I am reading Paula Fredriksen’s Paul, the Pagan’s Apostle.
She sets up the context of Paul’s activity in the cities of Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece. The theological background in Judaism was apocalyptic hope. I covered that in my first post. But the religious context in the Hellenistic cities was the interaction of Jews and pagans.
She uses the term “pagans” deliberately. The New Testament often uses the Greek word “ethne”, meaning the nations. But Fredriksen wants us to break out of the idea that the distinction between Jew and Greek was primarily ethnic in the modern sense. Ethnicity was intrinsically religious in the ancient world. People were born to certain gods and sanctuaries. They were part of their ethnic inheritance. Sometimes whole city populations physically descended from certain gods. So they had a family relationship to those gods.
Paul also referred to Jews as related to…
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