- Christopher Rowland
ExtractSt Paul, a Roman citizen from *Tarsus was a convert (see conversion) from Pharisaic to Messianic Judaism as a result of a mystical experience (Galatians 1: 12 and 16) when he believed himself called to be the divine agent by whom the biblical promises about the eschatological ingathering of the pagans would be fulfilled. That transference of allegiance led him to renounce his previous religious affiliations (Philippians 3: 6 f.), even though the form of his religion remains in continuity with apocalyptic Judaism; see religion, jewish. We know him as the result of letters which he wrote over a period of about ten years to maintain communities of Jews and gentiles in Rome and several other urban centres in a pattern of religion which enjoined faithfulness to Jesus Christ as the determining factor in the understanding of the Mosaic Law. This subordination of the Law inevitably led to conflict with Jewish and Christian opponents who suspected him of antinomianism and apostasy. He commended Christianity as a religion which was both the fulfilment of the Jewish tradition and also the negation of central precepts like food laws and circumcision, though he was emphatic in his rejection of idolatry. In his letters we have clear evidence of the emergence of identifiable Christian communities separate from Judaism with a loose adherence to the Jewish tradition as interpreted by Paul. At the end of his life he organized a financial offering for the poor in Jerusalem from the gentile churches he had founded. According to *Acts his journey to Jerusalem with this collection preceded his journey to Rome where later Christian tradition suggests that he died in the Neronian persecution.
- Jewish Studies