In Romans 13:11 Paul wrote that salvation was now nearer than when he and his readers had first become convinced about Jesus. Paul had become convinced in Damascus twenty some years before. From the beginning he believed that Jesus would soon appear to bring about the definitive reign of God on earth. If Romans was his last letter, then Paul’s belief in the nearness of the apocalyptic ending of history had held steady through all that time and we have no reason to think he ever deviated.
That is basic to Paula Fredriksen’s Paul, the Pagan’s Apostle.
For her, it was not just the appearance of Jesus to Paul at Damascus that sustained this belief. There was another experience that sustained and even heightened Paul’s expectation. That was the experience of the nations, the non-Jewish world, recognizing Jesus as the soon-to-come Messiah. To Paul this fulfilled predictions made in…
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