The weak autumn sun Not warming the air, Slowly climbed up the sky Not seeming to try. Ascendancy now In the hands of the wind That would dictate the day That would blow things away. The leaves had surrendered And swirled to the ground Not clinging to trees Obeying the breeze. The grass was all frosted Like icing on cake Which crumpled when crushed Which gave up and hushed. Perhaps Nature’s stored up Memory of spring Allowed it to go… Read more

This post will be dealing with pp. 1426-43 of the next to last chapter in this epic. Here Tom addresses at some length the ‘identity’ question. Before reading Tom’s critique I would suggest the readers of the blog read first my chapter entitled ‘The Trinity of Paul’s Identity’ in The Paulquest, as background for this discussion. Tom is exercised about the issue of whether and in what sense Paul could be called a Jew, and further, could be called a… Read more

And now for something completely different. In the penultimate chapter in this overly long book, Tom turns to Paul’s controversial and problematic relationships with his fellow Jews. This entails at the outset a discussion of Paul’s call/conversion. The chapter begins with an overstatement: “He did not see himself as establishing a new, non-Jewish movement. He believed that the message and life he proclaimed and inculcated was in some sense a fulfillment of all he had believed as a strict Pharisaic… Read more

The further one goes in Chapter 14 the clearer is becomes just how trenchant Tom’s critique is of Engeberg=Petersen’s work. The latter puts much stress on Paul’s conversion, but one may ask, conversion from what to what? The problem with seeing it as in some way parallel to what went on with Stoics is nicely highlighted by Tom beginning pp. 1395ff. I agree as well that Stoics themselves did not see a person so radically changed at conversion that they… Read more

There is something to be said for the argument (see pp. 1378-79) that in Rom. 7.13-25 Paul is framing his discussion with one eye on what the pagan moralists said about the ethical dilemma of knowing better but not doing better. Aristotle, Nic. Ethics 7; Ovid, Met. 7.20f “I see the better and I approve it, but I follow the worse.’ This is not because, contra Tom’s exposition on those pages, this has anything to do with the Jew under… Read more

Physics, logic, ethics. What was the connection in ancient philosophy, and how did Paul respond to it? Tom provides us with a very helpful summary on p. 1371– “They believed that once one had discovered and understood (‘logic’) what the world was, how it worked and what human beings actually were (‘physics’), it was the task of humans to live in accordance with that, rather than against its grain (‘ethics’). Paul believed the world had been renewed in the Messiah,… Read more

Chapter 14 is to be paired with Chapter 3, only this time we are bringing together Paul and the philosophers, and doing some comparing and contrasting. The central three chapters of exposition of Paul’s thought is assumed and drawn on here. To begin with Tom sets out the usual three categories into which ancient philosophy fell— physics (under which heading things like cosmology and theology fell– see below), ethics, and logic. Paul in fact draws on some form of these… Read more

The evidence is ancient and crinkled, as you can see above, but it is conclusive and now we know it wasn’t sin, it was those darn toll booths that slowed down the Israelites, toll booths like the one Levi later manned. Read more

Chapter Thirteen is valuable not least because Tom establishes beyond reasonable doubt, that Paul when it talking about the sacraments, prayer and in general Christian praxis does have one eye on how his Gentile converts would have thought about ‘religio’. Despite modern Protestant polemics, Paul is not anti-religion, indeed he is arguing that the Jesus movement is a form of religion that binds people together into a community centered on the worship of a deity, and sharing in the life… Read more

In his positive proposal (beginning p. 1332), Tom wants to argue that while Christians did not have literal priests, temples, or sacrifices, “if religion in the ancient world was the system of signs including myths and rites by which people were bound together as a civic unity in which both gods and humans shared, then there is clear evidence that Paul saw the common life of those in Christ as precisely that, a united community, whose politeuma was in heavenly… Read more

Follow Us!

Browse Our Archives