Border Lines

Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity

Daniel Boyarin
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Border Lines
    Book Description:

    The historical separation between Judaism and Christianity is often figured as a clearly defined break of a single entity into two separate religions. Following this model, there would have been one religion known as Judaism before the birth of Christ, which then took on a hybrid identity. Even before its subsequent division, certain beliefs and practices of this composite would have been identifiable as Christian or Jewish.In Border Lines, however, Daniel Boyarin makes a striking case for a very different way of thinking about the historical development that is the partition of Judaeo-Christianity. There were no characteristics or features that could be described as uniquely Jewish or Christian in late antiquity, Boyarin argues. Rather, Jesus-following Jews and Jews who did not follow Jesus lived on a cultural map in which beliefs, such as that in a second divine being, and practices, such as keeping kosher or maintaining the Sabbath, were widely and variably distributed. The ultimate distinctions between Judaism and Christianity were imposed from above by "border-makers," heresiologists anxious to construct a discrete identity for Christianity. By defining some beliefs and practices as Christian and others as Jewish or heretical, they moved ideas, behaviors, and people to one side or another of an artificial border-and, Boyarin significantly contends, invented the very notion of religion.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0384-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface: Interrogate My Love
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-34)

    Every day for thirty years a man drove a wheelbarrow full of sand over the Tijuana border crossing. The customs inspector dug through the sand each morning but could not discover any contraband. He remained, of course, convinced that he was dealing with a smuggler. On the day of his retirement from the service, he asked the smuggler to reveal what it was that he was smuggling and how he had been doing so. “Wheelbarrows; I’ve been smuggling wheelbarrows, of course.”

    This humorous anecdote functions for me on several levels at once. First of all, I will insist that the...

  6. Part I Making a Difference:: The Heresiological Beginnings of Christianity and Judaism
    • Chapter 2 Justin’s Dialogue with the Jews: The Beginnings of Orthodoxy
      (pp. 37-73)

      In this chapter, I will be looking at the inscription of border lines between Christianity and Judaism from the points of view of the cartographers on both sides. Looking at the earliest of rabbinic texts, the Mishna, with eyes trained as well on the broader (here read Christian) discursive contexts within which the Mishna was produced enables us to uncover the beginnings of heresiological discourse among the Rabbis. Reading Justin’s Dialogue, I find there discursive work engaged in constructing a Judaism with which to contrast Christianity, and the use of heresiology in that project. Then, when I transpose to rabbinism...

    • Chapter 3 Naturalizing the Border: Apostolic Succession in the Mishna
      (pp. 74-86)

      As has been shown in a different context by David Halperin,¹ an epistemic shift consists not in the invention of a particular form of distinction, but in the aggregation of several modes of distinction into one new categorical dispositif. Halperin demonstrates that all of the elements that would make up male homosexuality existed well before the nineteenth century, but their aggregation into one “name” initiated the history of sexuality. Similarly, the various elements of heresiology surely existed before Justin; the epistemic shift that this writer effected consisted in bringing together rules of faith, apostolic succession, diabolical inspiration, and false prophecy...

  7. Part II The Crucifixion of the Logos:: How Logos Theology Became Christian
    • Chapter 4 The Intertextual Birth of the Logos: The Prologue to John as a Jewish Midrash
      (pp. 89-111)

      As we have seen, theological discourse, the establishment of “orthodox” doctrine, was the major discursive vehicle for the making of a difference on both the side of nascent Christian orthodoxy and nascent rabbinic orthodoxy. There is no reason to imagine, however, that “rabbinic Judaism” ever became the popular hegemonic form of Jewish religiosity among the “People of the Land;” and there is good reason to believe the opposite. Throughout the rabbinic period, there is evidence of a vital form of Judaism that was not only extrarabbinic but which the Rabbis explicitly named as a heresy, the belief in “Two Powers...

    • Chapter 5 The Jewish Life of the Logos: Logos Theology in Pre- and Pararabbinic Judaism
      (pp. 112-127)

      Erwin Goodenough has clearly articulated the problematic that gave rise to Logos theology in the first centuries of the Christian era: “The Logos then in all circles but the Stoic … was a link of some kind which connected a transcendent Absolute with the world and humanity. The Logos came into general popularity because of the wide-spread desire to conceive of God as transcendent and yet immanent at the same time. The term Logos in philosophy was not usually used as the title of a unique attribute of God, but rather as the most important single name among many applicable...

    • Chapter 6 The Crucifixion of the Memra: How the Logos Became Christian
      (pp. 128-148)

      As scholars have seen, there is an apparent and important parallel to Philo’s Logos myth in the classical Palestinian midrash Bereshith Rabba. According to this very famous passage, Rabbi Hoshaya of Caesarea declares that God looked into the Torah as a blueprint in order to create the world. Now, on the one hand, this is obviously very close to “Philo’s conception of the Logos as the instrument of God in creation;” so much so that it has been virtually accepted that Rabbi Hoshaya, a contemporary of Origen, drew this idea from that disciple of Philo’s disciple.¹ The passage in Philo...

  8. Part III Sparks of the Logos:: Historicizing Rabbinic Religion
    • Chapter 7 The Yavneh Legend of the Stammaim: On the Invention of the Rabbis in the Sixth Century
      (pp. 151-201)

      Of the two Talmuds and their differences, Jacob Neusner has written: “The sages of the Talmud of the Land of Israel seek certain knowledge about some few, practical things. They therefore reject—from end to beginning—the chaos of speculation, the plurality of possibilities even as to word choice; above all, the daring and confidence to address the world in the name, merely, of sagacity [that characterize the Talmud of the Babylon]. True, the [Palestinian] Talmud preserves the open-ended discourse of sages, not reduced to cut-and-dried positions. But the [Palestinian] Talmud makes decisions.”¹ While this is a lucid characterization of...

    • Chapter 8 “When the Kingdom Turned to Minut”: The Christian Empire and the Rabbinic Refusal of Religion
      (pp. 202-226)

      At the end of the fourth century and in the first quarter of the fifth century, we can find several texts attesting how Christianity’s new notion of self-definition via “religious” alliance was gradually replacing self-definition via kinship and land.¹ These texts, belonging to very different genres, indeed to entirely different spheres of discourse—heresiology, historiography, and law—can nevertheless be read as symptoms of an epistemic shift of great importance. As Andrew Jacobs describes the discourse of the late fourth and early fifth centuries, “Certainly this universe of discourses engendered different means of establishing normativity: the disciplinary practices of Roman...

  9. Concluding Political Postscript: A Fragment
    (pp. 227-228)

    “The role of the intellectual is not to tell others what they have to do. By what right would he do so?… The work of an intellectual is not to shape others’ political will; it is, through the analysis that he carries out in his field, to question over and over again what is postulated as self-evident, to disturb people’s mental habits, the way they do and think things, to dissipate what is familiar and accepted, to reexamine rules and institutions and on the basis of this re-problematization (in which he carries out his specific task as an intellectual) to...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 229-332)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 333-360)
  12. Index
    (pp. 361-372)
  13. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 373-374)