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:

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.
John G. Gager, The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 79, No. 2/3 (Oct., 1988 - Jan., 1989), pp. 248-250
 Ouch. But sentiments I agree with.

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