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Jews or Not? Reconstructing the "Other" in Rev 2:9 and 3:9 Author(s): David Frankfurter Source: The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 94, No. 4 (Oct., 2001), pp. 403-425 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Harvard Divinity School Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3657415 . Accessed: 27/03/2014 12:41
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Jews or Not? Reconstructing the "Other" in Rev 2:9 and 3:9*


David Frankfurter Universityof New Hampshire John of Patmos describes his opponents in both Smyrna and Philadelphia as "those who say that they are Jews but are not, but are a synagogue of Satan" (Rev 2:9; 3:9). But when the historian of early Christianity tries to give some historical dimension to these opponents, there unravels one of the signature conundrums of ancient labelling: are the opponents Jews? Non-Jews? Which interpretationis simplest, according to the criterion of Ockham's Razor? And what could these terms have meant for John?Most critically, what terms can we ourselves use to designate these parties without resorting to anachronisticdefinitions of "Jew"or "Christian"? In this paper I will identify these "so-called Jews" not with the Smyman and within Jews outsidetheJesusmovementbutrather with a constituency Philadelphian the Jesus movementwho were claimingthe label "Jew"in a mannerthatJohnfinds illegitimate.This constituency,I will argue,embracesPaulineandneo-Paulineproselytes to the Jesus movementwho were not, in John's eyes (andmanyothers' in the first century),halakhicallypureenough to meritthis term in its practicalsense.' In
*For criticisms and discussion of this paper in previous forms, and for sharing unpublished materials, I am grateful to Daniel Boyarin, John Collins, Paul Duff, Pamela Eisenbaum, John Gager, Martin Goodman, Martha Himmelfarb, John Marshall, Ann Merideth, and Adela Yarbro Collins. A version of this paper was presented to the Society of Biblical Literature Section on Early Jewish/Christian Relations, Annual Meeting, November 20, 2000. 'Cf. John G. Gager, The Origins of Anti-Semitism: Attitudes Toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian Antiquity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983) 132; and Lloyd Gaston, "Judaism of the Uncircumcised in Ignatius and Related Writers," in Separation and Polemic (vol. 2 of Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity; ed. Stephen G. Wilson; Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier

HTR 94:4 (2001)

403-425

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identificationof the "solaying out this argument,I will first discuss the traditional called Jews,"following whichI will discuss the apocalyptic Jewishcontextof John's Jesus belief, the various circles and boundariesof conflict that occupy John in the seven lettersandthatsuggest a moreintimateenemy in the "so-calledJews,"andthe conflicts over relationshipbetweenJohn's opponentsand the broaderfirst-century Gentile proselytesand Jewish observanceamong Jesus believers.2

* The Scenarioof the PersecutingJews


Although Johndescribes threatsfrom "so-called Jews" in two cities, commentators have focused on Smyrnato explain who these opponentsmight represent.So while in Philadelphiathe "so-called Jews" are simply cursed with eschatological humiliation("Iwill make them come and bow down before your feet," 3:9), those in Smyrnaseem to be "slandering" John's recipients.Indeed,he says thathis audience is aboutto suffer, some of them already having been thrown into prison by the devil. Commentatorshave assembled an elaborate historical scenario out of these obscure sectarianrants.The "synagogue of Satan"is takento be the local Jewish majority,whomJohn rejects as Satanicand false for severalreasons:a) they reject Jesus and thus are no longer proper"Jews"accordingto the new Pauline scheme of replacement;b) they hate Christiansas minim-"heretics"--in the post-70 period of alleged Jewish orthodoxy; c) they compete with Christians for Gentile and d) they have incited, out of competitionand hatred,the Roman God-fearers;3 authorities to persecutethe Christians.In the words of R. H. Charles: The bitterhostility of the Jews to the Christiansis unmistakable from the context. The Jews were strong at Smyrna,and had maintainedin practice their position as a distinct people apartfrom the rest of the

University Press, 1986) 42-43. Both Gager and Gaston locate these opponents similarly, although without discussion. Marcel Simon came close to the same conclusion in "De l'observance rituelle a l'ascese: recherches sur le decret apostolique," RHR 193 (1978) 73, before rejecting it for the received interpretation. 2One might quarrel with the substitute category "Jesus believer" (replacing "Christian") as giving too much classificatory weight to belief in a cultural world in which practice and custom most often distinguished religious groups. However, the data for the Jesus movement in Asia Minor seem to point to distinctive Christological concerns arising as a speculative feature of apocalyptic Judaism placed in the realm of interpretation and intellection. Such speculation might, of course, translate into such distinctive practices as hymns to Christ and prophetic performances. 3JohnSweet, Revelation (Philadelphia: TPI, 1979) 28; Adela YarbroCollins "Vilification and Self-Definition in the Book of Revelation," in Christians among Jews and Gentiles: Essays in Honor of Krister Stendahl on His Sixty-Fifth Birthday (ed. George W. E. Nickelsburg and George W. MacRae; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986) 313-14.

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citizens till the reign of Hadrian .... The persecution with which the

Churchis here threatened shows that the Jews were acting in concert
with the heathen authorities.4

But is thereevidence for any of this scenario?We know nothingaboutthe Jews of Smyrnaexcept thattherewere some, that they endowed buildings for worship, and that some may have been immigrantsfrom Judea.5And the documents for Jews in Asia Minor show a highly diversified ethnic population,many of whose communities had assimilatedthemselves to landscape and culture and could not be said to be uniformly embracingor opposing any subsect.6Indeed, as Martin Goodman has argued,the archaeologyof Asia Minor Judaismby itself offers almost no sense of Jewish beliefs, texts, or distinctive doctrines:
None of the archaeological and epigraphic evidence gives any hint of the really distinctive traits of Judaism as it appears in late-antique Jewish and Christian sources: the centrality of a written scripture, and its proclamation and explanation in public assemblies. To deduce that, we would need more inscriptions affirming the status of liturgical readers, which are curiously rare. Nothing in the iconography would give a clue to the main Jewish identity markers as we know them from elsewhere: shabbat, kashrut (dietary laws), and circumcision.7

4R. H. Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentaryon the Revelation of St. John (2 vols.; Edinburgh:T&T Clark, 1920) 1:56,58; cf. Sweet, Revelation, 28-30; Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, The Book of Revelation: Justice and Judgment (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985) 118-19, 194-95; Paul R. Trebilco, Jewish Communitiesin Asia Minor (SNTSMS 69; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) 27; and Claudia Setzer, Jewish Responses to Early Christians: History and Polemics, 30-150 C.E. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994) 101. 5See Emil Schiirer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (rev. and ed. Geza Vermes, Fergus Millar, and Martin Goodman; 3 vols.; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 197387) 3:19-20. On Judean immigrants, hoi pote ioudaioi ("those formerly Judeans," not "those formerly Jews"), mentioned in a second-century Smyrnan inscription (I.Smyrna II.1, #697 = CIG 3148 = CIJ II, #742), see A. T. Kraabel, "The Roman Diaspora: Six Questionable Assumptions," in Diaspora Jews and Judaism: Essays in Honor of, and in Dialogue with, A.

ThomasKraabel(ed. J. AndrewOvermanand RobertS. MacLennan; South FloridaStudies


in the History of Judaism 41; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992) 11. 6For example, Sib. Orac. 1.196-98, 261-82 and inscriptions discussed by Schiirer, History of the Jewish People, 1:17-36; Stephen Mitchell, Anatolia (2 vols; Oxford: Clarendon, 1993) 2: 31-37; and Irina Levinskaya, The Book of Acts in its Diaspora Setting (vol. 5 of The Book of Acts

in its First Century 1996) 137-52. Firstandsecond-century Setting;Grand Rapids:Eerdmans,


materials promoting Christ should also be included in the documentation for the Jews of Asia Minor, including the Revelation of John, the Colossian and Ephesian letters, Ezra 5 and 6, and the Ascension of Isaiah. 7Martin Goodman, "Jews and Judaism in the Mediterranean Diaspora in the Late-Roman Period: The Limitations of Evidence," Journal of Mediterranean Studies 4 (1994) 219. Trebilco gives a much more positive and monolithic image of Jewish culture, Jewish Communities in Asia Minor, 33-36.

