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Friday, 31 July 2009
Wrestling With Paul
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by Rebecca Bynum (August 2009)

 
Saul of Tarsus, the first Century Jewish Pharisee who became the Apostle Paul after his experience on the Damascus road, is arguably one of the most influential men in history. It was Paul’s interpretation of the fact of Jesus’ life and, most especially, the fact of his death, which formed the basis of the Christian message and allowed it to spread in the gentile world even as it was stifled in its birthplace, the Jewish world. It is ironic that Paul’s effort to place Jesus within the framework of Jewish theology, and thus make Jesus acceptable to Jews, was the very thing that exacerbated the theological split between Christianity and Judaism that continues to this day, with all its terrible consequences. more>>>
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Posted on 07/31/2009 5:49 PM by NER
Comments
16 Mar 2016
Send an emailKaren Yochim
Yes, so much focus on what is not Jesus' message. The heart of his teaching is what must come from the inside. For example, if we are in a Kingdom of God state within, we automatically forgive others, and do all the things he said we can do...but love and forgiveness of our enemies can not be imposed from the outside. It's an inside job. Staying connected with God is His focus, not the wrangling about 'is He or is He not the Messiah?' & other considerations such as the virgin birth. Such focus misses the point of His teaching altogether. Love this essay.

31 Aug 2009
Bigland

How Saul was named to Paul is not clear either. Casually in Acts 13:9, Saul's name is changed to Paul without any explanation.

Saul is his Hebrew name, Paul is his Latin name.

 

In Romans 3:4,7, we read "Let God be true, but every man a liar... For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged a sinner?"

Is Paul saying that its okay to using a lie to further his message?

Wow, that's some pretty selective quoting.  No, he isn't saying anything like that (in fact, he pretty much replies to your allegation in verse 8).  Hint: read the chapter without skipping bits; it makes more sense that way.

 



24 Aug 2009
GB Singh

Dear Rebecca,

Thank you for writing this wonderful article. Paul is a controversial figure from many different angles. What intrigues me is that this person who had never met the Earthly Jesus turned into a major apostle in the New Testament. How Saul was named to Paul is not clear either. Casually in Acts 13:9, Saul's name is changed to Paul without any explanation.

In Romans 3:4,7, we read "Let God be true, but every man a liar... For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged a sinner?"

Is Paul saying that its okay to using a lie to further his message?



23 Aug 2009
poetcomic1

  10 of the 12 writers of the New Testament were born and raised Jews.  The claim that God (the God who created the heavens and earth)  became a man (and was even a helpless infant!) is so shocking and scandalous to the Jewish sensibility that it defies belief that Jews would forcefully assert this outrageous revelation.

   They did.  And by the end of the lst century it is estimated a million Christians many of them formerly Jews believed this also.  It was no 'logical' argument or quoting of prophetic verses in Isaiah that made them believe. It was tremendous life-changing sanctifying experiences of a kind one understands or one doesn't. Period.



9 Aug 2009
Ron Galea

Rebecca:

This paragraph alone is so challenging that I have began rethinking my own faith in its light. What astonished me was how well it resonated with what I realised I already half accepted as the condition of post-Enlightenment faith in Christ:

One need not accept the Messianic concept of Jesus in order to devote oneself to his teaching or even to accept him as divine. In this way, Christians may one day accept the Jewish rejection of Jesus as the Messiah without resentment and with complete understanding. And Jews may someday re-evaluate the life of Jesus and how his teaching fits in with that of the prophets without the pressure to accept him as the Messiah.

Your essay was revelatory to me.

Ron Galea

 



5 Aug 2009
Send an emailBentham

Rebecca,

I'm hardly half way through this amazingly simple yet thought provoking essay.

Simple in the sense that it reads like a tall cool glass of spring water; provocative in the sense that it digs so far into my soul that I am treading softly towards your conclusion.

Brilliant.



1 Aug 2009
Norman Berdichevsky

You make a  very profound and needed attempt to bridge a gap that has troubled so many for so long - including myself.  I now can see how close and fruitful a relationship there indeed is between Judaism and Chistianity.

NB