a1 Paula Fredriksen, Dept. of Religion, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA. Dept. of Comparative Religion, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. email: email@example.com
Much current NT scholarship holds that Paul conducted a ‘Law-free’ mission to Gentiles. In this view, Paul fundamentally repudiated the ethnic boundaries created and maintained by Jewish practices. The present essay argues the contrary: Paul's principled resistance to circumcising Gentiles precisely preserves these distinctions ‘according to the flesh’, which were native to Jewish restoration eschatology even in its Pauline iterations. Paul required his pagans not to worship their native gods—a ritual and a Judaizing demand. Jerusalem's temple, traditionally conceived, gave Paul his chief terms for conceptualizing the Gentiles' inclusion in Israel's redemption. Paul's was not a ‘Law-free’ mission.
* I wish to thank colleagues Michael McGarry of the Tantur Ecumenical Institute, Jerusalem, and Joseph Sievers of the Cardinal Bea Centre for Jewish Studies, Rome, whose invitations to speak on Paul in his Jewish matrix provided me with the opportunity to gather my thoughts on this subject; and Oded Irshai, Serge Ruzer, Ed Sanders and Gregory Tatum, for their very helpful criticisms of an earlier version of this paper. Thanks too to my student Christopher Stroup for special assistance.
My introduction to the historical Paul came via Augustine, when I as an undergraduate first read Krister Stendahl's luminous essay, ‘Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West’. With his deep knowledge of Paul's letters and his appreciation for the patristic refractions of Pauline theology, Krister became an invaluable conversation partner in the three-plus decades since that time, as well as my much-loved mentor and friend. The present essay I offer to his memory, with deepest gratitude, respect and love. Ἐν εἰρήνῃ ἡ κοίμησις αὐτοῦ: זכרו לברכה. In peace his sleep, and may his memory be for a blessing.
Memoriae Krister Stendahl sacrum.