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p. 1504 revives Tom’s earlier suggestion (see n. 74) that by Arabia is meant Sinai, and so Paul went on a little Elijah tour after his conversion. This view I think is untenable. In the first place, the old Arabia a Jew from Jerusalem would normally refer to is Petran Arabia, which Josephus said could be visible from the Judean hills on occasion in good weather. Secondly, it won’t do to dismiss the fact that the Nabatean king Aretas was… Read more

‘God was reconciling the world to himself…’ What exactly did this mean? Tom (p. 1490) takes Col. 1.23 to indicate that Paul thought that in some sense the Gospel had already been proclaimed to the whole cosmos. More likely, this is a reference to what 1 Pet. 3 also speaks of Christ’s on his ascension proclaims his victory over the principalities and powers, certainly a subject in view in Col. 1. If Paul really thought the Gospel had already been… Read more

The last chapter of Tom’s magnum opus is not quite what one might have expected. There are considerable reflections on modern secular Jewish thought (Benjamin, Marx, etc.) and on the philosopher Heidegger and his connection with the Nazis, and how this may, or may not have affected European theology vis a vis the Jewish character of Paul’s thought. Tom thinks there is some truth in the suggestion that Paul was the philosopher who provided the ideological validation for the worldwide… Read more

Through out this long study of Paul, there have been certain texts that are the linchpins for Tom’s whole approach to the matter. Rom. 2.28-29 is one such text, but that text is part of the larger discussion in 2.17-29 where quite specifically the Jew is being addressed, not the follower of Christ, and he is being shamed by the tactic of point out how some Gentiles, who are not circumcised, do a better job of actually keeping various aspects… Read more

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

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