James' flock in Jerusalem.) Christians had to diplomatically follow Jewish law
in Israel in order to teach there (Acts 21:17-24), and, circumstantially, beyond
it at times (1 Cor.9:20). Jerusalem, the center of worship for the Jews and
the location of the temple in Israel (Mark 11:27), was a special sore point in
this regard (Acts 11:1-3; 15:1,2,5,10,11,24; 21:17-24,27-32).
And, until 70 AD, it was also the location of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high
court, which had a hostile reaction to Jesus and the apostles (Mark 14:55,64;
15:1; Acts 5:27-41; 23:11-15), and which was heeded by Jews beyond Israel
Since the Babylonian captivity, most Jews lived beyond Israel in the Disper-
sion as a minority group of other lands. Some Greeks are noted as attending
worship with Jews in the synagogues, and some Christians taught to find con-
verts in the synagogues with some success. Still, most circumcised Jews re-
quired other males to be circumcised for full acceptance (Acts 13:13-52, esp.
42-44; 14:1,2; 17:1-5,10-13,15-17; 18:4-11,18-21,24-28). The God fearers/wor-
shippers of Acts 13:16,26,43; 18:6,7 are uncircumcised partial converts to Ju-
daism, as is Cornelius (Acts 10:2,22,28; 11:3). Though recognized as devout,
they're considered as less socially acceptable than full converts to circum-
The Mishnah (p.12), the earliest part of the Babylonian Talmud, records the
oral law of the Jews of this period.
"Everyman's Talmud," 1949, 1975, by Abraham Cohen, introduction by Dr. Boaz
The Tosefta, edited by Rabbis Hiyya and Oshaiah, is a work partly current to
and a supplement to the Mishnah, possibly including earlier source material,
and represents the Jewish oral law as well. Both were compiled about 200 AD.
In them, it's shown that the Jews distinguished full converts, whom they
called proselytes of the covenant or of righteousness, from those of the Gen-
tiles whom they called sojourning proselytes, who were a kind of resident alien
who agreed to live by a minimum ethic of seven Noahide rules while living, if
not with full acceptance or ritual participation, among the Jews (something
more common in the Dispersion than in Israel). These rules were believed to be
binding on the sons of Noah therefore the whole subsequent human race: don't
eat from a live animal, and don't commit idolatry, adultery, murder, theft, or
blasphemy, and perform the duty of promoting justice.
Mishnah--Sanhedrin 56a; Tosefta--'A.Z.64b; 'A.Z.VIII[IX].4-6