A Jew to the Jews
Jewish Contours of Pauline Flexibility in 1 Corinthians 9:19–23. Second Edition
Imprint: Pickwick Publications
"Rudolph's fresh and refreshing approach to these verses, which focuses on table fellowship and the kinds of accommodation a good guest would make at the table of a host, is illuminating and, to my mind, very persuasive. Particularly interesting is Rudolph's suggestion that Paul's practice of table fellowship with different groups of people was based on Jesus' practice of table fellowship with all sorts of Jews. This coheres with recent tendencies to see Paul as more dependent on the traditions about Jesus than has conventionally been thought. It gives strong and contextually relevant content to the exhortation with which Paul closes this section of 1 Corinthians: 'Be imitators of me as I am of Christ' (11:1). . . . Jewish identity was inseparable from practice of the Mosaic law. A truly Jewish Paul must be a Torah-observant Paul. Rudolph's argument for such a Paul is a key piece in what seems to me to look like an increasingly plausible argument: that in the early Christian movement generally it was taken for granted that Jewish Christians would continue to observe Torah, as Jesus did--and in the way Jesus did. . . . [A]ll of us who want to understand Paul and his role in the early Christian movement need to grapple with the issues Rudolph explores in this significant study."
--Richard Bauckham, Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies, University of St. Andrews, Scotland; Senior Scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge
"The Jewish identity of the Apostle Paul has returned to the limelight. Where mainstream scholarship tended to prefer in 1 Corinthians 9 a Paul who observes Jewish law only sporadically as an instrument to advance his mission among Jews and Gentiles, this groundbreaking study breaks with that picture of the apostle as a chameleon and opportunist. In its place, David Rudolph's learned argument proposes to restore the integrity of the apostle's voice as a consistently Jewish missionary, to Gentiles as well as to Jews. A provocative and compelling argument!"
--Markus Bockmuehl, Dean Ireland's Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford
"Rudolph's detailed, carefully argued, and masterful reevaluation of 1 Corinthians 9 invites scholars to reevaluate their understanding of not only one passage but of Paul more generally, both in the letters and Acts. Scholarship in the past half-century has increasingly recognized Paul's Jewishness while often continuing to maintain his distance from Judaism; Rudolph contends for a more consistent approach: Paul continued to be a faithful Jew."
--Craig S. Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary
"In this monograph, a revised edition of his award-winning doctoral thesis, David Rudolph presents a comprehensive treatment of a much-debated passage in First Corinthians where Paul seems to relativize his Jewish identity (1 Cor 9:19-23). Far from supporting a traditional portrait of a Torah-free Paul, Rudolph argues that the position of the self-identified Apostle to the Gentiles builds on the similar strategy of Jesus to practice commensality with all, sinners and righteous alike, as he tries to win all--ordinary Jews, strict Jews, and Gentile sinners--for Christ. This is a major contribution to Pauline research, which locates Paul firmly within Judaism. It is essential reading for all students of Paul as well as for those interested in the relationship between the Jesus movement and other forms of Judaism."
--Anders Runesson, Professor of New Testament, University of Oslo
"Traditionally, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 has been one of the key texts for proving that Paul refuted Judaism and converted to Christianity. David Rudolph's masterful analysis of the passage shows, however, that it is fully possible to understand Paul from a completely Jewish perspective, allowing for a fully Jewish, even Torah-observant, Paul. This highly persuasive study is an important breakthrough in the process of creating a paradigm shift within Pauline studies, resulting in a historically more accurate picture of the Apostle."
--Magnus Zetterholm, Associate Professor of New Testament Studies, Lund University
"Rudolph at the minimum destabilizes well-established positions through thorough and intelligent engagement with a range of evidence, both from the Pauline epistles and the wider New Testament as well as from a range of ancient Jewish sources. While focusing upon a very specific text, Rudolph's monograph in fact touches upon a welter of significant issues relevant to New Testament scholars and scholars of ancient Judaism. His stimulating book deserves a wide readership."
--James Carleton-Paget, Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies, University of Cambridge
"In A Jew to the Jews, David Rudolph convincingly undermines the traditional interpretation of 1 Corinthians 9 that depicts Paul as abandoning Jewish law observance when amongst Gentiles, but keeping it strategically amongst Jews. Rudolph shows how historically unlikely, not to mention how morally and theologically problematic, such a reading is. This book is a welcome addition to a growing body of literature that reads Paul within Judaism, not against it."
--Matthew Thiessen, Associate Professor of New Testament, McMaster University
"One of the most controverted issues in contemporary theology and biblical studies is Paul's relation to the Law. Was he starting a new religion that broke with Torah-based Judaism? David Rudolph makes a careful and persuasive argument that sheds new light on Paul, the early Jesus-movement, and the meaning of Israel for Christians. This book is a must-read for every scholar, pastor, and layperson interested in these critical subjects."
--Gerald McDermott, Anglican Chair of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School
"In David Rudolph's capable hands the Apostle Paul comes to life as a Torah-observant Jew, not only in the Book of Acts but also in the letters of Paul. Advocates and critics of this perspective will profit not only from Rudolph's patient critique of the prevailing interpretation of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 but also from the remarkably fruitful interaction with Jewish sources that characterizes his own exegesis. Highly recommended for everyone interested in situating Paul in (relation to) Judaism and reassessing their image(s) of the Paul of the letters and the Paul of Acts."
