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166 SHOFAR Fa111999 Vol. 18, No. I It would be a disservice to this book to end this review without a tribute that is neither patronizing nor insincere. This book does much to expose the inadequacies of a paradigm ofPauline interpretation that is resilient but historically inaccurate. Itrightly focuses on the Gentile mission as a contested area ofPauline interpretation. It proposes a thesis that is creative and provocative, and it absolutely makes the case that Paul's Judaism and his commitment to Christ are not fundamentally antithetical categories. Calvin 1. Roetzel Department of Religion Macalester College Paul the Jewish Theologian: A Pharisee among Christians, Jews, and Gentiles, by Brad Young. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997. 164 pp. Young's essential argument is that the apostle Paul's religious thought is best interpreted within the context of the Phariseeism in which he was educated and nurtured. While other Christian scholars such as W. D. Davies and Lloyd Gaston, to name just two, have preceded Young in staking this claim, perhaps the most significant aspect of Young's book in this regard is its presumed audience. Young's book is published by Hendrickson, a publisher whose primary constituency tends toward conservative evangelical and pentecostal Christian faith. The implication of this is that many people who read Young's book might conceivably be introduced, for the first time, to such basic but important ideas as that the God of the Hebrew Bible is not simply a God of wrath as opposed to the New Testament's testimony to a God oflove-there's plenty ofwrath and love in both testaments!-and that it is a harmful caricature of Judaism to think of it as being essentially legalism. Of course, readers who are not evangelical Christians certainly can benefit from Young's book, though it is obvious that this group would compose his primary target audience. It is not a highly technical treatise, which is, I think, a strength of the book; Young communicates his ideas clearly and, generally speaking, simply. Young's book could be read profitably by anyone with at least a high school education, and would probably be most useful in undergraduate college courses. And it will certainly be a new proposition to most of his readers that the Jewish "no" to Jesus, from the time of the apostle Paul even up to the present, is necessitated by a more fundamental Jewish "yes" to God and Torah. This is a crucial concept that has received little hearing in more conservative Christian circles, at least to date. Young may, however, occasionally have been extreme in his attempt to communicate to his presumed audience. For example, while probably not all Pauline scholars would agree that Paul "lived an observant life" (p. 2), it is at least a legitimate item for Book Reviews 167 discussion; on the other hand, to claim that Paul "possessed a bubbly personality" (p. 21) goes well beyond any evidence our biblical texts can offer and nearly seems to transform Paul into a contemporary Christian celebrity on the charismatic circuit. He may overstate his case theologically as well, at least on occasion. For example, it is difficult to concur with Young's claim that Paul "possesses a passion for Torah as the quintessential self-disclosure ofGod and the divine will" (p. 21). That the Torah was good, holy, and vitally important to Paul is clear; however, the notion ofa "quintessential self-disclosure of God and the divine will" is a role that in the theology of Paul, as well as in that ofmost ifnot all the other New Testament authors, is generally reserved for the person and ministry of Jesus. Probably the most troubling, or at least ambiguous, issue which Young's book raises has to do with how he understands the relationship between these two sibling faiths of Judaism and Christianity. Let us say that Jews and Christians agree with Paul that Torah is holy, just, and good (Romans 7: 12). The issue would still remain as to whether or not its commands are attainable by human efforts at obedience. Young writes that for Paul, "Faith in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 166-168
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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