Paul and Diaspora Judaism


Reading Acts

Longenecker and Still argue Paul was a Jew who valued his ancestral traditions despite living in a Jewish Diaspora community in Tarsus (Thinking through Paul, 26). Paul’s describes his Jewish heritage in Philippians 3:4-6, claiming he was “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, and the Tribe of Benjamin, a ‘Hebrew of the Hebrews.’” Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles was born and raised a Jew, and never repudiated that heritage. Even in Philippians Paul lists his accomplishments with a little bit of pride.

Paul’s claim in Philippians 3 is that he is a proper Jew even though he was born in the Diaspora. That he was circumcised on the eighth day indicates he comes from a family interested in keeping Jewish traditions despite living in the Diaspora. It is possible that there were Diaspora Jews who did not circumcise their sons. Paul was not a…

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