Paul the Jew

Reviews of the Enoch Seminar 2016.12.15

Gabriele Boccaccini and Carlos A. Segovia, Paul The Jew: Rereading the Apostle as a Figure of Second Temple Judaism. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2016. ISBN: 9781451479805. Pp 386. $79.00. Hardcover.

George Carras
Washington and Lee University

This volume rereads Paul as a Jew; it is timely, contextual, historical, and offers current developments in one of the most vibrant and vexing debates within Pauline Studies. Where are we to locate Paul as Jew, within or beyond Judaism? And if within where and what are the various options as to his placement, sympathies, and sensibilities among the various domains of Second Temple Judaism (STJ)? This collection provides forward-thinking reflections from a variety of international scholars from the US, UK, Europe, and Israel. The thesis of the book is that Paul can be classified as a Second Temple Jew and each author deals with a specific area in the debate seeking to illuminate this premise.

This volume presents articles that reflect on the dramatic “paradigm shift” taking place over the past several decades regarding Paul’s Jewish sensibilities. Two foci of the shift relate to Paul’s Jewishness and his critical perceptions of Roman imperial order. The collection deals predominately with the former. It consists of papers given at the Third Nangeroni Meeting of the Enoch Seminar held in Rome, June 2014, under the book title, “Paul the Jew: Rereading Paul the Apostle as a Figure of Second Temple Judaism.” The volume includes a preface, an introductory lecture followed by two responses, and twelve scholarly papers. These are divided according to topic: Paul and Scripture; Paul and Second Temple Apocalypticism; Paul and Gentile Inclusiveness; Paul between Empire and Jewish Identity; Paul Beyond Judaism. After a summary of the preface and introductory lecture, this review will offer highpoints of issues raised by the remaining twelve essays before offering a few final reflections on Paul’s status as a Second Temple Jew.

Preface and Introduction (Orientation)

The volume opens with two introductory essays beginning with a preface by Carlos Segovia who sets the context for the volume: “The traditional reading of Paul – shared by many Jews and Christians alike over the past nineteen centuries – contended that he was a theologian who deviated from Judaism. In the 1980s, the so-called New Perspective on Paul went on to present him as a theologian whose aim was not so much to break with, but to reform Judaism. None of these models seem to work anymore, however. For, if we read him carefully, Paul only speaks about the restoration of Israel and the ingathering of the nations in a markedly political context: both Israel and the nations have been subdued by Rome, and against this background, Paul’s ‘theology’ aims at subverting the macro- and micro-politics of the Roman Empire by questioning its identity-making strategies” (ix).

The second introductory essay is by Gabriele Boccaccini, titled “The Three Paths to Salvation of Paul the Jew.” This essay was given as the keynote address of the conference. It further serves to contextualize Paul as Jew, sets the volume’s parameters, and “offers to Christians and Jews alike a new understanding of Paul as Jew” (1). This perspective has been termed the “Radical Paul Perspective” (RPP) whose aim is to provide a full recovery of the Jewishness of Paul. Rather than view Paul as a Christian, since terminology for such a movement did not exist, he is a Second Temple Jew and part of a Jewish messianic movement centered on Jesus of Nazareth. This perspective offers nothing to suggest that Paul is viewed as an apostate (2).

Boccaccini highlights three features in the reclamation of Paul as a Jew including (i) he does not need to reflect Judaism like anyone else to still remain Jewish; (ii) we do not need to downplay that Paul was a controversial Jew since STJ was diverse and non-monolithic; (iii) this way of viewing Paul as Jew seeks to “locate Paul the Jew in the context of diverse world of Second Temple Judaism” (3).

The above clarifications lead Boccaccini to ask not whether Paul was a Jew but “what kind of Jew was he” within the diverse world of STJ, since there were many ways of conceptualizing a Jew in Paul’s culture. Paul attested to being a Pharisee. The idea that Paul abandoned Judaism is simply anachronistic even when he was “converted” to the Jesus way (4). Rather, he was a member of a religious messianic movement within Judaism, so not deemed separate from Judaism. There was a change due to Paul’s conversion, but, Boccaccini suggests, in his conversion he did not change religions but changed from one variety of Judaism to another. Paul changed from a Pharisaic Jew to an apocalyptic one, a reorientation from within Judaism and his own previous worldview. This is key in the discourse of a shift within Pauline Jewry. Paul’s conversion should not be considered a “chapter in the parting of the ways between Christianity and Judaism but as an occurrence in the context of Second Temple Judaism” (5).

With this set of particulars Boccaccini contextualizes Paul as Jew and further claims that Enochian Judaism (Enochic apocalyptic tradition) is a suitable attribute of and location for Paul (11ff). The origin of evil, freedom of human will, and the forgiveness of sins are the center of Paul’s thought and cohere with Enochic Judaism (11). Various areas of confluence between Paul, especially in Romans, and the Enochian traditions are given in the essay.