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Evidence for Jewish persecutionof believers in Jesus-whether we see these believers as Jewish or not-is similarly sparseand mustbe reconstructed more on the basis of what is historically likely than on what the texts actually claim. Although the gospels of Matthew and John may reflect some isolated harassmentof Jesus sects, this harassmentwas intra-Jewishand does not assume the hegemony the harassment is interpreted in these of any particular Jewish group.Furthermore, documents with the peculiar bitternessof schismatic sects, not persecutedoutsiders.8Jews were not, as was once believed, rituallycursingJesus believing heretics in synagogues in the late first century;9 indeed, as most commentatorsnow admit, little external evidence exists for systematic or widespreadpersecution of Jesus believers in Asia Minor at all.'0 Aficionados of the Smyrnapersecutionscenario moved quickly to second-centurymartyracts, especially Polycarp's, which casts the Jews of Smyrnaas particularly hatefuland aggressive towardChristians."It is the Polycarpstory, in fact, thatprovides the putativelink between the evil Jews of Smyrna-who are nowhere else mentioned in the Apocalypse-and the evil Roman authorities,who carrythe bruntof John's demonizingfor the rest of the book. But is it appropriate to use this second-centurytext as the primaryinterpretive key to the Apocalypse?' And does the pictureof Jews in the Martyrdom of Polycarpa stock evil mob thatgoads the authoritiesand stokes the fires-have any historical of Polycarp cannot sustain reliability?At the very least, generally the Martyrdom the claims thatcommentatorswant to make for the situationof the Apocalypse.'3
8David C. Sim, The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism: The History and Social Setting of the Matthean Community (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998) 151-63. Cf. Douglas R. A. Hare, The Theme of Jewish Persecution of Christians in the Gospel According to St. Matthew (SNTSMS 6; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967); and Setzer, Jewish Responses to Early Christians, 182-90. 9Reuven Kimelman, "Birkat Ha-Minim and the Lack of Evidence for an Anti-Christian Jewish Prayer in Late Antiquity," in Jewish and Christian Self-Definition (vol. 2 of Aspects of Judaism in the Greco-Roman Period; ed. E. P. Sanders; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981) 22644, 391-403; and Douglas R. A. Hare,"How Jewish is the Gospel of Matthew?" CBQ 62 (2000) 267-69, pace Alan Segal, "Matthew's Jewish Voice," in Social History of the Matthean Community: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches (ed. David L. Balch; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991) 32-37. '?See Sweet, Revelation, 24-25; Leonard L. Thompson, The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990) 104-15, 129-32; and David E. Aune, Revelation (3 vols.; WBC 52; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997-98) l:lxiv-lxvii. "Mart. Pol. 12-13, 17-18; cf. Schiirer, History of the Jewish People, 3:19. '2P. Prigent, "L'h6r6sie asiate et l'tglise confessante de l'Apocalypse a Ignace," VigChr 31 (1977) 10; Wolfgang Schrage, "Meditation zu Offenbarung 2, 8-11," EvT 48 (1988) 394; John W. Marshall, "Parables of the War: Reading the Apocalypse Within Judaism and During the Judaean War" (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1997) 83, 88. '3See Gaston, "Judaism of the Uncircumcised," 40-41; Judith M. Lieu, "Accusations of Jewish Persecution in Early Christian Sources, with Particular Reference to Justin Martyr and the Martyrdom of Polycarp," in Tolerance and Intolerance in Early Judaism and Christianity (ed. Graham N. Stanton and Guy G. Stroumsa; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

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If there is no reliable externalevidence for the persecutionof John's churchat the handsof local Jews, can we depend on the Apocalypse alone for this scenario? Here also we must place John's warningsaboutimminentsuffering and imprisonment within the overall context of tribulationimagery in the Book of Revelation ratherthan simply taking it as historically reliable testimony. This imagery, as LeonardThompson has shown, permeatesthe symbolic world of the authorand offers his audience identity,boundary,and a sense of enthusiasticsolidarityeven without actual threats from the outside.'4 Tribulationand persecution language belongs to a category of motifs thatcharacterizeapocalypticismand do not necesimminent ThusJohn'sreferencesto "slander," sarilybespeakhistoricalexperience.'5 should not necessarilybe taken as accurateindicators suffering,and imprisonment of historicalevents but rather scenario"into which as partof an overall "tribulation his opponentsare also woven.'6 But there is a more pervasive problem in the identificationof the "so-called Jews" (in their "synagogue of Satan") as "Jews" who were persecuting "Christians."That is, such an identificationrelies on overly monolithic-indeed, entirely for first-centuryAsia Mianachronistic-conceptions of "Jew" and "Christian" nor, and this is especially truefor the peculiar form of Jesus worship thatJohn is promoting.The word Ioudaios is as slippery in its usage outside early Christian literatureas it is in texts such as John 5:15-16 and Matthew 28:15.'7 As Ross Kraemer,Shaye Cohen, and others have demonstrated,the term can mean someone from Judea, a memberof an ethnic group by birth,a convert into thatethnic group, an adherentto the Jewish religion in practice and devotion to its god, or some combinationof the latter.'8 Thus, not only does loudaios seem to embrace

279-95; and idem, Image and Reality: The Jews in the World of the Christians in the Second Century (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996) 62-70, 86-94. '4Leonard L. Thompson, "A Sociological Analysis of Tribulation in the Apocalypse of John," Semeia 36 (1986) 147-74. '5Robert Hodgson, "Paulthe Apostle and First CenturyTribulationLists," ZNW74 (1983) 59-80. '6Note that some scholars have a tendency to appropriateRevelation's "tribulation"as a theological template for contemporary politics: see Adela Yarbro Collins, "Vilification and Self-Definition," 318-20. '70n the meaning of loudaios in these gospels see Wayne A. Meeks, "Breaking Away: Three New Testament Pictures of Christianity's Separation from the Jewish Communities," in "To See Ourselves as Others See Us ": Christians, Jews, "Others" in Late Antiquity (ed. Jacob Neusner and Ernest S. Frerichs; Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1985) 93-115; Sean Freyne "Vilifying the Other and Defining the Self: Matthew's and John's Anti-Jewish Polemic in Focus," in "ToSee Ourselves as Others See Us," 117-43; and Sim, Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism, 149-50. "Ross S. Kraemer, "On the Meaning of the Term 'Jew' in Greco-Roman Inscriptions," HTR 82 (1989) 32-53, reprinted in Diaspora Jews and Judaism, 311-29; Shaye J. D. Cohen, The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999) 25-139.

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Johnof Patmosand his conception of Jesus belief, but it may also representa label to which others-even Gentiles!-might lay claim, though in John's eyes illegitimately. Shaye Cohen cites, among other examples of Gentiles labelled "Jews" regardlessof theirbirthor degree of halakhicobservance,a discourseby Epictetus that touches on the parametersof the label: Why do you act the partof a Jew when you are Greek?Do you not see in what sense men are severally called Jew, Syrian,or Egyptian?For example,wheneverwe see a man facing two ways at once, we are in the habitof saying, "He is not a Jew, he is only acting the part."But when he adoptsthe attitudeof mindof the manwho has been baptized and has made his choice, then he both is a Jew in fact and is also called one.19 This is also the case with the termsynagogos which could mean either a meetinghouse, a meetinghousefor Jews, a collectivity of Jews of uncertainboundary, or a collectivity in general.2 It could also mean (as at Qumran)a " 'congregation' [edah] of opponentsor enemies, conceived and vilified as an inversionof the 'insiders' " congregationof truth(1QS 5.1-2, 10-20; CD 1.12; 1QM 1.1); this seems to be the meaningJohnof Patmos intendswhen he uses the word ekklesia. So, rather than simply implying a monolithic and hegemonic "Jewishcommunity"with its own house of prayer,synagogos may refer, ironically,to a collectivity presenting of course, is the least useful itself or appearing as Jewish. The term "Christian," a taxonomic category or for as Jews from label, either for denoting separation denotingancientreligious self-definition.2 In his 1997 Princetondissertation,John Marshall showed that scholars who have cast John of Patmos as a Christian,as of his relaopposed to a Jew, distort his text and obscure a properunderstanding would "Christian" to Jesus.22 to who were devoted Jews not imply thathis tionship Jesus devotion somehow displaces or preempts his Jewishness, a thesis derived not from the text but from priortheological assumptions.One notes that the same realizationsaboutterminology has also affected study of the Gospel of Matthew:

'9Arrian,Epict. diss., 2.19-21(ed. Oldfather; LCL); see also the translation by Shaye Cohen, Beginnings of Jewishness, 60-61 (further examples and discussion, 25-68). 2'See Schirer, History of the Jewish People, 2:429-31. Usually translating the Hebrew 'edah, synagogos can cover a group or consortium of sorts, especially for Jews, as seen in Asia Minor inscriptions, CIRB 70-71, 73: see Irina Levinskaya, Book of Acts in Its Diaspora Setting 74,232-38. CIJ II, #766 (Phrygia, mid-first century C.E.) mentions a Roman priestess's donation of an oikos (i.e., meetinghouse) to a Jewish synagoge (i.e., organization or community): see SchUrer, History of the Jewish People, 3:30-31. 21SeeAdela YarbroCollins, "Insiders and Outsiders in the Book of Revelation and Its Social Context," in "To See Ourselves as Others See Us, " 196-99, whose otherwise excellent discussion is hampered by such monolithic terms. 22Marshall,"Parables of the War," passim.

