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Vow-Taking, the Nazirites, and the Law: Does James' Advice to Paul Accord with Halakhah?

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Chapter Summary

A survey of the halakhah of vowing, in tractate Nedarim of the Mishnah, Tosefta, Yerushalmi, and Bavli, and the halakhah of the Nazirite vow in particular shows how the sages, start to finish both expounded the topic and evaluated it. If James were to have advised Paul to take the vow and keep it for the requisite thirty days, he would have given poor advice. Paul was told to complete the vow and help out others in the same position that represents a mediating position. But so far as James had in mind for Paul to make a public affirmation of his adherence to the law of the Torah, the case at hand proves ambiguous, the advice bearing a measure of irony: if that is what you have done, then do it up and do it right.

Keywords: halakhah; James; Nazirite vow; Nedarim; Paul; Torah



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