerged around the issue of martyrdom. The author argues that, in the end, the developing discourse of martyrology involved the circulation and exchange of cultural and religious innovations between the two communities as they moved toward sharper self-definition.
Book News Annotation:
The received wisdom that Judaism preceded Christianity turns out to be considerably oversimplified, says Boyarin (Talmudic culture, U. of California-Berkeley). He argues that both religions precipitated out of the ferment of the first century in which many sects competed for the name of the true Israel, and that we need to speak of a twin birth rather than a genealogy. He also points out that, though leaders on both sides sought to deny it, many people remained both Christian and Jewish until the end of late antiquity, and shared much religious innovation. Of these he focuses on the discourse about martyrology as an example.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Dying for God interprets nascent Christianity and Judaism in late antiquity as intensely and complexly intertwined. Although religious leaders sought to deny it, many people remained both Christians and Jews for some time. Consequent shared religious innovation also affected the respective orthodoxies. Through close, comparative readings of contemporary Christian and Talmudic texts, Dying for God explores the relationship between Christians and Jews especially around the issue of martyrdom. The developing discourse of martyrology involved the exchange of cultural and religious innovations between the communities as they moved toward sharper self-definition.
Scholars have come to realize that we can and need to speak of a twin birth of Christianity and Judaism, not a genealogy in which one is parent to the other. In this book, the author develops a revised understanding of the interactions between nascent Christianity and nascent Judaism in late antiquity.
Explores the relationship between Christianity and Judaism in late antiquity, especially around the issue of martyrdom.
About the Author
Daniel Boyarin is Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of several books, most recently Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man.
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Religion » Christianity » Church History » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » Judaism » General