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Though Christians usually understand Matthew's program as distinct from Judaism, what Matthew teaches and promotes is thoroughly consistent with the variety of belief in first-century Judaism, both before and after the destruction of the Temple. The later sharply defined categories of Christian and Jew are inaccurate for the late first century among Jewish groups in Syria and Israel and do not fit Matthew's situation.... To say that Matthew is Christian, meaning a member of a clearly separate religion which is not Jewish, contradicts the complex and overlapping relationships among varieties of Jews, including some groups who believed in Jesus.23 Unfortunately, the category "Jewish-Christian" achieves no greater clarity despite classic attempts to define the term rigorously; for, does it describe Jews who believe in Jesus, or Gentiles who follow Jewish laws scrupulously and believe in Jesus, or Gentiles who imagine themselves to be a new Israel but have no historical connection with Jews?24 A much more precise historical perspective emerges when one examines John's Jesus worship within a diverse Jewish spectrum, as scholars have already begun to do in the case of the gospel of Matthew.2 Given the ambiguity of the term "Jew," with its historical ability to embrace rather than oppose belief in Jesus, the ambiguity of "synagogue," and the general uselessness of "Christian" for describing self-definition or historical difference, the classic scenario behind the Satanic "so-called Jews" begins to fall apart. As far as we can tell from reliable evidence, Jews do not seem to have been persecuting "Christians." "Christians," moreover, might well be Jews, and a "synagogue of Satan" wouldn't necessarily be in hegemony. Then who are the "so-called Jews"? The most useful approach is to ask who are the "so-called Jews"from the perspective of John of Patmos. Thus one must have an accurate gauge of that perspective.

Community (Chicago:Universityof "AnthonyJ. Saldarini,Matthew'sChristian-Jewish ChicagoPress, 1994) 8, 11. in Chris24SeeRobertA. Kraft,"TheMultiform Jewish Heritageof Early Christianity," Cults:Studiesfor MortonSmithat Sixty(ed. Jacob tianity,Judaismand OtherGreco-Roman Neusner;4 vols.; SJLA 12; Leiden:Brill, 1975) 3: 174-99; RobertMurray,"Jews,Hebrews andChristians: Some Needed Distinctions," NovT24 (1982) 194-208; andAlanSegal, "Jewish Christianity," in Eusebius,Christianity, and Judaism(ed. HarryAttridgeandGoheiHata; Detroit:Wayne State UniversityPress, 1992) 326-51. of the andJudaism for example,Eduard of the Circumcised 25See, Schweizer,"Christianity and Christians: andColossians,"in Jews, Greeks The Background Uncircumcised: of Matthew andRobinScroggs;Leiden: (ed. RobertHamerton-Kelley ReligiousCulturesin LateAntiquity Jewish Voice," as well as otheressays by Overman, Brill, 1976) 245-60; Segal, "Matthew's White, and Saldariniin Social Historyof the MattheanCommunity: ApCross-Disciplinary proaches (ed. David L. Balch; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991); and Saldarini,Matthew's Jewish-Christian Community.

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* The Judaismof John of Patmos


Whateverone might say about John's interest in Christ,the passages in question here show thathe embracesthe label loudaios and resents thatcertainothers take he composes a book based on Jewish traditionsof it illegitimately. Furthermore, is mediation that steeped in Jewish scriptureand that promotes his apocalyptic self-definition as an Israelite tribe member, a suffering Jewish prophet, and an angel/priestof the heavenlycult, while also laying out a perspectivefixed on Jerusalem. For such reasons, most commentatorshave viewed John of Patmos as being an ethnic Jew himself.26 He is also, we find, a Jew scrupulouslyconcerned with purity. In the first century,as we learnfromQumran(and associatedearly Jewish texts such as Jubilees, 1 Enoch, and the Testamentof Levi), there was a sense of purity that related to one's self-conception as angel, priest, holy warrior,and blessed remnantof the end-times-a puritythatwas rooted in biblical rules for priests and holy war combuttakento curiousextremes.Purity,in this extremeperspective,brought portment, communion with angels; puritybroughtproximity to the heavenly sanctuary;purity broughta kind of priestly status that would carryone throughthe eschaton.27 Such elaborateextensions of Jewish puritylaws have been generally observed in the Apocalypse as well.28It is in this sense of purity, for example, that Adela YarbroCollins andRichardBauckhamhave explainedJohn'snote thatthe 144,000 sealed and redeemedones "have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins"(14:4). This detail directlyrecallsholy war rulesaboutsexual purity,from Deuteronomythroughthe QumranMilhamahscroll, and it illustratesJohn's rigorSo also, John's ous concern for controllingall conceivable sources of pollution.29 insistence that"nothingkoinon will enter"the New Jerusalem(21:27) clearly im26Charles,Revelation of St. John, l:xliv; Adela Yarbro Collins, Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984) 46-48; Aune, Revelation,l:l. 2See Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Priester fur Gott: Studien zum Herrschafts und Priestermotiv in der Apokalypse (Miinster: Aschendorff, 1972). 28Forexample, Rev 5:10. See Schissler Fiorenza, Book of Revelation, 123-24, and Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993) 210-37. 9See Bauckham, Climax of Prophecy, 230-32; Yarbro Collins, Crisis and Catharsis, 127-31; Daniel C. Olson," 'Those Who Have Not Defiled Themselves with Women': Revelation 14:4 and the Book of Enoch," CBQ 59 (1997) 492-510; and in general, Steven D. Fraade, "Ascetical Aspects of Ancient Judaism," in Jewish Spirituality 1: From the Bible through the Middle Ages (ed. ArthurGreen; New York: Crossroad, 1987) 261-63,266-69, with sources 281 nn. 31,33; 283 nn. 57, 59. Eyal Regev proposes a kind of lay purity cultivation popular in early Palestinian Judaism, but not one based on the imitation of the priesthood: "Pure Individualism: The Idea of Non-Priestly Purity in Ancient Judaism," JSJ 31 (2000) 176-202. P. Oxy 5.840 indicates the continuation of disputes over ritual purity within the Jesus movement at least through the second century: see Francois Bovon, "Fragment Oxyrhynchus840, Fragment of a Lost Gospel, Witness of an Early Christian Controversy over Purity," JBL 119 (2000) 705-28.

