Paul the Convert

The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee

Alan F. Segal

View Inside Price: $29.00


January 29, 1992
384 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300052275
Paper

Although Paul’s writings have been intensively studied by Christian theologians, they have been dismissed by Jewish scholars as the meditations of an antagonistic apostate who broke completely with his Jewish past. In this revisionist account of Paul’s work, Alan Segal argues that Paul’s life can be better understood by taking his Jewishness seriously, and that Jewish history can be illuminated greatly by examining Paul’s writings. By reading Paul from the viewpoint of the religion he left behind, Segal sheds new light on the man who played a critical role in both Judaism and Christianity.
 
"Segal’s new book challenges Jewish and Christian scholars alike to take a fresh look at this well-educated man."—The Washington Post Book World

"Segal has written a blockbuster of a book about Paul that blazes a new trail. It not only gives new insights into Paul and his thought, but it establishes the writings of Paul as significant primary source material for the study of first-century Judaism.."—Hayim Goren Perelmuter, New Theology Review

"A brilliantly argued book. . . . Paul is neither hero nor villain for Segal but a fascinating historical and religious character, from whom we can learn much about both Judaism and Christianity. . . . I found myself thoroughly sympathetic to Segal’s portrayal of Paul. More than that, I found myself convinced."—J. Christian Wilson, The Christian Century

"Paul the Convert is a stunning achievement. Segal brilliantly weaves together Jewish studies, New Testament scholarship, and contemporary social scientific theories of conversion into a richly textured and provocative book."—Lewis R. Rambo, Professor of Psychology and Religion, San Francisco Theological Seminary
 
"This is by far the best book about Paul I have ever read: it revolutionizes Pauline studies. . . . Segal has made Paul, and early Christianity, more understandable and therefore deserves the heartfelt thanks of all believers and unbelievers."—Giles Quispel, Vigiliae Christianae

"An important book that should attract a wide readership. Segal’s interpretation of Paul’s writings is revisionist, forceful, and deserves to be studied carefully."—Wayne A. Meeks

"Segal’s perspective on Paul is fresh, engaging, and compelling."—Jacob Neusner, member, The Institute for Advanced Study

"Paul the Convert is a stunning achievement. Segal brilliantly weaves together Jewish studies, New Testament scholarship, and contemporary social scientific theories of conversion into a richly textured and provocative book. The scope and depth of Paul the Convert is breathtaking. The book will stimulate controversy, but Segal writes with such clarity and compassion that the discussions will be productive. Paul, both as apostate and apostle, emerges from Segal’s exploration as a religious genius struggling with his beloved Jewish heritage and the new Christian community. Saul’s transformative encounter with the risen Christ and his association with the gentile Christian community radically altered the history of Jewish-Christian interactions. Segal’s book will not only enrich our understanding of Paul, but will foster meaningful conversations between Jews and Christians."—Lewis R. Rambo, Professor of Psychology and Religion, San Francisco Theological Seminary

"Professor Segal’s analysis of Paul’s life and thought is a bold, creative, and provocative contribution, and is likely to prompt spirited scholarly feedback. His use of modern sociological research on the phenomenon of conversion to help explain and situate Paul’s ecstatic conversion experience represents a novel and productive avenue of understanding. Paul the Convert is a well-balanced, original, and needed contribution to the study of ancient Judaism, in its varied configurations."—David Weiss Halivni, Columbia University

"Segal combines New Testament scholarship, modern psychological studies of conversion, and a thorough knowledge of the rabbinic literature to provide the reader with some remarkable insights into Paul’s life and writings. . . . Highly recommended for academic and seminary libraries."—Library Journal

"Elegantly produced. . . . Segal considers Paul’s Pharisaic education and training as well as the Jewish context of his religious struggle after he became a Christian. He treats Paul as a Jew, a convert and an apostle, and places his conversion from Pharisaism to Christianity in the context of his society and his mission to the Gentiles."—America

"It is refreshing . . . to read a book such as Alan Segal’s Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee. For in his reading of Paul, Segal, in contrast to the prevailing winds of ’hermeneutical suspicion,’ provides a positive reading of ancient texts. . . . Segal provides a strong revisionist reading of both Paul and the discipline of Pauline studies, a reading which enlightens and transforms. . . . Segal has written a highly engaging, wide-ranging, and uncommonly consistent book on Paul; there are many things which commend his analysis. . . . A major work on Paul’s conversion which should be read and widely discussed. [Segal] has rescued this mystical experience from scholarly disdain and restored it to a significant place in any discussion of Paul’s theological strategy."—Carey C. Newman, Evangelical Quarterly

