Although Christine Hayes’s work shows that legal essentialism and legal nominalism are helpful categories for situating the Apostle Paul, it is vital to distinguish between the way that Paul himself viewed ethnicity (he was an ethnic essentialist) and the way that scholars today describe Paul’s handling of ethnicity (he was in practice an ethnic constructivist). In this connection, the invisible quality of Christ’s pneuma is highly significant, as it makes pneumatic descent rather difficult to prove and hence opened up Paul to the charge of ethnic instrumentalism. Although he really seems to have believed that Israel’s God had forged a new path to Abrahamic descent via Christ’s pneuma, Paul quite predictably had a hard time convincing most of his contemporaries.

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