Excommunicating the Faithful:
Jewish Christianity in the Early Church
By Kenneth W. Howard
FaithX executive director Ken Howard recently published the third edition of his book, Excommunicating the Faithful: Jewish Christianity in the Early Church, edited and revised to include the most current research on the subject.
Excommunicating the Faithful is a research-based, academic book, yet very accessible to the average reader and highly relevant to our present theo-political divisions. It traces the development of Jewish Christianity from its beginnings in the earliest Christian communities through its apparent disappearance in the fourth or fifth century after they were declared heretical by the Church Fathers and excommunicated from the Church, despite the fact that they were as “orthorodox” as any Christian groups at the time and considered themselves a part of the greater church.
It is a cautionary tale that is reminiscent of a murder mystery.
It is cautionary because it shows how cultural misunderstandings and power struggles between competing Christian communities can result in increasingly narrow and conflicting views of orthodoxy, and orthopraxis can create not only theological divisions but racial and ethnic prejudice as well. And also because it shows what a loss it was and is for the Church to forget its spiritual heritage.
It is reminiscent of a murder mystery because the only evidence of the crime consists of fragments in the writings of the ones who were responsible for its death as a part of the Church.
We hope our readers will find it helpful.
Read on to explore pre-publication reviews.
In this eye-opening volume, Rev. Ken Howard does a masterful job elucidating who the early Jewish Christians were and their ultimate exclusion from the orthodox Christian fold. The rift between Judaism and the developing Christian faith was not a matter of the Jews rejecting Jesus but the Christian Churches, having become thoroughly “Romanized,” rejecting the Jews. Excommunicating the Faithful is a must for those who, from this “cautionary tale,” seek inclusion and diversity in today’s religious environment, and who seek to resolve differences, not through excommunication but dialogue.
–Kenneth Hanson, Ph.D., Professor of Judaic Studies, University of Central Florida
How did a religion that was founded by Jewish people end up excommunicating all the Jewish groups? This is an important question. Ken Howard takes you on a fascinating journey, exploring the question with depth, insight, and appropriate thoughtfulness. For anyone interested in the puzzling paradox of our origins, this is a must read book.
–The Very Reverend Ian Markham, Ph.D., Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary
Here is a thorough study that elucidates a grievous turn in church history while analyzing the roots of Christian antisemitism. Excommunicating the Faithful is especially relevant in today’s febril mix of religion, politics, and culture. Its message reminds us that, given the right set of circumstances, the oppressor and the oppressed can easily switch places, even among the followers of Jesus.
–The Reverend Peter M. Antoci, Ph.D., Dean, Southern Maryland Region, Episcopal Diocese of Washington
What happened to Jewish Christianity in the first centuries of the Christian Church? Largely due to a dearth of original material, this process proves to be a very difficult question to answer. Focusing on the fate of several of the more “orthodox” early Jewish Christian sects, Ken Howard’s Excommunicating the Faithful is an impressive attempt to extract an answer from the fragmentary and often problematic source material available.
–Morgan Rampelli, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Georgia Southern University