From a Christian perspective, the Latin Vulgate would be accurate. Remember, the Vulgate is a late fourth century translation of the Bible that became, during the sixteenth century, the official Latin version of the Catholic Church. This work was largely the work of Jerome, who revised the Vetus Latina collection of biblical texts in Latin, then in use by the Catholic Church in 382 A.D. By the time of 1545-1563 it was the official Latin bible at the Council of Trent.
When it was commissioned in 382 A.D. and this was post-Constantine, meaning we have had this “evolution” away from anything Jewish and Jewish believers, and that the faith had any Jewish backround. As a result, it has moved into a totally non-Jewish mindset. By controlling the information, the “church” could control other areas. There is a quote from a movie called “Sneakers” that says that everything in the world, including money, operates not on reality, but on perception of reality. If people think a bank might be financially shaky, and as a consequence people start to withdraw their money, then the result will be that soon that bank will be financially shaky. As a consequence, you can make banks fall. It is the same concept here. When we take the translators, who perceive the Scriptures they are writing as non-Jewish, it will affect how they translate a passage. If they perceive a passage as anti-Torah, it will affect how they translate it. As a result, they aren’t translating it according to reality, but by their perception of reality.
The Encyclopedia Judaica has an article called “Paul of Tarsus.” It has accusations against Paul and we are going to go over a few of them. They say that Paul strongly opposed the observance of all Jewish practices in the Gentile Christian community (one can easily refute this, but this is also the claim of Replacement Theology Christianity). This article says that Paul taught the Jews to forsake Moses (but Acts 21 refutes this claim also when you read the whole chapter). They say that Paul’s attitude toward Jewish law was negative and that “Christ’s death abolished the Law.” This is, again, the position of Replacement Theology Christianity. For Paul, they say, the Torah was part of the dispensation of death, carved in stone, that has faded away. The New Testament is a covenant of the Spirit. If you follow the the Law, you will live under a curse. This is not even close to what Paul believed.
They say that Paul’s arguments against the commandments comes from his rationalistic, liberal approach. Paul’s conversion, for him, meant liberation from Jewish law. The New Covenant of Christianity was freedom from the Torah. The article says that Paul wimped out before the Jews. He did not want to incur the wrath of the “mother church” in Jerusalem, so he became as a Jew to Jews in order to win them over to Christianity. They accuse him of not following the Torah in his private life (even though he said he follows the commandments). In doing this, they say that Paul paved the way for the separation of Christianity from Judaism. Paul was not hostile to the Jews because Christianity would dominate, and they would eventually become Christians and be saved. This article does not have a high opinion of Paul and they took many Scriptures out of context. Again, they were not operating on reality, but their own perception of reality.
The Jewish opinion in Israel, among scholars, guides and archaeologists who work around Christians will be fairly high concerning Yeshua. They don’t believe he is the Messiah, but they will say he was a prophet, a good man and his teachings are valid. With the “apostles” like Peter, James and John, they are also seen on a high level. Paul, on the other hand, is despised. Israeli guides, scholars and archaeologists will accept anyone but Paul. They perceive him as a source of anti-Semitism and like “Hitler” himself. This is because of how the Byzantines, Martin Luther and Gerhard Kittel (and many others even today) presented him. Paul and his misinterpreted writings have been used as “bullets” against the Jews for ages.
What these people have said about Paul has been taken out of context, as we have said before and shown in previous teachings on the Torah and New Testament Foundations-The Torah and Paul. The Jewish Encyclopedia has an article called “Saul of Tarsus” with similar accusations, such as Paul was a founder of the Christian Church (not Yeshua and the apostles). This is also taught in Replacement Theology Christianity. When Paul says he was from Benjamin is a spurious statement because his epistles are “spurious” and were “edited” they go on to say. Remember, the Jewish Encyclopedia was written during the time called the “Critical Thinking Era” already discussed. They say no tribal list or “pedigree’s” existed when Paul wrote this (in reality, there were). To back this claim, the article takes you to Eusebius, a church historian; the Talmud Pesachim 62b and an article in German that came out in 1852.
They will also claim Paul did not have a rabbinical backround (but he states he studied under Gamaliel and was a Pharisee from Beit Hillel). They say his quotes from Scripture came from the Greek text and showed no familiarity with the Hebrew text (but if he did quote from the Septuagint (LXX), it is still a Jewish document, written by 70 Jewish scholars. Some New Testament verses are from the LXX or a Targum, but they are still Jewish documents. Paul worked among the Jews living in Asia Minor, along with Greek speaking non-Jews who did not read Hebrew, so he probably used the LXX). This is a misleading statement in the Jewish Encyclopedia by saying that Paul didn’t have familiarity with the Hebrew text by using the LXX. Jews in Alexandria, Asia Minor, Europe and even Judea used it.
They go on to say that Hellenistic literature, such as the Book of Wisdom and other Apocrypha, as well as Philo, were the sole source for his eschatological and theological system. They say he took it from paganism (but the Book of Wisdom, believed to be written by Solomon by some, is written in Hebrew verse and Philo was Jewish). They say that Paul was Hellenistic in thought and sentiment, but that is totally false. As a Hellenist, he distinguished between an earthly and a heavenly Adam (The “Adam Kadmon” is a doctrine that is very prominent in ultra-Orthodox circles. It is part of Kabbalistic thought that is unquestionably Jewish. In the Jewish Encyclopedia article on Adam Kadmon, they “quote” Paul). They say Paul’s whole state of mind shows the influence of the theosophic and Gnostic lore of Alexandria. There is throughout Paul’s writings an irrational or pathological element, which could not but repel the student’s of the rabbis, they say. Again, all of this is perception, or the way he was being presented. But, if someone takes on all of this and reads these articles and they do not know what Paul had really said or written, they would be repelled by it if they had Jewish beliefs. They would think Paul was putting out theological poison.
They go to say that his pessimistic mood was the result of his physical condition, for he suffered from an illness that affected both his body and mind. He speaks of it as a “thorn in the flesh.” The article goes on to quote a source saying he suffered from Epilepsy (which is a stretch) and said the Greeks called it “The Holy Disease.” In reality, the term “thorn in the flesh” used by Paul in 2 Cor 12.7 is a Hebrew idiom meaning “those who persecute me.” It was used to describe an adversary, those who abused and slandered him (Judges 2.3; Num 33.55; Ezek 2.6, 28.24; Josh 23.13; Hos 2.6). Again, their perception of reality doesn’t come close to reality.
In Part 4, we will pick up here and bring out more false accusations about Paul from Jewish sources.