University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

IAS Thursdays Nov 14 2013: Paul, Pagans, and the Redemption of Israel. The Roetzel Family Lecture by Paula Fredriksen

Available for download as audio, podcast video, or original.


Available for download as audio, podcast video, or original.


Paul’s convictions about the impending dawn of God’s kingdom place him securely within the world of late Second Temple Jewish apocalyptic hope. But Paul’s world was much larger – ethnically, geographically, and celestially – and much more populated than was that of the earliest Jesus movement, and of Jesus himself. Jesus of Nazareth seems to have battled chiefly low, local, illness-inducing demons. Paul, like the Risen Christ, combated cosmic forces: daimonia – by which Paul means pagan gods – rulers, principalities, powers, lords and gods, “the god of this age.”

As Paul worked with pagan communities, he also worked with – or, rather, against – their gods. Paul insisted that being “in Christ” required that these people withhold cult to their own deities. But why would Paul demand this? What does his pagans’ ritual reorientation have to do with Paul’s summons to “justification by faith”? And finally, what do all these gods and their humans have to do with the salvation of “all Israel” (Romans 11.26)?

Handout: Gods, Pagans, and the Redemption of Israel

fredriksen-paula-tPaula Fredriksen is the author, most recently, of SIN: The Early History of an Idea (2010). She has also written Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (1999), which won the National Jewish Book Award; Augustine and the Jews (2008) and From Jesus to Christ (1988; 2000). The Aurelio Professor Emerita at Boston University, she is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and now teaches as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

This event occurred Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, at 4:00pm in the Bell Museum Theater.

This lecture was made possible through the generous support of the Roetzel Family Lectureship Endowment, in honor of Frank E. and Myrtle D. Roetzel.

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