By Stephanie E Binder
This paintings reviews and compares systematically the textual content of Tertullian, an African Church Father of the 3rd century CE, on idolatry with the rabbinic Mishnah Avodah Zarah, at the comparable topic, relationship approximately from an analogous interval. Similarities and modifications among the Jewish and Christian methods to idolatry are tested and accounted for. The examine is inscribed within the wider framework of discussions at the “parting of the methods” among Jews and Christians. It additionally addresses similar questions reminiscent of the function of the rabbis in moment and 3rd century Judaism within the Land of Israel and within the Diaspora; family members among Jews residing in these locations; interactions among Jews and pagans, Christians and pagans, Jews and Christians...
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Additional info for Tertullian, "On Idolatry" and Mishnah "Avodah Zarah": Questioning the Parting of the Ways between Christians and Jews
However, even if the Jews might have been happy to encourage Roman hatred of the Christians, it would have been preferable not to actually instigate the persecutions against them. Moreover, after the Jewish revolts, it is likely that the Jews themselves would have preferred to be discreet and not to attract attention to the Christians, since this could have risked a Roman reaction that would be bad for them as well,42 since both groups were still hard to distinguish from each other, at least from an outsider’s standpoint.
It seems clear that a strong Jewish group was in place, awaiting, as it were, the conflict with the Christian movement in Carthage, and not ready to collapse with its appearance. Moreover, it seems likely that Carthaginian Jews tended to accept rabbinic authority. Thus Tertullian would have met Jews at least partly affiliated with the Palestinian rabbis in his own city, and some at least would have been familiar with the main ideas of the Palestinian Mishnah massekhet Avodah Zarah. Through contact with those Jews, Tertullian would most probably have been aware of the rabbinic ideas in Mishnah Avodah Zarah while writing his own treatise on idolatry.
Each offers its interpretation of the text according to the principles it defends, which is why Christianity and Judaism try to part decisively from one another, but barely manage to do so, because they cling to the same cultural background. D. Dunn, Tertullian (London, 2004) 67–8. 36 See Simon, Verus Israel 437. 37 See M. Spanneut, Tertullien et les premiers moralistes africains (Paris, 1969) 21. 38 Midrash Tanhumah, ki tissa 34. the “parting of the ways” 31 Thus we find here a practical theological and political conflict between opposing groups.
Tertullian, "On Idolatry" and Mishnah "Avodah Zarah": Questioning the Parting of the Ways between Christians and Jews by Stephanie E Binder