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Paul and Palestinian Judaism by E.P. Sanders - Book Report/Review Example

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Paul and Palestinian Judaism by E.P. Sanders

Thus, the book is viewed as “one of the few truly creative, exciting works on the subject”2, as well as a study of the utmost importance for both Christians and Jews. Summary In his preface, Sanders sets forth the chief aims of the book, namely “to argue a case concerning Palestinian Judaism” and “carry out a comparison of Paul and Palestinian Judaism”, while different bodies of literature are dealt with, including the early Rabbinic literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, apocryphal and pseudepigraphical works, Paul’s letters, etc.; thus inter alia establishing a different view of Rabbinic Judaism, as well as a certain understanding of Apostle Paul3. The author has focused his attention on the basic relationship between Paul’s religion and the various forms of Palestinian Judaism as revealed in Palestinian Jewish literature from about 200 BC – 200 AD, discussing various views and publications on the issue, including Thackeray’s work, The Relation of St Paul to Contemporary Jewish Thought (based on Weber’s systematic theology of Rabbinic Judaism), Bultmann (influenced by Bousset) and Schrenk’s description of Judaism, Montefiore’s thesis, as well as the works of Schechter, Parkes, G. F. Moore, W. D. Davies, Schoeps, etc.4 Sanders agrees – to a degree or another – with Davies’s judgment that Paul and Rabbinic Judaism are not merely antithetical, but nevertheless deepens the comparison of important aspects of Judaism and Paul’s thought in order to better clarify the entire state of the question of Paul’s fundamental relationship with Palestinian Judaism5. In doing so, Sanders draws three major positions on the issue; having started with the majority view that Paul’s religion is basically antithetical to Palestinian Judaism, through the opinion that Paul should be seen as a Rabbi who believed that the Messiah had come (according to Davies), to Sandmel’s conclusion that Paul had very little relationship, if any, to Palestinian Judaism6. Insofar as Paul’s polemical statements about Judaism are concerned, Sanders points out three major positions as well: from being discounted as the polemics of the very moment (according to Davies), through being explained as referring to some other form of Judaism, apart from Rabbinic sources, and/or arising from immediate apologetic needs, to being to the point as the basic antithesis of Judaism (the majority view)7. According to Sanders, once again, the state of question needs greater clarity, namely whether the analysis takes account of both the agreements and disagreements, reflecting the discrepancies between Paul’s depiction of Judaism and Judaism as found in Jewish sources8. Thus, Sanders arrives at a method, which he describes as the holistic comparison of patterns of religion. In part one of the book, named Palestinian Judaism, the author inter alia examines and discusses key concepts in Judaism, like the validity of the covenantal promises, God’s commandments and blessing, atonement, both the requirement and burden of obedience, the disobedience as sin and guilt, as well as the related to obedience and disobedience themes of punishment and reward. Sanders argues that the view ...Show more


A Book Review Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion by E. P. Sanders Introduction E. P. Sanders is a Religious Studies professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He has written several books on Christianity and Judaism, with particular interest in the thought of Apostle Paul and its relationship to Judaism…
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Paul and Palestinian Judaism by E.P. Sanders
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