Jewish Glass and Christian Stone : A Materialist Mapping of the
1st Edition

Jewish Glass and Christian Stone
A Materialist Mapping of the "Parting of the Ways"

ISBN 9780367594015
Published August 14, 2020 by Routledge
180 Pages

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Book Description

In recent years scholars have re-evaluated the "parting of the ways" between Judaism and Christianity, reaching new understandings of the ways shared origins gave way to two distinct and sometimes inimical religious traditions. But this has been a profoundly textual task, relying on the writings of rabbis, bishops, and other text-producing elites to map the terrain of the "parting." This book takes up the question of the divergence of Judaism and Christianity in terms of material--the stuff made, used, and left behind by the persons that lived in and between these religions as they were developing. Considering the glass, clay, stone, paint, vellum, and papyrus of ancient Jews and Christians, this book maps the "parting" in new ways, and argues for a greater role for material and materialism in our reconstructions of the past. 

Table of Contents

Preface: The Geographies of Identity

1: Mountains, Valleys, and Stones

2: Mountains: The Construction of World Religions

3: Valley: Intersectional, Material Antiquity

4: Glass: The Identities of Things

5: Clay: The Economics of Belonging

6: Marble: Stories in Stone

7: Paint: The Hollowness of Symbols

8: Vellum: ‘Relations’ in Miniature

9: Papyrus: The Practice of Text

10: The Mountains from the Valley

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Eric C. Smith is Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity and New Testament Studies at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, USA.


"This well-written and stimulating book fills a significant gap in current scholarship by focusing on material evidence for the relationships between Jews and Christians in late antiquity... Smith makes an excellent case for the inclusion of materiality in any consideration of the parting of the ways and other issues in the study of Jews and Christians in antiquity... The interaction with contemporary thinkers outside the field of biblical studies, archaeology, or ancient history demonstrates persuasively and concretely the ways in which the study of the ancient world is relevant to and also inflected by the currents of contemporary society." - Adele Reinhartz, Review of Biblical Literature 2019


"In this creative and groundbreaking study, Smith places material culture front and center as he explores the rich contact zone of the figurative "valley" between the "mountain peaks" that represent late Roman Judaism and Christianity as clearly distinct religions. Building on the recognition that modern concepts of religion, and with it understandings of Judaism and Christianity, distort our understanding of the Roman world, Smith rethinks early Christian/Jewish "relations" through a deep engagement with critical race theory, hybridity, and intersectionality. This accessible and engaging book contributes significantly to the study of early Christianity, Roman Judaism, identity-construction, and religion, and demonstrates clearly the value of the materialist turn." - Christina Shepardson, University of Tennessee, USA


"What can the physical remains of the past teach us about religion and community in antiquity? In this exquisitely crafted materialist reexamination of the so-called Parting of the Ways between Judaism and Christianity, Eric Smith reorients our thinking about the "raucous reality" of ancient lives on the ground. Stripping away the modern colonialist imposi