Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Why Did Paul Persecute the Church?
On why did Paul persecute the church, here is an idea from Mark Nanos that I think must feature in an answer in some way:
'That policy is the one for which he claims to be persecuted later, namely, for not “still” preaching circumcision of non-Jews (Gal 5:11). While Paul championed this move, he probably did not initiate it. Rather, since before the dramatic revelation of Christ in him and call to bring this message to the nations, he was the most vicious opponent of this policy, it is likely that this policy of including non-Jews as full members was a propositional truth for Christ based groups that predated his change of course. If so, what motivated Paul’s zealous was not a failure by Jewish members of the Christ groups to observe Torah per se. They were observing, for example, Sabbath and dietary customs, and circumcising their sons. At issue was a change of policy based on an alternative interpretation of Torah for defining the inclusion of non-Jews as full and equal members based on the claim that God has in Christ initiated the age to come kingdom with just such expectations for embers of the rest of the nations to join alongside Israel in the worship of the One God'.
Mark Nanos, ‘Paul and Judaism: Why Not Paul's Judaism,’ in Paul Unbound: Other Perspectives on Paul’ in Mark Given, ed. Paul Unbound: Other Perspectives on Paul (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, forthcoming 2009). See an on-line version here.