• Joshua D. Garroway


The theme of the present work is the Jewish identity of the first generation of Gentile-Christians. This topic might sound strange. After all, how does one evaluate the Jewish identity of Gentiles? Such a conundrum would seem to be even trickier when related to the Jewish identity of Gentiles who are deemed Christians as well? This book proposes that Gentile-Christians of the first century should in fact be considered Jews, at least to some extent.


Jewish Community Jewish Identity Jewish Identification Christian Identity Postcolonial Critic 
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  1. 1.
    While 13 epistles in the New Testament claim to have been written by Paul, and a fourteenth, the anonymous book of Hebrews, has traditionally been attributed to Paul, most scholars today accept that Paul actually penned between seven and nine. Nearly everyone agrees that Paul wrote at least seven: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon. The authorship of Colossians and 2 Thessalonians is hotly debated, while most believe that the remaining five are pseudepigraphic or, in the case of Hebrews, falsely attributed to Paul. For a general discussion of pseudepigraphy in the New Testament, see Raymond F. Collins, Letters That Paul Did Not Write (Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1988).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    As examples, consider the fact that two of the staple primers for university courses in Second Temple Judaism, John J. Collins, Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999)Google Scholar
  3. and Shaye J. D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1987), hardly at all address Jesus, Peter, Paul, or the origins of Christianity. Consider, too, the absence of Christians inGoogle Scholar
  4. Erich S. Gruen, Diaspora: Jews amidst Greeks and Romans (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002). A brief treatment of Paul and his charges is offered byCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. John Barclay, Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora: From Alexander to Trajan (323 BCE-117 CE) (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 381–98.Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    The growing list of works in this regard now exceeds the number that can be included in a note of reasonable length. Particularly important contributions include the following: John G. Gager, Reinventing Paul (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), viii;Google Scholar
  7. Mark D. Nanos, The Irony of Galatians (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2002), 20;Google Scholar
  8. Magnus Zetterholm, The Formation of Christianity at Antioch (London: Routledge, 2003), 6;Google Scholar
  9. Zetterholm, “Jews, Christians, and Gentiles: Rethinking the Categorization within the Early Jesus Movement,” in Reading Paul in Context: Explorations in Identity Formation. Essays in Honour of William S. Campbell, ed. Kathy Ehrensperger and J. Brian Tucker (London: T & T Clark, 2010), 242–54;Google Scholar
  10. Philip F. Esler, Conflict and Identity in Romans: The Social Setting of Paul’s Letter (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2003), 12–13;Google Scholar
  11. John H. Elliot, “Jesus the Israelite Was Neither a ‘Jew’ nor a ‘Christian,’” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 5, no. 2 (2007): 119–54;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Caroline Johnson Hodge, If Sons, Then Heirs: A Study of Kinship and Ethnicity in the Letters of Paul (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 4; and several contributions inCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Matt Jackson-McCabe, ed., Jewish Christianity Reconsidered: Rethinking Ancient Groups and Texts (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2007).Google Scholar
  14. 4.
    The earliest attestations to the terms “Christian” and “Christianity” constitute a well-rehearsed list: Acts 11:26, 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16; Didache 12:4, in The Apostolic Fathers, ed. Bart D. Ehrman, LCL (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 1:436; Ign. Rom., 3:3, Phil., 6:1, and Magn., 10:1–3 in Apostolic Fathers (LCL), 1:250, 272, 288; Pliny, Letters, 10.96–97 in LCL (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958), 2:400–6; Tacitus, The Annals, 15.44 in LCL (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1937), 3:282; Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars, Nero, 16.2, in LCL (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1914), 2:110. For further discussion, see Chapter 2, note 12.Google Scholar
  15. 5.
    Identification as the children, or descendants, of Abraham was common for Jews in antiquity. In the Hebrew Bible, Israelites are twice dubbed the “seed of Abraham” (Isa. 41:8; Ps.105:6). In later literature, as Joachim Jeremias, “Aβραάμ,” TDNT 1:8, has so aptly put it, “Descent from Abraham is the pride of Israel.” See further William Baird, “Abraham in the New Testament: Tradition and the New Identity,” Interpretation 42 (1988): 367–79;Google Scholar
  16. Maria Neubrand, Abraham—Vater von Juden und Nichtjuden. Eine exegetische Studie zu Röm 4 (Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 1997);Google Scholar
  17. Dieter Georgi, “Aeneas und Abraham. Paulus unter dem Aspeckt der Latinität?,” ZNT 5 (2002): 40–42. The identification of Jews as the offspring of Abraham has endured into modern times, exemplified most famously in George Washington’s letter of 1790 to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, in which he proclaims, “May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants.”Google Scholar
  18. 6.
    For more on the possible derivation of this usage, see Joel Marcus, “The Circumcision and the Uncircumcision in Rome,” NTS 35 (1989): 67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 7.
    See, for example, Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 11, in Patrologia Graeca, ed. J.-P. Migne (Paris, 1857), 6.500, 11.Google Scholar
  20. 9.
    In this respect, my approach to Paul is also indebted to the pioneering work of Terence L. Donaldson, Paul and the Gentiles: Remapping the Apostle’s Convictional World (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1997), who proposes that Gentile membership in a redefined Israel is the objective to which Paul is so eagerly committed. “Gentiles had to become part of Israel to be saved,” as he puts it (298). I also follow Donaldson in understanding that Paul’s redefined Israel has Christ as its focal point; yet, whereas Donaldson thinks that Paul sees Christ displacing Torah and ethnic descent as Israel’s boundary markers, I will be arguing that for Paul Christ reinscribes rather than replaces those markers.Google Scholar
  21. 10.
    Unless otherwise indicated, all references to the New Testament are my own translations of Novum Testamentum Graece, ed. Kurt Aland, et al., 27th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1999).Google Scholar
  22. 11.
    The terms “hybrid” and “hybridity” appear ubiquitously in postcolonial studies, though definitions and perspectives vary widely. For surveys and analysis of its usage, see Robert J. C. Young, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture, and Race (London: Routledge, 1995);Google Scholar
  23. Joel Kuortti and Jopi Nyman, eds., Reconstructing Hybridity: Post-Colonial Studies in Transition (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007);Google Scholar
  24. Anjali Prabhu, Hybridity: Limits, Transformations, Prospects (Albany: SUNY Press, 2007).Google Scholar
  25. For Homi K. Bhabha’s understanding of the term, see Bhabha, ed., Nation and Narration (London: Routledge, 1990);Google Scholar
  26. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994).Google Scholar
  27. 14.
    As I will discuss at length in Chapter 4, the identity of the interlocutor in Romans 2–4 is a matter of great debate, although this debate focuses almost entirely on Romans 2:1. Whereas scholars have historically understood the judge introduced in Romans 2:1 to be a Jew, a recent trend spearheaded by Stanley K. Stowers, A Rereading of Romans: Justice, Jews and Gentiles (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994), 83–125, considers the interlocutor to be a Gentile. This study adopts the latter view and goes even further in suggesting that the same Gentile remains Paul’s interlocutor throughout Romans 2–4, a view so far endorsed only byGoogle Scholar
  28. Runar Thorsteinsson, Paul’s Interlocutor in Romans 2 (Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell International, 2003).Google Scholar
  29. 15.
    This view has been advanced most notably in recent years by N. T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1992), 231–57, although it has a much older pedigree as I will discuss in Chapter 6 of this book.Google Scholar

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© Joshua D. Garroway 2012

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