Jews & Christians: The Parting of the Ways
by James Tabor
This study is part of a larger project the ultimate aim of which is to write a shared, twin or intertwined history of Jews and Christians in the first and second centuries CE.
One of the more fascinating narrative traditions in rabbinic literature are the various accounts of arrest of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (late 1st century, early 2nd century CE) by his fellow Rabbis, who accused him of minut, i.e., heretical views that he likely shared with the Nazarenes or followers of “Jesus son of Pantiri.” Rabbi Eliezer, teacher or the famed Rabbi Akiva, is one of the most frequently quoted sages in the Mishnah and was a student of the famous Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, who survived the destruction of Jerusalem and presided over the post-War Rabbinic academy. There are three accounts, each different, reflecting different social and cultural outlooks on Rabbi Eliezer’s “heresy,” related to various stages of the “parting of the ways” between Jews and Christians (Tosefta Hullin 2:24; Bavli Avodah Zarah 16b-17a; Kohelet Rabbah 1:8 ).
Joshua Schwartz and Peter J. Tomson have just published a most fascinating article on the subject in the Jewish Studies Internet Journal (JSIJ 10 (2012) 1-37), available here. It is a good “academic” read, but well worth the time.