The nature of Jewish-Christian relations at the end of the first century has been a subject of serious study and considerable debate. The time between 70 and 150 CE is held to be a volatile time in that Jewish-Christian relations were quickly, although not uniformly, deteriorating. This is a time referred to as the "partings of the ways," when the church was emerging as a religion apart from Judaism. Although it has often been neglected in this study, of particular interest is the Apocalypse of John, since it was written in this dark and turbulent time in Jewish-Christian relations. John, who is a Jewish Christian, is writing to what are likely predominantly Gentile churches. At first, he appears to deny the very name "Jew" to his ethnic kin while accusing them of belonging to Satan (2:9; 3:9). Nevertheless, he does not abandon his own Jewish background and theology. He makes broad use of the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish cultic imagery while maintaining a Christian understanding that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's redemptive plan. What is of particular interest is how he adopts and adapts this imagery and language and applies it to the church. It is John's mix of Jewish imagery with a Christian message that may provide some insight into his perspective on the relationship between these two increasingly polarized sects. What exactly this perspective is constitutes the subject of the present discussion.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"This is a careful, well-argued thesis, which takes seriously the symbolic and recapitulative nature of Revelation's images. It recognizes how John's visions often describe the same realities through a kaleidoscope of images." --Ian Boxall, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 2007 Booklist
"Mayo's work is a fine contribution to the study of Revelation and its understanding of the Church's attitude to Judaism at the end of the first century. The history of scholarship has paid scant attention to Revelation's place in the delicate issues of the separation of the Church and Judaism in the first and second centuries. I warmly commend this helpful and perceptive study to all who deal with the issues of the relationship between the early Church and Judaism as well as the interpretation of the Book of Revelation." --David M. Scholer, Fuller Theological Seminary
Philip L. Mayo
Philip L. Mayo is Associate Professor of New Testament Studies at North Central University in Minneapolis.