The dominant portrayals of the apostle Paul are of a figure who no longer valued Jewish identity and behavior, opposing them for both Jew and non-Jew in his assemblies. This prevailing version of Paul depends heavily upon certain interpretations of key “flashpoint” passages. In this book and the subsequent volumes in this series, Mark Nanos undertakes to test a “Paul within Judaism” (re)reading of the apostle, especially of these “flashpoint” texts.
Nanos demonstrates how traditional conclusions about Paul and the meaning of his letters are dramatically altered by testing the hypothesis that the historical Paul practiced a Jewish, Torah-observant way of life, and that he expected those whom he addressed to know that he did so. Nanos also tests the hypothesis that the non-Jews addressed were expected to know that his guidance was based on promoting a Jewish way of life for themselves, at the same time insisting that they remain non-Jews and thus not technically under Torah on the same terms as himself and the other Jews in this new (Jewish) movement.
In conversation with the prevailing views, Nanos argues that the “Paul within Judaism” perspective offers not only more historically probable interpretations of Paul's texts, but also more promise for better relations between Christians and Jews, because these texts have informed Christian concepts of, ways of talking about, and behavior toward Jews based on the premise that Paul considered Jews and Judaism the mirror opposites of what Christians should be and become.