Help Needed: Theories on Parting of the Ways

I need some help. Does anyone have a catalog of theories, or even their own theory on why (not necessarily when), the Parting of the Ways happened?

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31 Replies to “Help Needed: Theories on Parting of the Ways”

  1. At this point I think that the “Parting of the Ways” treats Judaism and Christianity as if they were two separate monolithic entities, and ignores how various Jewish and Christian groups continued to closely interact in the first few centuries. I think alot of the polemic behind Christian writers such as Ignatius, Barnabas or Justin Martyr was an elite attempt to try to try to carve out a distinct “Christian” identity apart from “Judaism” and rebuke members of their own congregations for attend the synagogue or adopt Jewish praxis (this issue is still evident behind Chrysostom harsh anti-Jewish rhetoric in the fourth century!), just as the Rabbis were trying to formulate their own boundaries, but things were not so clear-cut on the ground level (I like Boyarin’s view in Border Lines).

    1. Interesting, Mike. Thanks for the comment. It only throws another kink into my solution, but I will have to examine this one as well.

  2. haha, good term – Joelitis. Just one last one, I remember Jim Linville promoted a book that looks really interesting (some preview available at Google books) and could be a good challenge to views that seek to deconstruct the “Parting of the Ways”:

    Thomas A Robinson, “Ignatius of Antioch and the Parting of the Ways: Early Jewish-Christian Relations” ( Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2009).

  3. The parting of the ways occurred because the Romans turned up @ Jerusalem in AD 70, as Christ had said they would. The Jews went ballistic, blaming the peace loving beatniks that followed the Jews (rejected) messiah rather than blaming their their own blindness and hard-headedness, and spent two thousand years bitterly attempting to destroy Christianity, which will culminate with the Synagogue of Satan and the persecution of the followers of Christ prior to his return.


    1. Uh, wrong.

      First, the followers of Christ were hardly beatniks and evidences remain that ‘Christianity’ was still a Judaism for a while after that.

  4. My theory, although you could probably have predicted this, is based on a pretty literal reading of the book of Acts. It goes like this: the whole Jesus-resurrection incident caused a growing number of believers in Christ, most of them initially Jewish, but others Gentile. These Jews and Gentiles, despite their differences, continued to associate more and more closely, resulting in a growing distance between the Christian Jews and the non-Christian Jews. The rift was particularly characterized by debates over what to eat and whether to follow Mosaic law. And crushing of Jerusalem and the institutionalization of Christianity later, the rift became even deeper.

      1. It is indeed. And did not Paul say, “Was any one among called circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised.”? Take that however you want.

        The New Testament is full of the tension between Jewish Non-Christians and Jewish-Christians, between the “Hebrews and Hellenists” within Christianity, and between Pharisees and Gentiles within Christianity. There were a lot of forces pulling them apart.

        And yet they shared between 75% and 100% of the same Scriptures depending on how the local churches viewed canon. The birth of Christianity is a complicated story. But, as a singer once said, “We can wrestle with the doctrine and the teaching/and while this is all good I think that we should/remember one thing: it comes down to a man/dyin’ on a cross, savin’ the world . . .”

  5. Yes, I have a theory of when and where and how and by whom, and why, the parting of the ways occurred; in fact, I have written a book-length manuscript on that very topic, and I am currently seeking feedback on it. Anyone who is seriously interested in this topic can reach me at (not my address) and it will be forwarded to me, and I’ll send it to you if you will write in the subject-line PLEASE SEND IT.

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