“As to the Law, a Pharisee” is the way Paul characterized himself in Philippians 3:5. Luke has further statements about Paul’s pharisaism. Paul studied in Jerusalem under the famous teacher Gamaliel I, a Pharisee (Acts 22:3). Luke’s Paul even claims that he is the “son of Pharisees” (Acts 23:6).
In Paul: A Critical Life, Jerome Murphy-O’Connor maintained the standard that Paul’s own statements carry much more weight than Luke’s. So it is unquestionable that Paul was a Pharisee. However, Luke’s statements need to be questioned.
John Knox, whose influential Chapters from the Life of Paul introduced a generation of American scholars to the notion of privileging the letters over Acts, denied that Paul ever was in Jerusalem before the Damascus events. His strongest argument was that Paul claimed to be unknown in Judea (Galatians 1:22) and seemed to have visited Jerusalem for the first time when he went there…
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