Troubling Trypho : associative-group language in Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho the Jew
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Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho the Jew is a vital text in the study of early Jewish Christian relations. This paper argues that Justin attempts to portray Christians as a legitimate and cohesive genos, ethnos, and laos, what I will call an “associative-group,” over and against his construction of Jews. Using Denise Kimber Buell’s argument that Justin defines Christianity in ethnoracial terms in contrast to Erich Gruen’s critique that ancient people did not think of self identification in modern ethnoracial manners, I examine what I call Justin’s “associative-group” identity. Justin constructs Christianity as the “true” associative-group of God, connected through creative lineage from the patriarchs through Jesus. Justin uses the failure of the Jews in the Bar Kokhba revolt as proof that they are not the associative-group defined by their relationship to God or land, nor have they been since their rejection of Jesus as God’s Messiah.