A Fun “Reading Paul” Story

My mother-in-law (still an Energizer bunny at almost 81) just returned from a 10-day Mediterranean cruise that included Rome, Rhodes, Ephesus, Athens, Capri, Santorini, etc. While eating lunch with her excursion-mates near Ephesus, she discovered that one young woman on the trip was a rabbinical student in the U.S. My mother-in-law said to her, “Paul really made a huge impact.” The rabbinical student agreed, adding that she was currently taking a course on Paul. My mother-in-law responded, “Oh, my son-in-law writes books about Paul.” “Really?” replied the rabbinical student. “What’s his name?” When my mother-in-law told her, she said, “Oh, we’re reading his book Reading Paul in my course!”

A rabbinical student!

3 Responses to “A Fun “Reading Paul” Story”

  1. Leland Vickers says:

    Never underestimate what God might do with your efforts. The impact might not have been the same if you had personally approached the rabbinical student and said, “let me tell you about Saint Paul.”

  2. Patrick C. says:

    Isn’t there is a movement now to re-appropriate Paul for Judaism–Boyarin, Segal, and now Pamela Eisenbaum, with her new book “Paul was not a Christian”? None of these authors is thinking of converting. Where do you think this trend might be going?

  3. MJG says:


    I’ve not read Eisenbaum, but it sounds interesting. Boyarin and Segal both made important contributions (esp. Segal, in my view). But the “movement” is really more like some serious Jewish scholars taking Paul seriously as a Jew—which did not begin with Segal, of course. There are not a lot of Jewish figures (with extant writings) to study from the first century, so focusing on Paul makes sense for that reason alone—not tomention the Jewish-Christian split and dialogue issues.

    There is more of a movement among non-theological political types to re-appropriate Paul for democratic or anti-imperial purposes, in addition to those who read him anti-imperially for theological reasons.

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