Paul and the Politics of Difference: A Contextual Study of the Jewish-Gentile Difference in Galatians and Romans

By Jae Won Lee

A compelling analysis of how the differences between Gentile and Jew are treated in Paul’s teachings, revealing an egalitarian vision.

ISBN: 9780227175095


Paul lies at the core of the constant debate about the opposition between Christianity and Judaism both in biblical interpretation and public discourse. The so-called new perspective on Paul has not offered a significant break from the formidable paradigm of Christian universalism versus Jewish particularism in Pauline scholarship. This book liberates Paul from the Western logic of identity and its dominant understanding of difference.

Drawing attention to the currency of discourses on difference in contemporary theories as well as in biblical studies, the author critically examines the hermeneutical relevance of a contextual and relational understanding of difference. He applies it to interpret the dynamics of Jew-Gentile difference reflected particularly in meal practices (Galatians 2:1-21and Romans 14:1-15:13) of early Christian communities.

Paul and the Politics of Difference argues that by deconstructing the hierarchy of social relations underlying the Jew-Gentile difference in different community situations, Paul promotes a politics of difference. This affirms a preferential option for the socially ‘weak’ – solidarity with the weak. Paul’s politics of difference is invoked as the potential for liberation in a vision of egalitarian justice in the face of contemporary globalism’s proliferation of difference.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 202

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Jae Won Lee taught as Assistant Professor of New Testament at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago for eight years. She is one of the editors of and a contributor to Luke-Acts and Empire: Essays in Honor of Robert L. Brawley (2011).



1. Introduction
2. Theoretical and Hermeneutical Perspectives on Difference
3. Difference and Greco-Roman Meals
4. Difference and Table-Fellowship in Antioch (Gal 2:11-21)
5. The “Weak” and the “Strong” at Table in Romans 14:1-15:13
6. Equality with Difference: Solidarity with the “Weak”



Endorsements and Reviews

Jae Won Lee argues convincingly for the interaction between postcolonial studies and approaches to Paul ‘Beyond the New Perspective’, demonstrating the theological signifi cance of the overcoming of universalising interpretations of Paul in an exemplary way in relation to, but not confi ned to, Korean Christianity. Lee’s study highlights the importance of the ongoing scholarly conversation at the intersection of diverse approaches in biblical interpretation for and beyond the academy.
Kathy Ehrensperger, Reader in New Testament Studies, School of Theology, Religious Studies, and Islamic Studies, University of Wales

This is a thoughtful and well-argued contextual study.
Robert S. Dutch, in Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Vol 38, No 5