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Prof. Dr. Shaye J. D. Cohen


18 Jun 2017 ‐ 30 Jul 2017

Harvard Semitic Museum
6 Divinity Ave
Cambridge MA 02138

He is a professor of ancient Judaism. He is particiularly interested in the history of rabbinic law, the relations of Jews and Christians, and the connections between the Jews and Greco-Roman culture.


In his eight Sermons against the Jews, delivered in Antioch in 386-387 CE, the preacher John Chrysostom fulminates against some of the Christians of the city, accusing them of consorting with the Jews, the enemies of Christ, and thus denying their own Christianity. Modern scholars call these Christians "Judaizers" and cite these Christians as evidence for the porosity of the boundary between Jews and Christians. My argument is that the sermons provide little evidence for Christian "Judaizing", and no evidence for a Judaizing "movement". The Christians were not betraying their Christianity, as Chrysostom and his modern followers would have it, so much as they, as Christians secure in their Christianity, were simply participating in the riches of their municipal culture. John Chrysostom has every right to define Christianity as he wishes, and for him Judaism and Christianity are mutually exclusive categories. However, the targets of his polemic also have the right to define their Christianity as they wish, and while it is obvious that they do not share Chrysostom’s dualistic antipathy towards Judaism, we do not have to believe that they have a peculiar affection for, or infatuation with, Judaism.

Fields of Research

Ancient Judaism, ancient Christianity, parting of the ways between Jews and Christians, John Chrysostom

Curriculum Vitae

2001 – 2017 Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy, Harvard University
1991 – 2001 Ungerleider Professor of Judaic Studies, Brown University
1974 – 1991 Assistant Professor – Shenkman Professor of Jewish History, Jewish Theological Seminary


2010 S. J. D. Cohen, The Significance of Yavneh and Other Essays in Jewish Hellenism (Tübingen 2010).
2005 S. J. D. Cohen, Why aren’t Jewish Women Circumcised? Gender and Covenant in Judaism (Berkeley 2005).
1999 S. J. D. Cohen, The Beginnings of Jewishness (Berkeley 1999).
1987 S. J. D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah: A Profile of Judaism (Philadelphia 1987).
1979 S. J. D. Cohen, Josephus in Galilee and Rome: His Vita and Development as a Historian (Leiden 1979).