Synagogue and Separation: A Social-Scientific Approach to the Formation of Christianity in Antioch

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This book attempts to answer the question of how it is possible that Christianity in the beginning of the second century C.E. had developed into a non-Jewish, Gentile religion. Since Christianity was originally one of many Jewish factions within the diversified Judaism of the period, and one that even primarily seems to have directed its attention to the people of Israel, the problem of its separation from Judaism is one of the real puzzles of Western civilisation.

While previous attempts to solve this riddle have focused mainly on ideological aspects, this study emphasises the interplay between sociological and ideological elements. In an attempt to overcome the problem of inadequate sources the use of a hermeneutical model is suggested. The purpose of the model is to construct an interpretative frame through which historical information can be elicited from spare sources.

It is argued that the separation between Judaism and Christianity in an Antiochean context was a result of a combination between the socio-political situation in the Roman Empire and ideological elements within the Jewish faction of the Jesus movement that primarily concerned the status of Gentiles within the movement. It is concluded that the separation between Judaism and Christianity was mainly a separation between Jews and Gentiles within the Jesus movement and Gentile adherents to the Jesus movement strove to become a legally recognised voluntary association completely separated from Judaism.

It is suggested that the anti-Judaism of early Christianity was used as a resource in this struggle of independence as part of the programme of convincing the civic authorities about the reasonableness of allowing Christianity to become a legally recognised collegium.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
  • Religious Studies


  • Jewish-Christian relations, partings of the ways, Ignatius, sociology, Matthew, synagogue, hermeneutics, anti-Semitism, Jewish-Christianity, Gentile-Christianity, resource mobilisation, social movement, collective action, migration, assimilation, General, Kristen teologi (allmän, systematic and practical Christian theology, systematisk och praktisk), Antioch, History of the Christian church, Kristna kyrkans historia, Non-Christian religions, Världsreligioner (ej kristendom)
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2001 Nov 30
  • Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2001-11-30 Time: 10:15 Place: Samarkand, Akademiska Föreningen, Sandgatan 2 External reviewer(s) Name: Seland, Torrey Title: Professor Affiliation: Høgskolen i Volda, Norge --- The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Centre for Theology and Religious Studies (015017000)