When Christians were Jews, there were no Christians. Fredriksen reaches this startling conclusion at the end of a book in which she seeks to understand why the followers of Jesus remained in Jerusalem after his crucifixion. What did they find in Jerusalem that they could not find elsewhere? The answer is: the Temple.

The premise of this study is that the only way to understand the initial Jesus movement is to strip away all of the later assessments colored by the knowledge that the end of time was not the imminent reality that Jesus's earliest followers thought it was. The steadfast conviction that the Second Coming was around the corner concentrated minds on only one distinction, that between the people of Israel and the Gentiles. The immediate challenge was how to interpret the delay. When the Second Coming did not occur, conclusions...

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