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The Ascent Into Paradise: Paul'S Apostolic Calling And Its Background

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Chapter Summary

In the talmudic literature, the pardes story is included in the socalled 'Mystical Collection', a compilation of materials relating to maase merkava, three different recensions of which are preserved in the Tosefta, the Yerushalmi, and the Bavli, where it is appended to the lemma, mHag 2:1. The Bavli's reading, 'ministering angels', is deliberately 'softer' and reflects a concern to guard against the possibility of association between the demonic principle and God-a concern that Halperin has shown to be a recurring theme in the rabbinic treatment of the merkava traditions. A central theme of 2 Corinthians 10-13 is Paul's contrast between his own weakness and the power of Christ. This contrast represents an attempt to resolve the difficult situation in which Paul finds himself. Paul characteristically emphasizes the independence of his apostolic mission from any human authority but places the beginning of the gentile mission not in Damascus, but in Jerusalem.

Keywords: apostolic mission; maase merkava; mystical collection; Paul



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