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Contesting ConversionGenealogy, Circumcision, and Identity in Ancient Judaism and Christianity$
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Matthew Thiessen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199793563

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199793563.001.0001

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(p.142) Conclusion
Contesting Conversion

Matthew Thiessen

Oxford University Press

The conclusion broadens the discussion of the preceding chapters to show how disputes over Jewish identity, the role of circumcision, and the possibility of conversion continue today. While most people believe that religion and ethnicity are two separate categories, in antiquity this was not the case. Ancient gods were ethnic gods. Consequently, even non-Jews would have considered ancient Judaism’s connection of ethnicity and religion to be normal. Further, contrary to modern conceptions of Christianity, even early Christians did not dissociate religion from ethnicity. According to the author of Acts, while God had erased the genealogical problems associated with Gentile identity, God had not erased all the distinctions between Jews and Christians. Thus the early Church was a community within which differences were permitted to exist.

Keywords:   Jewish identity, circumcision, conversion, religion, ethnicity

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