A major feature of recent scholarship has been a new interest in the changing relationship between Judaism and Christianity during the first centuries CE. Two factors have been of great importance in this development. Firstly, new methods such as the social scientific study of new texts, redaction criticism, and a fresh approach to both Palestinian and diaspora Judaism. Secondly, a much needed and painful awareness of the terrible legacy of the Christian 'teaching of contempt' towards its Jewish heritage and partners. Judith Lieu builds upon such analysis but seeks to approach the question from a different perspective: what is the rhetorical function of Jews and Judaism in the early texts, after those of the New Testament but before the increasingly stereotypical polemic and diatribe of third and fourth century authors? How does this rhetorical function relate to the historical, theological and social frameworks within which these texts arose and were read? How, in turn, did it help constitute the framework for later texts? The texts examined come from the second century and all have some link with Asia Minor, an area where we have a range of evidence for Judaism, which can be used as a point of contrast with the literary image. They also represent a spread of literary genres reflecting new developments in the period. This study is an attempt to acknowledge the complex nature of an issue which is too easily proclaimed 'Christian anti-Semitism'. Only by understanding this tangled web of the past can we hope to build a better future.
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For many years a body of scholars has argued that the presentation of Jews in early Christian literature bears no relationship to an actual Jewish reality. Insofar as Jews appear in this literature, they are simply projections of a Christian understanding of Jews with itself is forged by the needs of Christian self-presentation. . . . In this learned and richly documented book, Judith Lieu takes the substance of this observation seriously.
—James Carleton Paget, senior lecturer in New Testament studies in the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Cambridge
Judith M. Lieu studied at Durham and Birmingham Universities and has taught at The Queen's College, Birmingham, King's College London (where she was Professor of New Testament Studies, 1999-2006), and Macquarie University, Sydney. She is on the editorial board of a number of journals and series and was previously Editor of New Testament Studies and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2014. Professor Lieu's current research is on letters in Early Christianity, exploring their changing function through their reception and embedding in new contexts, as well as the production of letter-like writings.