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Gk. prosēlytos was used by the LXX as the equivalent of Heb. gēr, which had the sense “immigrant” or “resident alien” but then came to take on the meaning “convert.” Proselytism thus means originally the winning of converts to Judaism. The sense does not have to be pejorative, for one of the seven in Acts 6:5–6 was a “proselyte” (Nicolaus, v. 5), and we read of “devout converts to Judaism [prosēlytōn]” at Antioch in Acts 13:43. For his part, Jesus could sharply criticize the proselytism of the scribes and Pharisees in Matt. 23:15, not in principle, but in terms of the results.

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Löffler, Paul, “Proselytism”, in: Encyclopedia of Christianity Online. Consulted online on 30 May 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2211-2685_eco_P.165>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004169678, 20080512

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