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Paul: A Would Be Apostle: The roots of Christian Anti-Judaism and Christian Anti-Semitism (Founders of the Faith) (Volume 2)

Paul: A Would Be Apostle: The roots of Christian Anti-Judaism and Christian Anti-Semitism (Founders of the Faith) (Volume 2)

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Synopsis of Paul: A Would Be Apostle Christian anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism can be laid squarely at the feet of Paul the apostle. He was a hellenistic Jew and a mystic who never saw Jesus of Nazareth but, based on a life changing experience, a vision, he took it upon himself to reshape a tradition for which he had minimal sources and no direct experience. An early tradition says Paul was born in Gishala of Galilee but grew up in Tarsus of Cilicia. In Tarsus he would have been exposed to the Greek disciplines of the great university there, studied his scriptures as translated in the Septuagint, and been immersed in metaphysical dualism and individualistic ethics. His interpretation of the Law was distorted in this perspective, and his worldview was further misshaped by the Mysteries he encountered. After the early years in Tarsus, Paul moved to Jerusalem where he studied with Judaean rabbis, encountered and participated in the persecution of followers of the Way, and made the decision personally to pursue some of them to Damascus. On the way he experienced a vision of the moschiach he so adamantly opposed. Over the next three years he shaped his own version and meaning of that life and death. He then spent fifteen days in Jerusalem telling James and Peter his plans to take his “gospel” to the Gentiles and left for fourteen years of ministry in Syria and Cilicia. Their initial differences were magnified and the break between them acknowledged when he returned for a short visit. By then Paul had rejected the Law, ignored circumcision, and created his own narratives of resurrection, baptism, and eucharist. To this he added the myth of a returning Lord. He spent most of the next ten years sharing his interpretation with cities in Asia Minor and Greece. By the time he arrived in Rome after being arrested for a disturbance caused in the Temple back in Jerusalem during his third and last visit, Paul was claiming the Law had been surpassed by the death and resurrection of the Christ, Jews were blind to their own scripture, God had rejected them, and that Jews were cursed. Paul died a martyr to his “faith,” but it was his reinvention of a Jewish narrative that took root in a Gentile world shaped by a hellenistic perspective and seeking deliverance from fear and insecurity. His language fueled attitudes of superiority and provided fodder for centuries of discrimination and anti-Semitism.

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