Paul And The Jewish Tradition: The Ideology Of The Shema

By Mark D. Nanos

Shema Israel, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”

The Shema Israel has arguably been the most important ideological claim of Judaism since early Israelite history. This call to listen to God is followed by the injunction to love God, that is, to be loyal and serve with all of the effort one can summon. This call includes both observance, and reflection, kavannah, the intention of the heart. It captures the very essence of Torah, the Teachings of God that Israel is, on behalf of all humankind, privileged, but also responsible, to listen to, and embody.

To this day, the Shema Israel is uttered in sacred prayer twice a day. Jewish children learn it as their first prayer, and Jews hope that it will be the last words on their lips. R. Akiva recited the Shema when executed by the Romans following the failed Second Revolt against Rome, understanding the commandment to loyalty “with all thy soul” to signify “even if He takes thy soul,” and the call to martyrdom continues in subsequent interpretive tradition….

[…]

What does all of this Jewish tradition about the oneness of God have to do with Paul? I submit that the Shema Israel is the central conviction of Paul’s theology.

He often refers to God’s oneness at critical points in arguments. It functions theologically and polemically. But he does not really explain the Shema as much as appeal to it, suggesting that for Paul the concept of God’s oneness functions at the ideological level. Its explanatory power is assumed to be self-evident. This is true not only for himself, but his arguments presume it to be the case for his audiences also. Yet that would not work for those unfamiliar with its propositional bases, or importance in Jewish communal life and liturgy.

In other words, while most interpreters of Paul and most discussions of a topic like “Paul and the Jewish tradition” would be concerned to show how Paul emerged from the Judaism of his time, they would do so from a conceptual framework in which Paul is no longer a representative of Judaism, but of a new religion, Christianity. Instead, I suggest that Paul practiced Judaism, and his groups represented a Jewish coalition upholding that the end of the ages had dawned, and thus, that the awaited day when members of the other nations would turn to Israel’s God as the one God of all humankind had arrived. He spoke for a Jewish subgroup that upheld faith in Christ, to be sure, but this was not a new religion, nor did he imagine that it would ever be one. He was a reformer, involved in the restoration of Israel, and the gathering of the nations initiated thereby…

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  1. Maureen Harrison

    Thank you one and all for sharing
    I love the Word of God. Have been reading it over seventy years. I always see Paul as expounding the teachings from what he was taught in the Tenach to show how the Word of God in those writings is and still continues to be fulfilled. The two both Tenach and Brit Haddassah are together interlaced.
    eg Reading through Romans and Isaiah together was amazing how they intertwined.
    After reading through the ‘New Testament’ first, when I was still in primary school then went back to re read the ‘old’ I found the answers to …. why did Jesus do …??? questions. He came to fully fill all that was written. All was written about Him. So we would recognise Him and respond to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. To know His Oneness with the Father … the Aven …. the Stone אבן that the builders rejected…. That unique Father Son אב בן relationship.

  2. Douglas Coleman

    Thank you,I Love this!

  3. Anita

    Rom. 3:31 Do we then nullify the Law/Torah through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law/Torah” … (Just wanted to acknowledge Shaul/Paul making this assertion… because that is where the Shema is found.)
    Deuteronomy 6:4
    “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!

  4. Horace Nicolds

    The article above was very interesting and the comments in this blog have been very thought provoking. I shall be feeding on this food for thought for some time. Thanks for the comments and responses.