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plies the type of impuritythat might pollute a sanctuary:a physical uncleanness, much like what the Essenes proscribedfrom their holy war camp and their own ideal Jerusalem.30 John clarifies that this uncleanness indicates "anyone doing bdelygma or pseudos," but these terms do not construethe meaning into a moral abstraction; rather,they suggest thatone who does any kind of abominationcauses real pollution.3'John's languageof purityand impurity,indeed, is quite vivid: he admonishes the Sardis believers that only a few of them remain "who have not soiled theirclothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name from the Book of Life" (3:4-5). If John's sense of the purityof the redeemedapproachesthatof the Essenes, we might expect that he would consider matters of halakhic purity essential to the quotidianpractice of the "saints,"who are the insiders (for example, regulations surroundingfood and normativesexuality). This realm of Jewish practiceseems to lie behindJohn's twice-repeatedadmonitionto "keepthe entolas of God"along with maintainingdevotion to Jesus (12:17; 14:12). To be sure, commentatorslike David Aune have struggledto de-Judaizethe meaning of entole here, suggesting ethical ratherthan concrete commandments.32 But in the largercontext of John's this abstraction seems strained.33 interests, purity Sectarianmovements, such as the one that John of Patmos promoted,tend by natureto have an overridingfear of pollution,especially with respectto the body, and a concernfor the separation of the purefrom the impure.The networkof sects led by prophetsthatthe Apocalypseassumesseem to be defined moreby theirleaders' charisma,the strictboundaries of allegiancethese leadersrequire,and by their mutualanticipation of the eschatonthanby internalhierarchies andestablishedleadroles. This loose structure-a ership antiworldlyyet internally "high group, low in terms-characterizes grid"religiousgroup MaryDouglas's propheticmovements and leads typically to a certainobsession with maintaininginnerpurity: The groupboundary is the maindefinerof roles:individuals class themselves either as membersor strangers. Here the cosmos . . . is divided betweengood andbad,insideandoutside.Thereis magicaldanger associatedwith emblemsof boundary. accusedeviantsin their Groupmembers
consist of 11QT'and 1QM.See discussionsof this transplanted 30The majorcomparanda of Qumran temple/holywarcampideology in JosephA. Fitzmyer,"A Feature Angelologyand the Angels of I Cor 11:10,"Essays on the SemiticBackground (Chico, of the New Testament Calif.: ScholarsPress) 187-204; also Olson," 'Those Themselves.'" WhoHaveNotDefiled
3"Pace Aune, Revelation, 3:1175.

"Ibid., 2:709-12; also Charles,Revelationof St. John, 1:331. of the War,"91-93; cf. CD V.20-21. For later halakhicobservance "Parables 33Marshall, among Jesus believers, see Marcel Simon, VerusIsrael: A Study of the Relations between Christians andJews in theRoman Littman AD 135-425 (trans.H. McKeating; London: Empire, Libraryof Jewish Civilization, 1986) 325-28.

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midst of allowing the outside evil to infiltrate.The accusationslead to fission of the group. ... It is preoccupied with ritualsof cleansing, ... It is an irrational of boundaries. cosmos expulsionand redrawing since in it evil is takento be a foreigndanger,introduced or by perverted defectivehumans.34 Such sociological principlesgo far in explainingJohn's interestin purity,especially related to sexuality and food, that involves a breach of bodily boundaries and orifices. However, John's view of properritualobservancefor the Jesus believer stems ideologically and symbolically from ideas of the Jewish temple and its priesthood,which were the models for the holy conventicle. These ideas were developed in Jewish apocalyptic literature,where observance of priestly purity became a sine qua non for communion with angels and redemptionin the endtimes.35 In this sense John is not only Jewish but Jewish in a sectarian,rigorous sense. His visions of the heavenly Christand his Jesus devotion seem indeed to be It is useful to consider extensions, or consequences, of his Jewish hyperpurity.36 this link when tryingto decipher his opponents.

* Circles of Conflict aroundJohn of Patmos


Let us then move to John's opponents.Earlierscholarssought to cast those figures excoriated in the letters-"Jezebel," the "Nicolaitans,"and the neo-Balaamiansas being theologically distantto an extreme degree from "orthodox" Christianity. Indeed,in the eyes of scholarsthese opponentsall hada tendencyto become Gnostic libertines.37 More recently, Adela YarbroCollins and Paul Duff have shown that John's harshlypolemical characterization of these opponents'teachings probably masks a less extremestance on the partof his opponents,even if John views them as beyond the pale.3 I will shortlyarguethatthe "Jezebel"/"Nicolaitan" teachings were essentially Pauline;but for now it is useful to outline the world of opponents and insiders as John perceives them in his letters.
"Mary Douglas, Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology (New York: Pantheon, 1982) 103-04, 107-24; Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983) 84-107, argues that the social structure promoted by Paul for his conventicles had somewhat more "grid," or hierarchy, and consequently less concern for boundaries. 35Paulhimself views holiness and purity according to the same traditions, although with somewhat looser practical applications: see Michael Newton, The Concept of Purity at Qumran and in the Letters of Paul (SNTSMS 53; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985) 98-114. "See Martha Himmelfarb, " 'A Kingdom of Priests': The Democratization of the Priesthood in the Literature of Second Temple Judaism," Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 6 (1997) 98-101. 3See Schussler Fiorenza, Book of Revelation, 116-17. 38Yarbro Collins, "Vilification and Self-Definition," 316-18; Paul Duff, "The Synagogue of Satan: Crisis Mongering and the Apocalypse of John" (unpublished paper delivered at the Annual

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Johndrawsa fairlydistinctboundary betweenthose he perceivesas insidersand those who are outsiders-"the dogs and sorcerers and andmurderers and fornicators idolaters,and everyonewho loves and practicesfalsehood"(22:15).But the insider/ outsider in the lettersis somewhatmorecomplicated. Thecongreboundary presented and to he writes whom letters, gationsatSmyrna, Ephesus, Philadelphia, complimentary areclearlyon theinside.Thentherearecongregations for whomhe feels some sympato his ideology:Pergamum, Laodicea,and thy yet fearsfor theiradherence Thyatira, Sardis.By encouraging and others, themto resistthe subversionposed by "Jezebel" Johndemonstrates a tentative kinshipwiththem-much more,at least,thanPaulwith the Galatians of evil who (3:1)! And thentherearethe outsiders,subversiveteachers areclearlyoutsidetherealmof acceptable "neodifference -"Jezebel," "Nicolaitans," as well as the "so-calledJews" and the parallel"so-calledapostles" Balaamians," (2:2). Johnassociatesthese figureswith Satan,thus currently afflictingthe Ephesians And yet it is clear them well kind of ideologicalconversation.39 casting beyondany thata good numberof these satanicteachersare,in fact,Jesus believersof some sort; thatis, they arenot so distantideologically.4 In thus demonizing the intimatecompetitor,John of Patmos would hardly be alone in the literatureof the earliest Jesus movement. Paul, for example, accuses his competitorsin Corinthof being "false apostles"and Satanic agentsin disguise (2 Cor 11:13-15). And the authorof the first Johannineepistle views a schismatic offshoot from his congregationas being motivated by the spiritof "antichrist" (1 John 2:18-19, 22; 4:1-6). So also in the gospel literaturethe various warnings aboutfalse prophetsand deceivers, and the most vicious diatribes,are reservedfor those enemies who are at the shortestremove from the writer.4' in thehistory to useGeorgSimit is a principle well-observed of religions Indeed, that, andfight mel's formulation, "thedegeneration in convictions intohatred of a difference the occurs when between there were similarities essential, parties."42 ordinarily only original

Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Orlando, Fla., November 1998); and idem, "Surrounded by Enemies: Others in the Apocalypse" (unpublished paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Boston, Mass., November 1999). 39Rev2:9,24; 3:9. I owe much to Duffs observations in "The Synagogue of Satan"; see also Schrage, "Meditation zu Offenbarung 2,8-11," 394-96. 4See Heinrich Kraft, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (HNT 16a; Tubingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1974) 61. 4See, for example, Robert G. Hall, "The Ascension of Isaiah: Community, Situation, Date, and Place in Early Christianity," JBL 109 (1990) 289-306; and L. J. Lietaert Peerbolte, The Antecedents of Antichrist. A Traditio-Historical Study of the Earliest Christian Views on Eschatological Opponents (Supplements to JSJ 49; Leiden: Brill, 1996) 217-20, both on vilification cast in eschatological terms. 42GeorgSimmel, Conflict and the Web of Group-Affiliations (trans. Kurt H. Wolff and Reinhard Bendix; New York: Free Press, 1955) 48, emphasis mine. Cf. Jonathan Z. Smith, "What a Difference a Difference Makes," in "To See Ourselves as Others See Us," 44-48.

