In recent years the issue of "Who is a Jew?" has become predominant in the Jewish community both in America and Israel. This book masterfully explains the relationship between halakhah and the issue of "Who Was a Jew," showing that the Jewish Christian schism was a result of the halakhic definition of Jewish identity. Using Talmudic sources, Professor Schiffman examines the halakhot governing the Jew by birth, conversion, heretics and apostates, and the Rabbinic reaction to the early Christians, and discusses the narratives illustrating Rabbinic contact with Jewish Christians. He concludes that the Christians were regarded initially by the Rabbis as minim, Jews who had heretical beliefs. With the ascendancy of Gentile Christianity, the Rabbis could no longer regard the Christians as Jewish, since they lacked the legal requirements for Jewish status. There-fore, in the early second century the Rabbis began to regard them as mem-bers of another religious community.
This book is required reading for both historians of Judaism and Christi-anity and those who would seek to formulate educated views about the issue of Jewish status in contemporary times.
About the Author
Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman is professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University. He is the author of two volumes on the legal materi-als in the Dead Sea Scrolls and numerous articles on postbiblical Judaism.