Original Research

Are there Jews and Christians in the Bible?

John J. Pilch
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 53, No 1/2 | a1602 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v53i1/2.1602 | © 1997 John J. Pilch | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 December 1997 | Published: 13 December 1997

About the author(s)

John J. Pilch, Department of Biblical Literature, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, South Africa

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The article shows that it is anachronistic to speak of either 'Christians' or 'Jews' in the biblical period. In the New Testament both 'Words are used pejoratively by outsiders. However, it became appropriate to speak of 'Jews' when referring to the period of Rabbinic Judaism onwards, and of 'Christians' since the christological debates of the fourth century C E. 'Israel' was the in-group name during the Second Temple period. Outsiders, like the Romans, called the entire land 'Judea' and all its inhabitants 'Judeans'. Members of the 'house of Israel' called all outsiders 'non-Israel' or 'the nations'. The article concludes with a discussion of the ancient point of view of labeling persons.


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