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thereligious sect'svilification Inhis commentary of on Simmel,LewisCosercompared in a way thatis consistentwith the an "apostate" to thatlevelled againsta "heretic" structural positionof John'smainopponents: Whereasthe [apostate]deserts the group in order to go over to the enemy, the hereticpresentsa more insidiousdanger:by upholdingthe to split it into factionsthat group'scentralvaluesand goals, he threatens its goal. Unlike the aposwill differ as to the means for implementing tate, the hereticclaims to upholdthe group's values and interests,only of the proposingdifferentmeans to this end or variantinterpretations official creed.43 Heretics compete for proselytes, Coser continues, and create confusion about largergroup boundaries.For these reasons "the reactionof the group against the heretic is [often] even more hostile thanagainst the apostate."44 Such principlesareobviously relevantto the early Jesusmovement,which demonstratedall the "fissiparity"in leadership and group identity that millennialist movements throughout Indeed, it is reasonableto history have typically shown.45 infer that any case of vilification in sectarianliteraturemasks a situationof ideoIn the cases of "Jezebel,"the "Nicolaitans,"andthe "so-called logical proximity.46 apostles," most scholars now take the opponents as promotersof Jesus who differedfromJohnon some issues of practiceandpurity.These mightbe minorpoints to an Atargatisdevotee or a rabbinicJew, but were fundamentalto John, whose primaryconcern was with the boundariesof the Jesus sect. I think it is equally to infer the same for the "so-calledJews" in SmyrnaandPhiladelphia: appropriate these opponents must be particularlyclose to John in a way that othersof Jewish andJewishidentity wouldnotbe; thatis, close in a wayparallel to "Jezebel," practice
the Nicolaitans, and the "so-called apostles."47

Thus far, I have arguedthat the "so-calledJews" must be intimatemembersof the Jesus movement ratherthan"Jewsin general,"who would necessarilybe total I am arguingfurther outsiders according to John's primarilysectarian identity.48 thatthis sectarianidentityinvolves an apocalypticJewish perspectivefocused upon
43Lewis A. Coser, The Functions of Social Conflict (New York: Free Press, 1956) 70. 44Ibid. 450n fissiparity in millennialist and prophetic movements, see Yonina Talmon, "Pursuit of the Millennium: The Relation Between Religious and Social Change," Archives europeennes de sociologie 3 (1962) 134, 141. 4This principle has been cogently applied to Matthew by Sim, Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism, 121-23. "Cf. Helmut Koester, "GNOMAI DIAPHOROI: The Origin and Nature of Diversification in the History of Early Christianity," in Trajectories through Early Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971) 148; Kraft, Die Offenbarung des Johannes, 61. 48In contrast, the Gospel of Matthew reflects a sect of Jesus believers whose primary identity is construed in such a way as to provoke intra-Jewish polemic and accusation: Saldarini,

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Jesus as the immanent form of God49 That is, Jesus is the axis.of that sectarian identity-its centralfeature-while apocalypticJudaismis the frameworkfor unI am arguing him. Consequently, Jesus,mediatinghim, andanticipating derstanding that John's great concern with the degree of halakhic observance of people who were also focused upon Jesus, that is, who claimed the same sectarianidentity, and from an typifies internecineconflict, bothfrom a sociological (intra-sectarian) is historical(intra-Jewish) that it I entirelyconsisperspective.Furthermore, argue tent with this scenariothatJohn,in encounteringinsufficientdegreesof observance among some of those who were devoted to Jesus, would denigratetheirauthenticity as observersof Jewish purity,just as he denigratesthe authenticityof some of those who were "apostles"in Ephesus (2:2). John's concerns about "Jezebel"and the "Nicolaitans"certainly have to do with halakhic observance, even if John does not impugn their Jewish identity. Eating meat dedicatedto idols, which he accuses his opponentsof teaching (2:14, and Luke-Acts and the Didache 20), is an abrogationof no law but the Torah's;s5 rememberthe observanceof this law as bindingon Jesusdevotees (Acts 15:20, 29; Did 6:3).51 But the fact thatJohnaccuses his opponentsof teaching the practiceof such outrageousimpuritydoes not mean thatthe opponentswere actuallyteaching it; there may be a simpler reason for his hyperbole, as I will shortlypropose. John's accusationthathis opponentsteachporneia is somewhat more difficult to interpretas an abrogationof a particular halakhic point;but this is nevertheless the general sense in which John means the accusation. Some commentatorshave taken the word to symbolize idolatry;but recent work on the Hebrew equivalent, zenut, suggests thatporneia may indeed indicate some aspect of sexual impurity, the interpretation of which may have been quite diverseover the broadJesus movement.52 In Jewishtexts of the earlyRomanperiod,zenutoften refersto intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles and its moralimpurity.53 But the concept of "intermarriage" could also extend to much finer boundary crossings, such as priests and nonpriestlywomen.4 In essence, zenut/porneiabecame in sectarianJewish circles
Matthew's Christian-Jewish Community, 112-13. Cf. John P. Meier, "Antioch," in Antioch & Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity (New York: Paulist Press, 1983) 11-

Jesus believers. 86, who proposeseven finer pointsof disputeamong factions of Matthaean 118-49. 49Bauckhman in Climax discusses the christologyof John'sApocalypse of Prophecy, 5?Ex Zar. 2:3. On the relationshipbetweenproscriptions 34:15; cf. 4 Mace 5:2; m. CAbod. against meat sacrificedto idols and halakhicpurity, see Aune, Revelation, 1:193. 51SeefurtherSimon, VerusIsrael, 334-36. 52For and Outsiders,"214; Aune, Revelation,1:188. example, YarbroCollins, "Insiders 5See ChristineHayes, "Intermarriage and Impurityin AncientJewish Sources,"HTR92 RabbinicAttitudesto Intermarriage (1999) 3-36. 1 am also indebtedto Hayes's "Palestinian in Historical and CulturalContext,"(paperpresentedat "JewishCultureand Society under Christian New York,March2000). Rome,"JewishTheological Seminary, S4See Martha "SexualRelationsandPurityin the TempleScrollandthe Book Himmelfarb,

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of what lay outside and might defile the a common, sexualizing characterization of case the In the sect.55 Revelation, John's adulationof those of integralpurity women" with "whohave not defiled themselves (14:4) suggests thatwhathe means by porneia could be sexual activity itself.56 And just as these accusations of improprietyin Jewish practice are levelled so it may well be against"Jezebel,"the "Nicolaitans,"and the "neo-Balaamians," that John's rejection of the "so-called Jews" is on similar grounds: while they participatein a movement that rests entirely on proper Jewish observance, and even have the arroganceto call themselves (or otherwise appearas) Jews, they are Indeed,in con"so-calledJews" because they are not following Jewish practice.57 the Jewish Jesus fusing the clear boundary lines and purity requirements of movement, they are "Satanic."58

* Pauline Practices and the "So-CalledJews"


John's disputes over Jewish observance Is therea wider context for understanding within the Jesus movement?Who would have been promotingsuch a gross abrogation of Torahas eating meat dedicatedto othergods or loose sexuality?Who in the Jesus movement mightJohnof Patmosplausiblyaccuse of "callingthemselves Jews" while not being so? of The resemblancebetween "Jezebel's" sins and Paul's liberal interpretation liberal The scholars.59 unnoticed not has 10 halakhah in 1 Corinthians 8 and by gone position Paul takes with regardto eating heathenofferings is, to be sure, meant to elevate sectarianconcord over strict observance;but from a more observantJewaspromotingthe acceptanceof heathen ish perspectiveit could easily be understood food. That is, John of Patmosis not rejectingalleged "Gnosticlibertine"practices

of Jubilees," DSD 6 (1999) 11-36; and "Levi, Phinehas, and the Problem of Intermarriage at the Time of the Maccabean Revolt," JSQ 6 (1999) 1-24. "See esp. Himmelfarb, "Sexual Relations and Purity"; also John Kampen, "4QMMT and New Testament Studies," in Reading 4QMMT: New Perspectives on Qumran Law and History (ed. John Kampen and Moshe J. Bernstein; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996) 135-38. 56Inhis forthcoming "Who Rides the Beast?" (n.p.), Duff points out that John projects his fear of polluting porneia both upon "Jezebel" and "Babylon," which are described as the "mother of whores and of the earth's abominations" who holds a cup "of abominations and the impurities of her porneia" (17:6, 5; cf. 17:1-2), respectively. "Prigent, "L'her6sie asiate et l'lglise confessante," 9. 58Cf.Philip A. Harland, "Honouring the Emperor or Assailing the Beast: Participation in Civic Life among Associations (Jewish, Christian, Other) in Asia Minor and the Apocalypse of John," JSNT 77 (2000) 99-121, esp. 118-20, who likewise shows different degrees of "world participation" among the Asia Minor Christians surrounding John, but without reference to halakhah as the principle of separatism. 59Cf. 1 Cor 10:14-33. See Simon, "De l'observance rituelle a l'ascese," 74-75; Schiissler Fiorenza, Book of Revelation, 119-20; Leonard L. Thompson, "Social Location of Early Christian

