Paul under the skin

Jacob Taubes – part historian, part philosopher, mostly stand-up comedian – gives this hilarious anecdote to illustrate how Paul conquered the European imagination ( The Political Theology of Paul (Cultural Memory in the Present) , 41):

“I have a very good friend – now he’s a bishop in Stockholm, he used to be a professor at Harvard, where I knew him well – Krister Stendahl. And I remember . . . he visited me once in New York, and we were standing in front of a large fireplace. And Krister – he’s a real warrior type, you know, Goebbels would have envied his figure – he says to me that his deepest worry is whether he belongs (we were speaking English) to the ‘commonwealth of Israel.’ So I said to myself, Krister, you super-Aryan from Sweden, at the end of the world, as viewed from the Mediterranean, other worries you don’t have? No, he has no other worries! There I saw what Paul had done: that someone in the jungles of Sweden . . . is worrying about whether he belongs to the ‘commonwealth of Israel,’ that’s something that’s impossible without Paul.”

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