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Definitions and Meaning of proselyte in English
Please log in to add an alert for this article. Citation tools. The name by which they are commonly designated is that of "devout men," or men "fearing God" or "worshipping God. In Old Testament times a foreign resident Exodus ; Deuteronomy In New Testament a person of Gentile origin who had accepted the Jewish religion, whether living in Palestine or elsewhere Matthew ; Acts ; Acts ; Acts The converts who were thus attracted joined, with varying strictness, in the worship of the Jews.
In Palestine itself, even Roman centurions learned to love the conquered nation built synagogues for them, Luke fasted and prayed, and gave alms after the pattern of the strictest Jews, Acts ,30 and became preachers of the new faith to the soldiers under them.
King James Bible Dictionary
Acts Such men, drawn by what was best in Judaism were naturally among the readiest receivers of the new truth which rose out of it, and became, in many cases, the nucleus of a Gentile Church. Proselytism had, however, its darker side. The Jews of Palestine were eager to spread their faith by the same weapons as those with which they had defended it. The Idum'ans had the alternative offered them by John Hyrcanus of death, exile or circumcision.
The Idumeans were converted in the same way by Aristobulus. Where force was not in their power, they obtained their ends by the most unscrupulous fraud. Those who were most active in proselytizing were precisely those from whose teaching all that was most true and living had departed. The vices of the Jew were engrafted on the vices of the heathen. A repulsive casuistry released the convert from obligations which he had before recognized, while in other things he was bound hand and fool to an unhealthy superstition.
It was no wonder that he became "twofold more the child of hell," Matthew than the Pharisees themselves.
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Proselyte
We find in the Talmud a distinction between proselytes of the gate and proselytes of righteousness, The term proselytes of the gate was derived from the frequently occurring description in the law the stranger that is within Exodus etc. Converts of thy gates this class were not bound by circumcision and the other special laws of the Mosaic code. It is doubtful however whether the distinction made in the Talmud ever really existed.
The proselytes of righteousness, known also as proselytes of the covenant, were perfect Isr'lites. We learn from the Talmud that, in addition to circumcision, baptism was also required to complete their admission to the faith.