When I mentioned this article on Paul and Torah observance and the common claim that Paul “broke the law” to a Jewish friend of mine, he said simply, “Oh, like most Jews , then”.
This gets at the main contention in Karin Hedner Zetterholm’s article in the anthology Paul within Judaism. Her article is named “The Question of Assumptions: Torah Observance in the First Century”. The Paul-within-Judaism perspective denies that Paul was a non-observant Jew. But what do we assume being an observant Jew means?
Zetterholm spends quite a bit of space talking about how denominations and schools of Judaism today differ about what faithful Torah observance means. Most Jews bend the detailed requirements of the Torah to conform to more overarching Torah principles like the oneness of God, his faithfulness, and the principles of justice and love. Some Jews feel that flexibly interpreting the Torah is necessary precisely in order…
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