Paul and the Torah
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While the task of exegesis after Auschwitz has been to expose the anti-Judaism inherent in the Christian tradition, the founding of the Jewish state has also helped show the continuation of the covenant between God and Israel. For Lloyd Gaston the living reality of Judaism makes possible a better understanding of Paul’s prophetic call as Apostle to the Gentiles. In Paul and the Torah, Gaston argues that the terms of Paul’s mission must be taken seriously and that it is totally inappropriate to regard his conversion as a transition from one religion to another. Paul’s congregations were not made up of Christian Jews: they were exclusively Gentile. He therefore focused on God’s promises to Abraham concerning Gentiles which were fulfilled in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. The inclusion of Gentiles in the elect people of God through their incorporation into Christ thus does not mean a displacement of Israel. Nowhere does Paul speak of the rejection of Israel as God’s chosen people, of the Sinai covenant as no longer in effect for Israel, or of the church as the new and true Israel. He also says nothing against the Jewish understanding of Torah as it applies to Israel when he speaks of law in reference to Gentiles. But for those outside the covenant God made with Israel, the law acted in an oppressive and condemning way, and Gentiles needed liberation from it. Paradoxically, Paul finds the gospel of this liberation to be proclaimed already in Torah in the sense of Scripture.