My study buddy Steven and I were just dealing with Paul:
Thought it would be of interest:
Steven writes:"Let me deal with the subject of Paul before going any further.
For those who haven't read "Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology
," by W.D. Davies, I can only beg you to purchase this book and read it over and over, until you've made a thorough study of it.
Yes, Paul spoke and wrote in Greek. Yes, he was born in Tarsus, but by his own admission he was raised in Jerusalem and his primary language was Hebrew. Even if he'd been raised in a Greek speaking household, he'd have started learning the Hebrew of the Tanakh at the age of five like every other child living in a Torah-observant home.
At the very least, PLEASE
read, "The Jewish People in the First Century: Historical Geography, Political History, Social, Cultural and Religious Life and Institutions
," especially Chapter 19, "Education and the Study of the Torah," by Prof. Shmuel Safrai, pp. 945-970. This book is an absolute MUST READ and is well worth the money you'll spend in order to have a copy in your personal library!
Yes, Paul apparently triggered a ruckus (in Acts 21). Yes, Paul's head was shaved, making him look like an Egyptian, but it was his command of Greek, while addressing the Chief Captain, that led to the false assumption that he was "that Egyptian." In short, it was Paul's question spoken in Greek, his shaved head and the ruckus itself, that caused the Chief Captain to mistake him for "that Egyptian."
Yes, Paul was well versed in Rabbinic concepts and he spoke and thought in Hebrew, which was his mother language, but he also understood and wrote in Greek. That's why Dr. Blizzard and other notable scholars are of the considered opinion that Paul was one of the 500 disciples that Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder - before he became Rabban Gamaliel - had studying the Torah and the Greek wisdom literature.
See further, Talmud Babli, Sotah 49b; "Jewish Multilingualism In The First Century: An Essay In Historical Sociolinguistics
," by Bernard Spolsky (of Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan), which can be found in "Readings in the Sociology of Jewish Languages
" edited by Joshua A. Fishman, Leiden: E.J. Brill - 1985, pp. 35-49.
These Jewish disciples of Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder were studying the Greek wisdom literature, possibly in order to serve as Emissaries (Sh'liachim
- Apostles) of the House of Hillel to the Diasporic Jews, but most definitely in order to function as Hillelite liaisons to the Roman authorities. Such individuals served on numerous delegations that were sent forth to the Romans in order to speak on behalf of the Jewish people in general and the religious Jews in particular.
See also, "Akiba: Scholar, Saint and Martyr
" and "The Pharisees: The Sociological Background of Their Faith (2 Vols)
," by Rabbi Prof. Louis Finkelstein.
Rabbi Gamaliel took a lot of flak from the Ultra-Conservative Jews for this bold move in allowing his disciples to actually study the Greek wisdom literature, because the House of Shammai had a strong aversion to Hellenism and a deep-seated hatred of Gentiles. In other words, they were advancing the same kind of Separatist anti-Gentilism and anti-Secularism that one sees exhibited by so many Ultra-Conservatives (Haredim) in Israel today.
Personally, I understand where these Haredim are coming from, but I prefer and appreciate the loving approach to non-Jews and Secular Jews that's being employed by Rabbi Lazer Brody
and Rabbi Shalom Arush
and their disciples. IMO, the Breslov are the spiritual heirs of the House of Hillel and they are precious jewels in the crown of Hasidic Judaism.
At some point, during his Hillelite education, Shaul the P'rushi was apparently seduced by the anti-Gentilism and anti-Hellenism espoused by the House of Shammai. This is why Shaul consented to the stoning of Stephen, who was functioning as a Worker of Righteousness to the Grecian widows, who'd complained that only the Hebrew widows were being favored with the charitable distributions made by Yeshua's Jewish disciples.
It was this kind of pro-Gentile attitude and this seemingly
liberal stance toward Hellenists, that moved the House of Shammai to usurp control of the Religious Sanhedrin of Seventy-One via a coup de main
in circa 20-10 BCE. At that time, the House of Shammai wanted to enact Eighteen Measures in opposition to the halakhot (religio-legal rulings) and ethical leanings and loving ways of the House of Hillel. These Eighteen Articles created an unprecedented and economically oppresive degree of separation between Jews and non-Jews. Per the worldview of the House of Shammai, the Gerim Toshav
(Repentant Gentiles), who didn't become full-converts to Judaism were unacceptable company for any Torah-observant Jew to keep. Additionally, working for and doing business with such individuals and other non-Jews was deemed improper and any hint of Hellenistic pollution were to be eschewed at all costs!
See further, "Jesus the Pharisee: A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus
" by Rabbi Harvey Falk.The bottom line is this....
Making Paul out to be the villain and perpetuating the erroneous belief that he was the creator of what has wrongly been called "Pauline Christianity," does the historical man and his work among the non-Jews a grave disservice. Further, it's not his writings or the Greek language he used that are to blame for all the confusion and disinformation that's out there.
The real problem is the Christian and Gnostic interpretation of Paul's writings, which are rooted in the ideas and beliefs that were advanced by his many and varied proto-Gnostic opponents. It's not Paul's Greek, but rather the failure of Paul's readers to understand the Rabbinic concepts that he was attempting to convey by deferring to the Greek of the Septuagint, which was considered to be an authorative translation of the Tanakh by the Jews themselves!
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! Purchase and study "Paul & the Gnostics
" by Walter Schmithals and get yourself a copy of Thayer's Greek Lexicon
and the "Interlinear Greek-English New Testament
" by George Ricker Berry, which has all the variant readings of the different versions of the Textus Receptus that have been published from 1550 to 1870! Prof. Schmithals uses Greek liberally and without translating the Greek into English. So, you'll need a command of Greek or the ability to find out what these Greek words mean.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! Stop making Paul out to be the bad guy. He had no doctrinal falling out with Ya'akov or the other immediate disciples of Yeshua. He was the victim of the rumors and lies that were being spread by his proto-Gnostic opponents and the Jewish Hellenists, who rejected him out of hand and weren't interested in Chasidic-Separatism or Yeshua's Kingdom-Repentance Movement in the first place!
Yes, Paul's writings contain a few unfortunate redactions and interpolations, but only because Paul's letters were compiled and edited by Christian copists, who had no clue about the Rabbinic concepts behind Paul's choice of Greek words. It's not the writings that are at fault!
Rather, the obstacle is the lack of scholarship and the doctrinal bias of those who refuse to place this material back into its proper historical, linguistic and cultural context.
And that is where we are seekers of historical truth We just need to put things back into the proper perspective...Shalom Aleichem