ACLD: One of the crucial points drawn out in your Augustine and the Jews is that Augustine became something of an apologist for Judaism against Faustus. Particularly, Augustine defended the importance of Jesus’ Jewishness. Do you think that Augustine was somewhat unique among the Christians of his time?
PF: Against Faustus, Augustine is an apologist for catholicism. In its defense, he deploys a rhetorically constructed "hermeneutical Jew" and "hermeneutical Judaism" that serves to articulate catholic theological points of principle (creation, incarnation, fleshly resurrection). His Jewish Jesus — halachically observant, traditionally Jewish, and so on — is part of this scheme. Origen, another close reader of texts, also observed against Celsus that Jesus kept the law; but Augustine's Jewish Jesus is much more fully developed, because of the particulars of Faustus' attack. As a 4th-century theologian, Augustine made a theological case for a law-observant Jesus that happens to make good, modern, secular historiographical sense as well: to wit, Jesus as a truly human being ("incarnate," in Augustine's language) lived within — not against — the religious traditions/context of his people. In this respect, Augustine went further in acknowledging the normative Judaism of Jesus (and of Paul) than many of our colleagues do!