Paul believed the common Jewish teaching that “all people are sinners” and shared the apocalyptic ideas that judgment will be according to deeds and that humankind is divided into the “righteous” and “unrighteous.” The time has now come that the “unrighteous” are offered the possibility of repentance and the receipt of justification through forgiveness (19). Paul preached to Gentiles but he offered the same gospel to Jews as well. This summarizes several high points of Boccaccini’s portrayal of Paul as a Second Temple Jew.

Part 1: Paul and Scripture / Paul in Scripture

The first main section of the volume deals with Paul and Scripture; it discusses two topics: (i) the remnant in early Jewish literature and Romans 9-11, and (ii) the historic Paul and Paul in Acts. The second essay given in this section is presented in a different form than the previous essay in this section. Its inclusion one presumes is due to the descriptive heading “Paul in Scripture,” as the essay includes two scripturally-oriented Jewish ideas, Torah observance and Jewish identity.

The first essay by Shayna Sheinfeld, “Who is the Righteous Remnant in Romans 9-11: The Concept of Remnant in Early Jewish Literature and Paul’s Letter to the Romans?” sets its goal to show how Paul’s use of the remnant idea intersects with other texts of STJ. Remnant language is used for each respective audience to convince them that the interpretation of the Israelite tradition is the correct one (34). The texts appealed to are the Damascus Document (CD I–VIII, IX–XVI, XIX–XX) and 4 Erza, alongside Rom 9:27 and 11:2–6. Each text shares a common heritage in the remnant idea as found in Israelite literature. Yet each has its own unique way of interpreting the remnant concept (46–47). Each text (CD, 4 Ezra, and Romans) share a so-called common strategy in Judaism of repurposing the remnant concept to establish a unique self-understanding for the audience. These texts all extend and apply the remnant concept to the specific needs of their respective communities. Any assessment of Paul as a Second Temple Jew should note the degree of similarity and divergence between Paul and other Second Temple writings.

The second essay by Isaac W. Oliver, “The ‘Historical Paul’ and the Paul of Acts: Which Is More Jewish?” revisits the question of continuity and discontinuity between Paul in Acts and Paul in his undisputed letters by assessing how the Jewishness of Paul is represented in both. Categorically this essay is distinctly different than the previous essay dealing comparatively with a Biblical concept and associated texts. This essay appeals to Biblical and related texts only twice, Acts 15:10 / Rom 9:31 in connection with 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra and Acts 28:26–7 in connection with Isa 6:9. Regardless, the essay considers an important and a longstanding interest among Pauline and Lukan scholars on the Judaism of Paul. Oliver seeks to demonstrate that the Jewishness of Paul in Acts shows greater continuity with Paul in Romans as a Torah-observant Jew committed to the Jewish people and their ultimate destiny (53). Yet in Acts it is unavoidable that Luke has recast Paul in a very Jewish way. He attends synagogue on Sabbath and keeps Jewish festivals (Shavuot in 20:16, Yom Kippur in 27:9). In Acts, Paul is free of halakic infringements on Sabbath or other holy days, and does not eats forbidden foods. Further, Paul’s itinerary is designed to avoid travel on Sabbath, holy days, or on Jewish festivals. Paul is shown as observant of Torah and Jewish customs (28:17). He did not do anything against the Jewish people and the “customs of our ancestors.” Paul retains the Pharisaic belief in his claim to adhere to the hope of the resurrection (23:6). Finally, Paul had Timothy, his disciple with a Jewish (mother) and pagan (father) heritage (16:1–4) circumcised prior to engaging in Jewish missionary work with him.

Due to the historical situation of Paul’s writings, there is a lot of variety even among his undisputed letters concerning whether or not he was an observant Jew in relation to Torah. One cannot avoid the differing contexts between the authors (Paul and Luke) and this is even the case for Romans (7:12; 11:1; 11:25). The essay presents a penetrating comparison and will be of interest to those with an eye on the two Pauls and the level of their convergence at the point of Torah observance. This essay assesses the Jewishness of both figures; it has not sought to determine whether the Paul in Acts and the historical Paul correspond to each other on the topics surveyed–that is a different but related inquiry. Oliver argues that portraits of the Lukan Paul and historical Paul agree on the perpetuity of Torah observance and Jewish identity, both common themes in STJ.

Part II: Paul and Second Temple Apocalypticism

James Charlesworth begins his essay “Paul, the Jewish Apocalypses, and Apocalyptic Eschatology” by delineating the extensive scholarly tradition that aligns Paul with Jewish apocalyptic (83–84). He supplements this examination with the point that Paul must be understood within STJ. Charlesworth cites Käsemann and Beker to support his views and other earlier scholars on Paul and apocalyptic, but he points out that the missing feature in both authors was their lack of comprehension of the complexity of the Jewish apocalypses. He states these scholars did not show “any real interest in mastering, reading, or comprehending the complex world of Jewish apocalypses” or the distinction between prophecy, mysticism, and “Gnosticism” (85).

