Saturday, 11 April 2015

Anni Maria Laato: Tertullian, Adversus Iudaeos literature, and "Killing of the Prophets" accusation

Recent scholarship (Boyarin, Goodman) has challenged older views on how and when the parting of the ways between Jews and Christians took place: contacts were there on different levels, and people as well as influences crossed the border-lines longer than thought.
The purpose of this paper is to give a fresh look at one particular method in Adversus Iudaeos Literature, slander and vilification, and one particular topic, the accusation that the Jews are prophet-killers. This accusation is found already in the Old Testament (e.g. Neh 9, 26-27), and the New Testament (e.g. Mt 23, 29ff; Acts 7, 51-53; Rom 11, 2-4; 1 Thess 2, 14-15), and also in Jewish literature, e.g. Vitae prophetarum. From second century onwards, it becomes standard material in Adversus Iudaeos Literature: Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle of Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Pseudo-Cyprian’s De montibus Sina et Sion, and finally, even Tertullian use it, but in different ways. The very same accusation has different contents and goals depending on who utters it to whom and in which context. As intra-Jewish criticism it is meant as call for repentance, but in Anti-Jewish argumentation it serves different purposes.
Tertullian presents this accusation several times, for example in Adversus Iudaeos 13.20 and De oratione 14. At first sight it seems that in his texts, this claim already has become a conventional slander, used for internal purposes only, but there is reason to look closer at his use of it.

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