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Abstract

The Apostle Paul has often been held responsible for transforming the teachings of Jesus the Jew into an anti-Semitic religion of hate. The recent emphasis on Paul’s essential Jewishness and his positive attitude to the Law has given a more historically nuanced picture of the Apostle. This “new perspective” on Paul is somewhat affirmed in this paper’s examination of Romans 14:5-6. Contrary to the opinion of numerous New Testament scholars, a careful analysis of Romans 14:5-6 reveals that Paul is not opposing the Jewish Sabbath. Indeed, it argues that the passage is about a group of festive days, and is not dealing with just a single day (the Sabbath) in contrast with no holy day at all. Furthermore, the dispute over foods is to be related to the festive days discussed in vv. 5-6. However, Paul’s main concern is not when the Roman churches gather for fellowship meals, nor indeed the nature of the viands. His prime, perhaps his only, desire is that these fellowship meals be inclusive of Jew and gentile alike in the unity of Christ.

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