This leads Charlesworth to state the purpose of his essay: “to affirm the consensus that Paul’s theology is fundamentally developed from Jewish apocalyptic eschatology and to bring the Jewish apocalypses and apocalyptic writings into better focus with Pauline studies” (85–86). This focus is distributed in Paul’s seven undisputed letters. The essay seeks to show the breath and nature of apocalyptic eschatology which included a fulfillment, end time, or eschatological component, a revelatory message, and a transference in perception from the present realm to an other-worldly domain.

Charlesworth claims that certain ideas can be viewed as creations of Paul: (i) all humans sin and fall short of God’s plan and intention; (ii) no humans can earn God’s forgiveness; (iii) all humans receive forgiveness and acceptance through God’s gracious covenant loyalty; (iv) yet these ideas are found in the Qumran text 1QH (XV, 20–22, 31–34) already within apocalyptic Judaism; items i – iii reflect Paul in Romans.

Charlesworth illuminates five areas: (i) the concept of the fullness of time; (ii) literary dependence on apocalypse; (iii) three-dimensional, “third heaven” or “heavenly paradise” thought; (iv) a belief in a general resurrection; (v) Paul’s christology and its relation to the self-glorification hymn of Qumran. He claims apocalyptic as a background for understanding Paul is almost assumed.

All may not agree that each of these points is reflected in Paul; he may not have known the Qumran text or especially the self-glorification Hymn. Regardless, it is undeniable that Paul was influenced by Jewish apocalyptic eschatology. Therefore, Charlesworth’s essay presents a variety of points for reflection and does add to the thesis of the volume that Paul was a STJ.

The second essay in this section is by Larry Hurtado on “Paul’s Messianic Christology.” He states the aim of his essay is to “propose that Paul’s Christology reflects a particular and distinctive ‘variant-form’ of Jewish messianism of his time” (107). This assumes that for Paul Jesus’s messianic status is integral and important to Paul’s christological beliefs. Hurtado maintains Paul does not reflect a “departure” from an alleged monolithic Jewish messianism. Paul reflects a “variant-form” of a diverse Jewish messianism of the time (110). Therefore, what is reflected in the essay is a novel and distinctive development in the context of diversity of Second Temple messianism. The question is how does Paul’s perception of Jesus as messiah cohere within Second Temple Judaism?

Hurtado does not seem to pursue this precisely but rather focuses on those distinctive features of Paul’s Christological messianism. These are: (i) Jesus’s death and resurrection, a feature unique to the NT kerygma – Paula Fredriksen considers this feature an oddity in the early messianic movement and John J. Collins concurs that a suffering messiah is a decisive departure from Jewish messianism that did not exist among other versions in the Second Temple period; (ii) Jesus’s return (parousia), another distinctive of messianism in ST Judaism; (iii) the cosmic dimension of Jesus’s exaltation and appointed rule – in STJ the messiah was to have a universal, sovereign role (cf. the Psalms of Solomon and 1 En. 46, 48, 52, 55, 61, 62 with 1 Cor 15:25–28 / Ps 8 and Phil 2:6–11); (iv) the unification of Christ with the believer, an affective emphasis that was unprecedented in Second Temple messianism (116); (v) incorporation in/into the messiah, positing of believers “in Christ,” another distinguishing mark of messianic Christianity affirmed by Paul (118); (vi) devotional practices, which Hurtado states are the most striking and distinctive feature in Paul – the exalted Jesus is treated as a co-recipient of devotional practice with God (1 Cor 12; Rom 10:9–13; 1 Cor 12:3; Phil 2:9–11; 1 Cor 16:22; 1 Cor 11:20; 1 Thess 3:11–13).

Of these six features, one example, iii above, has precedent in STJ; the others are distinct to Paul. Hurtado prefers to depict these as a “novel development in Second Temple Jewish religion” (120). The conclusion drawn from Hurtado is that the Pauline evidence suggests that the messianic Christology is distinctive and a “remarkable, variant-form” of messianic diversity in the ST period. Therefore, the essay does not in comparison to previous essays offer direct evidence for Paul as a STJ, but only slight evidence that his messianism is ST in nature one respect.

