When the Emperor Hadrian refounded Jerusalem as a Roman city in 135 and forbade Jews to approach it, his prohibition applied to Jewish Christians as well as to non-Christian Jews. Shortly after 135 we find a church in Jerusalem once again, but now it is a purely Gentile church, quite distinct from the purely Jewish-Christian church of Jerusalem in earlier times. This complete breach of continuity in the history of Jerusalem Christianity is one among several reasons for the uncertainty attaching to the identification of sacred sites in that city. The new Gentile church of Jerusalem had no communal memory, no local traditions among its members, which might preserve the identity of the holy places. In this respect there is a wide difference between Jerusalem and Rome, for in Rome there is an unbroken continuity of Christian tradition going back to the first century.

The year 135 also marks the final breach between the Jewish Christians and their fellow-Jews. The Nazarenes had refused to take part in the Bar-kokhba rising, because they could not by any means recognize his messianic claims. For them there could be no other Messiah than Jesus. Because of their refusal to join what seemed the patriotic cause, they suffered considerable persecution. From that time onwards, then, the distinctively Jewish Christian communities went their own way, isolated in religion from their fellow-Jews, and to a large extent isolated also from the main stream of catholic Christianity. As the Gentile Christians in the following centuries formulated their faith in ever more explicit terms- terms, too, largely drawn from the vocabulary of Greek philosophy- the Jewish-Christian groups, with their more primitive and more Semitic ways of expressing their faith, found themselves increasingly regarded as heretical by the generality of catholic Christians.

 

from page 272, The Spreading Flame