Last week I reviewed Michael Bird’s new book Crossing over Land and Sea (Hendrickson, 2010). This week he has posted an essay over on Bible and Interpretation. Bird gives a brief overview of the question: Was ancient Judaism a missionary religion? He then examines evidence from Matthew 23:15 and Josephus’s Antiquities 20.17-53. Bird demonstrates that is difficult to categorize all of ancient Judaism as “missionary” or “non-missionary.” Second Temple Judaism did attract proselytes and facilitate the conversion of Gentiles, but was not self-consciously “missionary” in nature.
If you have not yet read Michael’s book and are interested in learning more about the topic you can read his essay here.