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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, which reflects the author's interest in the interface between early Christianity and ancient philosophy, and in recent decades, particularly that between Paul and his heirs and their cultural environment. The author's primary interest was to situate Paul in his Graeco-Roman environment, and an investigation of ancient letter writing and of the popular philosophers appeared to the author to hold promise for such an enterprise. The Hellenistic Jewish materials are extraordinarily important, not because they represent a filter through which everything Hellenistic in Paul came, as is sometimes claimed. Those writers were Hellenistic Jews, and were subject to the same or similar stimuli that he was, and they are therefore significant examples of the kind of assimilation that Paul experienced, and Paul shared some of their suppositions.

Keywords: Graeco-Roman environment; hellenistic Jews; Paul



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