Over at the Mount Olive Press website, I have posted in full chapter 4 of my book, Paul Didn’t Eat Pork, from 2005. While my theology has been progressing since that time, I would still affirm what I wrote in that chapter.
If you have the time or inclination to read the whole chapter, you can get it here.
Or buy the whole book from amazon (please). This title has had so little traffic on amazon, they list it as “email to find out when this product will become available.” You can see it here.
The upshot of the chapter can be described in the following bullet points:
–Paul kept the Law all his life and expected that other Jews would do the same.
–Paul’s attitude toward the traditions of the elders was respectful and he followed them (which is not to say that there was not room for variation and interpretational differences).
–The Nazirite vow Paul took and the sacrifices (including sin offerings) he brought at the Temple indicate the depth of Paul’s continuing commitment to Torah (and call for a reevaluation of Christian understandings of the sacrifices and how they relate to the cross of Yeshua).
–Yet Paul did not see his practice of Torah as normative for non-Jews in Messiah.
–Paul recognized the distinction between Israel and the nations and taught that non-Jews have a different relationship to Torah than Jews.
–Paul opposed the idea of works, which as the New Perspective on Paul has been saying, means he opposed the idea that Jews are in right relation to God by virtue of being the chosen nation and the recipients of Torah.
–Paul opposed the idea that non-Jews have to keep Torah like Jews and be circumcised to convert in order to be right with God.
–Paul affirmed that God accepted non-Jews as non-Jews and that Torah and the teaching of Messiah could be adapted to varying cultures.
Discussing the Issues
There are a number of things I’d like to call for open discussion about here.
First, for those who have been a part of these discussions for some time, Acts 15:21 is a well-known “workaround” for people persuaded that Paul and the apostles fully intended non-Jews to keep Torah, but only wanted to give them time to learn about Torah in synagogue. I have never agreed with this interpretation of Acts 15:21. What is your view?
Second, from your perspective (Christians, Messianic Jews, traditional Jews, non-Jewish Torah keepers, and people from many perspectives read this blog): what bullet points from above don’t seem right to you or raise questions for you? Does the idea that the apostles intended Jews in Messiah to keep Torah seem wrong to you? Why? Does the distinction between Israel and the nations in Messiah bother you? Why?
Please keep your comments brief. We know most of you could write a 2,000 word essay easily. But readers get the most benefit from discussions which are polite and concise. NOTE: Yesterday’s post about ethical discussion (also available now as a separate page with a tab atop the blog home page) should be a good guide for our discussion. Let’s keep it respectful and helpful.