  5. Noeline Cutts

    I am very proud to be a Christian, who loves Jesus & who delves deep into the Holy Bible.
    This is the way I see it.
    Jesus was hated by the Jewish leaders of His day. Nicodemus was an exception, but he hid his allegiance from the Sanhedrin while Jesus was living,he did not want to be excommunicated. After Jesus was crucified he came to the forefront & used his influence & money to show his devotion to Jesus.I believe he died a poor man. Joseph of Aramathea was another secret follower. He used his own tomb to protect the Body of Jesus.
    When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early church who were united in their love for each other & the Lord Jesus , 3000 jews were baptised daily..The Gospel didn’t go to the Gentiles until the stoning of Stephen. Stephen’s face was lit up like an Angel’s as he recited the history of God’s people. Saul was minding the outer garments of the stone throwers. He was zealous to kill all these followers of Jesus & set off for Damascus with his helpers to exterminate all he found. I can only guess that the courage of Stephen & his dying remarks. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” made an indelible impression on Saul’s mind. On the road to Damascus Jesus appeared to him in a blinding flash of light and the man who hated this new sect was blinded & Jesus spoke to him” Saul,Saul why do you persecute Me ?’ Saul said “Who are you Lord?’ “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Saul’s men heard the voice but didn’t see anything. Acts 9.
    Saul had to be led, & set out for Damascus to find Ananias. Ananias was told to expect Saul, but protested vigourously informing the Lord that Saul hated the new sect. (This new sect was called “Christians “first in Antioch. ) So Saul’s name was changed to Paul & he was “born again” and now loved what he used to hate & became God’s chosen vessel to reach the Gentiles. Now the Jews were his enemies & they sought to kill him.The Israelites were looking for a Messiah who would kill off the Romans & protect them from their enemies.Jesus came as a “suffering servant” he was Holy, He died so we might live, If we humble ourselves & accept His sacrifice for our sins,and love Him & keep His Commandments He will save us when He returns the second time as King of Kings & Lord of Lords. There is no male or female, no Jew or Greek, everyone who loves Him & obeys Him will be saved. We will all be children of Abraham.
    Jesus is Eternal, He created the Universe,He is the Rock who led the Israelites in the Wilderness,He parted the Red Sea & drowned the Egyptians.
    “In the beginning was the WORD. The WORD was with GOD.The WORD was GOD. The same was in the BEGINNING with GOD . All things were made by HIM & without HIM was not anything made that was made John1:1-3
    At creation, the 3 members of the GODHEAD were present. The Holy Spirit moved upon the waters Gen.1 :2 …Gen 1:26 ” Let us make man in our image”
    There is only one GOD, but the GODHEAD is composed of 3 persons. The Father, Son & Holy Spirit,they are all GOD but have different functions, like water, steam & ice.
    JESUS’ name before he was incarnated was Michael. “And there was war in Heaven,Michael & His Angels waged war with the dragon. & the dragon & his angels waged war.And they were not strong enough & there was no longer a place found for them in Heaven.And the great dragon was cast down, the serpent of old, who is called the devil & Satan,who deceives the whole world. He was thrown down & his angels were thrown down with him. R ev. 12: 7-9
    Lucifer was Satan’s name in Heaven he was the anointed cherub that covers the Ark, the first of God’s creation,he was very beautiful. God created us all with freedom of choice,Lucifer got lifted up because of his beauty & wanted to be like GOD ,he whispered to the angels that GOD ‘s LAW was unjust . He insinuated ulterior motives to GOD & managed to deceive a third of the angels. That caused the War in Heaven. The other worlds have watched this dreadful battle play out. God did not destroy Lucifer straightaway as the inhabitants of other worlds would serve God from fear. Satan has fully revealed himself now, as this world is a spectacle to the Universe, they watched aghast as Satan tried to get JESUS
    to worship him, & as he tried to get JESUS to sin.
    The Prophet DANIEL was given visions of the history of this world. He was a eunuch in Babylon when
    K ing Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which he couldn’t recall. He was going to kill all his wisemen because they couldn’t tell him what his dream was all about. The LORD revealed the dream to Daniel.It prophesied all this world’s history,.Nebuchadnezzar. saw a metal man which was struck by a stone cut out without hands which struck the metal man on the feet & it disintegrated to the 4 corners of the earth. The stone cut out without hands grew to be the Kingdom of God which replaced all the other kingdoms & lasted forever.Babylon was the Head of Gold, Medo/Persia was the chest & arms of silver,Greece was the belly of bronze, & Rome was the legs of iron. Pagan Rome became Papal Rome, there will never be another world kingdom.We are in the toes of time now, and just as iron does not mix with miry clay the world is all divided countries. No one can agree about anything.
    N ebuchadnezzar did not want his kingdom to be overthrown so he built a metal man of gold & wanted everyone to worship the image. Daniel’s 3 friends would not bow down to it, so they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace . Jesus walked in the furnace with them,the king saw the Son of God & when the King ordered them out, there was no smell of burning on them they were unharmed.
    Daniel was also given a 2,300 day prophecy,starting with the decree of Cyrus to restore and rebuild Jerusalem in 457 BC A prophetic day is a year. In this prophecy 490 years were allocated to the Jews.That takes us to 33AD. Daniel foretold the advent of the Messiah,he said He would be cut off in the midst of the 69th Week, and when Stephen was stoned in AD34 then the gospel went to the Gentiles. Jesus was baptized in AD27, crucified in AD31 & Stephen was stoned in AD34.
    The word Trinity is a modern word & not mentioned in the Bible, but the word GODHEAD appears 3 times.
    Acts 17:29, Romans 1: 20, Co 2: 9 . We are also admonished to be baptised “In the Name of the Father,Son & Holy Spirit so He can’t physically come into our hearts, but the Holy Spirit can & He loves us ,feels our pain, & guides us just as Jesus would do,similarly He cannot die on the cross for us as He doesn’t have flesh like us. The Father oversees the Universe, He has a body as described in Ezekiel chapter 1, but it isn’t flesh. Jesus has taken on flesh forever,HIs scars will never heal,we are very precious to Him. The Father will put all things under the power of Jesus, there is no other name, given among men whereby we must be saved Acts 4:12

