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In the Shadow of the Temple : Jewish Influences on Early Christianity
Oskar Skarsaune

083082670X Retail Price: $30.00
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Format: Paperback, 455pp.
ISBN: 9780830828449
Publisher: Intervarsity Press
Pub. Date: December 30, 2008

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From The Publisher:

The widespread perception of a decisive "parting of the ways" between Christianity and Judaism after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 has distorted our understanding of the following decades and centuries of Jewish and Christian History. We are left with the impression that hostile polemic or mutual avoidance between Christians and Jews was the order of the day.

To be sure, there were points of bitterness and strife between these two groups, but the story of their relationship is better told as the relationship between a younger and an older sibling. In and between the lines of our historical data, there is abundant evidence of interaction between the early church and the ancient synagogue. This took place at both the level of leadership and laypeople, and it left its imprint on the emerging shape of the church. But this story has not yet been fully told.

In the Shadow of the Temple offers a new perspective on the development of the early church in its practice (e.g., worship, baptism and Eucharist) and doctrine (e.g., Scripture, Christology, pneumatology). Oskar Skarsaune begins by tracing the story of second temple Judaism from the crisis of the Jewish encounter with Hellenism in the second century B.C. through the diverse Judaisms of the first century A.D. Then, from the time of Jesus and the origins of the church up to the Constantinian revolution of the early fourth century A.D., Skaraune offers us fascinating snapshots and analyses of the interactions, the arguments and the shaping influences of Judaism in the life, creed and practices of the church.

This is a book that will both fascinate and inform its readers. It embraces a historical period that tanscends the ordinary divisions of labor between scholars of Christian origins and early church history. And it offers insights into that history that challenge the prevailing notions of the way it was–and the way it must be between Christians and Jews.


"Oskar Skaraune's In the Shadow of the Temple is outstanding and will not only serve well the general reader, for whom the author writes, it will also serve well the scholar and student alike. Skarsaune has produced a gem that deftly lays out the major events, institutions, beliefs and figures of Judaism of late antiquity and how they shaped early Christianity. This reader-friendly book is a must."
—Craig A. Evans, Trinity Western University

"Although this book is written at a level that will be easily accesible to students, it is based on sound and fresh scholarship by a leading early church historian. It has the merit of surveying the history of the Christian movement from its beginnings with Jesus through the pre-Constantinian period from the specific perspective of demonstrating the close links between Christianity and its Jewish roots that persisted throughout this period. The author has not only harvested much specialized scholarship...but also has his own personal contribution to make. This attractive presentation as a 'must' for all students of the early church."
—I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen

"Oskar Skarsaune is surely right on the Jewishness of early Christianty and the importance of the temple for its development. He marshals an accurate display of historical information and exercises sound judgment in weighing probabilities. The result not only establishes the Jewish influences on early Christianity but also presents a persuasive synthesis of key elements in the story of Christian origins."
—Everett Ferguson, Abilene Christian University

"In this highly informative and stimulating book, Professor Skarsaune demonstrates how illuminating it can be to read the New Testament from the perspective of the fully Jewish character of early Christianity. This novel approach to Christian origins will enrich readers, making them more sensitive to the Jewishness of the New Testament and early Christainity and more appreciative of the debt Christianity owes to the Jews."
—Donald A. Hagner, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Professor Skarsaune has long been known as a leading scholar of early Jewish and Gentile Christian history. Here he brings his outstanding specialist learning to bear in a wonderfully accessible, comprehensive introduction to the Jewish basis of Christian faith and history throughout the first three centuries. In binding together the New Testament's Jewish roots with the life of the early Jewish and Gentile church, this is an outstanding textbook of Christian origins."
—Markus Bockmuehl, Cambridge University


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About the Author

Oskar Skarsaune is professor of church history at Norwegian Lutheran School of Theology, Oslo, Norway, and author of Incarnation: Myth or Fact and The Proof from Prophecy: A study in Justin Martyr's Proof-Text Tradition

Table of Contents

A Note on Abbreviations16
Part 1The Mother Soil: Judaism from the Maccabees to the Rabbis
1.The Cultural Dimension: Judaism & Hellenism23
2.The Political Dimension: Jews & the Roman Empire47
3.The Geographical Dimension: The Land of Israel and the Diaspora67
4.Jerusalem: The City of the Temple87
5.How Many "Judaisms"?103
Part 2Christian Beginnings: From Jewish Party to Gentile Church
6.Jesus Within Judaism135
7.The Early Jerusalem Community of Believers in Jesus147
8.The Mission to the Gentiles & the Question of the Torah165
9.The Land of Israel: The Church of Jewish Believers179
10.The Diaspora: The Church of Jews & Gentiles209
11.Encounter with Paganism–& the Jewish Heritage225
12.Orthodoxy & Heresy: The Challenge from Gnosticism & Marcion243
13.Elder & Younger Brothers: The Second-Century Debate with Judaism259
Part 3The Persistence of the Jewish Heritage: Faith & Order in the Early Church
14.Which Books Belong in the Bible? The Question of Canon279
15.Christology in the Making (I): The Messiah301
16.Christology in the Making (II): The Incarnate Word319
17.The Creative Spirit339
18.Conversion, Baptism & New Life353
19.Worship & Calendar: The Christian Week and Year377
20.Passover and Eucharist399
Part 4Epilogue
21.The Church Facing a New Era425

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