Daniel Nessim

Torah for Gentiles

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In the matrix of nascent Judaism and Christianity, the Didache is a Christian-Jewish voice seeking to mediate the Torah to its gentile recipients in a manner appropriate for them. Steering diplomatically between the Scylla and Charybdis of the Law-observant Jerusalem church and Pauline dogma, the Didache is very clear that gentiles do not need to convert to Judaism. On the other hand, the author argues, the Torah, and in particular the second Table of the Decalogue, is universally applicable to everyone, Jew and gentile. While gentiles are not required to keep commands specific to Israel, the Deuteronomic paradigm of the “Way of Life” versus the “Way of Death” is applicable to all.
Jesus said “my yoke is easy.” The Didache mandates bearing the yoke of the Lord in order to attain perfection. The yoke it advocates is not as “easy” as one might suppose, yet both Jews and Christians would recognize its morals as largely the same as those that underpin Judaeo-Christian values today. Further, they reflect the requirements that Christian Jews saw as necessary for participation in the Christian community, in a day when that community still looked very much to its Jewish progenitors.
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404 printed pages
Original publication
2021

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