Matthew Goff adds to the topic of Jewish apocalyptic in his essay entitled “Heavenly Mysteries and Other Worldly Journeys.” He maintains the overall impression to be derived from the use of apocalyptic language in 1 and 2 Corinthians is that Paul does not “radically reconfigure Jewish apocalypticism … rather, to a great extent [he is] in continuity with it” (134). Goff makes a keen distinction in the concept of apocalypticism, between Jewish experts of the Second Temple period and NT experts writing on the theme. Apocalypticism includes eschatology and its present-future, two-ages dynamic, but its central feature is the notion of divine revelation, and apocalypses as a genre are revelatory literature consisting of received knowledge from a heavenly source (134–35). This definition seems to accord with 1 Corinthians, where the theme of “mystery” has an important place (2:7; 4:2; see also 2:1; 3:19). The notion of revealed knowledge as “mystery” is also found in the DSS (1QpHab VII, 5; cf. 1QH IX, 21, 1X, 13; CD III, 18) and 1 Enoch (106:19 / 4Q204 5 II, 26–27).

Goff begins his treatment of three Pauline texts with 1 Cor 15, and he appeals to two Jewish texts, 2 Baruch 26–30 and the Similitudes of Enoch (1 En. 46:2–3, 62:9, 51:4), which demonstrate affinity with 1 Cor 15. Both Jewish texts help understand Paul’s views on the resurrected Christ. Second Baruch for example explains “why Paul believed that the resurrected Christ would come back in glory to resurrect the righteous and bestow eternal life” (140).

The examples from 2 Corinthians, 6:14–15 and 12:1–10, may also be viewed against the background of Jewish apocalyptic. In 2 Cor 6:14–15 the contrast between light and darkness and Christ and Belial (Beliar) may reflect shared themes in the DSS. Belial is supernatural and evil in nature (1QM XIII, 10-11; CD V, 18), while the light–darkness contrast is found in the Treatise of the Two Spirits (1QS III, 13–IV, 26). Second Corinthians 12:1–10 uses the language of “revelation” and the idea of being taken up to “paradise” and to the “third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2, 4). Yet the visionary description is quite different from those typically found in the apocalypses. There is in 2 Cor 12 no visionary who sees images interpreted by an angel or who has heavenly ascents accompanied by angels, learning secrets of the heavenly world (141–42).

In sum, there are in 1 and 2 Corinthians significant features in common with the Jewish apocalyptic tradition. This is confirmed by the Pauline claim that he has much in common in his gospel with divine revelation. Paul imparts a vision of Christ but more comprehensively a revelation of the wisdom of God (1 Cor 2:7). Paul claims supernatural revelation is a foundational element of his writings. Therefore, Paul turned to the Jewish apocalypses to understand the death of Jesus and the parousia. Goff like many other scholars in this volume locates Paul as a Jew within STJ, having substantial continuity with Jewish apocalyptic. The few instances cited here appear to support Goff’s read on Paul as a STJ.

Part III: Paul and Gentile Inclusiveness

We now turn to part three of the essays in the volume. The first by David Rudolph, “Paul and Food Laws: A reassessment of Romans 14:14, 20” is followed by Kathy Ehrensperger’s essay, “The Pauline ἐκκλησίαι and Images of Community in the Enoch Traditions”.

David Rudolph’s essay reassesses the traditional interpretation of Rom 14 by focusing on Paul’s principle at the heart of the chapter in vv. 14, 20. First, he aims to summarize the traditional view of the passage and then demonstrate that the passage “does not burst the bounds of Judaism” (152). Rather a case is pursued to draw the predominantly Roman Gentile audience into Judaism so they can better understand the halakaic principles surrounding ritual uncleanness, impurity, and defilement (152).

Rudolph begins by proposing a way to read Rom 14 from the hypothesis that, as a Second Temple Jew, Paul would have a halakaic viewpoint that takes the food laws in Lev 11 as binding on Jewish followers of Jesus; the discourse assumes these laws are not for Gentiles. The argumentative strategy is to take in turn the critical features of Rom 14: (i) “everything is indeed clean” (Rom 14:20); (ii) “it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean” (Rom 14:14b); (iii) “nothing is unclean in itself” (Rom 14:14a); (iv) “some believe in eating anything … weak only vegetables … good not to eat meat or drink wine or … anything that makes your brother or sister stumble” (Rom. 14:2, 21); (v) “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus …” (Rom 14:14). The traditional reading of each segment of the verses is given followed by Rudolph’s rereading. In doing so, he seeks to correlate each segment of Rom 14 with some Jewish text, whether biblical, Second Temple, or later:

(i)         Rom 14:20 – Lev 11
(ii)        Rom 14:14b – 1 Macc 1:47, 62; cf. m. Hagigah 2.5–7
(iii)       Rom 14:14a – Yochanan ben Zakkai (159–60 n. 29); Aristeas 1:47 (160–61 n. 32)
(iv)       Rom 14:2, 21 – related Lev 19:15 (164–65 n. 49)
(v)        Rom 14:14 – tied to the Jesus tradition Mark 7:19b and both to a Pharasaic-Hillelite reading (170).

