Is St. Paul a Jewish Deviant or a Reformer of Judaism? The Clash of Jewish Identity and Christian Identity in Asia Minor

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Examines the first-century dynamics associated with the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in doing so addresses some important implications for modern missions. Paul’s missiology was intricately tied to his Christology, soteriology, and ecclesiology. He believed that the fullness of Judaism was to incorporate the Gentiles into the people of God through faith in Christ instead of through works of the Law. However, in advocating such a theology and practice Paul posed a great threat to maintaining Jewish identity and the survival of Jewish communities in the Diaspora.


“Utilizing research in deviance theory and the evidence of first-century Jewish sources from Asia Minor, Lin carefully sketches a deep impulse that carried Paul’s mission. The apostle, although viewed by Diaspora Jews as a deviant who threatened their existence, was in fact a reformer who loved Israel and envisioned the fulfillment of her divine calling through the law-free Gospel. Lin’s reading of Jewish and Christian identity is a balanced and helpful treatment of a puzzling paradox—Paul, apostle to the Gentiles who decried the “works of the law,” unyielding in his Jewish loyalties. I commend his study as a step forward in explaining Paul’s complex interaction with Judaism, and more importantly a positive appreciation of Paul’s utter devotion to Christ.” – Prof. Bruce Corley, Th.D., B. H. Carroll Theological Institute

“. . . provides new insights on Paul’s argument for the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s salvation as heirs of Abraham to construct a “superordinate identity” for all peoples in Christ by showing how it develops out of and responds to the conflict of contending identities waged between Paul’s mission and the synagogues in Asia Minor. Paul the Apostle emerges as a faithful missionary to the Gentile world and a wise contextual theologian among his fellow Jews. The results of this study also have wide implications for such important issues as Paul’s theology of mission, Christian self- definition, Jewish-Christian relations, and the parting of ways between Jewish communities and Christian churches.” – Prof. John Y.H. Yieh, Virginia Theological Seminary

“At the most basic level, people who become followers of Christ in a cultural context different to their own and now are intent to bring the Good News to their own tribal group or nationals may face similar reactions from their own people. Furthermore, the Great Commission does not a priori rule out the possibility, if not likelihood, of suffering for the sake of Christ and his Good News. Perhaps Dr. Lin’s study challenges every believer to acknowledge that he/she will always live within the tension of deviance from and reforming within one’s own culture, for Christ’s sake.” – Prof. Siegfried, Schatzmann, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Table of Contents

Preface by Bruce Corley
1. Jewish Identity in the Diaspora
2. Paul’s Self-Understanding of His Mission
3. Convergence of Jewish and Christian Identity: Heirs of Abraham
4. The Clash of Jewish Identity with Christian Identity: Jewish Communities in Asia Minor as a Test Case
Author Index
Subject Index

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