What you’ll learn

  • A deeper understanding of Pauline Scripture
  • Study Paul’s writings from an the perspective of an ancient Jewish culture
  • How Paul’s literary devices were meant to be interpreted
  • See Paul’s writings through his eyes as a Jewish scholar


I suggest that much of what you know about Paul’s writings in the New Testament probably comes from traditional Christian theology. Now, I don’t dismiss all theological interpretations, but I have found that conducting my own exegesis in the original Greek text, combined with an understanding of the ancient Jewish culture, often leads to a different and deeper perspective that we find in our English translations.

I bring several considerations to this study. First, the authors of the New Testament were Jews (except for Luke, but he was a disciple of Paul). The New Testament had not yet been canonized, so the Holy Writings for the New Testament authors were the Hebrew Scriptures. Therefore, the composition of the New Testament is steeped with Hebraic thinking.

Second, the New Testament text was composed over 2,000 years ago in a part of the world where thoughts and traditions were (and still are) very different from our modern western world. We cannot understand the biblical text apart from its ancient Hebraic culture.

Finally, Paul was a Jewish scholar, not a simple fisherman from Galilee. Although his letters were sent to groups of believers, many of whom did not have his academic skills, nevertheless his writings are filled with sophisticated linguistic devices such as irony, contradiction, and paradox. Unfortunately, a literal understanding of these passages can lead to incorrect and often harmful interpretations.

In this study I use what I call “Ancient Hebraic Methods of Searching the Scriptures”, which I have re-created based on the Jewish culture at the time of Jesus and the response of the first Christians, many of whom were Jews. For example, the people did not have books like we do. Instead, they memorized their Holy Writings by listening. Furthermore, Paul’s letters were read to groups of believers who received them by listening. Therefore, if the recipients “heard” anything strange or startling, it would have led to provocative discussion. This teaching technique is also found in the Hebrew Scriptures.

This course will stimulate much thought and contemplation. The brief quizzes are designed not only to test your understanding but also to provoke introspection and discussion. I suggest you will be “stretched” by taking this course.

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