Common to nearly all constructions of identity is that of ‘the [stereotyped] other’, the ‘not-us’, often defined negatively, in opposition to, and in order to sustain, a self-understanding. In Graeco-Roman thought, this is represented by the idea of ‘the barbarian’, and in Jewish thought by ‘the Gentiles’. In early Christian writings, we can explore the function and construction of ‘the Gentiles’, ‘the Greeks, and ‘the Jews’. In addition, the language of otherness is applied to an undifferentiated ‘world’ as well as to those who hold other views, the construction of heresy. Yet, as in modern debate, other models of a relationship with the Other than the hostile are possible and leave their traces.
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