Paul, Josephus, and Judaism
Students of Second Temple Judaism have drawn two broad conclusions. First, Judaism of the first century is characterized by diversity. Second, the most pervasive influence on Judaism of this period was Hellenism. The present study seeks to contribute to the continuing discussion of Second Temple Judaism, bearing in mind these two factors. Specifically, the aim is to identify the shared ideas of Judaism. The thesis is concerned with the search for common features of the Jewish religion what may be termed "common denominators" within Second Temple Judaism. This should help to decide the question of how we are to understand the diversity within first-century Judaism in relation to its common shared features. In the search for these shared features two main bodies of evidence are explored: Josephus' Contra Apionem. 2. 190-219, and the letters of Paul; for differing reasons both of these documents may be used profitably. The letters of Paul are valuable since this material is all dated before the destruction of the Second Temple; whereas Contra Apionem. 2. 190-219, is one of the earliest and possibly oldest theological summaries compiled by a contemporary of the NT writers. While there are other summaries on the Jewish religion (Philo's Hypothetica. his Spec. Laws and Josephus' Antiquities 4.196-301) Contra Apionem offers a summary of a different kind because its focus is on basic Jewish principles. The method used is first to consider Ap. 2. 190-219 paragraph by paragraph in conjunction with Philo's Hypothetica and the Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides. Where appropriate appeal is also made to the DSS, the rabbis, and the apocalyptic literature. This follows an assessment of the undisputed letters of Paul. The analysis of this evidence is conducted under the following headings: Jewish autobiography; Jewish elements in Paul's Christian theology; debates with Jewish Christian opponents; Jewish ethics embraced by Gentile converts; a dialogue on the nature of the Jewish religion. Three main conclusions are reached. The first is that there are discernible common features within first-century Judaism. This is supported by an analysis of the Contra Apionem precis and related Jewish material. Second, there is a body of common opinion that may be deemed to belong to the period before AD 70. This will be argued from the letters of Paul by appeal to various criteria. The third point is that there are Jewish ideas that are both common and pre-70. This will be confirmed by appealing in a comparative way to evidence from both the letters of Paul and Contra Apionem. The criterion can be formulated in the following way: ideas may be considered both common and pre-70 whenever those found in Contra Apionem and attested in a wide variety of Jewish evidence (thus common) are also attested in the letters of Paul (and so pre-70).