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butthe very halakhic of the Apostlehimself-perhaps as interpreted pronotmcements a by prot6g6.60 The allegations of promotingporneia also seem to be related to Paul's pronouncements.If the word should be taken,with zenut, in its early Roman Jewish sense of cross-boundarymarriage,one can imagine that Paul's openness to Gentiles and God-fearersmay have extendedto allowing theirintermarriage with Jews. In this admittedlyhypotheticalscenario,a more rigorouslypurity-oriented Jewish believer in Jesus like Johnof Patmoswould certainlyhave takenexception to such weak purity boundaries,especially given that these boundarieswere supposed to preserve intimacy with the heavenly courtand the angels.61 But I would suggest anotherreasonfor JohnconsideringPaul's advice as tantamount to a promotion of porneia. In the same Corinthianletter Paul himself is quite concernedwithporneia as the sexualityof those who areof the world, which is to be rejectedin sectarianpractice,and he uses the language of purityto justify his rules about sexuality.62 Yet when Paul makes a "concession" (syggnome) to maritalsexuality (1 Cor 7:6), he does not do so on the traditionalJewish grounds of procreation-obviously not a pressing issue in the last days (cf. 1 Cor 7:2631)-but ratheron the grounds of "burning" passion (7:9), on "what is owed" to

Apocalyptic,"ANRW2.26.3(1996) 2645-46; andRevelation (ANTC;Nashville: Abingdon, 1998) 77; Duff, "Surrounded by Enemies: Othersin the Apocalypse." Theissenassertsthat"fora comparable 'liberal' positionon meatsacrificedto idols 60Gerd come fromGnostic the only analogieswithinChristianity [thatis, to the Corinthian "strong"], groups,"an assertionthathe proceedsto illustratewith a series of second-, third-,andfourthcentury heresiographical allegations: see idem, The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity:

Fortress, 1982) 132-33. But these Essays on Corinth(trans.John H. SchUitz; Philadelphia: to the first-century examplesare clearlyanachronistic setting andarehardlyobjectivereports on "Gnostic"attitudes.Primary sourcesfor Gnosticgroupsin fact offer little basis for scholAn see Michael Allen Williams, Rethinking"Gnosticism": arly fantasies of "libertinism";
Argumentfor Dismantling a Dubious Category (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996)

163-88; cf. Aune, Revelation,1:148-49. Scholarswho postulate"Gnosticlibertines"behind the sins of Jezebel and the neo-Balaamians tend to inflate the importanceof the Corinthian andoverlookPaul's own innovationsas being potentiallyobjectionable: e.g., Yarbro "strong" Collins, "Insidersand Outsiders," 21-23, and"Vilificationand Self-Definition,"316-17. of sectarian 61SeeSimon, "De l'observancerituelle a I'ascese,"62-65. The preservation Christian boundaries in marriages was still a subjectof deep concernin some second-century groups;Tertullian,Ux. 2, even designatesunbelieversas "Gentiles"in condemningintermarleakin thevitalboundaries andits sexualitysignifya kindof horrible riage,Indeed,intermarriage of the Jesus sect, eliciting the specter of porneia: "it is certain that believers contracting marriageswith Gentiles are guilty of fornication[stupri], and are to be excluded from all communicationwith the brotherhood" (Ux., 2.3, PL 1:1292;trans. Coxe, ANF 4:45). 621Cor 5, see Meeks, First UrbanChristians,100-01; O. LarryYarbrough, Not Likethe Gentiles: MarriageRules in the Lettersof Paul (SBLDS 80; Atlanta:ScholarsPress, 1986); and Kampen,"4QMMT and New TestamentStudies,"137.

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To be sure, one's spouse (7:3), and on not denying one's spouse pleasure (7:5).63 Paul hopes thatthroughcontrolledsexuality,"lackof self control"(akrasia),which could cause one to become susceptible to Satan (7:5), might be avoided. But in admittingthe tendency towardakrasia, Paul at the same time rejects the procreative function and offers instead an unusual plan: sex for both pleasure and self-control.64 As much as Paulhimself may have thoughtthatthis advice was sensitive and moderate,to someone like John of Patmos, who believed in a stricter religiousperspective(or to those in Paul'scircle who would arguethat"it is well for to a man not to toucha woman," 1 Cor 7:1), this advice would easily have appeared be the promotionof porneia itself-sexual activity based solely on physical need and pleasure.65 Here again one must rememberJohn's descriptionof the 144,000 redeemedas "those who have not defiled themselves with women"(14:4): he was not one to value sexualityin the life of the Elect or in the time of theirpreparation.6 Johnof Patmos's opponentsin Pergamumand Thyatirathus seem to have been promotingPauline practices among their communities. We might choose to say "neo-Pauline,"but I would insist that "Jezebel"and the "Nicolaitans"were not distortingPaul's words substantially.It was John of Patmos who distortedPaul's position in his polemic.67 Could the "so-called Jews" of Smyrnaand Philadelphiaalso have been partof a Pauline version of the Jesus movement? We might begin with the question of whether the judgment and vilification of others' Jewish observance and Jewish identity were characteristicparts of internecinepolemic in the early Jesus movement. The answeris certainlyyes. Paul complains aboutsuch accusationslevelled against his followers, and he, in turn, levels some of his own accusations in recounting his argument with Peter at Antioch. But, none of the "Jews by birth"

63HansConzelmann, 1 Corinthians: A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (ed. George W. MacRae; trans. James W. Leitch; Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975) 114-18; and Yarbrough, Not Like the Gentiles, 97-101. 6This plan, Daniel Boyarin points out, Paul would elsewhere eschew because of the intrinsic immorality of sex: "Body Politic among the Brides of Christ: Paul and the Origins of Christian Sexual Renunciation," in Asceticism (ed. Vincent L. Wimbush and Richard Valantasis; New York: Oxford, 1995) 495-78. 65See Yarbrough, Not Like the Gentiles, 93-96, 119-21, for the context of Corinthian arguments for celibacy, and Simon, "De l'observance rituelle a l'ascese," 42-47, 57-65, for various meanings of porneia in the early Jesus movement. Such disputes over the relative holiness of celibacy and procreative sexuality continued among Jews and Syriac Jesus believers into the fourth century: see Naomi Koltun-Fromm, "Sexuality and Holiness: Semitic Christian and Jewish Conceptualizations of Sexual Behavior," VC 54 (2000) 375-95. 66Cf. CD 5.6-7; 11QT' 45-46. 67WalterBauer suggests that Revelation actually suppresses Paul's memory: Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (ed. Robert Kraft and Gerhard Krodel; trans. Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971) 83.

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impugneach others'Jewishness (Gal 2:11-15).68Who, then, among the followers of Paul might have appeared to John of Patmosas ones "who say they areJews but are [in fact] not"? The answer seems to be Gentile "God-fearers" who hadjoined the Jesus movement and, in anticipationof the parousia, sought to consolidate their affiliation with Jewish religion througha) greaterritual observance and b) the claim to the designation "Jew"as the broad"insider-identity" requiredfor eschatological redemption. As Lloyd Gaston and John Gager have argued, most of Paul's own concernsaboutthe worthof JewishobservanceandJewishidentityrevolvedaround from the access of these GentileGod-fearersto biblical models of salvation"apart works of the Law" (Rom 3:28).69It is for these believers that Paul concocts the unique notion of the "inwardJew" (2:28-29)-one who does not follow entirely halakhah,but ratherhas such things as circumcision"writtenon his heart"(2:1415). Indeed, this internalJew (i.e., the Gentile God-fearerwho eschews halakhah but embracesa spiritualized Torah)is the true"Jew"(2:29). One can well imagine how negatively a Gentile God-fearerwho followed such ideas would be regarded by a Jew like John of Patmos,who viewed strict adherenceto priestly purityregulations as requisite for the Elect.70 And yet Paul, too, would prefer that his Roman audience not consider themselves "Jews,"for "if you call yourself a Jew [su loudaios eponomaze]andrely on the Law and boast of your relation to God" (Rom 2:17), then you must conform your lives to the Torahin all respects.The language is quite similarto thatof John of Patmos in 2:9 and 3:9: in both cases there are Jesus believers who are "calling themselves" Jews. We might well ask, who "calls oneself' a Jew anyway? Certainly not someone who is recognizedas Jewish by birthor by community.Rather, this suggestion of self-chosen Jewishness would denote a Gentile who has takento practicingcertain elements of Jewish observance and thereby has come to claim that self-definition-as a constituentpart of Jesus devotion.71 This is a phenom-

