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date: 22 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay compares Paul’s human profile with that of the mythic apostle portrayed in both canonical and non-canonical sources. It highlights Paul’s formative years in Tarsus, his urban, Hellenistic background, the Greek he learned, and the philosophy he engaged in a diverse cultural setting. His Diaspora Jewish upbringing, schooling, scriptural study, and religious observance engaged his Hellenistic world in a vital reciprocity that was life-changing. On the other hand, both canonical and non-canonical materials conspired to portray another Paul of myth and legend. This image focused on but was not limited to portraying the mythic Paul—Paul as miracle worker, the celibate Paul, and Paul as martyr. Rather than juxtaposing the portrait of the mythic against the historical Paul, casting one as ‘true’ the other ‘false’, this essay suggests that both versions collaborate to offer a portrait that is more real and theologically nuanced than either taken alone.

Keywords: myth, Tarsus, Septuagint, Pharisee, chronology, letter writer

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