Paul Was Not a Christian

Submitted by Peter on

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This bookstudy will begin June 25, 2023 only on Zoom.

This is a description of Paul from a Jewish perspective. It is based only on the 7 undisputed books attributed to Paul in the NT (but makes no mention of interpolations). Using this as a base, Pamela explains how Paul saw the world through Jewish eyes. Her thesis is that Paul was mostly interested in the short time left for the world and how to get the Gentiles into the covenant with god along with the Jews. A main point is that Paul was writing to the Gentiles, NOT his Jewish friends.

Pamela Eisenbaum, an expert on early Christianity, reveals the true nature of the historical Paul in Paul Was Not a Christian. She explores the idea of Paul not as the founder of a new Christian religion, but as a devout Jew who believed Jesus was the Christ who would unite Jews and Gentiles and fulfill God’s universal plan for humanity. Eisenbaum’s work in Paul Was Not a Christian will have a profound impact on the way many Christians approach evangelism and how to better follow Jesus’s - and Paul’s - teachings on how to live faithfully today.


1 – Do you think Jesus would agree with Paul that “[his] faithfulness puts right Gentiles and incorporates them into the family of God.”?  Comments 240
2 – Is your God the kind of thing that can be righteous?  243  Value judgments?
3 – When do you think Jesus realized he was going to be crucified?  Do you think he had any idea that the world’s largest religion would be based on his crucifixion?  243
4 – “Justification by faith” refers to what Jesus already did.  Does this makes sense to you?  243
5 – Why do you think God chose Israel?  247
6 – How much better did you understand Paul after the last two pages of this chapter?  What’s left unexplained for you?  249
7 – What has been the most important paradigm change for (not in) your life?  250
8 – How do you feel when someone “asks the wrong question?”  How do you feel about my questions throughout this book (and previous books)?  252
9 – What is unique in your role in the redemption of the world (salvation)?  252
10 – Are levels of moral development similar to different roles of participation in the redemption of the world?  252
X – When we consider the difference between mythical creation time (6000 years) and scientific creation time (13.7 billion years), perhaps Paul was a bit too anxious about the impending eschaton.  Comments?   1 to 2.283 million

1 – How did Luther misread Paul?  208
2 – Do you feel that “justification by faith” is an integral part of your religion?  Comments?  211
3 – How would you determine that Paul is NOT a phony?  214
4 – Our author relies on Josephus and Philo (a lot).  How do you think this influences her (and  our) understanding of Paul and the Jews?  215
5 – What is one important conclusion we can draw when we see that Paul is speaking only to NON Jews?  217
6 – What did the Torah mean for/to those who came to believe in the Jewish God?  219
7 – Jews have 613 laws.  We have thousands.  Are we therefore more sinful?  220
8 – What is required for you to be in relationship with God?  224
9 – What is the difference between the nature of good and evil, as shown to Adam and Eve with the tree of knowledge AND the Torah give to the Jews?  226
10 – Does death in Rom 7:7-13 stand for death of innocence or maturation?  228
11 – Write a sentence (or a few) that describes how you disagree with “The message of justification by faith … is the gospel?”  234
12 – Do you feel the need to give account for yourself and your failings before (to) God?  235
13 – “God” appears many times in the last 3 pages.  How does the God under discussion differ from your idea of God?  239

1 – Does the first paragraph on pg. 173 describe your view of Paul at any point in (your) history?  Comments?
2 – If Paul was theocentric and not christocentric, what do you think was Paul’s vision of the relationship between God and Christ?  173
3 – Describe your “well developed tradition of interpretation ...[of] Scripture.”  Did you even know you had one?  175
4 – Where did Paul’s “realization of what time it was in history.” come from?  177
5 – What date would you give to the “four convictions” listed on pg. 179.  (You can have up to four dates.)
6 – “Paul attributes virtually everything that happens in the entire cosmos to God’s agency.”  How much to you attribute to God’s agency?  180
7 – Is Paul perhaps using “Lord” for anyONE definitely above him in the hierarchy? Comments?  182
8 – I prefer to translate pistis as trust.  Comments?  191
9 – The last 5 pages are an excellent description of “faith OF Christ.”  Are you convinced?  195
10 – Compare Paul’s vision of the eschaton with climate change.  198
11 – Do you feel that now, more than ever before, that “time [i]s hurtling toward a final cataclysm.”?  200
12 – How much time do you spend wondering about how close your Bible translation is to the original writer’s ideas?  206
13 – What do you think of the “merit of the fathers.”?  What is the modern equivalence?  207
14 – Why do you think so little progress has been made toward a single, all inclusive religion?  207