The essay offers several conclusions (171): (i) Rudolph seeks to offer a contextually sensitive reading of Paul’s instructions in Rom 14:14, 20 and to demonstrate that its contents do not ”burst the bounds of Judaism”; each interpretative segment offers contemporary Jewish warrant to support the reading; (ii) the audience of ch. 14 is composed of Gentiles and the chapter appears to consist of intra-Gentile reflections; the context and responses to the debate are between two groups, but mostly Gentiles; (iii) the debate is whether Jewish ethnic practices and Torah’s food laws were obligatory for non-Jews, i.e. Gentiles; (iv) Paul held, so Rudolph maintains, a normative Pharasaic-Hillelite view on ritual purity: impurity is non-ontological and determined by intention; (v) Pauline instruction is that Gentiles are not obligated to keep Israel’s food laws (Rom 14:20); (vi) in following Paul’s instructions, Gentiles will keep one of the greatest commandments of Jewish law, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18 cf. Rom 13:9, 14:15); (vii) the contextual factor must be kept in clear view: the focus on Gentile overrides the traditional view of passage.

From a discussion of Paul and food laws we now turn to Pauline ἐκκλησίαι and images of community and the Enoch traditions. Ehrensperger explores to what extent images of the eschatological community in Enoch resonate with Pauline ἐκκλησίαιand to what extent these two themes provide insights into the traditions of STJ and the sensibilities of Paul’s Judaism.

The aim of the essay is segmented into a four-step process: (i) designations used of community members in the two writings; (ii) characteristics of two communities in Paul’s letters and 1 Enoch; (iii) Paul and his perspective on unity of Jews and Gentiles in Christ; I will omit comment on this section since it forms the context and background for the final one; (iv) perception of the ideal community in the Animal Apocalypse (1 En. 90:37–38) and Paul (183–84).

From an analysis of this topic Ehrensperger concludes that, with respect to the terminological designations for community members, there appears to be no parallels between 1 Enoch and Paul; “no parallel use between significant parts of 1 Enoch and Paul can be identified” (186). 1 Enoch uses a variety of words for community members and these designations are not precisely found in Paul’s letter (184–86).

What about characteristics of communities and community members? Both communities in 1 Enoch and Paul have specific characteristics of ἐκκλησίαι, since both were rooted in common Jewish traditions, even if there was no direct terminological exactitude (191). It is notable that a clear cultural translation process exists beyond linguistic terms (192). The point of difference has to do, in part, with regarding the temporal focus of each eschatological community. Paul’s community is living in the here and now in anticipation of the “final days,” while 1 Enoch and the community it depicts live in the “context of eschatological events at consummation of history” (192). For each there is a determinative eschatological calendar but for Paul the ἐκκλησίαι are located at the beginning, and the Enoch traditions perceive the communities as living at the end.

What are the similarities and differences between the vision of communal unity in 1 En. 90:37–38 and Paul (item iv above)? Ehrensperger advocates for the view that language and imagery in the vision of Enoch parallels what we find in Paul, particularly his understanding of Israel and the nations and their respective identity in Christ (209–10). The events in 1 Enoch culminate in the universal worship in the temple of Israel’s God, an anticipation that resonates with the unity of Jews and Gentiles worshipping the same God that we find in Paul (Rom 15:9–11).

Overall, this essay shows that Paul’s letters and the Enochic traditions share a significant pool of traditions relating to the eschatological community events. In an earlier section a general summary was provided that can be said to typify the essay: “It is evident that Paul embodies, is embedded in, and draws on Jewish traditions that had circulated for some centuries before his time.” This includes the Enochic traditions even if those that resonate with Paul allow for social, cultural, and contextual difference between the two authors and literatures.

Part IV – Paul between Empire and Jewish Identity

This section of the volume begins with an essay by Joshua Garroway, “Engendering Judaism: Paul, Baptism, and Circumcision.” He argues that “Paul does not repudiate circumcision in favor of Baptism: he does not replace circumcision with Baptism as the mode of entry into God’s covenant people. Rather, Paul retains circumcision as the Jewish rite, but reinterprets it so that in the wake of Christ circumcision is achieved through Baptism.” This becomes especially relevant as it applies to female converts and this refinement of circumcision is viewed as a triumph for egalitarianism and a unity that “cannot be realized in a circumcised community” (221; emphasis original). Garroway amplifies that one of the reasons for interpreting baptism as a stand-in for circumcision is to overcome the impossibility of circumcision for women. He contends that Paul sought to resolve the question of woman in ancient Jewish proselytism, and to achieve this Paul had to conceptualize a way for women to become in some sense circumcised. He was able to do so, Garroway claims, because for him “the initiatory rite of Baptism was tantamount to circumcision.”

