As it developed an increasingly distinctive character of its own during the first six centuries of the common era, Christianity was constantly forced to reassess and adapt its relationship with the Jewish tradition. The process involved a number of preoccupations and challenges: the status of biblical and parabiblical texts (several of them already debatable in Jewish eyes), the nature and purposes of God, patterns of prayer (both personal and liturgical), ritual practices, ethical norms, the acquisition and exercise of religious authority, and the presentation of a religious "face" to the very different culture that surrounded and in many ways dominated both Christians and Jews.
The essays in this volume were developed within that broad field of inquiry, and indeed make their contribution to it. For, among the many issues already mentioned, there was also that of persons. What was Christianity to do, not just with Adam or Noah, say, but with Abraham, David and Solomon, the great prophetic figures of Jewish history—and, of course, with Moses?
As we move, chapter by chapter, across the early Christian centuries, we see Moses gradually changing in Christian eyes, and at the hands of Christian exegetes and theologians, until he becomes the philosopher par excellence, the forerunner of Plato, the archetype of the lawgiver, the model shepherd of the people of God—yet all on the basis of a scriptural record that Jews would still have been able to recognize.
Written by a range of established scholars, younger and older, many of them highly distinguished, The Christian Moses will appeal to graduate and senior students, to those rooted in a range of disciplines—literary, historical, art historical, as well in theology and exegesis—and to everyone interested in Jewish-Christian relations in this early era.
"An extraordinarily rich contribution to the study of early Christian exegesis since it provides such a rich and diverse array of profiles of Moses, and moves the discussion outside of strictly exegetical considerations to his role in the larger shaping of Christian communal identity."~Paul M. Blowers, Emmanuel Christian Seminary, Milligan College
"This outstanding collection shows how ancient Christians used Moses to address central questions of Christian thought and practice, including the interpretation of the Bible, the attributes of the ideal leader, the role of the Jews in salvation history, and the identity of Christ. Engaging sources that range from the New Testament, to major theologians, and to poetry and visual images, the authors reveal the enduring fascination with the man who, Exodus tells us, beheld God. Essential reading for scholars of early Christianity and the religions of late antiquity."~David B. Brakke, The Ohio State University
"What a pleasure to read a volume of collected essays in which the scholarship on display is of such high quality throughout. The contributors present an exemplary series of close readings and interpretive engagements with early Christian textual and visual-material sources, bringing them into vital conversation with contemporaneous Jewish and Muslim writings. The result is a multi-faceted glimpse into how the figure of Moses was taken up as a malleable--and often contested--marker of religious identity in the late ancient world."~Stephen Davis, Yale University