A Contemporary Analysis of Shifting Contours of Jewish and Christian Identities

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2021

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Abstract

This dissertation argues that the boundaries between ostensibly separable “Jewish” and “Christian” religious traditions were fluid in the past and remain so today through examination of four contemporary case studies evidencing two general phenomena. One phenomenon explored is how varieties of self-identified Jesus-believers have incorporated rituals and ideas that have traditionally been associated with Judaism into their contemporary religious practice and understanding of the New Testament. The other phenomenon explored is how varieties of self-identified Jews have incorporated practices and figures that have traditionally been associated with Christianity into features of the contemporary Jewish landscape. In exploring the first phenomenon, I examine the following two case studies: (1) attempts by Christians of varying denominational affiliations to incorporate Jewish rituals associated with Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath) observance into Christian practice and (2) attempts by academic Jesus-believers, self-identified as Gentile Christians and Messianic Jews, to underscore the continuing significance of the territoriality of the land of Israel in the New Testament. In exploring the second phenomenon, I examine the following two cases studies: (1) attempts by Jews of varying denominational affiliations to incorporate a sense of mission traditionally associated with Christianity into Jewish practice for the purpose of Jewish outreach or advocacy in support or opposition to the State of Israel and (2) attempts by Jewish filmmakers to incorporate the figure of Jesus into Israeli films. In analyzing the aforementioned case studies relating to ritual observance, biblical exegesis, ideological identity, and visual arts, I hope to show how the supposed boundaries between self-identified Christians and Jews remain, as in the past, fluid and contested.

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Orenstein, David (2021). A Contemporary Analysis of Shifting Contours of Jewish and Christian Identities. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23032.

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