The argument then turns to the situation of Jewish women in the process of proselytization-like experience (my term). The large number of Gentile women interested in Judaism around the turn of the first century constituted a conundrum. What was the conversion process for women? Options were through marriage, slavery, or ritual immersion, though for the third of these options there is only meager evidence. Garroway adduces the combination of female conversion and proselyte immersion did not occur until the second century of the Common Era. Two examples have been brought into the discussion, Asenath and Helena, both recorded by Josephus. However, our essay makes the assumption for argument sake that some Jewish communities may have conceptualized female proselytism and criteria even though there is no significant mark (indicator) left in the historical record (229).

From this Garroway suggests that baptism in Christ offers a sort of conversionary-type of rite for woman Gentile converts; this does beg the question on the relationship between Gentile sympathizers of Judaism and the female converts who are followers of Christ. Garroway adopts a few assumptions about Gentiles that not all would agree with, e.g., male Gentile convert would become circumcised. We are told that Paul required circumcision based on Gal 5:11, especially its rhetorical overture (230). This is a difficult verse and has been read in other ways.

Garroway then returns to the topic of conversion of Gentile women and a suitable initiatory rite. He discusses both Col 2:11, with its indication of a “circumcision not wrought with hands,” and the well-known fact that Paul had a significant number of women coworkers. He characterizes this proposal as both “speculative” and “require[ing] a measure of imagination” (238–39); I would concur. Garroway considers his thesis to be an advantage since it brought Gentile men and women into the Abrahamic covenant. In this way Paul “engendered” Judaism in two respects: “he engendered the spread of Judaism by opening it up to a new constituency, and this he did by in-gendering Judaism through the incorporation of gentile women” (239). Others will need to evaluate the merits of this thesis.

The final essay of Part 4 of this volume is by J. Punt, “Paul’s Jewish Identity in the Roman World: Beyond the Conflict Model.” The thrust of this essay brings together the Jewish Paul with sociopolitical analysis. Punt states that “this new take on Paul and the acknowledgement of his Jewishness should not be divorced, of course, from the first-century sociopolitical context” (246). These two areas of pursuit could be of mutual benefit for the study of Paul in his letters. “This chapter is a brief attempt to investigate possible intersections of Paul’s Jewishness and imperial location” (246) and to appreciate Pauline Jewishness by locating him within the empire.

The quest for Paul’s Jewishness is part of a larger mid-first-century inquiry. Who or what was a Ἰουδαϊος in this time period? Punt includes in his discussion several relevant Pauline texts: Rom 11:1; 2 Cor 11:22; Gal 1:11–17; Phil 3:4–6; 1 Thess 2:14–16. The latter two texts may be understood as rhetorical intra-Jewish debates responding to adversaries of Paul. Regardless, in none of these texts should one suggest that Paul has sought to distance himself from Judaism.

The interpreters of Paul represented by RPP can be encapsulated by several “principles”: (i) Paul addresses Gentiles in his letters and did not make generalizations about Judaism or the law; (ii) Torah is spoken of in Paul’s letters in the context of God’s gift to Jews; (iii) for Paul Torah functioned as a means for Jews to live out their relationship to God; (iv) good works were not seen in opposition to having faith; (v) Paul’s notion of justification by faith referred to Jesus’s faithfulness and established Gentiles in their proper relationship to God and so included them in God’s family (250 n. 38).

How does this view of Paul’s Jewishness relate to the imperial context of his letters? Punt posed this question because he maintains Paul’s Jewishness and the intersection of Pauline studies on empire has been undervalued. The intersection of Pauline studies and work achieved on the empire assumes the imperial context was a “pervasive and stringent presence in first century Mediterranean life” (251).

Punt makes the connection between Jewish and imperial overtures in Paul. This he illustrates in several Pauline texts:

(i)         First Thessalonians 2:14–16 – this text engages in “typical Jewish rhetoric” and reflects “the typical imperial strategy of divide and rule at play” (255). As much as Paul blames some Jews for killing other Jews (Jesus and the prophets) he accuses the Thessalonians of oppressing other, Jewish-believing Thessalonians. In a context in which crucifixion is the prerogative of the imperial powers, Paul reminds his readers of the empire’s power to multiply divisiveness among subject people.

(ii)        Philippians 3:2–9; Rom 11:1; 2 Cor 11:22; Phlm 3 – Philippians 3 emphasizes Paul’s earlier life linked to Judaism including persecution of Jesus converts; Romans, 2 Corinthians, and Philemon link his Jewish description to the present tense and not simply to his past life (255). Regardless, there does not seem to be evident echoes of imperial contexts in any of these references.

(iii)       Galatians 4:21–5:1 – the allegory of Abraham’s Jewish heritage is interpreted and the “argument resembles imperial language of subjugation of foreign nations for the sake of their incorporation into the empire” (257). This does not appear be the most obvious reading of imperial echoes and nuance in this allegory.

