The following is a particularly interesting case of seemingly contradictory ideologies at work (thanks to Robert Myles who gives more details).
Bruce Malina argues that we should drop popular concepts such as ‘Jewishness’ in the study of the New Testament for the following reasons:
The facts that Christendom arose in the fourth century with Constantine and that Jewishness emerged with the Talmud in the fifth century indicate that there were no Jews or Christians in the New Testament period. Meanings come from social systems, and social systems that articulate Christianity and Jewishness recognizable today emerged first in the fourth and fifth centuries. Thus, there were no Christians or Jews in the New Testament period in any sense that might be known from modern experience. Jesus was not what we today would call a Jew and neither was Paul, since there were no Jews in any modern, recognizable sense in the first century. (Bruce Malina, ‘Social Scientific Approaches and the Gospel of Matthew’, in M.A. Powell (ed.), Methods for Matthew , p. 172)
Instead, the following is suggested, including a curious lumping of all Israelis (which might lead to questions about [for instance] Arab Israelis or Israelis of North African background):
Thus, we may access some of the social systems of biblical peoples through comparative analysis of villagers in Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt (but not Israelis, since Israelis are a non-Semitic, central European people of Turkic origin). (Bruce Malina, ‘Social Scientific Approaches and the Gospel of Matthew’, in M.A. Powell (ed.), Methods for Matthew , p. 158)
Some of these points about Jews, Jewishness and Israelis may be startling to some readers.
Instead, a key alternative identity marker suggested concerns what might be described in this context as ‘The Land of Israel’ and sounds…Zionist:
Rather, Judean meant a person belonging to a group called Judeans, situated geographically and forming a territory taking its name from its inhabitants, Judea. Judea is precisely a group of people, Judeans, organically related to and rooted in a place, with its distinctive environs, air, and water. Judean thus designates a person from one segment of a larger related group, Israel (John 1:47, 49), who comes from the place after which the segment is named, Judea (Ioudaia). The correlatives of Judean in John are ‘Galilean’ and ‘Perean,’ and together they make up Israel. (Malina and Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel of John , p. 44)
So, Jewishness goes, Israelis and Israel go. They are then replaced with ‘a group of people, Judeans, organically related to and rooted in a place, with its distinctive environs, air, and water. Judean thus designates a person from one segment of a larger related group, Israel’