--Wayne Coppins, Associate Professor of Religion, The University of Georgia
"Many have viewed Paul with suspicion, as an opportunist who made himself 'all things to all people' in order to lure as many as possible into Christianity. Paul's motto could imply that he took his Jewishness rather casually, no longer considering himself to be 'under the Law.' David Rudolph perspicaciously argues against this perception of Paul's Jewishness, presenting us with a compelling portrait of the Jewish apostle who could adapt to varying cultural contexts all the while upholding the Torah. His illuminating analysis of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 will challenge Jew and Christian alike to embrace Paul as a Jew who remained wholeheartedly a Jew."
--Isaac W. Oliver, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Bradley University
"A Jew to the Jews by David J. Rudolph is a great scholarly work on the meaningful and difficult passage of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. The book is written with a clear, approachable language, which should be understandable even for those who are not experts in Pauline exegesis. The plethora of literature and scholarly views confronted by the author are aptly summarized and categorized in a fair and honest manner. . . . Every scholar and student exploring 1 Corinthians, the issue of Paul's Jewishness, and his missionary strategy, should get familiar with this publication."
--Marcin Kowalski, Faculty of Theology, The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
"Rudolph has succeeded in his primary goal to shake loose the consensus reading from its place of uncontested primacy and has provided a compelling alternative reading of Paul that is worth serious consideration. However, reader beware: Rudolph's Paul has the potential to revolutionize the field."
--Joel Willitts, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, North Park University
"Did Paul the apostle remain Torah-observant after his experience on the Damascus Road and his confession of the Lord Jesus the Messiah? Traditional readings of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 have consistently answered this question with a resounding negative. In his enlightening study of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, however, David Rudolph presents a decisive case against traditional interpretations of this passage and opens the door afresh to the possibility of a Torah-observant Apostle Paul. This study is expertly researched, and Rudolph's fresh exegesis provides a promising pathway into the Jewish landscape of Pauline theology."
--Justin K. Hardin, Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, Palm Beach Atlantic University
"Rudolph's study is masterful, an argumentative tour de force that requires serious engagement by those contending that Jewish identity is no longer relevant for Jews 'in Christ.' It will most likely be looked at as a seminal work among New Testament scholars engaged in post-supersessionist interpretation."
--J. Brian Tucker, Professor of New Testament, Moody Theological Seminary
"If only we could pause the presses until every Pauline student seriously interacts with David Rudolph's masterful work on 1 Corinthians 9. This passage has served far too long as a convenient and over-used interpretive key to Pauline theology and David Rudolph offers a sobering challenge to the dominant paradigm. With careful exegesis and an irenic spirit, he peals back layers of misunderstanding and replaces them with a more satisfying perspective of a first-century, Jewish Paul who models his life and ministry after Jesus. This book really is a must read for anyone interested in Pauline studies."
--Chris Miller, Senior Professor of Biblical Studies, Cedarville University
"Traditionally used to prove that Paul was anything but a Torah-observant Jew, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ('To those under the law I became as one under the law, though I myself am not under the law. . . . To those without the law I became as one without the law . . .') is exposed in this book to a brilliant, thought-provoking analysis which shows, instead, that Paul simply aimed at following Jesus' example of adaptation with respect to commensality. As Jesus had become all things to all people through eating with ordinary Jews, Pharisees, and sinners, this book argues, Paul's purpose was to became 'all things to all people' through eating with ordinary Jews, strict Jews (those 'under the law'), and Gentile sinners; additionally, by affirming that he himself was 'not under the law,' he meant that he no longer viewed Pharisaic (or other strict sectarian) halakhah, which is not the same as the law in general, as a final authority. David Rudolph examines carefully and consistently the history of the interpretation of this key Pauline passage and adds new important arguments to those put forward by P. Tomson, M. Nanos, and M. Kinzer against its traditional reading. Widely acclaimed since its publication in 2011, this new edition will certainly help this landmark study of the post-supersessionary reading of Paul to reach even more readers."
--Carlos A. Segovia, Lecturer in Quranic and Islamic Studies, Saint Louis University, Madrid
"Rudolph's overall thesis is persuasive and compelling, particularly in light of his thoughtful analysis of Paul's 'calling' language in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, where he persuasively demonstrates that Paul intended Jewish Christians to continue following Jewish law, while Gentile Christians need not adopt these precepts. Each was to remain 'called' in the state they were in. Rudolph argues that this provides the lens through which we should understand Paul's own relationship to Jewish law. . . . [O]verall this work is cogent and provides a good corrective to the mainstream of scholarship on 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, though it may actually be Rudolph's discussion of 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 that proves the most fruitful for future research."
--Meira Z. Kensky, Joseph E. McCabe Associate Professor of Religion, Coe College
"This study of Paul's practice of personal adaptation is a model of careful, disciplined, and insightful exegesis. Rudolph's methodological rigor and temperate tone lead us step by step to a conclusion with far-reaching theological implications: contrary to traditional readings of 1 Corinthians 9, nothing in this biblical text prevents us from viewing Paul as a faithful, Torah-observant Jew."
--Mark S. Kinzer, President Emeritus, Messianic Jewish Theological Institute