The non-individualistic, fully contextual reading of Paul does provide a positive result on the Jewishness of Paul. This portion of the thesis has been demonstrated forcefully. Reading Paul’s Jewishness together with his sociopolitical sensibilities, Punt claims each informs the other, though the themes should be valued at different levels. This is the correct judgment.

Part V – Paul Beyond Judaism

The final section begins with an essay by Klostergaard Petersen, titled “Paul the Jew Was Also Paul the Hellenist.” He purports that we should not understand Paul exclusively with Hellenistic vs. Judaic sensibilities but both. In spite of fifty years of Judaism-Hellenism debate and thirty years on Paul in relation to Hellenism and Judaism, Peterson does not think we have gone far enough on theoretical and methodological subtleties (273–74). It has been difficult to focus on the relationship between Paul and Stoicism or other Greco-Roman philosophies and simultaneously to emphasize Paul’s Jewishness. The essay’s focus therefore is to correct previous neglects by (i) providing a more theoretical approach to the issue of Paul’s Jewishness by thinking about cultures and its application of Judaism and Hellenism to Paul; the author assumes that ancient cultures do not reflect homogeneity; (ii) developing a taxonomy to enhance analytical levels of awareness and distinctions within and between Hellenism and Judaism; (iii) applying the method of cultural evolutionary theory to the study of Paul in relation to the Greco-Roman world. This application involves the pursuit of evolutionary perspectives in the relationship between Paul, Judaism, and Hellenism. There is also a commitment not to turn the study into a zero-sum game, i.e. focus on Judaism which risks downplaying Hellenism or vice versa (278). This approach dictates what is offered in the essay. Whatever the merits of this form of analysis are the essay needs to articulate more clearly how this approach contributes to viewing Paul as a STJ or not and how it contributes to the main thesis of the volume.

The second essay in this concluding section of the book is by William Campbell, “Paul, Antisemitism and Early Christian Identity Formation.” The beginning premise is that Christianity was not the sole originator of anti-Judaism or “anti-Semitism.” Gentile outsiders in the ancient world played a significant role as well. Campbell’s historical sketch on Gentile outsiders and Christians from Marcion onward is most informative. The first section of the essay serves as an introduction and orientation to Paul in his letters. Though it may be thought that anti-Judaism may have played a dominant role in the rise of modern anti-Semitism, the inference presented is that Paul’s letters convey a variety of other perspectives and interpretative nuances as well.

Campbell states at the beginning of the next section his working premise on Paul: “his role in relation to anti-Judaism has been accentuated most seriously by the presuppositions of his interpreters” (307). Campbell next moves to a discussion of five aspects of Paul perceived as threatening to the status of Israel: (i) Paul’s self-designation as apostle to the nations, implying a lack of hope for Israel; (ii) Paul’s critique of the function of the law, implying a critique of Israel; (iii) the universal emphasis of Paul’s Gospel, favoring Gentiles and giving a disadvantage to Jews; (iv) Paul’s call / conversion is out of Judaism into Christianity; (v) decontextualized Pauline rhetoric is a criticism of Judaism. Campbell offers details to confront each of these threats and offers a reply to each (302–17). Campbell concludes: (i) the last century advanced Christian-Jewish dialogue that helped create a notion of opposition to all forms of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, yet its expression still seems to be prevalent in spite of more accurate understand of STJ; (ii) Paul brought a unique perspective: his world included Jews who rejected Jesus as Messiah but he was able to live alongside them without threat or being threatened, and thus Paul offers a model for the church for today (329). This penetrating analysis corrects misconceptions on the three related topics addressed: (i) Paul in his letters and historical perception of him as Jew; (ii) anti-Semitism; (iii) early Christian identity.

The concluding essay in this volume is by one of the editors, Carlos Segovia and is entitled “Polemical Rereading and Completing Supersessionist Misreading of Pauline Inclusiveness in Late Antiquity: A Case Study on the Apocalypse of Abraham, Justin Martyr and the Qur’an.” Segovia is presenting a contrarian view to the main thesis of the volume, that Paul was a Second Temple Jew; this is not Segovia’s own view, rather he is presenting how those in antiquity who see Paul as “no longer … a Second Temple Jew” made their case (341). The focus of this essay is a consideration of Abraham in Rom 4 and Gal 3. It “examine[s] the different ways in which it [the text] was polemically reworked, reshaped, and reframed in post-70 Judaism, Christianity and proto-Islam so as to create, validate, and strengthen religious in-group/out-group discourse” (343). The goal of the essay is to amplify further how Paul was read in antiquity and to show from Rom 4 and Gal 3 how the story of Abraham was used to show that Israel had been excluded from God’s plan of salvation. Texts that have not to date been sufficiently analyzed include a Muslim example from the Qur’an’s use of scripture and its relationship to the Apocalypse of Abraham. These can be set along those of Christianity as examples from “different cultural contexts” that produced different “intertextual reworking” of Paul’s Abrahamic argument directly or by extension “to understand why and how Paul’s message came to be appropriate and subverted, and thereby, neglected, as a first-century Jewish construct” (342).