    1. Simon Zelikman

      Noeline,

      I agree with most all you have shared except Michael and Yahshua being one and the same. The “Shema” is a call to “all” IsraEl = Power of/with God = People of God! In Mark 12 :29 Yahshua reminds us of it’s importance; It is the “first” commandment!

      Hear, O, IsraEl…… !?! ….

      If people of God today heard His call they would understand what He meant by “No Jew (Jewish) or Greek (Gentile) in Him, because all in Him are “One” and they are He named them IsraEl! He is the King, and His subjects are One with Him!

      As it stands: Jews are keeping a separate identity, and Gentiles (Greeks) are doing the same! As I see it; Both houses, house of Israel/Ephraim and House of Judah (Jews) are not hearing His call (Shema). If they did, they would stop separating themselves into their chosen corners, endlessly learning and never coming to the knowledge of the the “truth” or His call to the “One”!

      God bless,

      Yours,

      Simon Zelikman/Christian Israelites

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  8. Hannah

    Interesting. In a way it was a new religion but really harking back to the intent of the jewish faith of the old testament

  9. Jo Ann Abreu

    I have read the article and have saved it for further study. It is an interesting article.

  10. Deborah Blades

    Interesting and enlightening post, the high point for me being, “all thy soul,” with its connection to martydom. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. Tony Taylor

    This study fits very well with the concept of Unity from Psalm 33. Great lesson, great work.

  12. Larry Prince

    I am drawn by this discussion. I will not dismiss it, nor dispatch it lightly. I have no substance to add to it at this point, but something (SomeOne?) is prompting me to study it more thoroughly over time. This is a lively discussion, and I thank everyone here for contributing to it! I believe this is the “stuff” that educational processes can and must foster. I’m only in my third week of attendance at eTeacherBIBLICAL, but I can readily envision my being a lifelong student. You dear folks LOVE GOD, no mistake, and you love HIS Word. I’m glad I’m here, and I’m here for the long haul.

    1. Julia Blum

      Shalom Larry! Thank you for your excitement, it’s wonderful to see how passionate about God and His Word you areץ We are also very glad you are here!

  13. Ron

    Dr Eli

    How is your book on Paul coming along? The more I read of your writing about him the more I want to learn

  14. Leonard David Logan

    I basically agree with James T. Mace. I think Paul, because of his deep understanding of the Scriptures, was reaching back to the essence of the Heart of God when he preached and taught. He even mentions that these things were ‘veiled’ from Jewish understanding to bring salvation to the rest of the world through them, because of them. We Christians can truly say” Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One!”

