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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the hermeneutical strategies taken by early Christian authors with respect to the law of Moses. It considers the two other laws most often discussed by patristic authors, the natural law and the law of Christ, only in relation to that law. This chapter shows how early mainstream Christian treatments of the Mosaic law were shaped decisively by ongoing polemics against Judaism and dualist instantiations of Christianity. It contends that though early Christian interpretation of the Mosaic law was certainly not uniform in regard to theological emphases and exegetical tactics, the pressure exerted by these two polemical contexts had a standardizing effect, insofar as virtually all patristic authors both relativized the value of the law vis-à-vis Judaism and affirmed its relative and absolute goodness over against dualist critiques.

Keywords: anti-Judaism, law of Moses, figural exegesis, Gnosticism, hermeneutics

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