Between Jews and Heretics: Refiguring Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Between Jews and Heretics

Refiguring Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, 1st Edition

By Matthijs den Dulk


174 pages

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Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho is the oldest preserved literary dialogue between a Jew and a Christian and a key text for understanding the development of early Judaism and Christianity. In Between Jews and Heretics, Matthijs den Dulk argues that whereas scholarship has routinely cast this important text in terms of "Christianity vs. Judaism," its rhetorical aims and discursive strategies are considerably more complex, because Justin is advocating his particular form of Christianity in constant negotiation with rival forms of Christianity. The striking new interpretation proposed in this study explains many of the Dialogue’s puzzling features and sheds new light on key passages. Because the Dialogue is a critical document for the early history of Jews and Christians, this book contributes to a range of important questions, including the emergence of the notion of heresy and the "parting of the ways" between Jews and Christians.


"This may be the most important book on Justin Martyr’s work in a century, solving major problems with understanding the text that have been unsolved since Harnack." - Daniel Boyarin, University of California Berkeley, USA

"Matthijs den Dulk’s outstanding Between Jews and Heretics sheds new light on the central questions of Christianity in the second century: mutual self-definition among rival groups, the development of heresiological discourse, literary images of Jews and Judaism, and appropriations of the Septuagint and of traditional philosophy. Its innovative reading of Dialogue with Trypho persuasively shows how all these themes converge in Justin Martyr’s project of inventing what he considered true Christianity. This is essential reading for all historians of early Christianity." - David Brakke, The Ohio State University, USA

"Taking the title Dialogue with utmost seriousness, Den Dulk has written a truly innovative book on Justin’s work while grounding his arguments in both meticulous historical philology and in critical theory. This important book situates the Dialogue in the vibrant milieu of religious diversity, inside and between Christianities and Judaisms of the second century CE, and significantly contributes to our understanding of these religious identities." - Galit Hasan-Rokem, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

"[den Dulk] advances scholarship on several core issues of second-century CE Christianity, including heresiology, the relationship between Judaism(s) and Christianities, and Christian identity articulation … This is a masterful work that is sure to influence scholarship on early Christianity for years to come." - Nathan L. Shedd, Religious Studies Review 2019

"Den Dulk skillfully examines Justin’s contemporary social, historical, and religious contexts and offers a rich and close reading of the Dialogue based on its focus on heresiology. Given that Justin belonged to a complex social context that required negotiation between various contemporary cultures and religions, Den Dulk rightly points out that the Dialogue must be read not as a monotonous evangelical text for Jews but as a multifaceted text pursuing a variety of purposes. Den Dulk’s refreshing interpretation shows modern readers Justin’s cultural intersection with Judaism and his contemporary Christians and redefines him as the expert of heresiology." - Review of Biblical Literature

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 – Justin Martyr, Heresy Hunter

Chapter 2 – The Case for an Internal Audience

Chapter 3 – The Dialogue as an Anti-heretical Text

Chapter 4– "Heresy" and the Composition of the Dialogue

Chapter 5 – In Favor of Heresiology


Appendix: Justin and the Acts of the Apostles

About the Author

Matthijs den Dulk is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Studies at Radboud University, The Netherlands.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the Early Christian World

Routledge Studies in the Early Christian World offers monographs and edited collections which explore the most cutting-edge research in Early Christianity. Covering all aspects of world of early Christianity, from theology, archaeology and history, to urbanism, class, economics, and sexuality and gender, the series aims to situate these early Christians within the wider context of Late Antiquity.

Comprising both regional studies and broader thematic surveys, this series explores what changed with the advent of Christianity, what remained the same, and how early Christians interacted with, made sense of, and shaped the world around them. Aimed at early Christian scholars, classicists and historians alike, Studies in the Early Christian World is an invaluable resource for anyone researching this fascinating period.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General