  15. Jaco Rossouw

    I want to get to the old scriptures. Which bible do I need to buy. Have 18 of them already. It is the first time reading this. I do enjoy the comments. want to be more involved in these discussions. A lot that I can learn.

    1. Prof . Julia Blum

      Dear Jaco, in order to be able to advice I need to know whether you read any Hebrew. Are you looking for the Hebrew Tanach – or just accurate English translation? Please let me know, and I’ll recommend accordingly.

  16. simon

    Dear Dr. Eli,

    As much study as you have obviously have given to understanding His Word, I am sure you know it to be truly the “Living Word”! It IS supernatural! And I am sure you have known people who just can Not see what you, or others, see so plainly and clearly.
    The thing is; We must seek His truth and not ours, because if one seeks to prove his own truth, he will find only confirmations of his own understandings. Gods Word is ……. “supernatural”!

    The subject of who is truly God’s people, or Israel, Is throughout the entire Word, from Genesis to Revelation! It goes even further, into the Millennial Kingdom. Ez 37 clearly foretells of the joining back into one, Judah and Ephraim!
    the two houses split so long ago will become one again, and IsraEl is their name, as God named them.

    Hos 1 also …… :10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.

    11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, …….

    “I hope you understand mine and Paul’s.” And, “May the Almighty continue to guide you”.
    Paul/Shaul …..

    Rom 12 :5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

    1 Cor 12 :12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
    :13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
    :14 For the body is not one member, but many.

    Eph 3 :6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: ….

    Paul, as studied as he was in Rabbinical law and the Torah could not see things plainly in front of him. It took God’s intervention to make him see. He was convinced of his “truth” and right, and only after blindness was he able to put together the Word he knew so well.
    If the previous verses were not plain enough, these should …..

    Eph 2 :11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
    :12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
    :13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

    This is why He is the Lamb! The Passover lambs blood saves IsraEl, and only IsraEl can partake of it! This why He is the Savior of the whole world and not just Judah.
    Unfortunately most of Judah and Ephraim will not see the truth until the Millennium Kingdom, but those who do must lead into the Word! He is the King of all IsraEl, and all Power is His! The One is as He always has been, and we seek to gather unto Him!

    Gal 6 :15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
    :16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

    My dear friend Dr. Eli, love you truly, and had learned and enjoyed much or your efforts, Thank you! Hoping you take some time too consider, because (I believe) this is what Paul taught, and ….. what the “Shema” is all about!

    God bless,

    Yours truly,

    Simon/Christian Israelites

  17. Simon

    Dear Dr. Eli,
    Apologies for not responding sooner. The point I was trying to make ……..

    The majority of all the “believers” today, separate all things “Jewish” and “Christian”, and I think Paul was doing the exact opposite. The “Shema” does Not call Jews, or Christians, to hear, it calls all “Israel” = the “People of God”!
    Paul announced himself as a Benjamite, a Jew, and (I believe, more importantly) …. an Israelite.

    Paul addressed this very “point” many times …..

    Rom 9 :4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
    :5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
    :6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
    :7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
    :8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

    Paul asks .. … Who are the Israelites? So I think it is abundantly clear that Paul did not think “all” those who thought themselves Israel or a Jew, were …. true IsraEl?!
    So, who Is … IsraEl? I don’t know if you remember, but you answered my question some years ago. I asked if you agree with me that IsarEl could be, or should be, translated … Power of/with God ..?! I thank you for your response at the time, and your confirming my understanding. But even if you had not, my mind would not have changed. I firmly believe it is all about Power with God, “oneness” with God, and knowing that all true power, is His!

    The Passover in Egypt ….. Did Not save the “Jewish” people as the world is taught and believes. The “Jewish” people were Not present in Egypt. In Fact the Passover lambs blood “saved” all flesh aligned with the One God! And after the beating of the previous 9 grievous plagues …… many other peoples joined in, or chose to be “grafted” into ………. IsraEl = People of God = Power with/of God!

