Augustine and the Jews


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A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism

Paula Fredriksen

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Now in paperback with a new postscript, this updated edition of Paula Fredriksen’s critically acclaimed Augustine and the Jews traces the social and intellectual forces that led to the development of Christian anti-Judaism and shows how and why Augustine challenged this tradition.

Drawing us into the life, times, and thought of Augustine of Hippo (396–430), Fredriksen focuses on the period of astounding creativity that led to his new understanding of Paul and to his great classic, The Confessions.  She shows how Augustine’s struggle to read the Bible led him to a new theological vision, one that countered the anti-Judaism not only of his Manichaean opponents but also of his own church. The Christian Empire, Augustine held, was right to ban paganism and to coerce heretics. But the source of ancient Jewish scripture and current Jewish practice, he argued, was the very same as that of the New Testament and of the church—namely, God himself. Accordingly, he urged, Jews were to be left alone. Conceived as a vividly original way to defend Christian ideas about Jesus and about the Old Testament, Augustine’s theological innovation survived the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, and it ultimately served to protect Jewish lives against the brutality of medieval crusades.

Augustine and the Jews sheds new light on the origins of Christian anti-Semitism and, through Augustine, opens a path toward better understanding between two of the world’s great religions.

Paula Fredriksen is the Aurelio Professor of Scripture Emerita at Boston University and professor of religion at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Besides Augustine on Romans, her translation of Augustine’s early works on Paul, she has authored From Jesus to Christ, which was the basis of a popular Frontline documentary, and Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, which won a 1999 National Jewish Book Award. She divides her time between Boston and Jerusalem.

“A formidable work of cultural archaeology.”—Bryce Christensen, Booklist

“Impressive and thought-provoking.”—Kevin Madigan, Commentary magazine

"It is a pleasure to write on a book that derives from a modern scholar's brain wave about the fateful insight of a thinker over a millennium and a half ago. . . . This is the story that Fredriksen tells with gusto. Her book is a masterpiece of passionately argued Augustinian scholarship."--Peter Brown, New York Review of Books

“The important story of Augustine and the Jews has never been told as well or as thoroughly. . . . This book is one of those rare works that is both accessible to the general educated reader and of value to experts.”—Paul R. Kolbet,
Religious Studies Review

“Carefully reasoned and clearly worded, Paula Fredriksen’s essay must be every critical reader’s point of departure.”—Brent Shaw, Princeton University

“Marvelous . . . Even in the massive field of Augustinian studies, this work stands out . . . A triumph of scholarship on issues which are still debated today.”—Robert McEachnie, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"A major contribution to the study of Augustine and to the history of Jewish-Christian relations"—Roland J. Teske, Theological Studies
ISBN: 9780300166286
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
528 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

Sales Restrictions: World excluding the British Commonwealth (except Canada), the Republic of Ireland, and the Republic of South Africa
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