What effect did the fall of Jerusalem have on early Christianity?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The destruction of the Second Temple by Titus in 70 A.D. marked a turning point in the history of Christianity. Before that time, as evidenced in Acts and the Pauline letters, a group of elders located in Jerusalem had a quasi-authoritative role within the Christian community. Jewish Christians, who followed...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

many of the Jewish ritual laws, had formed a significant body within the Christian community, and it was at that point unclear the degree to which Christianity would remain a Jewish sect or become to a great degree independent of its Judaic roots.

The destruction of the Temple, de facto, marked the end of Jewish Christianity as a major force and Jerusalem as a central authority in the evolving Christian religion. The major centre of power shifts towards Rome, as many authoritative documents of early Christianity become letters to and from Rome (which was the secular centre of the Roman empire). Christianity becomes increasingly separated from its Jewish roots, and is in some ways increasingly hostile to Judaism (e.g. increasingly blaming Jews rather than Romans for the death of Jesus).

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Scholars slightly differ in their interpretations on the effects of the fall of Jerusalem on early Christianity, however most agree that the fall of Jerusalem created internal conflicts among the Jews and Gentiles, particularly in their beliefs and practices. Jewish Christians for example were divided from Gentile Christians on their beliefs about circumcision and the teachings of the Torah, although they saw the differing groups as other branches of Judaism. The fall of Jerusalem, however, paved the emergence of Christianity as an entirely new religion separate from Judaism.

In his book, Julius Scott quotes Jacob Joc:

"The year A.D. 70 marked a turning point in the history not only of Judaism but also of Christianity. The military defeat which ended in the destruction of the Temple effected the young Jewish Church in several ways:

(1)The fact that the war against Rome took place without Christian participation widened the breach between the nationalistically minded Jews and the believers in Jesus Christ.

(2)The destruction of the Temple tipped the scales in favor of antinomian elements of Jewish Christianity and also solved the perplexing problem concerning Christian participation in the Temple cult.

(3)It detached the Jewish Church from Jerusalem as a religious centre, and thus allowed a greater measure of freedom and independence.

(4)It provided the Messianic movement with a new and powerful weapon for propaganda purposes."

Approved by eNotes Editorial