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The Quest for Paul's Historical Background

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the cultural situation in which Paul wrote his letters. It focuses on Paul's historical background only in the course of a hermeneutical process of reading his letters in comparison with contemporaneous sources and with continuous feedback to our own interpretative categories. By implication a survey of the historical problems involved in Paul's cultural background also requires a critical review of previous research. The chapter also focuses on ancient Judaism. The debate on the relationship of Judaism and Hellenism is genetically related to Pauline study. This does not only mean the fields of research it touches such as New Testament and Judaic studies, but also the intellectual climate in which it originated. It may be seen as another expression of the titanic wrestling of European intellectuals with their religious and philosophical heritage in an age of alternating enlightenment, revolution and restauration.

Keywords: Hellenism; hermeneutical process; Judaism; New Testament; Paul; philosophical heritage



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