In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity, By Oskar Skarsaune

In the Shadow of the Temple

Jewish Influences on Early Christianity

by Oskar Skarsaune

In the Shadow of the Temple
  • Length: 455 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: October 28, 2008
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 2844
  • ISBN: 9780830828449

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Oskar Skarsaune makes a fresh contribution to our understanding of the development of the early church in its practice (e.g., worship, baptism and Eucharist) and doctrine (e.g., Scripture, Christology, pneumatology). This book offers the new perspective that Christians were in ongoing and deep conversation with Jews during the early centuries leading up to Constantine.

The common perception of a drastic "parting of the ways" after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. has tended to distort our understanding of the succeeding decades and centuries of Jewish and Christian history. Notwithstanding the fact that there were points of bitterness and strife, the relationship is better viewed as that of a younger and older sibling. There is much evidence of interaction between the early Christians and rabbinic Judaism, both at the level of leadership and laypeople, and this left its impression on the church. Skarsaune gives us numerous fascinating episodic and topical glimpses into this untold story.

"Professor Skarsaune has long been known as a leading scholar of early Jewish and Gentile Christian history. Here he brings his outstanding specialist learning to bear in a wonderfully accessible, comprehensive introduction to the Jewish basis of Christian faith and history throughout the first three centuries. In binding together the New Testament's Jewish roots with the life of the early Jewish and Gentile church, this is an outstanding textbook of Christian origins."

Markus Bockmuehl, Cambridge University

"Nowadays the Jewish texture of the New Testament is increasingly appreciated, and rightly so. In this highly informative and stimulating book, Professor Skarsaune demonstrates how illuminating it can be to read the New Testament from the perspective of the fully Jewish character of early Christianity. This novel approach to Christian origins will enrich readers, making them more sensitive to the Jewishness of the New Testament and early Christianity and more appreciative of the debt Christianity owes to the Jews."

Donald A. Hagner, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Oskar Skarsaune is surely right on the Jewishness of early Christianity and the importance of the temple for its development. He marshals an accurate display of historical information and exercises sound judgment in weighing probabilities. The result not only establishes the Jewish influences on early Christianity but also presents a persuasive synthesis of key elements in the story of Christian origins."

Everett Ferguson, Abilene Christian University

"Although this book is written at a level that will be easily accessible to students, it is based on sound and fresh scholarship by a leading early church historian. [It] has the merit of surveying the history of the Christian movement from its beginnings with Jesus through the pre-Constantinian period from the specific perspective of demonstrating the close links between Christianity and its Jewish roots that persisted throughout this period. The author has not only harvested much specialized scholarship on this crucial question regarding Christian origins but also has his own personal contribution to make. This attractive presentation is a must for all students of the early church."

I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen

"Oskar Skarsaune's In the Shadow of the Temple is outstanding and will not only serve well the general reader, for whom the author writes, it will also serve well the scholar and student alike. Skarsaune has produced a gem that deftly lays out the major events, institutions, beliefs and figures of Judaism of late antiquity and how they shaped early Christianity. This reader-friendly book is a must."

Craig A. Evans, Trinity Western University

"[O]ffers surprising insights into how much interaction took place between early Christians and Jews. It supplements standard textbooks on early church history as it reconnects the 'disconnect' between New Testament history and early church history. It also contains 'snapshots' of thematic developments rather than continuous historical narrative and includes helpful annotated bibliographies by topic for further reading and research."

Savannah Jones, Sir Read a Lot (, December 1, 2008

"In the Shadow is an outstanding and illuminating book. And it is not for specialists by any means but for those who simply like the Bible and reading. Every chapter sheds intense light not only on the pages of the New Testament but also on the entire faith of the early church through the second and third centuries. Skarsaune has written a work on early Christian history with special attention to the often neglected Jewish background. If you are looking for something that can add significant depth to the pages of the New Testament then I recommend this fine work."

Bobby Valentine, Stoned-Campbell Disciple (, September 4, 2008

"Skarsaune's fine book is balanced and rich with insight. It is highly recommended."

Craig A. Evans, Dharma Deepika, July-December 2007


A Note on Abbreviations and References
General Literature
Translations of Sources

Part One: The Mother Soul: Judaism from the Maccabees to the Rabbis
1. The Cultural Dimension: Judaism Hellenism
Introduction: The Maccabbes Revolt
Alexander the Great and the Triumph of Hellenism
The Hellenistic City: The Polis
A New Conception of the Torah
The Concept of Judaism
Greek in Israel
Active Disemination of Judaism and Christianity
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
2. The Political Dimension: Jews the Roman Empire
The End of the Hasmonean Dynasty and the Beginning of Roman Rule
The Bar Kokhba Revolt
The Tension Between Jews and Romans
The Legal Position of Jewish and Gentile Believers
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
3. The Geographical Dimension: The Land of Israel the Diaspora
The Diaspora
The Land of Israel
The Galilee
Jerusalem: The Capital of All Jews
"Palestinian" Judaism and "Hellenistic" Judaism?
Geography of Synagogue and Church
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
4. Jerusalem: The City of the Temple
Was Jerusalem Relevant?
The Temple and the Pilgrimages
The Temple: The Financial Significance
The Temple: The Religious Significance
The Chief Priests, the Priests and the Levites
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
5. How Many "Judaisms"?
Introduction: "Give me Jabne!"
The Priestly Elite
Priestly Judaism: The Sadducees
Priestly Judaism: The Community at Qumran and the Essenes
The Community at Qumran
The Essenes
Priestly Judaism for Laypeople: The Pharisees
Judaism Apart from the Temple: The Synagogue
Nationalistic Judaism: The Zealots
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading

Part Two: Christian Beginnings: From Jewish Party to Gentile Church
6. Jesus Within Judaism
"The Old Quest"
"The New Quest"
"The Third Quest": A Jewish Quest
Jesus and the Hope for Israel
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
7. The Early Jerusalem Community of Believers in Jesus
The Importance of Jerusalem to the Early Church
Conflict in the Temple; Sympathy from the People
Increased Conflict: The "Hellenists"
The First Believers' View of the Temple
What About the Torah?
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
8. The Mission to the Gentiles the Question of the Torah
The Role of Paul and the Apostolic Counsil
The Mission to the God-Fearing Gentiles
The Reaction of the Roman Authorities
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
9. The Land of Israel: The Church of Jewish Believers
Internal Diversity
The Sources
Jewish Believers in the Land of Israel (I): The Archaeology of Holy Places
Jerusalem: The Holy Sepulchre
Jerusalem: A Community Center on Mount Zion
Capernaum: The House of Peter?
Jewish Believers in the Land of Israel (II): Literary Evidence
The Relatives of Jesus
Eusebius's List of Jewish Christian "Bishops"
The Rabbis and the Minim
Bar Kokhba and the Jewish Believers
The Nazarenes
The Ebionites
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
10. The Diaspora: The Church of Jews Gentiles
The Apostolic Fathers
1 Clement
Concluding Remarks: The Jewish Believers as the Theological Teachers of Gentile Christianity
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
11. Encounter with Paganism-- the Jewish Heritage
Conversion in Judaism and Christianity
The Apologists
The Martyrs of Lyons
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
12. Orthodoxy Heresy: The Challenge from Gnosticism Marcion
The Basic Defination of Heresy
The Fundamentals of Gnostic Doctrine
Gnosticism and Christianity
The Origins of Gnosticism
Gnostic Elitism
Conclusion: Heresy and Orthodoxy
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
13. Elder Younger Brothers: The Second-Century Debate with Judaism
Introduction: The Bitterness of Family Strife
From Jewish Self-Criticism to Anti-Jewish Slogans
The Assertiveness of the Younger Brother
Justin's Dialogue with Trypho
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading

Part Three: The Persistence of the Jewish Heritage: Faith Order in the Early Church
14. Which Books Belong in the Bible? The Question of Canon
What is "Scripture"?
The Old Testament Canon in Judaism and the Early Church
Delimiting the Hebrew Canon
The Old Testament Apocrypha
The New Testament as Canon
Delimiting the New Testament Canon
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
15. Christology in the Making (I): The Messiah
Jesus: The Messiah?
The Messianic Task
Confessing Belief in the Messiah: The Apostolic Creed
Suggestions for Further Reading
16. Christology in the Making (II): The Incarnate Word
Eastern and Western Christology
Eastern Christology: Hellenistic?
Wisdom Incarnate
Jesus and Wisdom/Torah
The Father and the Son
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
17. The Creative Spirit
From Spirit to Organization?
The Spirit Who Creates
Spirit, Eucharist and Ministry
Charismatic Gifts
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading
18. Conversion, Baptism New Life
Conversion and Baptism in the Early Community: The Double Background
Jewish and Christian Baptism
Jewish and Christian Rituals of Conversion
Pre-Baptismal Instruction
Fasting, Prayer and Exorcism
Renouncing the Devil, Confessing Faith
The "Living Water" of Baptism
Going Down, Coming Up
Undressing and Dressing Anew
Post-Baptismal Anointing
The Baptismal Eucharist
The Season for Baptism
Baptism, Spirit and New Life
Suggestions for Further Reading
19. Worship Calendar: The Christian Week and Year
Freedom and Order
The Big Novelty of Christian Worship: The First Day
Sunday Worship
The Service of the Word
The Christian Day and Week
The Christian Year
Passover (Pesach) and Easter
The Jewish Festival of Weeks (Shavuot) and Christian Pentecost
Suggestions for Further Reading
20. Passover Eucharist
The Eucharist: Lines of Development
The Eucharist Prayer and the Passover Meal
The Eucharist Prayers in Didache 9-10
The Eucharist Prayer in Justin and Polycarp
The Eucharist Prayer in Hippolytus
Temple Square
Suggestions for Further Reading

Part Four: Epilogue
21. The Church Facing a New Era
The Great Roman Crisis and Restitution
The Great Persecution
"The Constantinian Revolution"
What Has the Emperor to Do with the Church?
Renouncing the World in a "Christian" Empire
"The Sanctification of Time"
The Sanctification of Places: The Idea of the Holy Land
Christian Philo-Semitis: A Grass-Roots Movement
Postscript: No End
Suggestions for Further Reading

Index of Modern Authors
Index of Subjects
Index of Ancient Writings


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Oskar Skarsaune

Oskar Skarsaune is professor of church history at Norwegian Lutheran School of Theology in Oslo, Norway. He is the author of Incarnation: Myth or Fact and The Proof from Prophecy: A Study in Justin Martyr's Proof-Text Tradition.