Where is there a discussion where the phrase "to be circumcised" means "to convert to Judaism" or "to become a Jew"?

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    Why do you think that the terms would be used interchangeably? Are you just asking whether circumcision is necessary for conversion? It certainly is (for males). Consider clarifying what exactly you mean to ask. – mevaqesh Sep 10 '17 at 19:53
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    Could we maybe have a bit more information? – ezra Sep 10 '17 at 20:08
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    The closest I can come up with are Mishnayot where an oath regarding "The Circumcised" refers only to Jews (even uncircumcised ones) and an oath regarding "The Uncircumcised" refers only to non-Jews (even circumcised ones). Is that what you're looking for? – Danny Schoemann Sep 11 '17 at 7:42
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    Nedarim 3:11 - משנה מסכת נדרים - toratemetfreeware.com/online/f_01303.html#HtmpReportNum0019_L2 - קוֹנָם שֶׁאֵינִי נֶהֱנֶה לָעֲרֵלִים, מֻתָּר בְּעַרְלֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָסוּר בְּמוּלֵי הַגּוֹיִם. קוֹנָם שֶׁאֵינִי נֶהֱנֶה לַמּוּלִים, אָסוּר בְּעַרְלֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וּמֻתָּר בְּמוּלֵי הַגּוֹיִם – Danny Schoemann Sep 11 '17 at 7:52
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    It's not that "to become circumcised" means "to become Jewish"; it's that colloquially, in Israel 1900 years ago, "the circumcised people" was a nickname for the Jews. – Shalom Sep 11 '17 at 12:16

There is a sugya in Avoda Zara 10b where someone called Ketia bar Shalom successfully defended the Jews against Roman conspirators, but was nonetheless sentenced to death for having won the debate against the king. On his way to be killed a roman woman remarked that unfortunately he was being killed for defending the Jews but he would not get the same reward in the world to come since he was not circumcised. Whereupon he was circumcised.

Tosafos raised a contradiction that we said Antoninus would get reward in the world to come. Tosafos answer that he too was circumcised (נימול).
Tosafos go on to quote this from the Yerushalmi in the first chapter of Megilla (halacha 13). There we find the statement that Antoninus was circumcised and ends off saying 'this is the statement that Antoninus converted'.

א''ל אנטונינוס לרבי את מאכילני מן לויתן לעתיד לבא Antoninus said to Rabi will you give me to eat from the leviathan in the future? א''ל אין He (Rabi) responded yes. א''ל מן אימר פסחא לית את מאכילני ומן לויתן את מאכילני He (Antoninus) asked from a paschal sacrifice you will not feed me, but from the leviathon you will? א''ל מה אעביד לך דהא כתיב וכל ערל לא יאכל בו He (Rabi) said what can I do for you? It is written an uncircumcised may not eat of it. כיון דשמע כן אזל וגזר גרמיה Once he (Antoninus) heard this he went and cut himself. הדא אמרה איגייר אנטונינוס About this it is said Antoninus converted.

This Yerushalmi that Tosafos quotes definitely equated the term circumcised with converted, however if you look around in that sugya in Avoda Zara you will find later commentaries who don't think it's possible. Poras Yosef for instance raises the issue that a nonjew cannot perform a halakhicaly acceptable circumcision.

  • Thank you. Please give me a rough interlinear ("wooden") translation, so I can see which English word came from which Aramaic word in this quote: א''ל אנטונינוס לרבי את מאכילני מן לויתן לעתיד לבא א''ל אין א''ל מן אימר פסחא לית את מאכילני ומן לויתן את מאכילני א''ל מה אעביד לך דהא כתיב וכל ערל לא יאכל בו כיון דשמע כן אזל וגזר גרמיה הדא אמרה איגייר אנטונינוס – ninamag Sep 11 '17 at 19:21
  • In the book, "The Significance of Yavneh and Other Essays in Jewish Hellenism" By Shaye J. D. Cohen, one reads the following commentary on the above passage about Antoninus, 'Corroborating evidence is provided by the substitution of "he converted himself" for the original "he was circumcised" - what was implicit in Megillah has become explicit in Sanhedrin.' – ninamag Sep 11 '17 at 19:44
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    I edited in the translation. I assume he is referring to Yerushalmi snahedrin? There is a sister sugya there. But whether or not he wants to change a girsa, tosafos didn't think it needed. – user6591 Sep 11 '17 at 19:52

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