Ancient's Reviews > Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle

Paul Was Not a Christian by Pamela Eisenbaum
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's review
Jun 22, 2010

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bookshelves: religion

Pretty good. Not as in-depth as I had hoped, but Eisenbaum has enough end notes to make this a good jumping-off point for further study.

Interesting to see how tradition, prejudice, subjectivity, and partisan ideology have shaped our understanding of ancient documents. Paul has been made into both hero and villain over the last 500 years. He's been used as a weapon first by Catholics against Jews, and then in turn, by Protestants against Catholics. Perhaps now that non-Christians like Eisenbaum are given a chance to investigate Paul and his writings, we'll be able to get a cooler, more balanced assessment.

One of the most interesting points Eisenbaum brings up in the book (at least for me) is her claims about how Bible translators have been mistranslating key passages in Paul's epistles for a very long time. Supposedly, these biblical translators have been more keen on making Paul say things that prop up the theological dogmas of the various church institutions rather than presenting us with accurate translations of what Paul actually wrote in the original Greek. (The argument is a bit technical seeing that it revolves around points of ancient Greek grammar. (Does pistis Christou mean "faith in Christ" or "faithfulness of Christ?")

When these arguments about translation are confined to an examination of the grammar alone, they seem to be inconclusive. But, when matters of grammar are examined in conjuction with the larger context of Paul's message and viewpoints, there is good reason to believe that the old translation needs to be corrected and long held church dogmas about Paul and the Bible need to be reexamined.

Anyway, this is just one of Eisenbaum's various arguments against long held opinions about Paul and his writings. They're all worth taking a look at.
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