Married to the Empire

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lecture series at Temple Emanu-El

Tuesday night we went back to Temple Emanu-El in Dallas for the third lecture in a series titled "The New Testament: First Century Jews, First Century Christians." The speaker is Dr. Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at SMU. We had to miss the second lecture due to illness, but we learned that the lectures are available online.

Dr. Chancey obviously knows his audience, which was mostly Jewish, considering the lectures are being held in a Jewish synagogue. Tuesday night's lecture was about Paul, the Jewish Pharisee who became the greatest missionary to the Gentiles. Dr. Chancey acknowledged how wrong Paul's teachings would seem to the Jews because his writings seem to say that Torah is now irrelevant and of no use. He went on to explain what Paul meant by all of that, which was interesting to hear. I highly recommend you look at the outline and listen to the mp3 of the lecture once it's up.

Dr. Chancey also answered questions at the end. One of the questions that I found most intriguing was whether or not Christianity would have survived if Paul had not converted and become so zealous in its spread. That got me thinking. He presented Paul in a not-very-favorable light, in my opinion. I think he was trying to appeal to his general audience by relating him in a way with which they could most identify, but it made Paul sound like a bit of a pompous jerk. Granted, I've wondered at times if I would have liked Paul (personality-wise, I mean) if I'd ever met him. I'm not sure that I would. However, the question asked made me think that perhaps Christianity really would have had a difficult time spreading had it not been for Paul with his zealous and overbearing personality. And that would explain why the Lord singled him out on the road to Damascus in such a fantastic way.

I think it just goes to show how much of the Lord's will can be accomplished when we're open to doing what he asks of us. The Lord knows our strengths and talents, and he will ask us to use them for his glory. Paul did just that, and Christianity spread like wildfire.


AnneK said...

God chose Paul before the foundations of the world were laid. Humanly speaking, it would make us wonder about the spread of Christianity if it were not for Paul, but on a whole other level, it was not dependent on him at all. I don't know if I am making any sense, but what I am trying to say is that God would have raised other Pauls to accomplish his purpose.

I am reading OT cover to cover now and the male female distinction is too much. I of course had learned it in Sunday School as a kid, but it just settled in now anew. The purification time, value etc. There are laws for unfaithful wives, is there one for husbands? Okay a little off topic here...sorry

I will try and listen to the lectures. Put it in my list :D

Ewokgirl said...

Oh, I don't doubt that the Lord would have given someone else the task had Paul not done what was asked of him. It's just an interesting thing to think about based on a question that was asked that I'd never thought about before.

Are you in Leviticus? I found all those laws pretty fascinating. They even have a prescription in there for when you have mold! I can't even imagine trying to adhere to the Law as the Jews had to.

We've been studying the Old Testament for over 2 years now with our middle schoolers. There are actually a lot of stories about women who took charge and accomplished things. Kind of flies in the face of those who try to pin women down only into the roles described in Proverbs 31 and Titus 2.

Ann said...

Thank you for the link to the speaker's messages! I'm eager to check it out.