The Split of Early Christianity and Judaism

Northern Renaissance painting illustrates a great parting of the ways

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in 2014.—Ed.


 
robert-campin

Robert Campin’s Marriage of the Virgin dramatically captures the split of early Christianity and Judaism. Scala/Art Resource, NY.

Christianity and Judaism, two of the world’s major religions, shared the same foundation—ancient Judaism. The two religions, however, eventually split in a series of partings, becoming two separate entities.

There is one painting that dramatically illustrates the split of early Christianity and Judaism: Robert Campin’s Marriage of the Virgin. In his article “Parsing ‘The Parting’ Painting,” which appears in the July/August 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Theodore Feder examines the telltale symbols present throughout the Northern Renaissance painting. As Feder explains, “It is the one—and only—painting in the entire history of art that fully delineates the actual physical parting of the ways between the Church and Synagogue.”
 


 
In the free eBook Paul: Jewish Law and Early Christianity, learn about the cultural contexts for the theology of Paul and how Jewish traditions and law extended into early Christianity through Paul’s dual roles as a Christian missionary and a Pharisee.
 

 
Campin, also known as the Master of Flémalle, painted the Marriage of the Virgin around 1420. The painting depicts the marriage of Mary and Joseph. They are being married in front of the portal of the Church, constructed in the Gothic style. The Church is built around a preexisting building, the Jerusalem Temple, which is constructed in the Romanesque style. Feder explains this significance: “The painting in question purports to show how the physical edifice of the Church literally encompassed the physical edifice of the Synagogue while sharing its foundations … Throughout there is an unusual recognition of the debt Christianity owes to Judaism, even if its posture is one of supersession.”

While the two religions are still one in the painting, the scene shows the nascence of Christianity and foreshadows the split of early Christianity and Judaism.

To learn more about the different symbols alluding to the gradual split of early Christianity and Judaism in Robert Campin’s Marriage of the Virgin, read “Parsing ‘The Parting’ Painting” by Theodore Feder in the July/August 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

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BAS Library Members: Read the full article “Parsing ‘The Parting’ Painting” by Theodore Feder in the July/August 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.
 


 
This Bible History Daily feature was originally published on July 18, 2014.
 

 

Related Content in Bible History Daily:

Lovers’ Tale: A Closer Look at Daphnis and Chloe in the Garden of Eden

Solomon, Socrates and Aristotle

First Person: Art as Bible Interpretation

Roman Emperor Nerva’s Reform of the Jewish Tax by Nathan T. Elkins

The Archaeological Quest for the Earliest Christians: Part 1 and Part 2 by Douglas Boin
 


 
Now available in the BAS Store: Partings—How Judaism and Christianity Became Two. Never before has this multi-faceted process been documented so engagingly and so authoritatively by so many eminent scholars. Read more >>
 

 

Posted in Post-Biblical Period.

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  • Alvaro says

    this articles tries to bring to the table a thought about the division of jews and gentile believers and all it seemed to have brought up is a silly discussion on technicality on whether there is one God two Gods three Gods, unitarians trinitarians, birth of Catholicism etc. still there is no true comments on the “division” of the church from Jew born believers and gentile born believers.
    Ephesians 2:12-13 comes to mind
    12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ
    (Ephesians 2:12-13 NKJV)

    basic fact is if you base your beliefs in new testament doctrine then in result you cannot deny that you are now part of the commonwealth of Israel or in other words an Israeli, a jew, etc. the bible never draws a line of separation but instead says whomever accepts and beliefs is now part of what is already in existence.

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