Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle

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Overview

Paul is not the founder of Christianity or a zealous convert from Judaism, as is often claimed. Nor did he contend that Jesus superseded the Torah. Paul, Eisenbaum persuasively argues, remained a devout Jew who believed Jesus would unite Jews and Gentiles and fulfill God's universal plan for humanity. Meticulously researched and far-reaching in its implications, this is a much-needed corrective to misconceptions held by Christians and Jews, liberals and conservatives, alike.

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Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle

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Overview

Paul is not the founder of Christianity or a zealous convert from Judaism, as is often claimed. Nor did he contend that Jesus superseded the Torah. Paul, Eisenbaum persuasively argues, remained a devout Jew who believed Jesus would unite Jews and Gentiles and fulfill God's universal plan for humanity. Meticulously researched and far-reaching in its implications, this is a much-needed corrective to misconceptions held by Christians and Jews, liberals and conservatives, alike.

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Editorial Reviews

Interfaith Voices
“According to traditional teachings, Paul rejected his Judaism for the new, improved version: Christianity. Bible scholar Pamela Eisenbaum says this interpretation of Paul is not only wrong, it’s dangerous.”
Jewish Book World
“Professor Eisenbaum offers the general reader the most realistic first-century portrayal of the Apostle Paul ever written.”
Doctor - Stanley Stowers
Eisenbaum shows the implausibility of the common interpretation of Paul that pits a Christian essence against a superficial or rejected Jewish hull. The book’s great accomplishment is to show us a historically plausible picture of a fully Jewish Paul who was also fully committed to Christ.
Neil Elliott
Eisenbaum’s is one of a few important voices drawing our attention . . . to the continuing tensions and contradictions in Christian readings of Paul . . . This book does more than challenge and inform: it changes the way we think about Paul [and] the origins of Christian faith.
Doctor - Daniel Boyarin
Pamela Eisenbaum’s Paul Was Not a Christian is a clear and effective presentation and extension of the view. . . that Paul remained fully identified with Judaism and the Torah throughout his life. . . It will repay careful reading by interested layfolk and by scholars as well.
Alan F. Segal
“Paul was not a Christian is well worth careful reading. It is a serious and very clear exposition of what changed and what stayed the same in Paul’s religious life. This book is very highly recommended to both scholars and laypersons as all will gain from it.”
Dr. Stanley Stowers
Eisenbaum shows the implausibility of the common interpretation of Paul that pits a Christian essence against a superficial or rejected Jewish hull. The book’s great accomplishment is to show us a historically plausible picture of a fully Jewish Paul who was also fully committed to Christ.
Dr. Daniel Boyarin
Pamela Eisenbaum’s Paul Was Not a Christian is a clear and effective presentation and extension of the view. . . that Paul remained fully identified with Judaism and the Torah throughout his life. . . It will repay careful reading by interested layfolk and by scholars as well.
Library Journal
A noted Jewish scholar teaching the New Testament at a Christian seminary, Eisenbaum (The Jewish Heroes of Christian History) presents readers with a distinctive approach to interpreting Paul. In contrast to the most common reading of Paul as a zealous Jew who abandoned his devotion to Pharisaic Judaism following his conversion to Christianity, Eisenbaum portrays Paul as a Jew who lives among Gentiles in a decidedly non-Jewish world and wrestles with the practical issue of how to lead a Jewish lifestyle in the midst of a non-Jewish society. Her interpretation of Paul's struggle to maintain the particularity of his own ethnic and religious identity without denying the validity of others' identities has much to teach our modern world about religious pluralism and the acceptance of human difference. VERDICT In this well-researched and carefully constructed work, Eisenbaum offers a new portrait of a controversial figure that is both plausible and engaging. Jews and Christians seeking a new approach to interfaith dialog may find this a welcome addition. Highly recommended for scholars—this book is sure to inspire discussion.—Brian C. Greene, Northeastern Univ. Libs., Boston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061349911
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/7/2010
  • Pages: 318
  • Sales rank: 351,363
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Pamela Eisenbaum is the associate professor of biblical studies and Christian origins at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. Eisenbaum is a national media expert on early Christianity and, as a practicing Jew teaching in a Christian seminary, has a unique perspective on the origins of Christianity.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Note to the Reader xiii

Introduction 1

1 Was Paul Really Jewish? 5

2 Paul the Problem 10

3 How Paul Became a Christian 32

4 Reading Paul as a Jew-Almost 55

5 Paul's Jewish Inheritance 67

6 Who Is and Who Isn't a Jew? 99

7 The Flexible Pharisees 116

8 Paul the (Ex?)-Pharisee 132

9 A Typical Jew 150

10 A Radical Jewish Monotheist 172

11 On a Mission from God 196

12 "On the Contrary, We Uphold the Law!" 208

13 Justification Through Jesus Christ 240

14 It's the End of the World as We Know It 250

Glossary 257

Notes 259

Bibliography 295

Index 305

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Customer Reviews

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( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    highly recommended.

    An easy read. This book is not technical, but it is equally suitable for the student and for the reader with a general interest in Paul. The writer has used some earlier studies on Paul to give an insightful and fresh perceptive on his ministry and message.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2012

    Highly recommended

    This is an easily readable and refreshing book which attempts to look at Paul from the point of view of the world in which he lived rather than through the lens of 2000 years of church dogma. Its basic thesis is that Paul was a Jew speaking to non-Jews in an attempt to share the Abrahamic covenant with them. It helps to make sense of some of the contradictions and puzzling bits of Paul's letters. If you are looking for a deeper understanding of Paul and the early church, this is a valuable book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 18, 2010

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    Posted May 14, 2011

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