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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Apostle to the Gentiles

Caroline Johnson Hodge, Apostle to the Gentiles: Constructions of Paul's Identity
Biblican Interpretation 13, 3 (2005), 270-288

After pointing out that all the ways that Paul speaks of non-Judeans - Gentiles, uncircumcised - is actually a Judean way of speaking, a term of "othering" flattening any ethnic particularity from these people, Johnson Hodge asks about Paul's assignment as the apostle to the Gentiles.

What does it mean for Paul to "go to" the Gentiles? How does Paul manage this crossing of ethnic boundaries? Does it compromise his identity as a Ioudaios to do so?

Hodge then observes that the tradition framework of interpretation to answer these questions is set in the context of a disagreement between Judaism and Christianity: that when Paul preaches the gospel, he must of necessity "leave his ethnic Judaism for a universal Christianity." Paul, it is said, favours the universalist Christian gospel over Jewish particularity.

But is this dichotomy real? Was it real in those days and is it real now? Is there both a firm enough idea of identity, that one is either X or Y, and a definite mutual exclusion between the two?

Posted By Jonathan, 8:00am Comment Comments: