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The Beginnings of the Church Jerusalem was the centre of the Christian movement at least until its destruction by Roman armies in AD 70 but from this centre Christianity radiated to other cities and towns in Palestine and beyond At first its appeal was largely although not completely confined to the adherents of Judaism to whom it presented itself as new not in the sense of novel and brand-new but in the sense of continuing and fulfilling what God had promised to Abraham Isaac and Jacob Already in its very beginnings therefore Christianity manifested a dual relation to the Jewish faith a relation of continuity and yet of fulfilment of antithesis and yet of affirmation The forced conversions of Jews in the Middle Ages and the history of anti-Semitism despite official condemnations of both by church leaders are evidence that the antithesis could easily overshadow the affirmation The fateful loss of continuity with Judaism has however never been total Above all the presence of so many elements of Judaism in the Christian Bible has acted to remind Christians that he whom they worshipped as their Lord was himself a Jew and that the New Testament did not stand on its own but was appended to the Old An important source of the alienation of Christianity from its Jewish roots was the change in the membership of the church that took place by the end of the 2nd century just when and how is uncertain At some point Christians with Gentile backgrounds began to outnumber Jewish Christians Clearly the work of the apostle Paul was influential Born a Jew he was deeply involved in the destiny of Judaism but as a result of his conversion he believed that he was the chosen instrument to bring the message of Christ to the Gentiles He was the one who formulated in his Epistles see Epistle to several early Christian congregations many of the ideas and terms that were
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