Judaizing the Nations: The Ritual Demands of Paul’s Gospel
by Paula Fredriksen
Much current NT scholarship holds that Paul conducted a ‘Law-free’ mission to Gentiles. In this view, Paul fundamentally repudiated the ethnic boundaries created and maintained by Jewish practices. The present essay argues the contrary: Paul’s principled resistance to circumcising Gentiles precisely preserves these distinctions ‘according to the flesh’, which were native to Jewish restoration eschatology even in its Pauline iterations. Paul required his pagans not to worship their native gods—a ritual and a Judaizing demand. Jerusalem’s temple, traditionally conceived, gave Paul his chief terms for conceptualizing the Gentiles’ inclusion in Israel’s redemption. Paul’s was not a ‘Law-free’ mission!
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