When Christians Were Jews

When Christians Were JewsWhen Christians Were Jews: The First Generation
Paula Fredriksen
Yale University Press (October 23, 2018)
272 pages
Kindle edition $9.62, Amazon Hardcover $19.02

Although this book is published by Yale University Press, it is definitely a popular book. It wasn’t written for the scholarly community. It is, however, very heavily annotated. Nearly half the book is footnotes, bibliography, and other end matter.

Fredriksen discusses the first generation of the followers of Jesus. She talks about the Essenes and how their notion of the end time varied from and was similar to that of the followers of Jesus. She discusses the discrepancies between Paul as he is portrayed in the book of Acts and how he writes about himself in his letters. She explains how it was not Jesus who had the Romans upset, but the crowds he incited. The Romans were always nervous about angry crowds.

I have a couple of problems with Fredriksen’s approach. She places the books of Luke and Acts (written by the same author) in the early second century, when most scholars place it at the end of the first century. She uses the Revised Standard Version of the Bible for her English translation, which is odd. The RSV was published in 1949, while the New Revised Standard Version was published in 1989. The latter is regarded as a solid, reliable translation, so why she uses an earlier one baffles me.

There is one oddity with the footnotes in this Kindle edition. Clicking the footnotes takes you to the footnote section in the back of the book. In all other Kindle books that contain footnotes which I have read in the last couple of years the footnote appears as a pop-up. Very odd.

The book had some interesting insights, but there wasn’t really anything in it that I hadn’t picked up elsewhere.

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