    Ex 12 :47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
    :48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
    :49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
    :50 Thus did all the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

    It clearly states in the Torah (Ex 12), that a “multitude of “strangers” left Egypt, and they “all” were ….. one IsraEl!
    The original Passover “saved” all people aligned with One God, and they were a one Nation, regardless of their race or bloodline.
    The Messiah was foretold to “save” all the nations, and Moses foretold of a Prophet (like himself) who would teach the Israelites (People of God) all the rest! Our Lord, the Passover Lamb forever, Did just that!
    He dedicated Himself as Lamb on Passover! He died at the time the Passover lambs were killed! He became the High Priest forever, and provided the Blood for the remission of sins …… for “all” the nations who freely choose to align with the One God, thee Father of all! He provided The Way for all nations to “graft/align” into the One Power, One Nation under the only and the One true God!
    This Passover “saved” much more then just “flesh”, it opened The Way … to all!
    Paul, I believe, was Not teaching the Gentile/Goy to become Jewish first, and Jews were Not to become more Jewish first; I believe he was teaching them all … how to become ..True IsraEl! One Nation, One with God and His Son, The “ONLY” ..Way!

    Today; Jews want become more “Jewish”, and Christians more “Christian”, and the majority want to hear nothing more?! If the world understood the truth of what Paul was trying to teach, the “Shema” would be heard by all, understood by all, and the Commanded Mark on every door, as it should Be!

    God bless His people with eyes to see, and ears to hear ….. His call!

    Yours truly,

    Simon/Christian Israelites

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I am not sure my understanding of who is an Israelite matches yours. But thank you for coming and for writing your ideas here on the blog. May the Almighty continues to guide you.

  18. Annette Campbell

    I believe that Paul was called to bring the message to the gentiles for a reason. I believe that because God knows our hearts, he chose Paul for this task because he knew he would be more than able to accomplish it since Paul went hard for what he believed. I also believe that we are to be one nation under God even now since Jesus commissioned the disciples to go and make disciples of all. Jesus said in John that “I lay down my life on behalf of the sheep Also I have other sheep which are not from this pen; I need to brig the, and they will hear my w\voice and there will be one flock, one shepherd. So the sheep were being gathered at the same time during Paul’s era, the gentiles by Paul’s ministry and the Jews by Peter’s.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you Annette, are you saying that followers of Christ forfeit their national and ethnic identities when they embrace Jesus?

      1. Annette Campbell

        Hi Dr. Eli,
        Not really, I don’t think that we lose any of that when we follow Christ. I am saying that I don’t think that is the most important thing if we are all trying to reach the same goal and are in essence one with Christ as we strive to be like him. Considering Jesus said that whoever, does the will of his father is his mother, brother and sister. I believe that it all is determined by the heart. I hope you can see where I am coming from and I also would like to hear your response. Thank you!

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Dear Annette, it is good to hear from. Thank you for letting me know what think. Your perspective should not be overlooked. Further, I am not sure that there is really a contradiction here. Let us keep thinking about it together. Prof. Julia Blum (I recently took over the administration of this blog from Dr. Eli).

  19. Anthony Egglestone

    Dr Eli, not sure about this not being a scholar of any note, if I read the conversion of Paul as found in Acts (9:1-22 ), I see a complete turn around in the life of Paul. Verse (9:20) And immediately he preached Christ in the Synagogues. In Ephesians 3:5-7. Paul is speaking of the mystery,” Which in other ages was not made know unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: That the gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel, Verse 7, of which I am made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.”

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Hi, Anthony. Our arguments or scholarship is worth only how we think and argue our case :-), so we are good here. There is no question that the turn around in Paul’s life is no less than dramatic! Even though THIS IS the case I think it is better to use the term God’s Call vs. Conversion (to Christianity). That is the thing Shaul Paulos has found Jewish Christ (the only kind there is :-)) within his Jewishness (I am not using the term Judaism, simply because did not yet (like Christianity) exist as a religion.

