In the development of Christianity, Paul is seen as departing from Judaism, but that is not rue. Paul remained under synagogue authority and remained a Pharisee (Acts 23.6). Both Rabbinic Judaism and Gentile Christianity have concepts and views not necessarily in line with revealed history. For instance, Yeshua’s last name is not “Christ” and being a “Christian” does not take on the meaning of moral and decent, and that being “unchristian” is wrong. Strictly speaking, Yeshua and his followers do not come under the heading of “Christianity” but they were part of the Jewish sectarian movements towards the end of the second Temple period.
Paul is seen as “anti-Semitic” by many in Christianity largely due to Christian translations and interpretations of what he wrote. However, his writings are consistent with the Torah and that Jews and non-Jews are compatible. Paul has been dealt with worse than any other writer of his period, and this is unjust. Translations are affected by the politics in Europe as they were being done. This is because the translators didn’t know Hebrew, the customs, the culture, the idioms, phrases and concepts of the people.
For example, they didn’t know what a “peacemaker” was, a “rooster”, a “eunuch”, translated Passover as Easter in Acts 12, they didn’t know the role and position of women in the ministry, and the list could go on and on. They translated the words so they would be compatible with the beliefs of the king, or the one supporting the translators. The major conflict today is that Christianity thinks it is the “true Israel” but God doesn’t need two. The Torah has lost its validity and grace replaces it. Christians see Jews as “playing out their role” and that they are “stubborn, blind and stiff-necked.” They have no reason to exist except to be an example of the misery of a once chosen nation who was unfaithful to God’s election by rejecting the Messiah and bringing about his death. However, not all facets of Christian teachings reflect this, and that certainly wasn’t Paul’s position as seen from Romans Chapters 9, 10 and 11, but many believe that Israel has been replaced by the Church.
In Gentile Christianity, the authority of the church is what allows them to do whatever they want, they can even change commandments of God. For example, the seventh day Sabbath was changed to Sunday strictly because the Church said so. There is not one Scripture that validates that change, but Christian churches do it anyway, and you don’t have to be a Catholic. Protestant churches follow many Catholic teachings, such as Christmas, Easter, Sunday, baptism and the “Lord’s Supper.” Most of these practices can be traced back to ancient “sun-deity worship” and it continues today. This has passed down into the authority of the pastor. You have false concepts taught in the schools and universities and these were breeding grounds for anti-Semitic acts and feelings.
Rabbinic Judaism was seen as an inferior religion and no longer valid. It was also taught that Christianity was a continuation of that divine election in history in which Israel was a major part. Christianity just usurped the role of Israel, creating a different “faith” along the way. Jews continued to exist with their understanding of the Scriptures and their claim as the only legitimate faith, labeling Christian interpretation as heresy, falsehood and idolatry. This mutual opposition to each other created a climate of hostility and negative feelings, which made Jewish-Christian relations more complex and tragic. Tension is due essentially to the ambivalent position in which the church found itself opposed to Israel.
By explicitly claiming not to be a new religion, by conceiving itself as the fulfillment of the promises of the Tanach as expressed in the covenant with the Patriarchs and the message of the Prophets, the church placed itself squarely on a Jewish foundation (as the “true” Israel) as the consummation of the biblical promises. Christianity perceived, according to the flesh (the people) was to be in authority until the coming of Messiah, but then you would have a “new” Israel. The Torah had lost its validity as a result, and grace was put in place of the Torah, verified by the harsh remarks by “Jesus” against the Pharisees as “hypocrites” and representatives of a mechanical, ritualistic religion of outward devotion.
This brings us up to the subject of the so-called “Apostolic Fathers” such as Clement of Rome (30-100 AD). He wrote I Clement and is considered by the Catholic Church to have been the 4th Pope. He may be mentioned in Phil 4.3 and was martyred under Domitian. His letter taught apostolic succession.
Another Apostolic Father is Ignatius, who died around 117 AD. He taught in Antioch and wrote seven letters. His letters were written while he was on his way to be martyred in Rome, a fate he wanted. He distinguished between bishops and elders and opposed gnostic heresies. Hermas lived in the late first to early second century and ministered in Rome. He wrote “The Shepherd” and was a contemporary of Clement. He wrote of visions and parables and may have been a former slave and Jewish. Barnabas of Alexandria also lived around the time of Clement and Hermas, ministered in Alexandria and wrote the Epistle of Barnabas, a very anti-Semitic work, said the Jews misunderstood the Torah and that Sunday was the Sabbath. He was probably an Alexandrian Jew and was familiar with Greek allegorical methods.
