Berdyczewski’s Saul and Paul: A Jewish Political-Theology

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In addition to his literary work, Micha Joseph Berdichevsky is noted for his diverse academic studies that deal primarily with Jewish Antiquity. Within this framework, Berdichevsky actively pursued a study of the nature and the emergence of Christianity; yet until recently, this aspect of his work has received little scholarly attention. This article focuses on Berdichevsky's view of Christian theology and demonstrates his dissociation of Paul, the creator of Christianity out of Hellenism, from the Jewish Saul, the persecutor of Christians, a theological as well as historical speculation that enabled him to propose a dichotomy between Hellenistic?Christian spiritualism and a supposed Jewish ?natural? religion. By taking an historical approach in which Berdichevsky's context appears to be of utmost relevance to the understanding of his motives, the article argues that Berdichevsky's critique of Paul is a rigorous Zionist critique, shaped within the intellectual atmosphere of his time. In this sense, the article proposes that Berdichevsky formulated a specific (Jewish) political?theological strategy, meaning a structure of argumentation in which theology is a primordial layer from which political claims are deduced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-68
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007


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