"Segal provides a fresh and stimulating discussion of what has been the hottest topic in Pauline research for the past decade: Paul’s attitude and relation to Judaism. . . . The volume stands out as a major treatment of Paul and Judaism and deserves serious consideration."—Daniel J. Harrington, Theological Studies

"Contrary to Jewish scholars’ widespread dismissal of Paul as an antagonistic apostate, Alan Segal theorizes that not only can Paul be better understood by taking his Jewishness seriously, but so also can Jewish history be illuminated by a Jewish examination of Paul’s writings. Thus, Segal’s purpose in this fascinating book is to read Paul from the perspective of the religion he left behind. . . . His discussion of Paul’s conversion is enriched by extensive dialogue with literature on contemporary religious behavior, especially religious conversion. This major, provocative, even revisionist, study offers most engaging reading."—Choice

"A brilliantly argued book. . . . Paul is neither hero nor villain for Segal but a fascinating historical and religious character, from whom we can learn much about both Judaism and Christianity. . . . I found myself thoroughly sympathetic to Segal’s portrayal of Paul. More than that, I found myself convinced."—J. Christian Wilson, The Christian Century

"One of Alan F. Segal’s most useful contributions in his Paul the Convert is his emphasis on the unique value of Paul’s writings for an understanding of grass-roots Judaism in the first century c.e. . . . . Segal’s promotion of Paul has its lessons for Jewish as well as Christian understanding of the period. . . . What is most refreshing about Segal’s book . . . is its breadth of scholarship, going well beyond the conventional range of exegetical literature, and its liberality of outlook."—J. L. Houlden, Times Literary Supplement

"Written by a Jewish scholar with a thorough grasp of the New Testament and early Christian history, this substantial work studies Paul from the vantage point of his conversion and shows that Paul’s transformation affected all aspects of his theology and ministry, particularly his vision of a community in which Gentiles and Jews would have equal footing. This is a thoughtful, demanding book that the serious student of Paul will find well worth the effort."—Bible Today

"Alan Segal’s new book challenges Jewish and Christian scholars alike to take a fresh look at this well-educated man, arguing not only that it is impossible to understand Paul’s Christian writings without understanding first-century Judaism but that early Hellenistic Judaism is itself illuminated by Paul, since he was one of only two Pharisees to have left any personal writings at all."—The Washington Post Book World

"Alan Segal has written a blockbuster of a book about Paul that blazes a new trail. It not only gives new insights into Paul and his thought, but it establishes the writings of Paul as significant primary source material for the study of first-century Judaism. . . . A book that not only advances Pauline studies but also gives impetus to the forward move of a deeper understanding of Christianity while at the same time encouraging the advancement of Jewish self-understanding."—Hayim Goren Perelmuter, New Theology Review

"Bold and imaginative."—Paula Fredriksen, Books & Religion

"A fine piece of scholarship and students of St. Paul's writings should  read Segal's text."—Michael Di Maio, Jr., Classical World

"Segal's work abounds in fresh insights for students of Paul."—F. F. Bruce, American Historical Review

"The volume is readable and helpful, both on Paul and on the approach of a Jewish scholar influenced by the Protestant liberal tradition."—E. Earle Ellis, Southwestern Journal of Theology

"In this learned and fascinating study Alan F. Segal argues that Paul's Judaism is the key to understanding and appreciating his peculiar prand of Christianity. . . . Thoroughly researched and elegantly written."—Donald Capps, Journal of Religion

"There is much to learn from Segal's study. . . . [It] demonstrates the importance of the topic of conversion for a wide variety of issues connected with Paul and early Christianity in general."—Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Critical Review of Books in Religion

"A significant contribution to Pauline studies and to an understanding of the first century and the emergence of the church."—David F.R. Page, Queen's Quarterly

"Segal presents a rare fresh perspective in Pauline scholarship. This title cannot be ignored by anybody interested in Pauline studies, in early Judaism, or in the "dialogue" between Judaism and the Jesus movement in the first century."—Regina A. Boisclair, Journal of Ecumenical Studies

"This is by far the best book about Paul I have ever read: it revolutionizes Pauline studies. . . . Segal has made Paul, and early Christianity, more understandable and therefore deserves the heartfelt thanks of all believers and unbelievers."—Giles Quispel, Vigiliae Christianae