Ancient Jewish-Christian Dialogues: Athanasius and Zacchaeus, Simon and Theophilus, Timothy and Aquila. Introductions, Texts and Translations

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This work provides the text and translations of three ancient Jewish – Christian dialogues: The Dialogue of Athanasius and Zacchaeus (Greek, 4th c.); The Dialogue of Simon and Theophilus (Latin, 5th c.); and The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila (Greek, 6th c.. This is the first published translation of each of these texts. An introduction discusses the context of the dialogues in the “Contra Judaeos” literature of the early Church and also explores the question of whether or not they represent any actual discussion between Jews and Christians, and also what purposes these dialogues served. Careful attention has been paid to the dialogues’ use of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, in furthering the discussion about the Messiah. To this end, a Comprehensive Spiritual Index encourages greater comparative study of these dialogues. It is the translator’s purpose to expose these works, which have been the concern of a small circle of focused scholars, to a wider scholarly audience and to encourage greater study of them and their role in the history of Jewish-Christian relations.


“Exploring historical confrontations and the history of confrontations can be both highly rewarding and deeply frustrating. What one says about or to an opponent often reveals more about the one speaking than the one being confronted ... In the present volume, the editor has selected three texts that have survived from the period in which what became mainstream Christianity had recently emerged as a pivotal force in the political and social life of the Roman worlds – the 4th through 6th centuries ... In general, these materials have not been easily accessible to English reading audiences, or, for that matter, even to first level students of Greek and Latin. They are only the tip of a large iceberg of relatively unexplored “dialogues” that stretch from at least the second century (Aristo, Justin) to the late medieval period and beyond. Hopefully, the editor’s lucid translations and brief but enlightening introductions and conclusions will help to open the gates for further works of this sort.” – (from the Preface) Robert A. Kraft, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania

“This work is a fine and important contribution to theological, classical and Judaica scholarship. The excellent translation and study, focusing on the interface of Christian and Jewish biblical polemic in the first few centuries after Christ, opens up a marvelous world of scholarship as well as general readership for many who would otherwise have no opportunity to experience these texts and the ancient cultures they unfold ... Having the text and translation with critical commentary and apparatus also opens up such scholarly projects as, for instance, a study of the rhetorical milieu of the works ... This work showcases a brief but seminal series of documents in the long history of Jewish-Christian interface, and is a welcome addition to the scholarship of several disciplines.” – Grant Horner, Associate Professor of English, The Master’s College

“Scholars of early Christianity and Judaism will be indebted to [the editor] since a great need for translations of both texts (The Dialogue of Athanasius and Zacchaeus and The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila) has been felt for a considerable time. This is because they are extremely important for the reconstruction of Christian-Jewish debate in the fourth century and sixth century ... I have no doubt that this book will be well reviewed in journals, and gratefully received by students and academics in many areas of Early Christianity and Judaism.” – Professor Lawrence Lahey, Department of Classics and Mediterranean Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago

“I would like to commend the efforts of [the editor] to open more windows into the house of early Christianity. Jewish Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism are the two twins who grew up in that house. While some windows have been open to the public for centuries, a few have had the curtains drawn. [The editor] has now opened the curtains on those darkened windows. His thorough research has drawn together little known dissertations, out of print books, and important articles, providing a handbook on the genre of Christian-Jewish dialogue ... All scholars in this field will welcome this pioneering work, especially in the light of Post-Holocaust theology which has awakened the desire to discover the roots of the Jewish-Christian debate.” – William L. Krewson, Assistant Professor, Friends of Israel Institute of Jewish Studies, Philadelphia Biblical University

“The dialogues are valuable historical documents in themselves, but they also contribute a broad perspective to the debates and dialogues that have occurred between Jews and Christians to this day ... The editor’s familiarity with both the Hebrew-Aramaic and Greco-Roman traditions is a great asset here. This book will be a valuable addition ... and should find a ready audience among both academics and the general public.” – Steve Reece, Associate Professor of Classical Languages, Saint Olaf College

Table of Contents

1. The Dialogue of Athanasius and Zacchaeus
2. The Dialogue of Simon and Theophilus
3. The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila

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