Paul of Tarsus: The Origins of Christianity in Jewish Context

Illustration from Melchior Lotter's Bible (Sweden, 1524). Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Illustration from Melchior Lotter’s Bible (Sweden, 1524). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Credited with the popularization of Christianity, Saul (later Paul) of Tarsus was influential in mediating Jewish ideas to an increasingly Gentile audience. Combining appealing concepts such as life after death and a personal Deity with a relaxed approach to the requirements of Rabbinic Judaism, the former Pharisee succeeded in spreading Christianity well beyond its narrow origins among a small group of Jews in Jerusalem to become a massively powerful world religion, albeit distant from its Jewish origins.

NEXT WEEK: Sherira Gaon and the Jews of Babylon


  1. Excellent lecture. I will note that Paul was not the author of Replacement Theology, but his writings when viewed through the lens of a “Victorious Christian Church” has been used as the basis of replacement theory. The anti-Israel statements have always overshadowed the pro-Israel statements in the eyes of theologians especially from the third century on. But Paul/Sha’ul believed,…

    For I don’t desire, brothers, to have you ignorant of this mystery, so that you won’t be wise in your own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Yisra’el, until the fullness of the Goyim has come in, and so all Yisra’el will be saved. Even as it is written, “There will come out of Tziyon the Deliverer, And he will turn away ungodliness from Ya`akov.
    This is my covenant to them, When I will take away their sins.” Concerning the Good News, they are enemies for your sake. But concerning the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sake. Romans 11:25-28 HNV

    Paul was never confused about who the elect of G-d was and is. It was his escalogical view that the second advent of Ye’shua was imminent and that in his lifetime he would see all Israel come to accept Ye’shua.

    Thank you for your insights and teaching.

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