When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation

Paula Fredriksen

Yale University Press, 2018

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

How did a group of charismatic, apocalyptic Jewish missionaries, working to prepare their world for the impending realization of God's promises to Israel, end up inaugurating a movement that would grow into the gentile church? Committed to Jesus’s prophecy—“The Kingdom of God is at hand!”—they were, in their own eyes, history's last generation. But in history's eyes, they became the first Christians.
In this electrifying social and intellectual history, Paula Fredriksen answers this question by reconstructing the life of the earliest Jerusalem community. As her account arcs from this group’s hopeful celebration of Passover with Jesus, through their bitter controversies that fragmented the movement’s midcentury missions, to the city’s fiery end in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, she brings this vibrant apostolic community to life. Fredriksen offers a vivid portrait both of this temple-centered messianic movement, and of the bedrock convictions that animated and sustained it.

"One comes to see the impetus for Fredriksen’s ceaseless reminders of Jesus’s and Paul’s Jewishness. Gentiles are apt to forget. Gentile Christians are sometimes eager to do so. But remembering, as Fredriksen well knows, makes for good history and even better theology. For jogging our collective memory, and with such erudition and elegant prose, we are all in her debt."
—Los Angeles Review of Books

“A significant contribution . . . When Christians Were Jews is an inviting introduction into this important period that will stimulate and challenge readers of all backgrounds and faith traditions.”
—Malka Z. Simkovich, Christian Century

"...Complex and fascinating discussions... When Christians Were Jews is easy for non-scholars to read, although some knowledge of the Christian scripture is helpful... Anyone interested in Judaism in the first century C.E., or in the early history of Christianity, will find this book a welcome addition to their book shelves.
—Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton’s The Reporter