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Paul and Hellenism Paperback – June, 1991


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Paperback, June, 1991
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Trinity Pr Intl (June 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563380145
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563380143
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,228,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful By J. Mann on February 15, 1999
St Paul is traditionally thought of as a Jewish thinker, someone who was originally a Pharisee and whose ideas came out of his encounter with Jesus and a background of Judaism. In book the Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby argues that Paul is best understood as someone strongly influenced by Greek religious ideas, in particular Gnosticism and the mystery religions. In addition it seeks to show that Paul had only a superficial understanding of Jewish ideas and often showed a fundamental misunderstanding of Jewish concepts.
Chapter 1 - Gnostic Antisemiticism
Maccoby begins by examining the phenomena of Gnosticism. He defines Gnosticism as a religion which sees the world as fundamentally evil, and salvation as a mystical escape to the higher realms beyond this world. Historically Gnosticism has identified the God of the Jews as the creator of the world, and hence the source of evil. The God of the Jews according to Gnosticism is a deluded God, as he believes none is greater than him, whereas there are numerous realms above this world which are greater than it.
The Jews in this scheme of things are essentially fools who have been taken in by this false God. The Jews themselves are not regarded as evil or dangerous, as much as laughable and to be pitied.
Gnosticism is interesting because of its links with Judaism - why did it fix on the God of the Jews as its evil God? Some believe Gnosticism came out of Christianity - Maccoby argues this is unlikely as there is plenty of Gnosticism which deals directly with Judaism with no mention of Christianity or Christian ideas. Some believe Gnosticism came out of Judaism. This Maccoby takes more seriously, but argues against it because there is so much in Gnosticism which is alien to Judaism.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on March 21, 2001
In this more in-depth sequel to _The Mythmaker_, Hyam Maccoby continues to mount his case that Paul was not a Pharisee at all but something of a rogue who patched together a new religion out of Gnostic elements and a superficial smattering of Torah quotes.

One of the highlights of this volume is Maccoby's analysis of Paul's claim to have received his information on the "Lord's supper" by direct revelation rather than from any of the apostles. There may be treatments of this topic that respond adequately to Maccoby's claims, but I have not seen them.

Another highlight is a full-chapter rebuttal of the well-intended but arguably wrongheaded views of Lloyd Gaston, John Gager, and Krister Stendhal, who think Paul was merely offering a new way of salvation to non-Jews but didn't really mean to supersede the Torah for Jews. Here again, I do not know of any adequate reply to Maccoby's merciless dissection of this claim.

Maccoby is also the author of _Revolution in Judea_, highly recommended as well. If either of these books returns to print (or any of Maccoby's other out-of-print books, for that matter), grab them at once.
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