A couple of weeks ago I read an article by Mark Nanos, arguing that Galatians should not be read as an intra-Christian dispute (Christian Judaizers versus Christian liberators), but rather as an intra-Jewish dispute (Jewish-sect-Christians who maintain certain elements of the Torah versus Jewish-sect-Christians who do not maintain those elements). I found the article persuasive in a number of ways. You can find it on Nanos’ website here.
Donald Hagner spoke at the Tyndale New Testament Group the other day, aiming to counter the view, held by more and more scholars, “that there was no real parting of the ways between Christianity and Judaism until the fourth century, and that up until that time the very terms ‘Christianity’ and ‘Judaism’ are anachronistic and inappropriate”.
Given my recent dalliance with the thought of Nanos, Hagner’s paper caused me to think again and use some caution in relation to this issue. He gave a series of ways in which earliest Christianity was markedly “new”, and warned against making the issue into an unnecessarily black-and-white dichotomy. He argued that there is both continuity (so Christianity is a species of Judaism) and discontinuity (so Christianity moves beyond acceptable bounds of Judaism in relation to the four pillars of Torah, Monotheism, Election and Temple). He suggested that early Christianity viewed itself as the fulfilment of Judaism – and urged that “fulfilment” need not entail “supercession”.