"On the social location of the opponentsin the Antiochdispute and on whatis not critiof Intra-Jewish Polemicin Paul'sLetterto theGalatians," cized, see JamesD. G. Dunn,"Echoes JBL 112(1993) 462,465. Gaston, Paul and the Torah(Vancouver:Universityof British ColumbiaPress, 69Lloyd Paul 1987) and Gager, Originsof Antisemitism,197-264; see also John Gager,Reinventing (New York:Oxford UniversityPress, 2000). Jewish leadersin general were not uniformlyappreciativeof the God-fearers' 7?Indeed, flirtationwith Judaism, full conversion,as GaryGilbertarguedin a paperpreoftenpreferring sentedto the Society of BiblicalLiterature Sectionon EarlyJewish/Christian Annual Relations, andContested withinJewishCommunities." 20,2000: "God-Fearers Meeting,November Identity the relationshipof this passageto parodiesof pretentious O70n (esp, as self-representation world, see Stanley Stowers,A Rereadingof Romans(New philosopher)in the Greco-Roman

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Paul and Johnof Patmos illusenon for which we actuallyhave much evidence.72 tratethe diversity of Gentile self-definition within the Jesus movement:Gentiles labelling themselves Jews because of adherenceto some degree of halakhicpractices; Gentiles considering themselves "inward"Jews accordingto Paul's dicta; and Gentiles in various stages of conversion to Judaism. Such Gentile "Judaizers"seem to have been a significant force in the Jesus movement throughoutthe second century; thus Ignatius of Antioch instructsthe Philadelphiansthat "it is betterto hear Christianityfrom a circumcised man than Judaism from a man uncircumcised"(6.1).73Paul himself, so Lloyd Gaston and JohnGagerhave proposed,was especially angeredby some Gentile"Judaizers" "those under the law" (1 Cor 9:20b) as opposed to ethnic Jews (9:20a)-when they promoted certain forms of Jewish observance, such as circumcision, among other Gentile Jesus believers ("those not under the law," 9:21). Jesus believers, in Paul's mind, ought to interpret Jewish scripture, follow a version of Jewish halakhic purity (1 Cor 7-8; 10; 11:4-15; Rom 2:12-15), and define themselves according to Jewish models of quasi-angelic sainthood, but not identify themselves as Jews. Thus the question arises, if Pauline Gentile Jesus believers tended to reject the label "Jew," would John view them as "those who call themselves Jews"? The fact that Paul at one time admonished Gentiles who "call themselves Jews" (Rom 2:17) does not mean that his Gentile partisans in subsequent decades would avoid the label "Jew";it may have seemed increasingly valuable in apologetic situations. But the actual self-labelling of Gentile Jesus believers may not have matteredat all to someone like John of Patmos, for they were "acting the part of Jews" as mere members of the Jesus movement: observing some halakhic requirements,as Paul had instructed,and intrinsically participatingin Jewish practice and scripture to the extent that the Jesus movement assumed

Haven: Yale University Press, 1994) 144-49, who unfortunately never considers the possibility that one "calling himself' a Jew might actually not be a Jew at all. 2Gaston, "Judaism of the Uncircumcised"; Gager, Origins of Antisemitism, 117-33; and in general on those "calling themselves Jews," Cohen, Beginnings of Jewishness, 58-62, 149-54. 7Cf. Titus 1:10; CIJ II, #754, in Schurer, History of the Jewish People, 3:22: a theosebes pays for a synagogue near Philadelphia. William Schoedel asserts that the Judaizers to which Ignatius refers in his letters to the Philadelphians and Magnesians (9.1) "may have been more interested in the idea of Judaism than the practice of it": idem, Ignatius of Antioch: A Commentary on the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch (ed. Helmut Koester; Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985) 123,200-03,209-10). Schoedel, however, seems to draw on modem Christian notions of religious identity rather than on ancient evidence for the attraction of Jewish practices in antiquity, even among Jesus believers; see Simon, Verus Israel, and Cohen, Origins of Jewishness, 140-74. Cohen (175-97) also points out that Judaizing does not imply influence from an outside Jewish community but rather the promotion of ritual traditions within the Jesus movement itself.

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such participation.74 They may simply have been "saying" they were Jews insofar as they participated in a religious sect that was essentially Jewish. But to John of Patmos they were most definitely not Jews; indeed, taking a word typically used at the time for some kind of Jewish assembly, he relabels them a "synagogue of Satan." He viewed Pauline Gentile Jesus believers as insufficiently Jewish in practice and thus failing to maintain the purity of the sect-a purity that was crucial for him-in its anticipationof the parousia.75 To be sure,Jewishness was relativein antiquity;but in this case we are viewing Jewishness throughthe eyes of John of Patmos, for whom halakhic observance, priestly purity, and even celibacy were the standardsfor those who claimed to understand Christ."Being"a Jew involved much more thanwhat his opponentsin the Pauline camp were doing and promoting.76 Would John have made the same accusationof being "so-calledJews" againstJewish-bornindividualspracticinga lesser degree of purityregulations,whetheras PaulineJesus believers or simply as "apostateJews"? Probably not; intra-Jewishpolemics on issues of purity elsewhere in the Mediterraneanworld, as reflected in writings such as Jubilees, 1 Enoch, and the Cairo Damascusdocument,containextremelyhostile languagebut never impugn their opponents' Jewishness.77 Jewish excoriations of "apostates" focus on themes of desertion ratherthan on the false pretense of "calling themselves Jews."78John's concern with his opponents' false Jewishness seems to revolve aroundthe issue of the ritualincorporation of Gentiles into an essentially Jewish Jesus movement and may well hearkenback to the circumcisiondebatesin

7See Cohen, Origins of Jewishness, 194-96. Note that in his letters to Trajan (ca. 112 C.E.), Pliny the Younger refers to some "Christian" practices in Bithynia during his time, but he never associates this sect with the Jews; see Pliny, Ep. Tra. 10.96. Whatever was left of John's partisans by this time, their strife would certainly have been internecine and no more observable to a Roman governor than the conflicts between Branch Davidian and Davidian Adventist conflicts were observable to U.S. authorities in the late twentieth century; see William L. Pitts, Jr., "Davidians and Branch Davidians, 1929-1987," and David G. Bromley and Edward D. Silver, "The Davidian Tradition: From Patronal Clan to Prophetic Movement," in Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict (ed. Stuart A. Wright; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995) 20-42 and 43-72, respectively. "For important discussions of conflicts within the Jesus movement over the adherence to Jewish halakhah, see Gager, Origins of Antisemitism, 117-59, which focuses on polemical character. See also Meier, "Antioch," which offers a useful model for halakhic "positions" within the movement. 76Cohen notes that Gentiles who "converted" to Judaism might still not be accepted by natural Jews, except as proselytes with a lower status; see Origins of Jewishness, 160-62. 77Jubilees 6:36-38; 50:5,8,13; CD V-VI, etpassim; and I Enoch 6-13, with David Suter,"Fallen Angel, Fallen Priest: The Problem of Family Purity in 1 Enoch 6-16," HUCA 50 (1979) 115-35. 78John M. G. Barclay, "Who Was Considered an Apostate in the Jewish Diaspora?" in Tolerance and Intolerance, 80-98.

