“Law-free” is a phrase habitually used to describe both the Pauline mission itself, and Paul's own personal repudiation of traditional Jewish practices. The present essay argues that the phrase misleads on both counts. Paul demanded of his gentiles a much greater degree of Judaizing than either the synagogue or the Jerusalem temple ever required or presupposed of theirs; and gentile involvements in Jewish community institutions, whether ekklēsiai, synagogues, or the temple, in principle can tell us nothing about Jewish levels of Torah observance within these same institutions. The essay concludes that much of the Pauline mission was Jewishly observant and traditional, and that Paul's Judaizing demands of his gentiles are to be understood as an aspect of his absolute conviction that he lived and worked in history's final hour.

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