  20. Ryan Lewis

    This is a scripture that proves Monotheism, this scripture is very dear to me, not only because I believe in the oneness of God but also because it was taught to me from the time I was a small child.
    I was raised in a Christian home and every night that my mother would tuck me in she would quote the shema in English, it wasn’t until I was 30 years of age that I realized I had Jewish blood, this scripture will always instrumental in reminding me of my childhood and to reiterate my belief.

  21. Simon Zelikman

    Another point …… The Passover in Egypt was NOT saving Judaism, or Jews! They both, did NOT yet exist! The Passover Lamb saves “IsraEl” =people of God! = Power with/of God!
    When Jews and Christians understand why Yahshua IS the Passover Lamb forever, they both will understand how they are one with the ONE!!!

    Simon/Christian Israelites

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I am not sure I fully grasp your point. I hope you understand mine and Pauls. Unity is not sameness.

      1. Sonya Nolan

        Unity is not sameness… Yes!

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Simple, true and sensible, glad you agree.

  22. Jane Z. Mazzola

    Reading Mark Nanos’ well thought out, detailed article @ Paul has helped my understanding of some of Paul’s more difficult passages of Romans. Also, the interesting comments here are enlightening. Much good fodder to consider!
    Thank you all.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Not an easy read, but I am glad you did this. 🙂

  23. Esmarelda Adams

    Whenever I think about Paul, I see this man who was highly educated in Judaism, so when he converted to Father God, he left the community, for 3 years- to rethink the Gospel against the backdrop of Judaism, until he had clarity about the Gospel. So much so, that he knew way too much, and when he spoke, he forgot that nobody had the insight of relevant points, like him. He speaks like an adult to a child, not explaining from the beginning to the end, how he arrived at THIS answer, and now we have to figure the rationale out…. Not an easy task!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      An interesting analogy.

  24. Paul Herman

    I agree that Paul practiced Judaism. And that he prevented non-Jews from converting to Judaism but to remain members of their own nations. I think God allowed that to happen to fulfill Zechariah 4:1-3, where the two olive trees feeding the golden lampstand represent the Jewish believers in Yeshua on one side and the non-Jewish believers in Jesus on the other side. Unfortunately, the sinfulness of man produced the religions of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism with separate rigid doctrines.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I am glad we see things in a similar way.

  25. Robert Tan

    Did Paul understand “The Lord” in the verse as God, the Father, or the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it correct if Christians understand YHWH, the subject of the Shema verse, as the Lord Jesus Christ?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      If to them he is one and the same then I personally do not see a problem. My opinion.

      1. Mary Yeh

        I just finished reading a comment by Oswald Chambers: “There is only one God for the Christian, and He is Jesus Christ.” I believe this.

        1. Paul Herman

          There is one God and his name is YHVH or Adonai and his is made up of three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. To say that Jesus is the only God is to deny the Trinity. Jesus is fully God, as well as the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the name Jesus the only name which one can be saved. So I hope this clears up the confusion.

  26. Jason Lee

    Thank you for your many insights and many things to yet think about. While the argument seems to be for Paul reforming within existing Judaism was he really succeeding to accomplish that? Didn’t most of his synagogue confrontations yield rejection? Certainly he would want Israel to wake up to their messiah and embrace this new covenant. But they largely didn’t so I don’t see how he could carry on with a message of “embrace Jesus but remain Jewish”. If Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, greater than the prophets, greater than the priests, and greater than the temple how can Paul preach for Jews to carry on without radical change?

    In the event that the Jewish elite deny Jesus’s message and fail to offer guidance, how does the Jewish population know how to embrace the old covenant and the new covenant? I thought much of Paul’s letters were a response to Jews who started to believe in Jesus but turned back to Judaism not wanting to give up their old covenant identity. Wasn’t it impossible for Jews to have one foot in the old covenant and one foot in the new? Isn’t Paul insync with Mark’s thought’s in Mark 9:17? You can’t poor new wine into an old wineskins? Wasn’t Paul calling Israel to not revert to Judaism when Jesus was their salvation?

    I’m sure Paul wanted to reform Judaism at its core but when its leaders rejected their messiah, wasn’t a third “group” inevitable? Even more, as gentiles began to convert and Jews became a small but critical fixture in sprouting churches, could one really argue that a massive body of gentiles instructed by a small numbers of Jews to be Judaism?

