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CAJS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 210948
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Jewish scriptures and their influence on early Christian religious identity

Various early Christian groups adopted the Jewish scriptures, but this was not always the case. An EU initiative explored the long process of adoption and how it influences Christian identity even to this day.
Jewish scriptures and their influence on early Christian religious identity
Early Christian interpreters of the Bible carefully considered the extent to which the Jewish scriptures and particularly the Old Testament should be incorporated into Christian bodies of work such as the New Testament. They also considered how this would affect their own religious and communal identities. This general spirit of acceptance was opposed by key influential factions aimed at removing any Jewish evidence from Christian works.

In this context, the EU-funded CAJS (The Christian appropriation of the Jewish scriptures: Allegory, Pauline Exegesis, and the negotiation of religious identities) project set out to study how appropriation helped to shape distinct Christian identities within the multicultural society of the late Roman principate and early Byzantine rule.

Project partners studied two opposing schools of thought: the so-called Alexandrian approach, which acknowledges Christ throughout the Old Testament, and Antiochene, which opposes this. Leading Christian thinkers during the period created treatises on how to correctly interpret and approach the Jewish scriptures. Contemporary scholars in the field question the two schools' differences and disregard their associated treatises, suggesting that the distinction was an idea fabricated by 19th and early 20th century historians. The CAJS team demonstrated that the distinction was in fact a construct that dates back to the 4th century.

Researchers yielded several important findings. All major Christian thinkers interpreted the Bible, representing a very significant literary and rhetorical activity of the time. This biblical interpretation reflected several key activities and interests shared by Christian intellectuals and pagan philosophers, namely platonic philosophy for the Alexandrian and Aristotelian teaching of the Antiochenes, and astronomy, astrology, magic and the occult.

CAJS revisited and refuted the arguments posed by major modern scholars concerning biblical interpretation. In doing so, it should positively influence modern Judaeo-Christian theological and philosophical discourse.

Related information


Jewish scriptures, Christian, religious identity, bible, CAJS
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