New Perspective on Paul

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by muhammad_isa, Mar 9, 2021.

  1. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    For the last couple of months, we have been discussing on IO the subject of Jesus claiming to be God
    due to a general article on the original website.

    @RJM Corbet and probably others are getting pretty fed up with it by now :)

    The "new perspective" was started with E. P. Sanders' 1977 work Paul and Palestinian Judaism.

    Protestantism has never denied that there is a place for good and faithful works, but has always excluded them from justification, which Protestants argue is through faith alone, and to which good deeds do not contribute.

    According to Christopher Rowland, "Pauline Christianity" is the development of thinking about Jesus in a gentile missionary context. Rowland contends that, "the extent of his influence on Christian thought has been overestimated," concluding that Paul did not materially alter the teachings of Jesus.

    I personally agree with Christopher. Paul has no "blame" for why we all believe different
    interpretations of what Jesus taught.

    Discuss?
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2021
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Muhammad_isa –

    I've found a fruitful line of scholarship on Paul is the Jewish input on 2nd Temple Judaism.

    Extracts from an essay by Paula Fredriksen:

    Did Paul "convert"? Not in any usual sense of the word... Paul saw his mission to Gentiles through the analogy of working in Jerusalem’s temple. All of the building blocks of Paul’s gospel are quarried from Jewish tradition.

    Jewish apocalyptic traditions actually looked forward to Gentiles entering the kingdom of God as Gentiles. Paul’s "Law-free" mission was thus, from both of these perspectives, a traditionally Jewish message. The point is this: a Law-free Gentile mission gives us no reason in itself to assume that Paul himself was also Law-free. His teaching Gentiles that they did not have to live according to the Law tells us nothing about his own level of observance. And, as we have seen, the Gentile mission was not exactly Law-free either.

    It was only long after his lifetime that Christianity developed into a culture that was in principle non-Jewish, even anti-Jewish. But in his own generation – which Paul was convinced was history’s last generation – the Jesus movement was yet one more variety of late Second Temple Judaism.

    +++

    A precis of "Two Pauls, Three Opinions: The Jewish Paul between Law and Love" by Emmanuel Nathan, from: Is there a Judeo-Christian Tradition? Ed(s): Emmanuel Nathan and Anya Topolski —

    The "New Perspective on Paul" was in some part influenced by a growing post-war awareness of the failure within Christian biblical studies to take sufficient account of the Jewish roots of Christianity.

    "New Perspective" scholars argued that Luther’s search for salvific grace and his battle against the Church’s rule on indulgences had shaped Protestant Pauline studies and rendered a view of Second Temple Judaism as sterile and overly-legalistic – a Judaism defined by the Sadducee elitism and Pharisaic point-scoring.

    James Dunn proposed a 'new perspective on Paul' claiming Paul’s 'problem' with Judaism was that its ritual identity markers (food laws, circumcision, Sabbath observance) functioned as 'badges of covenant membership' denoting privileged ethnicity and nation status. In effect, God was exclusively Jewish and for the Jews. In his own words, "Covenant works had become too closely identified as Jewish observances, covenant righteousness, as national righteousness."

    Pauline studies have advanced with the advances made in the field of his contemporary Judaism, aided by the discovery and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the broadening of cross-disciplinary research projects.

    By the end of the 80's, Paul was no longer Christian, he was a Jew. The talk now is not of conversion, but vocation. Paul remained Torah-observant. The aim of Paul’s mission was to extend to Gentiles entry into the Jewish family, through faith in Christ. Paul’s perceived problem with Judaism was its ethnocentrism.

    The last 20 years has brought about new understandings of Paul, so that today scholars speak of Paul’s Judaism, without any qualifiers. Writing about Paul, Pamela Eisenbaum says: "belief in Jesus does not make Paul a Christian". His entire gospel, apostolic ministry, and writings were in fact irreducible aspects of Paul’s Judaism.
     
  3. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Yes, I would agree with that.

    Yes, so he believed that Jesus is the Messiah, but did not reject the Jewish law .. he was primarily concerned with bringing
    faith in Jesus / God to everybody, and had his own view on what was most important to achieve that goal.
    Interpretation of scripture is a highly complex thing. There is always something new to learn, imo :)
     

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