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      Paul, the Rabbis, and the Gentiles : Conversing with Adi Ophir and Ishay Rosen-Zvi

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          Abstract

          Combining review and critical discussion, the article begins by summarising the successive chapters of Adi Ophir and Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Goy: Israel’s Multiple Others and the Birth of the Gentile (2018). The book traces the development of the phrase goy from its meaning of “nation” in the Old Testament to the meaning of “non-Jew” in rabbinic literature. The apostle Paul is given a singular importance, as he was the first to use the Greek term ethnē in the singular to denote non-Jews, prefiguring rabbinic usage. The two main genres of rabbinic literature are thought to operate in tandem: while in halakhah, goy has an abstract, non-descript profile, aggadah provides it with colour and value, often in a very negative way. In reaction, the article posits that both Paul and the rabbis must be read in their historical context, where social polarisation linked with violence and war played a major role. Paul did not “invent” the goy but used the existing term ethnē in his dispute over the admissibility of gentile Christians in the 50s CE. As to the rabbis, the successive revolts against Rome seem to have gone along with a polarisation process which radicalised the antithetical sense of goy.

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          Most cited references24

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          Paul and the Jewish Law: Halakha in the Letters of the Apostle to the Gentiles

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            The Social Structure of the Rabbinic Movement in Roman Palestine

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              Greeks and Barbarians

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                NTT
                NTT Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion
                Amsterdam University Press (Amsterdam )
                2542-6583
                2590-3268
                June 2022
                : 76
                : 2
                : 131-150
                Affiliations
                ret., prof. of New Testament and Jewish Studies, Faculty of Protestant Theology, Brussels; guest prof. of Biblical Studies, Catholic University of Leuven,
                Article
                NTT2022.2.003.TOMS
                10.5117/NTT2022.2.003.TOMS
                8382bacf-05fa-4078-b885-537f0ae82ef1
                © Peter J. Tomson
                History
                Categories
                article

                Jews and Gentiles,Jewish Separatism,Paul and Rabbinic Literature,Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles

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