    Really just thinking out loud here. Regardless I appreciate the doctrinal insight associated with the Shema Israel, especially how the declaration of one God cleverly declares the God of the Jews is also the God of the nations. Alot of good insight I yet have to chew on. Thanks!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I welcome this kind of out loud thinking, Jason. Frankly, I am glad you are thinking about this in general and wish to voice your thoughts. I am familiar with the questions you ask. So let me make a couple of observations to fuel your thinking further. Not for the sake of argument, but for the sake of clarity. One of the problems of traditional interpretations of Paul are categories and terms in which he is cast. They do not belong to his time and do not reflect his reality. They come from much later time and cannot be used to explain him because they did not exist for him.

      The first category is Judaism. There was no such thing in his day. I know the NT translations use such term but even the concept of religion when applied to Jewish way of life. If we going to call it Judaism, then we have to say JudaismS. There was no one uniform and cohesive way. There were various varieties, sometimes very diverse. So you can’t reform what is not clearly outlined. Rather you start your own direction within then general framework and hope it has enough of a following to endure.

      The category of being Jewish vs. being Christian is another one. There was no such thing as Christian. There was Jewish (with all of the national and ancestral implications) and there was Pagan. In a way Christian was a new idea created for Gentiles who did not want to convert to Judaism, but still worship in the way Jews did and live in a similar manner of ethics. But no one knew what that was supposed to look like. So you see it is a false dichotomy that did not exist until many centuries after Paul. We cannot interpret Paul through the categories and ideas that did not exist.

      1. Jason Lee

        Thank you for the response. I only just started the “Jewish Background in the NT” class, and my head is yet spinning with what society looked like without the concept of a centralized Judaism framework. I’m going to have to re-read much in that light.

        It’s my understanding though that Hebrews, Galatians, and Romans were, in part, specifically speaking to a Reversion movement. New Jewish followers of Jesus were enticed to believe that Jesus’ salvation was not sufficient, and were returning to their original Jewish standard. In this context can we imagine Paul’s efforts as speaking to all JudaismS when he speaks or is it more appropriate to think this reversion was occurring in a specific subgroup of Judaism? Up to this point I imagined this as a more universal problem and Paul speaking to a universal Judaism. But now I wander if some of his messages were more localized and focused. Any thoughts?

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Dear Jason, keep working through the course. The answers about Galatians, Romans and etc will come soon enough (towards the end of the course). I know this is a new way to look at things. It takes some more background to start looking at things in a different light.

  27. James T. Mace

    I agree that Paul taught the ontologically unique divine status of Israel’s God, but I do not think you have shown this Pauline doctrine to be linked by Paul with the Shema. Moreover, I think that you have assumed a later Rabbinic, anti-Trinitarian interpretation of the Shema and retrojected that back onto Paul.

    In other words, I do not think the Shema of Moses is originally a statement of divine ontology but a covenantal affirmation that Israel would worship Yahweh alone: “Yahweh is our God, Yahweh ALONE.” This statement of sole devotion was reinterpreted by the Rabbis after rejecting the Messiah and the revelation of Trinitarianism in order to polemically oppose Christianity and prevent conversion of Jews. The Shema became for them: “The LORD our God, the LORD is ONE”; it has been transformed out of covenantal context into an abstract anti-Trinitarian theological assertion similar to the Shahada of Islam: “There is no god but Allah.” Both religious statements insist in the absolutely monadic nature of their deities.

    Thus, I think it a weak assertion to read into Paul’s monotheism a later misinterpretation of the Shema. The biblical God of Israel known by Paul is the Triune God, and the original covenantal Shema’s referent, “Yahweh,” is very different from the Rabbinistic and Islamic polemic conception of an absolute monad.

    1. Gloria E. Schroeder

      The author Mark Nanos states in his conclusion, page 22: “we can work together to bring about mutual respect, and thus, a level of much needed shalom arising from shared identity in the present age as fellow witnesses to the One
      God………..”