Papias lived from 60 to 130 AD, and ministered in Hieropolis. He wrote “The Exposition of the oracles of Our LOrd” and knew the Apostle John. He held a pre-millennial view of eschatology (as you can see this is not a recent view) and claimed that Mark’s gospel was based on Peter’s words. He said that Matthew’s gospel was originally written in Aramaic. Polycarp lived from 69 to 160 AD and lived in Smyrna. He wrote an epistle to the Philippians and also knew John. He compiled and preserved the epistles of Ignatius. It is said that he confronted Marcion as the “firstborn of Satan” and was martyred. The requirements to be a church father was made in the fourth century. You had to have “orthodox doctrine” in line with the official church (which agreed with Constantine as they looked back), good and saintly conduct, ecclesiastical approval and seniority.
During the first 300 years, great debates arose centered around how Israel lost the right to the promises of God, and how they now belonged to the church. The arguments were done by what is called Church Apologists, mainly starting in the second century AD. Quadratus was bishop of Athens and wrote an apology to Emperor Hadrian that contrasted Christianity with Jewish and pagan worship. Aristides lived in Pella and wrote his apology to Hadrian showing a strong Pauline influence. Christianity and Judaism both perceived Paul to be anti-Semitic, so this letter was probably anti-Semitic in nature.
Justin Martyr lived from 100 to 165 AD and ministered in Palestine, Ephesus and Rome. He wrote several apologies, and is known for his “Dialogue with Trypho” which was very ant-Jewish. Trypho may have been Rabbi Tarfon who lived at the same time. He was trained in Greek philosophy, was a traveling teacher and personally opposed Marcion. He argued for Christianity on the basis of prophecy, miracles and ethics. He was beheaded in Rome. Tatian (110-172 AD) ministered in Assyria, Syria and Rome. He wrote the “Diatessaron to the Greeks” and a pupil of Justin. He argued the superiority of Christianity over other religions and wrote a harmony of the gospels. He later fell into Gnosticism. Athenagoras (second century) lived in Athens, wrote an apology on the resurrection of the dead.
Theophilus died in 181 AD, and lived in Antioch. He was against pagan philosophers and was bishop of Antioch. Melito died in 190 AD, and lived in Sardis. About 20 of his works are lost and he was bishop of Sardis. He produced a list for Christians on the books of the Tanach. Hegesippus lived in the second century in Syria, Greece and Rome, and was a Jew converted to Christianity. He collected information on early church history to prove its purity and that it descended from the apostles. He blamed all heresies on Judaism.
The arguments of these apologists centered around these subjects. They believed that the Torah is by nature temporary and points to a new covenant, that the Old Testament predicted the sufferings and the glory of the Messiah (which is true), that the Old Testament indicates a plurality of persons within the Godhead (true). These arguments went against what the Jews were saying, like Christianity was a deviant form of Judaism, that a humble carpenter who died on a cross does not relate to the prophecies about the Messiah and that the deity of Messiah contradicts the unity of God.
The church apologists said that the Old Testament was “fulfilled” in Christ, and the types there point to Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem showed God’s condemnation of Judaism and was a vindication of Christianity (we wonder what the fall of Rome means then?). The apologists argued for the resurrection and tried to answer contradictions in the Scriptures. They also spoke against many pagan efforts to condemn what the Christians believed, like an unseen God, and that Christianity is the worship of a criminal, that Christians show a lack of patriotism and that they practice incest and cannibalism and Christianity leads to the destruction of a society.
Christian apologists said that all truth found in pagan philosophy anticipates Christianity and it is brought together by it, the miracles performed by Christ, the apostles and others prove that Christianity is true, the spread of Christianity against all odds shows it is from God and that Christianity alone is suited to meet the deepest needs of human beings. In
Part 11, we will pick up here with the third century apologists, the Nicene and post Nicene Fathers, the Ante-Nicene Heresies and other heresies. We are going to get into how the bishop of Rome rose to supremacy, the development of the Episcopacy and ecumenical councils of the early church. We are going to get into Constantine and the Nicene Council as well. What we are going for is reporting what happened and what these church fathers believed because they were the foundation of Christian doctrine. We are not interpreting, but trying to illustrate what Christianity believed up until the Talmudic period ended in 600 AD.