Welcome to the Mark D. Nanos “Paul within Judaism” website!
This website introduces my work as a Jewish historian with a research focus on the Apostle Paul. This project involves investigating ways to read Paul’s letters “within Judaism” during the mid-first century, an effort I share with others involved in exploring this way to re-conceptualize how to interpret Paul. Together, we strive for historical probability within the New Testament discipline of exegesis. At the same time, this project is especially appealing because the historical reading proposed appears (to me, at least) to hold special promise for advancing better Christian-Jewish relations in the years to come. “I am not ashamed” to express that these two interrelated “interests” drive my research and communication objectives.
Ironically, I am convinced that Paul’s voice, which has so often been used in the service of harmful othering, can be understood in quite the other direction—certainly so where his views of Jews and Judaism are concerned, but also beyond that concern, as important as that is to me, and I hope, to you. Reversing the traditional negative foil of the “Jewish other” in the Christian imagination has important promising implications for reversing other “othering” that has appealed to Paul’s voice—as traditionally understood, that is.
Although I offer this as the suggestion of an outsider, and hope not to offend, I believe the Paul within Judaism approached proposed offers useful insights for Christian self-interest: what if that which Christians value as special can be celebrated without needing a negative binary other by which to define that specialness?
Of course, there have always been Christians of good will who did so, but, as far as I am aware, there have been very few places in Paul’s texts (as traditionally interpreted) to which they could appeal for support—more often they have had to resist Paul to resist the othering he has been understood to exemplify. I hope they—you—will find my work offers a welcome opportunity to escape that constraint; more than that, to discover new ways to highlight the ideal of respect for the other that some of Paul’s texts certainly promote!
“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom 12:18).
PhD. University of St. Andrews, Scotland, 2000
PhD. Honorary, University of Lund, Sweden, 2019
1996 National Jewish Book Award for Christian-Jewish Relations
Society of Biblical Literature (Co-founder, “Paul within Judaism” section)
Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas
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