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In Acts 28:22 the group of early Christians is referred to as a sect. Presumably as a sect of the existing Jewish religion.

The question is when were the early Christians no longer considered a sect of the Jewish religion?


For etymology and meaning please see: Sect and Sects | New Advent.

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It seems that this question has two points. First, when Christians stopped to practice Jewish traditions. Second, when others stopped to think that they are a Jewish sect. Either part has a strict border.

Regarding the first part, I would assume that this is related to the destruction of the Temple when many Christians left Palestine. This event also caused significant changes in the Jewish community: many Temple related rituals disappeared. No other change was so significant. On the other hand, there are some attempts to go back to the Jewish tradition and practices, e.g. Adventists of the Seventh Day.

Regarding the second part, the limited understanding in the Roman empire was caused by the illegality. Thus, the most important date seems to be 313. On the other hand, there are still people in the modern era who thought Christians to be a Jewish sect:

Historically speaking, the Christian religion is nothing but a Jewish sect.... After the destruction of Judaism, the extinction of Christian slave morals must follow logically.... Ah, the God of the deserts, that crazed, stupid, vengeful Asiatic despot with his power to make laws! (Adolf Hitler)

End note

In some sense, Christians are a Jewish sect, they have Jewish roots and Christianity was founded by a Jew. This fact is obvious from the the Biblical canon, as well as from liturgy.

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  • Thank you for your answer and for the Jewish Roots of the Mass link. I will use it elsewhere on the site. – user13992 Sep 27 '14 at 18:32
  • Regarding the second part, the limited understanding in the Roman empire was caused by the illegality I don't understand what this means. – user13992 Sep 27 '14 at 18:34
  • CHRISTIANITY IN ITS RELATION TO JUDAISM: to perhaps augment your answer. – user13992 Sep 28 '14 at 7:34
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    After the Temple, Christians stayed in Jerusalem and were still Jews. Starting from James, the first fifteen Christians bishops of Jerusalem were circumcised. The last left Jerusalem after 135 when all Jews (and that included the Christians) were forbidden by Hadrian to enter the new city of Aelia Capitolina and he forcefully turned them into pagans. What was later called Jews were those who returned to circumcision while Christians were the ones that accepted, like the pagans, that circumcision was no different to castration. This was the gradual end of the cult and a new religion formed. – gideon marx Sep 28 '14 at 11:45
  • @KarelMacek I would like to accept this answer but the second paragraph is unclear to me. – user13992 Sep 29 '14 at 19:31
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At the time of the Bar Kochba revolt (132-135), there were still Jewish Christians (or Christian Jews?). When Bar Kochba was hailed as the Messiah, those Christians were forced to disavow him, since they believed Jesus was the Messiah. (see http://www.academia.edu/2123957/Jewish_Followers_of_Jesus_and_the_Bar_Kokhba_Revolt_Re-examining_the_Christian_Sources).

Also, St. John Chrysostom delivered a series of homilies in Antioch in the fourth century, with the title translated as "Against the Jews" or "Against the Judaizers". In it he strongly discourages Christians from observing or celebration Jewish holy days, which suggests that at least in Antioch, some people still thought Christianity and Judaism were not mutually exclusive.

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