Paul & Judaism

Further, if Paul had been a Sadducee from the beginning, his subsequent laxity with respect to rules and rituals that were precious to Pharisees makes more sense. His extremism and his arrogance in presuming that he alone knew better than the ruling authorities how the new faith should proceed also make more sense coming from an elitist. And it would offer a new wrinkle to the change of heart Paul experienced on the road to Damascus. He did not lose beliefs precious to a Pharisee, for subsequent events describe no scintilla of internal struggle over his abandonment of circumcision, kashrut, Shabbat, and torah.

By Charles David Isbell
Louisiana State University
July 2017

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Comments (1)

I'm one who thinks that we know the figure of Paul only through texts edited within the evolving Christian movement, perhaps with spiritual wisdom, some time after the event and that the Epistles are not really monographs. The Christians were of the opinion, surely - reasonably, I understand, in the light of others sources - that the really distinctive view of the Saducees was that there is no resurrection. But Paul, as he comes across to us, is the most eloquent exponent of resurrection in world literature. So he is giving up, if he had ever been a Saducee, a belief not just cherished but defining. His editors and biographers cannot but have noticed this: surely it would have suited their rhetorical aims to have pointed out, had they even suspected it, that he was a convert in
such a total sense? An extra piquancy on the Damascus road, at least. Could they have been mistaken about his real history? I would think we would need very good reason to make the gap between him and them quite so wide.
On another level, I wonder about laying such great stress on a highly contemporary (indeed Trumpist) term like 'elite', which brings a wide penumbra of associations with it.
Thanks for interesting and informative article!

#1 - Martin Hughes - 07/24/2017 - 21:45

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