The traditional view (Old Perspective) presents Paul as being in a hostile relation to Second Temple Judaism; according to the Old, the Apostle Paul left Judaism because Judaism was legalistic. So, in the Old Perspective, Judaism and Christianity parted ways and exist as distinct entities.

The so-called New Perspective, too, pits Paul against Judaism, but for a different reason; the NPP’s claim is that Paul found Judaism problematic not because of its legalistic tendency but because of its ethnocentric exclusivism. Thus, in the New Perspective, Paul’s departure from Judaism due to theological reasons is not thought to be as serious.

The Paul within Judaism (or Radical New) Perspective, however, views Judaism positively; they argue that, in fact, Paul never left Judaism. He never ceased to be a Torah-observant Pharisee. Paul’s intention was rather to do Gentile missions and invite them into Judaism, that is, offer them a space of salvation in the final judgment day that was imminent. In the Paul within Judaism school–as the name itself explains it all–therefore, Paul is put back into Judaism because Christianity didn’t even exist in Paul’s time.

To summarize, Paul has been being dragged out of Christianity and squeezed back into Judaism for the past several decades.

(Photo: The Apostle Paul [Rembrandt, 1633])

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