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Does Paul Need to Be Saved?

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While many liberal Jews have endorsed Jesus as one of their own for at least a century, Paul has often borne the blame for injecting anti-Judaism into early Christianity. The work of these scholars helps overturn these judgments against Paul. Several emphases of their work help us to better appreciate Paul as a pedagogue of multiple identities. 1) Being "in Christ" and being part of Israel are compatible, not contradictory identities for Paul. 2) Paul believes that Gentiles, by being "in Christ" come under the umbrella of Israel, even without circumcision or conversion. 3) Paul's mission as the teacher to the Gentiles shapes every aspect of his rhetoric and message. 4) Paul is animated by the question of Gentile inclusion in God's people, not the existential guilt of the individual. This article also poses four questions as we pursue this approach to Paul. 1) Why does Paul, the robust Jew who continues to believe in Israel's election, so virulently oppose Gentile circumcision or conversion, which was part of the Judaism of his time? 2) What is the role of the cross, which does not spring from the language and myths of Israel, in Paul's thought? 3) Does Paul think he is doing anything new, particularly since he uses the language of novelty? 4) How much does Paul need to be "saved," i.e. made to conform to our contemporary standards, for us to appreciate him as part of our experience and traditions?


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