Josh Jipp Reviews John Gager on Paul and Judaism

There’s a great review of John Gager, Who Made Early Christianity? The Jewish Lives of the Apostles Paul (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015) by Joshua W. Jipp, “Is the Apostle Paul the Father of Christian Anti-Judaism? Engaging John Gager’s Who Made Early Christianity,”HBT 39 (2017): 83-92.

Gager offers a “Paul within Judaism” view, and I think Jipp is dead right in his critique, I argue similarly in my An Anomalous Jew. Jipp says:

He compliments Gager: “There is much to be said for Gager’s claim that Paul’s seemingly negative statements about Torah and circumcision stem from Paul’s attempt to counter the program of missionary competitors who were trying to Judaize his gentile converts.” But Jipp is right to insist that there is a problem with the Paul within Judaism school who fail to reckon with the shared anthropological problem facing Jews and Greek, namely, sin and its consequences. Jipp adds: “Within Romans Paul speaks of ‘both Jews and Greeks to be under sins’ (Rom. 3:9b). The problem is anthropological, as Paul presents a list of scriptural quotations that speak of God’s judgment upon all people (3:10a) for giving their body to injustice and wickedness (Rom. 3:10-18). What is surprising about Paul’s argument is that most of the biblical texts in their original context make a distinction between the righteous and unrighteous. But Paul does not use the scriptural texts to establish a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous; rather, as the heading to the catena makes clear, all of humanity is unrighteous (Rom. 3:10). And the conclusion to which Paul is driving are universal in scope: ‘the entire world’ and ‘all flesh’ is accountable to God (Rom. 3:19-20).  This would seem to indicate that the revelation of God’s righteousness in Romans 3:21-31 is addressing a Jewish problem as well as a Gentile problem.”

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