Evaluating Paul Was Not A Christian by Eisenbaum

(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi @Dave_Kenny,

Thanks for the links in the topic, “Did God change Saul’s name to Paul?”. I wanted to follow-up on the book you recommended by Eisenbaum, Paul Was Not A Christian.

Not being familiar with it myself, I look for some brief reviews of it. Here’s one:

Here’s one more:

I was wondering, from your perspective, are these a fair, respectful overview of the book? It looks like both of these reviewers attempt to fairly summarize the argument before responding to it. As a starting point, I wanted to see if you felt they were engaging respectfully with the argument - or not.

(Dave Kenny) #2

Hi @CarsonWeitnauer

I took a look at these reviews. Your ability to find these sorts of things so quickly is amazing! Now that I’ve read them, I will state that both reviews are absolutely fair, but they are no substitute with actually reading the literature. Of all the reading I’ve done on this topic, I selected her book due to its clarity of communication, its accessibility, and that she properly introduces you to the real issues that current scholarship are debating. In essence, her book is an excellent “intro” to the topic

My personal view is very close to the second reviewer, Dr. Johann Kim from Denver university… but that has come as a result of many books read on this research. The hardest thing in the world for each of us to do when reading academic literature in to leave our pre-programming at the door and allow the research and argument to present itself… truly none of us can actually do that… but it has been a very healthy exercise for me personally.

An explicitly Christian theologian widely respected on this topic is Kendal Soulen. His book The God of Israel and Christian Theology is the watershed study that many theologians have launched from since then.

With the list of 4 resources that I recommended regarding Paul/Saul, the astute reader would recognize that all 4 authors would disagree with one another on all sorts of points. That in and of itself would provide for some pretty balanced reading.

Eisenbaum is passionate… perhaps too passionate in that she overstates some of her case, but she acts as a perfect summary of the key points being discussed, and she is not difficult to read, even though some of her personal conclusions are not my own


(Jimmy Sellers) #3

This is probably not the place to say this but asking if Paul was a Christian would be a kin to asking if Moses was a Rabbinic Jew. I think the question is out of place historically. I don’t think Paul was thinking conversion and I don’t think Moses was thinking Rabbi or for that matter Jewish religion.

(Dave Kenny) #4

fantastic analogy! Nothing quite like a temporal contradiction to point out the obvious :slight_smile: