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"Paul Was Not a Christian" a book by Pamela Eisenbaum

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The book "Paul Was Not a Christian" provides important background information about first-century Judaism and wrestles with the question of Paul's relationship to his Jewish heritage.

What does the book's provocative title mean and how does the book's argument develop the title's claim?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the book's argument? In particular, is the book's central claim that "Paul was not a Christian" convincing? Why or why not?

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Actually the book of Pamela Eisenbaum was a groundbreaking work that ripped the attraction of many scholars. The title of the book itself shows the intention of the writer. She tried to explain certain aspects of Paul which are not understood such as his not being the founder of Christianity; he was not a zealous Jew convert; he never contended that Jesus superseded the Torah. He was rather a devout Jew who, according to his belief, looked forward to Jesus uniting the Jews and the Gentiles as the fulfillment of God's sacrificial plan for the whole humanity, thereby fulfilling God's promise to Abraham that he will be a blessing to all nation (Acts 3:25-26).
Nevertheless, it will be good to know what Eisenbaum's idea of a "Christian" is. Of course she thought of the current situation of Christians as followers of Christ completely separated and distinct from the Jewish community. The problem is that Paul is not of our age. Of course a today Christian is different and distinct from a Jew. But at Paul's age, Jewish Christians are not distinct from Jewish communities. They still considered themselves part of the Jewish community, making use of their religious traditions and holy places. Perhaps her views on Christianity are influenced by the knowledge she has now of Christianity. She, a Jew, teaches in a Christian seminary. Maybe, if the title of her book was: "Paul was not a Christian as you conceive Christianity today", then I would gladly accept her view.
In the book, the author portrays a Jewish Paul who, living among the Gentiles, fights with the difficulties of leading a traditional Jewish lifestyle among non-Jews. Just contrary to the wide known attitude of Paul as a zealous Jew who was not very keen on following his Pharisaic traditions after his conversion to Christ, I would say and not Christianity. The title "Christians" was given much after Paul's conversion and apostolic work in Antioch (cf. Acts 11:26). In this way the author presents Paul as someone who, conserving ...

Solution Summary

This solution is a detailed and systematic discussion on the book written by Pamela Eisenbaum, which has Paul and his Jewish heritage as its focus. The book deals with Paul as a true Jew. Hence, the solution, following Pamela's ideas, surveyed the idea of Paul who was not a convert neither did he proclaim Jesus as superseding the Torah. As such he could not be thought of as a possible founder of Christianity. The current situation of Christians as followers of Christ completely separated and distinct from the Jewish community was not of Paul's epoch, therefore, Paul was a Jew. Thus the provocative title "Paul was not a Christian". If the Jews, being already God's chosen people, thanks to the covenant, do not need justification, as Eisenbaum sustains, because they are already justified, why is the messianic expectations so high among the Jews, especially those of the first century? Christians did not invent the Christ. Waiting for a redeemer and a Christ (Messiah) was typically Jewish. Christians inherited the messianic expectations and prophecies from the Jews. In few words, this solution evidenced the importance of the book and its weaknesses as well.