      SHARED IDENTITY, THE REAL GOAL: LIFE EVERLASTING, FROM WHAT SOURCE? LAW
      That shared identity, was the real teachings of Jesus Christ, recognized by “thousands of believing Jews, all
      zealous for the Law.” (Acts 21:20) Paul’s supporting statement agrees, in Romans 2:12-16,
      ” ….For the hearers of law are not the ones righteous before God, but the doers of the Law will be declared
      righteous…..When the people of the nations, who do not have law, keep the law by nature, that will be the day
      God, through Christ Jesus, judges the secret things of mankind, according to the good news I declare.”

      The person called Jesus Christ, was born a Jewish man of Hebrew descent. His life was spent explaining
      the principles of Torah. For example quoting Deuteronomy 8:4 Jesus said, “Man must live not on bread alone
      but on every utterance coming forth from the mouth of God (sing. masc. noun) .”(Matthew 4:4) Jesus mentioned
      two things, Bread, and principles of Torah and Creative, natural law.

      Continuing, Matthew 6:11, Jesus said,” the leavened bread of us, substance in/ upon, give to us today.”
      (Diaglott, from Greek) What was this bread, Arton in Greek? 2000 years ago, it was made with flour, and liquid,
      left to catch the wild yeasts in the air, which ate the sugars, creating carbon dioxide to raise the loaves.
      Wild yeasts, a complete protein, were the same microbes that make us sick– fungus spores, virus and bacteria. The natural law of eating bread, was an explanation of the first oral vaccine, providing our immune system the identification of pathogens, rendered harmless by heat.

      Jesus told us in John 6:48 “I am the bread of life…..if anyone eats this bread, he will live forever….the bread of
      life I shall give is my flesh, in behalf of the world.” What was he saying? Animal sacrifices provided forgiveness
      according to law (Hebrews 9:22). Deleting animal sacrifces, “Christ died to bear the sins of many…”(Heb 9:28)
      Christians and Jews still today both support the sacrifice of animals, when natural creative law shows meat eating
      is the biggest cause of disease. {vegetarians (men and woman) have 50% lower plasma levels of unconjugated (cancerous) estrogens. Goldin BR. New Engl. J. Med. 307:1542-47, 1982}

      SHARED IDENTITY FULFILLED
      John identified holy persons, in Revelation 14:12, as those who “observe the Commandments of God and have faith
      in Jesus.” Paul said in Hebrews 10:1 “For since the Law has a shadow of the good thinks to come, but not the very
      substance of the things, men can never with the same sacrifices from year to year which they offer continually
      make those who approach perfect. (2) Otherwise, would the sacrifices not have stopped being offered…? David said
      “Sacrifice and offering you did not delight in… Burnt offering and sin offering you did not ask for.” (Ps. 40:6)
      Jesus Christ fulfilled the words of David.

      Jews and Christians shared identity based on Paul, John and King David, through Jesus Christ means everlasting life.

  28. megan

    Yes! Exactly.

  29. Gloria E. Schroeder

    Paul was a Jew. ‘Jesus’ was a Jew. Acts 21:20: “You behold, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews and they are all zealous for the Law.” Believers of what? Believers that God, the only true God, sent HIS Son to take the place of all sacrifices, allowing man to approach Heaven in Prayer (John 3:16). Jews today, continue to sacrifice animals, as sinners.

  30. Eli

    thank you! Good article! Good insight into the Shma prayer and the oneness of God – which is indeed the most important doctrine of Judaism for which they actually accuse and fight against Christians or at least Jews followers of Messiah ( claiming that they have violated this principle in the faith in Yeshua) It is a good research to show how the theology of Paul was actually entrenched in this fundamental doctrine!

  31. Chris Van Horn

    Yes, I think you did very well with this one! Paul was a very dedicated individual as well as a person with his own complications and that throne in his flesh. But he did everything he could, it was not his fault that he did not see what origins there was in Platonism and how it would be the polar opposite of the Value based Judgements that we rely on the Intercessor for. Or even the great Justice judgements of God! Let us all take a minute to remember Enoch Please!