This introductory chapter argues that not only the emerging Christianity drew on contemporary Judaism but that rabbinic Judaism, too, tapped into ideas and concepts of Christianity to shape its own identity. Common wisdom has it that belief in the unity and uniqueness of God has been one of the firmly established principles of Jewish faith since time immemorial. The emerging Christian sect set out to elaborate the notion of the one and only God in terms of first a binitarian and then a trinitarian theology—that is, they took the decisive step to include God's Son in the godhead, this followed by the inclusion of a third divine figure, the Holy Spirit. The rabbis were certainly aware of such developments and responded to them. The rabbinic literature has preserved a wealth of sources that portray the rabbis as engaged in a dialogue with people who present views that run counter to the accepted or imagined rabbinic norm system.
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