Paul: The Theology of the Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History

By H.J. Schoeps

A study of the apostle to the Gentiles, combining exceptional scholarship with an interpretation of Paul’s theology in the light of his Jewish background.

ISBN: 9780227170144


Since its first publication in German in 1959, Paul has been hailed as a major study of the apostle to the Gentiles, combining exceptional scholarship with an unusual approach. Schoeps interprets Paul’s theology in the light of his Jewish background, which coloured and conditioned his Christological teaching. Paul’s conception of Jesus differs from that of the Synoptics: what and how extensive the difference is and whence it is derived are among the questions Schoeps examines.

After surveying major problems in Pauline research, the Author relates the apostle to primitive Christianity, discussing his eschatology and his teachings on salvation, the law, and saving history. The final chapter shows that Paul’s distinctive doctrines result from two converging factors: that Paul never saw Jesus in the flesh, and the influence of Jewish teaching. The consequence was his concern with the resurrected Saviour of the world, the pre-existent and eternal Son of God. Schoeps shows that Paul betrayed a fundamental misconception of the law and the covenantal agreement between God and his chosen people. The result is a thought-provoking, and somewhat startling, study of the first, the greatest, and the most difficult of all Christian theologians.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 308

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Dr. Hans Joachim Schoeps (1909-1980) was born in Berlin and studied at the Universities of Berlin, Heidelberg, Marburg, and Leipzig. He became Professor of the History of Religion at the University of Erlangen (Germany).



1. Present Position and Problems Involved in Pauline Research
2. The Position of the Apostle Paul in Primitive Christianity
3. The Eschatology of the Apostle Paul
4. The Soteriology of the Apostle Paul
5. Paul’s Teaching About the Law
6. Paul’s Understanding of Saving History
7. Perspectives of the History of Religion in Paulinism

Index of Bible Passages
Index of Modern Authors


Endorsements and Reviews

As a Jew who admits he must reject Paul’s positive religious faith, Schoeps achieves an amazing degree of that ‘objectivity’ from which standpoint he believes the non-Christian can elucidate the theology and evaluate the significance of Paul for Christian faith. In the concluding chapter, he not only endeavours sympathetically to do justice to Paul’s place in the history of Christian thought; he even suggests ways in which Judaism may learn from Paul’s critique of his Jewish heritage.
Franklin W. Young, in Theology Today, January 1964

Out of a vast knowledge of the Judaism of the age of the Tannaim, Schoeps illuminates much in Paul that has seemed to many of us to be obscure and corrects much that in our ignorance we had accepted without critical examination. . . . As he observes in the last sentence of the last chapter, ‘Jews might with some justice describe the venture [of the author] as the rescue of the heretic.’
S. MacLean Gilmour, in Biblical Studies, 1963