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the time of Paul.7 It also places Revelation within the alreadywell-documented literature opposing Paulinistideas, such as James, Matthew,and the later PseudoClementine and Elchasaite traditions.8 As an interpretation of the opponents in Rev 2:9 and 3:9, therefore,this "PaulineGentile believer"hypothesishas the benefit of historicalantecedentsand parallels,while previoushypothesesof an "angry Jewish community"are derived from Christiantheological tradition. Thus, the "so-calledJews" would have been Gentiles who wereobserving some hence "actingthe Jew." degree of Jewish practiceaccordingto Paulineinstruction; Like "Jezebel"and the "Nicolaitans,"these opponents were partof the Paulineor neo-Pauline wing of the Jesus movement. But while the former opponents are objectionableto John because of their teachings, the "so-called Jews" are objectionable because they are Gentiles who are insufficiently observant of Jewish practice.Both of John'sobjectionsrevolve aroundissues of purity-purity in preparation for the parousia, purity for intimacy with the heavenly world, and purity necessary for receiving visions of Christ. The impurityof the "so-called Jews" threatenedthe cohesion of the Elect in the end-times.8'

* Conclusions
One of the pitfalls of modem New Testamentresearchis the tendency to look at the literatureof the early Jesus movement as the first voices of a nascent religion But countless studiesof the polememerging from a "Jewish-pagan background." ics and categories used to constructself-definition in this movement have shown us, time and time again, thatthis literaturereflects the micro-disputesand schisms

79Johnof Patmos's objection to indiscriminate admission and participation of Gentiles in the Jewish Jesus movement carries forward the issue that motivated the mission to Gentiles in the middle of the first century; see Martin Goodman, Mission and Conversion: Proselytizing in the Religious History of the Roman Empire (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994) 168-73. 80See Gager, Origins of Antisemitism, 186-89; Gerd Luedemann, Opposition to Paul in Jewish Christianity (trans. M. Eugene Boring; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989); and Sim, Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism, 165-213. 8'It is thus curious that circumcision is not (or is no longer) an issue in John's dispute with the neo-Paulinists, for Paul himself suggests that this was the main issue surrounding the admission of Gentiles in the Jesus movement of his time (Gal 2:3,7-8, 12; 5:2-6). John, however, does not find opposition to circumcision among the many horrors that his opponents are teaching. We may deduce from this paradox that circumcision may not have been the focal issue throughout the Gentile Jesus movement; it may, rather, have been Paul's own peculiar obsession (cf. Gal 5:12). Perhaps the neo-Pauline leaders (Jezebel and the neo-Balaamians) and their followers ("so-called Jews") were all, in fact, circumcised and yet still cleaved to a lower standard of halakhic purity in other matters. While acknowledging the problem posed by John's silence on circumcision (for which I thank Paul Duff, personal communication), I do not see this silence as weakening the overall argument proposed here, but rather as impelling furtherresearch on the diversity of attitudes and halakhic observance within the Jesus movement of Asia Minor.

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of a sectarianmovementwithinwhatwe might tentativelycall Judaism.Therewas no "Christianity," nor was therea monolithicJudaismbent on persecutingits own of relatedsects of a millennialist hybridforms.We can, however,observea spectrum orientationthat may be generalized as a "Jesus movement,"and it is within this spectrumthat we ought to locate both John of Patmos and his opponents. As is typical in such sectarianmovements,then, the battlesthatJohn of Patmos wages are most likely among Jesus believers themselves ratherthan disputeswith outsideauthorities forwhichwe haveno evidence.Sociologically,it is the internecine thatproducesthe most conflict, the rejectionof the "intimate enemy,"the "heretic," hostile vilification;andJohn's attitudetowardopponentsin Smyrna,Philadelphia, in is certainlyhostile. So, who would be an "absoluteinsider" Ephesus,andThyatira John's polarized worldview, that is, within the world of Jesus believers? Such a person would be, like him, not just any Jesus devotee but a rigorous adherentto Jewish law, and even to priestlypurityregulations,that would allow for visions of and participationin the heavenly court and that would preparethe saints for the parousia.So strictis John'ssense of puritythatsexualityitself is viewed as inappropriatefor the Elect. From this perspective,I have argued,John of Patmos would have viewed adherentsto Paul's farloosersense of Jewishobservanceas incomplete,inappropriate, and even threateningto the purity and cohesion of the saints. John would not, of course, have been alone in this opinion of Pauline ideology, for Paul cites similar criticisms in his letterto the Romans:"Some people slanderus by saying that we say, 'Let us do evil thatgood may come' " (3:8; cf. 6:1, 15). But he is the primary witness to an opinion thatwas probablyfar more pervasivein the Jesus movement than the New Testamentcanon suggests: Paul's Gentile followers, whetheror not they embracedthe label "Jew,"were in fact nothing but "so-called Jews."82 This paperhas neitheraddressednor assumedany particular date for the Book of Revelation. Evidence for the late, Domitianic date has become quite shaky since rather LeonardThompson'sandChristian of this emperor's Wilson's demonstrations If John'sopponents-or to him "persecutors"-are Paulinebelievbenign reign.83 ers, thenthe Apocalypsemightindicatethe current hegemonyof Paulineideology in the Jesus movement of Asia Minor.Would this hegemony be more likely to have taken place in the mid-firstcenturyor the late-firstcentury?Ignatiusoffers little

82Cf.Gal 2:2-4, 12; Acts 15:1, 5, 24; and see Sim, The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism, on Matthew's analogous view of Paulinism. 83Thompson,Book of Revelation, 95-115, and "Social Location of Early Christian Apocalyptic," 2630-31; J. Christian Wilson, "The Problem of the Domitianic Date of Revelation," NTS 39 (1993) 587-605. The Domitianic date is, however, still affirmed by Thompson, Book of Revelation, 16-17, and Aune, Revelation, 1:lxiii-lxx.

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certaintyas to which forms of Christ worship predominatedin the cities of Asia Minor during his time, but the Ascension of Isaiah, a second-century apocalypse, reflects a Jewish self-definition much like that of John of Patmos: a Jesus sect revolving aroundprophetswho likewise presentthemselves as neo-biblicalneviim and whose provenance was most likely Asia Minor.84Probably both forms of Jesus belief-Pauline and the stricter priestly/halakhic- continued in these cities throughout late antiquity. So the conclusions drawn in this paper do not in themselves indicate a more precise date than the second half of the first century. Nor have I addressedthe relationship betweenJohn's vilificationof his intimate enemies and his demonization of the Romanempire,which dominateschapters1213 and 17-18. The lettersto the seven churches(ch. 2-3) also demonizewhatmight be identifiedas Roman authorities inasmuchas John describesa majorPergamum as "the throne of Satan" temple (2: 13a) andlocal prosecutingauthorities (whetheror not there were real incarcerations) "the An as devil" (2:10).85 important question then arises, how could the greaterRoman empire be an "intimateenemy"like the PaulineJesus believers?Perhapswe shouldsee in bothpolemics a largerconcernfor separationfrom the seductionsand impurityof this world in orderto join the heavof Babylon/Romeas a whore(17-18) and enly saints.Certainlythe characterization the second Beast as a deceptiveprophet(13) reflectsuch sentiments,such boundary formation.From this perspective,the Paulinebelievers who were Gentile (despite Jewishappearances) andadopted"assimilationist" practices,wouldbe only the most intimateform of the dangerunclearboundaries posed to the community. Finally, throughoutthis paper I have made a point of avoiding any use of the words "Christian" or "Christianity" and have used "Judaism" only in a tentative sense. By critically suspendinguse of the term"Christian," I have hopefully demonstrated how anachronistic this termis as an historicalcategoryandhow confusing its use can be when one is tacklingthe perspectiveof a figure like Johnof Patmos. If he is "Christian"-a taxonomy that says little about his overall ideology as a Jew-then so are his opponents;hence we have neithersaid much aboutJohn nor explained the characterof his conflicts. When we cast these questionsin terms of "Christians" and "Jews"we exaggerateboundariesand invent self-definitionsthat

84See Robert G. Hall, "The Ascension of Isaiah: Community, Situation, Date, and Place in Early Christianity," JBL 109 (1990) 289-306; and David Frankfurter, "The Legacy of Jewish Apocalypses in Early Christianity: Regional Trajectories," in The Jewish Apocalyptic Heritage in Early Christianity (ed. James C. VanderKam and William Adler; CRINT 3.4; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996) 132-42; and "Early Christian Apocalypticism: Literature and Social World," in Jewish and Christian Origins of Apocalypticism (vol. 1 of Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism; ed. John J. Collins; New York: Continuum, 1998) 426-30. 85For2:13a I am dependent on Adela Yarbro Collins, "Satan's Throne at Pergamum and John's Conflict with Culture," paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 1999 (? S119). Cf. Aune, Revelation, 1:182-84.

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the motivations for alleged simplydid not exist at the time.8 We also prejudge since "Christian" onecouldpersepersecutions, impliesa visible,definable group cute.Butif we beginwiththeassumption thattheJesusmovement wasanentirely intra-Jewish sectarian of andif we qualify"Jewish" to indicate a range movement,
practices, then the outlines of conflict aroundJohn of Patmos begin to emerge

withmoreprecision.

"6Seeesp. Marshall, "Parables of the War," and Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999).

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