The Christianization of Rome and the Edomization of Christianity: Avodah Zarah and Political Power
Jewish Studies Quarterly
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Weiss, D. (2018). The Christianization of Rome and the Edomization of Christianity: Avodah Zarah and Political Power. Jewish Studies Quarterly, 25 (4), 394-422. https://doi.org/10.1628/jsq-2018-0020
Multiple scholarly commentators have observed, often with a measure of surprise, that Palestinian rabbinic texts do not appear to treat the Christianization of the Roman empire as constituting, from the rabbinic point of view, a notable change or transformation. While from the outside, it might seem that the transition from polytheistic paganism to monotheistic Christianity and the eventual abolishment of pagan cultic sacrifice and ritual would prompt a need for substantive reevaluation of the empire on the part of the rabbinic community, the textual evidence seems to view the post-Constantinian situation as not significantly different from the pre-Constantian situation. In the context of the present study, I will focus specifically on the question of the category of avodah zarah, or idolatry, in relation to the Constantinian shift. Despite the cessation of ‘pagan sacrifices’, there does not seem to be a strong sense in Palestinian rabbinic literature that the Roman empire became any less ‘idolatrous.’ What does this sense of non-change indicate about the rabbinic view of Christian practices and ideas? Did the rabbis think that the Christian movement, from early on, was already a form of avodah zarah, so that the Christianization of the Roman empire was simply swapping out one form of idolatry for another?
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1628/jsq-2018-0020
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/285416