The result from Jewish (Apocalypse of Abraham), Christian (Justin Martyr) and Muslim (Qur’an) texts is a series of misreadings. Paul challenged the exclusion of Gentiles on the basis of Jewish tradition itself and claimed that God’s election of Israel is irrevocable (Rom 11:29). By contrast, the reworked Apocalypse of Abraham appeals to Abraham as someone whose significance is “for Israel alone” and Gentiles should not be regarded as included with Abraham’s sons/heirs (346). Justin Martyr is an example of early Christian supersessionism (347); he coined the phrase “verus Israel”, as the early church’s depiction of the true Israel. In his Dialogue with Trypho he shows his bias by reading Rom 4 and Gal 3 as indicating that those Jews who do not admit the arrival of the messianic age and do not carry out a mission of the ingathering of the Gentiles by providing a “light to the nations” cannot be counted as spiritual leaders of Israel. By contrast Paul in Rom 9:6 includes the Gentile converts as part of the remnant (348).

How is Abrahamic lineage reflected and Paul reread in the Qur’an passage? How is Islamic supersessionism portrayed? The obvious starting place in Islam is Abraham, depicted as Muhammad’s spiritual forbearer. Segovia maintains there is a missed scholarly point to be made by considering the intertextual relationship between the Apocalypse of Abraham and Qur’an 56.1–56 (350–56). The results simply put are that Abraham is equated neither with Jews or Christians. Rather, he is described as the father of one who cannot be identified with his own carnal descendants, the Jews. Muslims regarded themselves in matters of faith as the elder of Israelites and Christians due to their presumed Abrahamic (pre-Mosaic) lineage. As for the link between Qur’an and Abraham in Rom 4 and Gal 3, Segovia does so through appeal to the Apocalypse of Abraham but claims that in “a single text [Qur’an 56.1–56], Paul’s Abrahamic argument as reframed by the church is subliminally (re)used against the Jews in a passage that puts forth a new founding myth that literally draws upon post-Pauline Jewish discussion of that very argument in the Apocalypse of Abraham, to which the Quranic myth is therefore fully indebted” (355).

We have provided the above fourteen summaries from the contents of the collection. We also found the essays illustrate a positive affirmation to the question posed by Boccaccini: Was Paul a Jew within the diverse world of STJ and if so what kind of Jew was he? More specifically do his ideas resonate with those found within examples located within Second Temple Jewry? Examples located from the above scholarly survey include apocalyptic Enochic Judaism (1 Enoch; 2 Enoch; 3 Enoch), the DSS (1QS, 1QH, 1QM, CD, 1QpHab, 4Q491c/4Q471b/4Q Self-Glorification Hymn), 2 Baruch, 4 Erza, 1 Maccabees, Psalms of Solomon, the Letter of Aristeas, and the traditions surrounding Yohanan ben Zakkai. Ideas that resonate with Pauline usage as a Jew include the notion of the remnant, apocalyptic eschatology, messianic role of a universal sovereign, heavenly mysteries and journeys, eschatological community concepts, food laws with a view of providing understanding for Gentile converts, and continued commitment to Israel.

The volume is of enormous value and significance as a collection by leading Pauline and Jewish studies from international specialists working on one of the most urgent and ongoing issues of Pauline interpretation in the NT period and beyond. This collection is one of the very few collections currently in print representing the perspective of the Radical Perspective on Paul (RPP) as an alternative to the New Perspective on Paul (NPP). One other published volume recently available is Paul Within Judaism: Restoring the First-Century Context to the Apostle, edited by Mark Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm (2015). In order to be able to grasp contextually and historically Paul as a member of the new Jesus movement we must first penetrate his Jewish sensibilities within a diverse complex and context of Second Temple Jewish culture and its landscape, and to do this in conjunction with his own letters, which are perhaps our best source as a reflection of his own Judaism. This pursuit involves unraveling Paul’s Jewishness from his Christ-centric theology within the confines of his letters.

The essays offered employ a variety of approaches, consider various issues in tandem with differing literatures of the Second Temple period, and frame the debate and issues with precision, understanding, and academic acumen. This reviewer also mentions favorably the use of extensive scholarly notes with relevant bibliography attached to each essay to amplify and clarify points by each contributor. This volume should be viewed as a highly successful installment in the quest for the Jewishness of Paul. Its contents should be used and pondered by scholars, students, and others who wish to better appreciate the Jewishness of Paul and the quest for him as a Second Temple Jew and his place in interpretative history.

George Carras

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *