This book, I fear, moves us backward in virtually every area. Maccoby's treatment reads like a (surely unintentional) summary of nineteenth century polemical-apologetic "scholarship" of a liberal Christian variety: Jesus against Paul; Paul as the second (and real) founder of Christianity; Paul the opponent and falsifier of Judaism; the pre- dominance of influence from Hellenistic mystery cults on Pauline thought. Still, the book might have been redeemed with an ever so slight shift in its self- description. If, instead of representing it as a work of historical scholarship, the author had described it as a piece of historical romance (as, for instance, Hugh Schonfield has presented his works), we might have been able to enjoy it as fiction.Ouch. But sentiments I agree with.
John G. Gager, The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 79, No. 2/3 (Oct., 1988 - Jan., 1989), pp. 248-250
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I am known to be harsh in some of my reviews, however, I really have nothing on this. Hyam Maccoby was a contentious scholar painting an interesting portrait of Jesus, but more importantly in this case, of Paul. Maccoby essentially presents Paul as a liar - he wasn't really a Pharisee but a Hellenistic Jewish convert or Gentile immersed in Pagan and Gnostic belief. John G. Gager, a rather prominent Pauline scholar (Dunn interacts with him a lot in TNPP) has this to say on Maccoby's thesis: