Tomson, Peter J. "Chapter Five: Transformations of Post-70 Judaism: Scholarly Reconstructions and Their Implications for Our Perception of Matthew, Didache, and James." in Van de Sandt, Huub & Zangenberg, Jürgen K. (editors). Matthew, James, and Didache: Three Related Documents in their Jewish and Christian Settings." Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008, 91-121.
Tomson notes the complexity not only of the relationship between early Christianity and Judaism, but also the complicating factor of biography, in which a writer of history necessarily interprets events under the influence of his own setting (Tomson 2008, 91). For instance, in Eusebius' Church History, Christianity has little or no ongoing contact with Judaism, which, to him, is irrelevant (Tomson 2008, 93). Similarly, among Jewish historians there is a tendency to see Judaism in exile as a rather hopeless enterprise. To interpret the historical writings adequately, Tomson considers it necessary to seek an understanding of what kind of people were writing these materials (Tomson 2008, 94-95).
Tomson recounts the work of Gedaliah Alon (died 1950), who used sources from archaeology and literary records, synthesizing them to create a clear socio-political outlook within the Jewish and Christian worlds in the late first century and beyond (Tomson 2008, 95-96). Alon saw the fall of Jerusalem in 70 as part of the start of a transition period, in which Judaism had to create an identity without the temple and sacrifice, central to their cultural, political, and economic identity (Tomson 2008, 98). Among the steps toward forming a new identity, Alon describes liturgical changes and an expulsion of Christians from among the ranks of Jews, all between 70 and 115 (Tomson 2008, 100). In 132, the reforms led to the Bar Kokhba war, which lasted three and a half years, resulting in the destruction of Judaea. Tomson notes that Alon's analysis influenced much of Jewish historical scholarship through the rest of the 20th century (Tomson 2008, 102). His work has more recently been criticized as excessively partisan, with the result that some scholars have avoided drawing connections between pieces of literature and history at all (Tomson 2008, 103).
Tomson traces critical responses to Alon's work by an analysis of the work of Seth Schwartz (Tomson 2008, 105 ff). Schwartz sees the collapse of Judaism in 70 to have lasted until a reform movement in the fourth century. In his approach, he examines Judaism as observed from the outside, counter to Alon's method of internal examination (Tomson 2008, 106). Schwartz finds that extensive building of synagogues did not take place again until after 350, though there was a significant amount of rabbinic writing in the interim. The evidence of growth was lacking to external observation.
Tomson considers Schwartz' omission of the significance of the Bar Kokhba war to be a weakness in his overall analysis (Tomson 2008, 109). More recent scholarship has analyzed the conflict in detail, considering provocations and the social aftereffects of the defeat (Tomson 2008, 110-113).
Tomson moves on to attempt to place Matthew, the Didache, and James in their appropriate context in the period between 70 and 135 (Tomson 2008, 114). He considers Alon's characterization of the period to be helpful, as it provides some context for the tension between the Christians and the Jewish leaders which we can see in the Christian texts. Tomson notes numerous canonical and non-canonical texts which express conflict between Christians and Jewish leaders, particularly in their ideology.
"Many scholars will agree that on top of its obvious Judaeo-Christian layer involving a range of expressions remarkably close to rabbinic literature, Matthew underwent a redaction process reflecting a fierce conflict with the 'Pharisees' or 'scribes and Pharisees' as a class and as an apparently important social group" (Tomson 2008, 117). This suggests a deeply divisive situation. The tension extends to that between the Jews and the Roman authorities as well (Tomson 2008, 118).
The Didache shows relatively little tension between Jews and Christians except in chapter eight, where the Christians are not to be like the "hypocrites" (Tomson 2008, 119). However, the Jewish fasting practice appears to have become consistent in the time after 70, under Rabbi Gamaliel. Tomson suggests the possibility that the Didache, as essentially a book of ritual, may have ceased to be modified earlier than the Gospel was, and thus could have omitted polemics.
James does not show signs of a conflict between Christians and Jews (Tomson 2008, 120). The concern in James of doing God's Word rather than simply hearing it, however, while consonant with Paul's view on Romans, may also have shown a desire to maintain peace between Christians and Jews. As with the Didache, there is no evidence of a redactional process which would emphasize polemics (Tomson 2008, 121).