In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews 139 interested in the histories ofmale behavior with respect to women and gender will have much to learn from this erudite, careful, and well-written book. Daniel Boyarin Near Eastern Studies University of California, Berkeley The Struggle for Scripture and Covenant, by Reidar Hvalvik. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2. Reihe 82. Tiibingen: 1. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 196. 415 pp. DM 118.00. This volume is a revised version of the author's Doctor Theologiae degree from the Norwegian School ofTheology. It is an ambitious undertaking that covers a wide range oftopics and issues in the history ofearly Christianity and Judaism. Hvalvik examines the problems ofthe occasion, purpose, and literary character ofthe Epistle ofBarnabas, all issues that he regards as largely neglected. In the ftrst halfofthe book (Parts One and Two) Hvalvik looks at these questions as they are evidenced within the Epistle itself. In the second half (Part Three) he is concerned more generally with issues of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in the second century. Here Hvalvik argues that the Epistle ftts into a broader context of Jewish and Christian missionary competition. Hvalvik's analysis ofBarnabas is thorough and penetrating. In essence he argues that the book, rather than being a collection of traditional materials, has an overall coherence that can be uncovered. He remarks, "The various topics dealt with all serve the overall purpose of the author: to further the right choice between Christianity and Judaism" (p. 203). It is a protreptic letter whose central problem in this regard is proper interpretation of Scripture which reveals that the covenant with God belongs to Christians and not to Jews. The Jews lost the covenant because they fundamentally . misunderstood the commandments of God. The Christians, who understand them properly, are the recipients ofGod's covenant. The Jewish rites are "man-made"; those ofthe Christians constitute the correct realization of God's intentions. Thus, Barnabas' interpretation of speciftc aspects of Jewish law as well as the more general contrast between the two ways and the two peoples ftts into an agenda of Jewish and Christian opposition. In Part Three Hvalvik tries to show that the interaction between Judaism and Christianity in the ftrst couple ofcenturies C.E. can be characterized by intense hostility and competition between the two traditions and that such a situation provides the social and community background for a work like Barnabas. According to Hvalvik, the context can be found in the missionary competition between Jews and Christians for 140 SHOFAR Winter 1999 Vol. 17, No.2 Gentile converts, primarily among the rich and powerful who could act as patrons on behalf of the Jewish or Christian communities. That is, Jews and Christians must have been in serious missionary competition for Gentile converts, and Barnabas' rhetoric represents an attempt to convince Gentiles of the illegitimacy of conversion to or participation in Judaism. Ofcourse, to sustain this conclusion Hvalvik must try to resolve the thomy problem ofthe extent to which Judaism in this period can be understood as a missionary religion. In all, Hvalvik tries to show (a) that the hostility described in the literature was real and not simply theological; (b) that such hostility "reflects the fact that a competition is going on between Jews and Christians, a competition for adherents" (p. 244); (c) that Gentiles were attracted to Judaism and that there were, in fact, many "Godfearers"; and (d) that Judaism had an active and important missionary focus. When speaking of the missionary interest in Judaism, Hvalvik tries to carve a middle path between those who argue against any Jewish missionary outreach and those who see Judaism as everywhere actively seeking to convert non-Jews. His attempt to walk this middle road reveals the problems that he has in making his case. The evidence is ambiguous. He draws much evidence from rabbinic sources which are notoriously hard to apply to the period in which Ps.-Barnabas would have written. Were there Gentile adherents to Judaism? Yes. Do we fmd evidence of some Jewish proselytizing? Yes. But the evidence that Hvalvik cites does not persuade me that there was in Judaism an active missionary competition with Christians. In fact, Hvalvik's own...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 139-141
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.