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GENERAL PREFACE

Carlos A. Segovia
Saint Louis University – Madrid Campus, Spain
segoviaca@slu.edu

Pauline studies have undergone a dramatic paradigm shift in the past decades. On the one hand, we
have come to rediscover Paul’s Jewishness, which is now being explored afresh from every possible
perspective. On the other hand, renewed attention is now also being paid to Paul’s critical attitude
towards the Roman imperial order. The traditional reading of Paul – shared by many Jews and Ch-
ristians alike over the past nineteen centuries – contended that he was a theologian deviant of Ju-
daism. In the 1980s the so-called “new perspective on Paul” went on to present him as a theologian
whose aim was not so much to break with but to reform Judaism. None of these models seem to
work anymore, however. For if we read him carefully, Paul only speaks about the restoration of Is-
rael and the ingathering of the nations in a markedly political context: both Israel and the nations
had been subdued by Rome, and against this background Paul’s “theology” aims at subverting the
macro- and micro-politics of the Roman empire by questioning its identity-making strategies.
It seems that initially, for some reason unknown to us, Paul felt uneasy about the Jesus mo-
vement. And that suddenly, for some likewise unknown reason, he felt “called” to follow Jesus and
to preach him to the nations. This is all Paul says. How can we interpret his words? It is hard to tell
what precisely he had in mind, or what actually happened to him. As Alain Badiou suggests, events
imply the appearance of something entirely foreign to what is: they break trough the order of things;
therefore, we can only recognise them by their effects. But we can easily ascertain what Paul did
not mean to say. He did not mean to say that he converted from one religion (Judaism) to a different
one (Christianity), as “Christianity” was basically an intra-Jewish phenomenon in Paul’s time. He
simply became a different kind of man ready to live a different kind of life within Judaism.
Paul clearly states that God’s election of Israel is irrevocable (Romans 11:1, 29) and that he
has been commissioned to bring the Gentiles through Christ into God’s allegiance (15:16, 18). That
is what Paul’s “theology” is all about. Yet at the same time Paul offers a good example of discursive
adaptability. His “sacrificial” metaphors reflect some acquaintance with the language specific to the
Graeco-Roman mystery religions. He uses them to gain his Gentile audience, but he does so by si-
multaneously de-constructing their ordinary meaning in so far as he re-inscribes them within a spe-
cifically Jewish (messianic, apocalyptic) mindset. In short, they prove peripheral rhetorical tools at
best, instead of representing – as has often been suggested – the core of his message. How then does
Paul negotiate Gentile inclusiveness through Christ? Are Paul’s “Gentiles” merely to be seen as a
“cultic” category, and if so what would this imply? Did Paul subscribe the view that there are two
different ways of salvation, one for the Jews and another one for the Gentiles? How should we in-
terpret Jesus’ messianic status in Pauline Christology and Paul’s apocalyptic eschatology?
The present volume brings together for the first time Second Temple- and Pauline scholars
to explore in close dialogue these and other related issues, like Paul’s scriptures and Paul’s image in
the New Testament, his concept of a faithful “remnant,” the particular type of religious community
he planned to build, and the implicit connections between baptism, circumcision and Torah obser-
vance inside the Pauline communities. Additionally it focusses too on the relationship between He-
llenism and Judaism, on the one hand, and on the intertwining of Jewish Law and Roman Empire,
on the other hand, in Paul’s thought. Lastly, it tries to offer new insights on the way in which Paul’s
message was appropriated and eventually transformed into something else and altogether different
in early Christianity and formative Islam.
Most of the papers herein collected were offered at the 3rd Nangeroni Meeting of the Enoch
Seminar, “Re-Reading Paul as a Second-Temple Jew,” which was held at the Valdensian Faculty of
Theology (Rome) in June 2014 under the auspices of the Enoch Seminar, the Michigan Center for
Early Christian Studies, the Department of Near Eastern Studies of the University of Michigan, and
the Alessandro Nangeroni International Endowment. I would warmly like to thank all those scholars
who contributed to the conference, and especially Albert Baumgarten, Gabriele Boccaccini, Daniel
Boyarin, William Campbell, James Charlesworth, Kathy Ehrensperger, Pamela Eisenbaum, Joshua
Garroway, Matthew Goff, Larry Hurtado, Isaac Oliver, Anders Petersen, Jeremy Punt, David Ru-
dolph, and Shayna Sheinfeld for their willingness to have their papers and responses reworked and
published in this volume. I am also grateful to Gabriele Boccaccini for asking me to organise the
conference and for his helpful advice; to Erik Noffke and Jason Zurawksi for their cooperation and
assistance during the conference in Rome; to Neil Elliot for accepting to publish the present volume
(together with that edited by Mark Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm, which includes inter alia some
other papers also offered at Rome) at Fortress; and to Cameron Doody for handling the copy edi-
ting.