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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: May 2010

3 - Constructions of Paul in Intra-Jewish Debate: Establishing Jewish Authenticity


As we have seen, Jewish views of the apostle Paul are often discussed in the context of Jewish–Christian relations. This is because for many Jewish writers Paul represents an opportunity to contrast Jewish and Christian worldviews, or, for a select few, Paul potentially offers a chance to build relations and emphasise commonalities with Christians. Either way, Paul is used as a means by which to define Jewish religious views in relation to Christianity. For some writers, however, often those who are keen to distance themselves from anti-Christian polemics, alternative or additional agenda are apparent. A number of mainly progressive thinkers have used their studies as platforms from which to engage in a quite different kind of apologetic: an intra-Jewish one. As a result, Jewish Pauline studies can be regarded as a kind of ideological battlefield in which some of the most contentious issues for modern religious Jews feature prominently.


In ‘A Jewish Ideological Perspective on the Study of Christian Scripture’ (1997), the North American Reconstructionist rabbi and scholar Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus set out to identify and account for themes and areas that generate ideological conflict within Jewish New Testament scholarship in general. He observed that a common feature of such studies was that the writers often emphasised their lack of interest in Jewish–Christian polemics and stressed their own scholarly objectivity in contrast to Jewish studies before them.

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