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February 23 , 2011

James and Paul

The Politics of Identity at the Turn of the Ages


Recent interest in the person and work of James of Jerusalem and in the community he led has sometimes put the apostle Paul in a negative light—a reversal of the more usual pattern in Protestantism, where Paul is the shining light and James is thrust into the shadows. Rather than exaggerating the opposition between these two figures, V. George Shillington seeks to understand them both as Jews, without prejudice, operating under the banner of Jesus crucified and risen, and engaged in different but complementary missions. Examining what can be reconstructed of both men and their respective missions from Acts read critically and other epistolary and legendary sources, Shillington concludes that the tension between those missions indicates a conflict between different politics of identity, a conflict best understood by granting each figure the integrity of his own very Jewish vision—and recognizing the importance of how much they held in common.
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