Methods and Categories: Judaism and GospelExcerpt:
In my view, then, we all benefit from a constant return to basics. If we force ourselves to return to the basics over and over again, not to recite the catechism of received opinion but actually to rethink what we are doing and why, to kick the tires again and check the worthiness of our assumptions and categories, our work will never become old. When it comes to rethinking the human past, there will always be much to do.
Adapted from Josephus, Judea, and Christian Origins (Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2009)
Paradoxically, then, it appears the Christians invented a system called Judaism, just as they invented paganism. Judaean culture on its own terms—the laws, customs, and traditions emanating from the mother-city of Jerusalem—had been something else altogether. It had been a vibrant and living civilization, which Judaean authors such as Philo and Josephus compared to other great civilizations of the time: Egyptian, Athenian, Spartan, and Roman.The discussion of euangelion, "gospel," is also fascinating and his concluding reflections on methodology are a must-read.
UPDATE (24 August): Daniel O. McClellan comments here.