1 – Do you have friends or family who have had a conversion experience like Paul had?  How have they described it?  132
2 – Where do you think the idea of being called before birth came from?  133
3 – What do you think about the difference between Former and Earlier as described on pg. 135?
4 – What are your thoughts (feelings?) about revelation?  136
5 – “I have suffered the loss of everything…”, but he’s still alive, so that can’t be “true”.  What did Paul loose and what did he NOT loose?  137
6 – What status symbols do you claim?  140
7 – Personal religious experience is fundamentally unknowable.  Comments?  142
8 – What do you think of the idea that many of Paul’s problems were caused by his anti-imperial position?  146
9 – Give an example of a bias you have overcome.  151
10 – Idolatry is supposed to be the worst Jewish sin, but I don’t understand how that is associated with sexual perversion.  Help?  152
11 – Do you feel like you “form a community of holiness, so that the Spirit of God may dwell among [you]”?  Does our group / church do this?  156
12 – Do the first two paragraphs on pg. 158 make any sense?  Do they describe your kind of God?
13 – Why is sex such a big deal for Paul (and others, even today)?  167
14 – “Paul objects to appropriation of the Mosaic Law by Gentiles.”  Is there any corresponding objection by “Christians” to appropriation of Christian laws and rules?  170

1 – “Gentiles were not subject to ritual impurity … by contact with Gentiles.”  Did you have an opinion about Gentile impurity before reading this?  What is your opinion now?  100

2 – “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  How far should this ethic extend?  104

3 – To what extent do you think Acts 10:8 is designed to promote separation of “Christians” and Jews BECAUSE it is the myth of Christian Origins?  105

4 – Compare the dates of Acts and Jubilees.  106

5 – Compare God-fearers to Methodist Constituents.  113

6 – What is the most interesting thing you learned in this chapter?  115

7 – What is the difference between a “party” and a “sect”?  117

8 – Do Pharisees correspond to White Christian Nationalists?  118

9 – Who are your primary examples of hypocrites?  119

X – Compare ritual cleanliness in flowing water to electricity in the same flowing water.  124

10 – What is a modern example of too lenient an interpretation of the law?  120

11 – Comment on the idea that Paul’s higher level of education is what caused / allowed him to have more flexible views of the Law.  131

1 – Our author mentions worship, Torah and redemption as particular to Judaism of Paul’s age.  What three ideas would you emphasize in your own religion?  68 
2 – What items in Josephus’s description would you take issue with?  69 
3 – What is today’s value of half a shekel?  71 
4 – “Idolatry is the Jewish equivalent to … Christian … original sin.”  Comments?  73 
5 – What would you see as the consequences of Israel being “a priestly kingdom and a holy nation”?  78 
6 – Is there something in Christianity that corresponds to the difference between ritual purity and moral purity?  78 
7 – What similarities and differences do you see between the Jewish Exodus and our Civil War → Black Lives Matter?  79 
8 – Comment on bad luck as being God’s punishment?  81 
9 – After reading the lengthy paragraph on pg. 83, I’m still left feeling like I don’t understand the distinction between law and Torah which I hope she was explaining.  Any clarification would be helpful. 
10 – How do you see the difference between redemption and salvation?  Which is more important to you?  89 
11 – Is it possible to no longer be either a Jew or a Christian, following circumcision or baptism?  95 
12 – By ending with “the yoke of thy kingdom.”, is the Alenu depicting a slavery model for the world to come?  97

1 – How do you think Christianity today would be different without the influence of Paul? 35

2 – Why do you think their is no mention of Paul in the (4 canonical) gospels? 35

X – The 1 Cor. 14:32-33 quote is wrong.

3 – How do you see the difference between calling and conversion? 42

4 – Have you had an experience of religious conversion? If Yes, can you describe it? If No, what does your religious development look like? 47

Y – I would recommend to everyone that you read the Pauline quotes in this book and ALSO read the same passages in “The Authentic Letters of Paul” for a better understanding.

5 – How often, when talking religion, do you find the ideas exchanged come from significantly different times and get all mixed up with each other? 49

6 – Comment on how far (in the wrong direction) we have been led by the journey from Jesus to Paul to Augustine to Luther. 49

7 – “righteousness” seems to have many interpretations. Which do you prefer? 50

8 – Compare selling indulgences with unstrained capitalism. Do you see similarities? 51

9 – Why do you think original sin has so much influence today? 52

10 – Have you ever felt that “man does not live, bi is lived”? Does this correspond to any of your experience? 56

11 – What are some problems that result from the idea of “Israel, God’s chosen people”? 63

12 – How well do you think you understand the Judaism of Paul’s time? 66

1 – Obviously our author is going to restate the first paragraph on pg. 2 as the content of the book. How would you describe Paul before reading the book?

2 – How do you understand salvation now? 2

3 – What are some consequences of the fact that most of the books of the New Testament were written by Jews? 6

4 – If you were to divide the world into two kinds of people, which categories would you choose? 8

5 – If Acts was written from 110 – 115 CE, what would the age difference be between Paul and Luke? 12

6 – What category of writing would you apply to Acts? 15

7 – If you agree that about half of “Paul’s Letters” are authentic (written by Paul), what do you do with the others? 20

8 – When you read Paul, do you have a system to help you understand the obtuse portions? What is it? 25

X – Notice the relative length of chapter 12. 29

9 – Look up 1 Cor. 11:7 in you copy of Westar’s “The Authentic Letters of Paul”. What does our author say about interpolations? 29

10 – What expectations do you have for this book study? 31