Brown Bag Series: "Paul Was Not a Christian"
September 9 - Paul’s “Conversion” and Obsession with Gentiles (Book of Acts, chapters 8-15; Letter to the Galatians,
October 7 - Circumcised Gentiles? : The Mess in Galatia (Letter to Galatians)
November 4 - The Larger Picture: Jews and Gentiles in the End Times (Letter to the Romans, chapters 9-11)
The above quote, from the title of a recent book on Paul, captures the direction and shift in scholarly assessment of this influential, yet paradoxical, figure in the nascent Jewish-Christian movement. While a self-confessed Pharisee, Paul has traditionally been viewed as one who “converted” to “Christianity” and, more importantly for subsequent Christian tradition, advocated the rejectionist-replacement view of Judaism vis-à-vis Christianity. In short, Paul is the pivotal figure in the origin and promulgation of what biblical scholars and historians have called “anti-
Judaism. A growing number of scholars now offer a different reading, one that maintains Paul’s
arguments were directed not against the Torah and Judaism of his day, but against those fellow Jewish
believers in the Jesus movement who demanded that Gentiles be circumcised and follow Jewish law -
a reading more in line with Paul’s self-perception and promotion as the apostle to the Gentiles, rather
than than the Jews. By way of introduction to this new Paul, we will read selected portions of his letters
and some recent scholarly essays. Prior to each session, copies of these essays will be made available
in the Jewish Studies office.
Sessions will be facilitated by John Huddlestun, (Ph.D., University of Michigan), Associate Professor of
Religious Studies, who teaches classes in biblical and ancient Middle Eastern studies and in the
Jewish tradition at the College of Charleston.