In this review of the book Paul was Not a Christian by Pamela Eisenbaum, Jewish magazine author Judith Schulevitz writes:

Paul Was Not a Christian is the title of a book published this fall; what he was—and never stopped being—according to New Testament scholar Pamela Eisenbaum and the revisionists she echoes was a law-abiding Jew.

And later:

Paul is supposed to be the genius who overcame Jewish particularism and invented religious universalism, but the new Paul [of Paul was not a Christian] didn’t do that. He didn’t believe that the Jewish God stopped being Jewish. Nor did he think Jesus superseded God’s covenant with his chosen people. [Paul taught that] What Jesus mainly did was die for the goyim: “What Torah does for Jews, Jesus does for gentiles,” writes Eisenbaum.

Are there proponents of a Christian viewpoint that paraphrase or conclude from Paul's writing the same as Eisenbaum: "what the Torah does for Jews, Jesus does for Gentiles"?

Do any conclude from Paul's writings that Jesus has a role, position, ministry, office, or authority in the kosmos in addition to being the way for Gentiles to enter the Kingdom of God?

Any answers should include citations of Paul's writings and commentary on them.

  • So the book is claiming Jesus only died for gentiles? I'm not sure what you're asking... if anything Paul wrote supports that idea?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 22:05
  • Yes, and "according to whom?"
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 22:14
  • Well that's not really a Christian theory... but who knows maybe there's some sect that thinks so.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 22:15
  • 1
    Anyone arguing that Paul was an orthodox Jew to the day of his death needs to go back to gradeschool and learn the alphabet, because they obviously can't read. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 0:37
  • 2
    @Andrew, Semantics. I meant "Orthodox Jew" in the sense that the book you cited argues, not in some redefined Christian sense. They're pretending in the book that Paul believed Jews could be saved without Jesus, and its clear he did not. In fact, Paul was probably more rabidly against that idea than Matthew. You can get the impression from Matthew that a Jew who follows the law pretty well might be saved...but Paul categorically denies this, particularly in Romans. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 1:08

1 Answer 1


The book the question refers to does not seem to have a correct understanding of the gospel. There is only one gospel which is for both Jews and Gentiles, and Paul clearly taught that.

The beginning of Romans (1:18-3:20) shows that everyone, both Jews and Gentiles, are condemned by their sin. At the very end Paul says what he thought the purpose of the law was:

Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. (Romans 3:19-20, NLT)

So "What Torah does for Jews" is condemn them!

What Jesus did, through dying on the cross and coming back to life again, is provide a way for us to receive God's righteousness. This is what the following verses say:

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26, NLT)

Several times Paul says very explicitly that the gospel is for both the Jews and Gentiles:

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. (Romans 1:16, NLT)

There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:9-11, NLT)

  • 1
    TL;DR: "Jesus does for both Jews and Gentiles what the Torah does not do for either: He saves them from their sins."
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 13:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .