Abstract

Data from Rabbinic Literature have often been used to illuminate details of New Testament thought and the realia of the texts. Arguments over the proper method for interpreting and using Rabbinic Literature in New Testament study have gradually forced New Testament scholars to take Judaism seriously in its synchronic and diachronic diversity. The increasingly critical and full historical picture of Second Temple and early Rabbinic Judaism and of the Jesus movement and early Christianity emerging from Judaism invites interpreters to read the texts valued by each tradition in the light of one another. This requires recognizing the sharp theological and polemical boundaries erected by thinkers in each tradition as significant claims to truth and authenticity which gave shape to their communities. Equally, we must recognize that such boundaries, with their conflicting theological, ideological, and historical claims, reflect human ideals, needs, and conflicts that emerged from a more homogeneous and shared tradition of thought and practice. Reading texts from both the Rabbinic and early Christian tradition together, with full attention to the integrity of each, does justice to the shared context and valued particularities of each.

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