|Council of Jerusalem|
|Accepted by||most Christian denominations|
|Ancient church councils (pre-ecumenical) and the First Council of Nicaea|
|President||unspecified, but presumably James the Just and perhaps Simon Peter|
|Topics||Controversy of circumcision and the validity of the Law of Moses|
Documents and statements
|Excerpts from New Testament (Acts of Apostles and perhaps Epistle to the Galatians)|
|Chronological list of ecumenical councils|
The Council of Jerusalem or Apostolic Council was held in Jerusalem around AD 50. It is unique among the ancient pre-ecumenical councils in that it is considered by Catholics and Orthodox to be a prototype and forerunner of the later ecumenical councils and a key part of Christian ethics. The council decided that Gentile converts to Christianity were not obligated to keep most of the fasts, and other specific rituals, including the rules concerning circumcision of males. The Council did, however, retain the prohibitions on eating blood, meat containing blood, and meat of animals that were strangled, and on fornication and idolatry, sometimes referred to as the Apostolic Decree or Jerusalem Quadrilateral.
Accounts of the council are found in Acts of the Apostles chapter 15 (in two different forms, the Alexandrian and Western versions) and also possibly in Paul's letter to the Galatians chapter 2. Some scholars dispute that Galatians 2 is about the Council of Jerusalem (notably because Galatians 2 describes a private meeting) while other scholars dispute the historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles.
The Council of Jerusalem is generally dated to 48 AD, roughly 15 to 25 years after the crucifixion of Jesus, between 26 and 36 AD. Acts 15 and Galatians 2 both suggest that the meeting was called to debate whether or not male Gentiles who were converting to become followers of Jesus were required to become circumcised; the rite of circumcision was considered execrable and repulsive during the period of Hellenization of the Eastern Mediterranean, and was especially adversed in Classical civilization both from ancient Greeks and Romans, which instead valued the foreskin positively.
At the time, most followers of Jesus (which historians refer to as Jewish Christians) were Jewish by birth and even converts would have considered the early Christians as a part of Judaism. According to scholars, the Jewish Christians affirmed every aspect of the then contemporary Second Temple Judaism with the addition of the belief that Jesus was the Messiah. Unless males were circumcised, they could not be God's People. The meeting was called to decide whether circumcision for gentile converts was requisite for community membership since certain individuals were teaching that "[u]nless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved".
Circumcision as a mandate was associated with Abraham (see also Abrahamic covenant), but it is cited as "the custom of Moses" because Moses is considered the traditional giver of the Law as a whole. The circumcision mandate was made more official and binding in the Mosaic Law Covenant. In John 7:22 the words of Jesus are reported to be that Moses gave the people circumcision.
Issues and outcome
The purpose of the meeting, according to Acts, was to resolve a disagreement in Antioch, which had wider implications than just circumcision, since circumcision is the "everlasting" sign of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 17:9–14). Some of the Pharisees who had become believers insisted that it was "needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses" (KJV).
The primary issue which was addressed related to the requirement of circumcision, as the author of Acts relates, but other important matters arose as well, as the Apostolic Decree indicates. The dispute was between those, such as the followers of the "Pillars of the Church", led by James, who believed, following his interpretation of the Great Commission, that the church must observe the Torah, i.e. the rules of traditional Judaism, and Paul the Apostle, who believed there was no such necessity. (See also Supersessionism, New Covenant, Antinomianism, Hellenistic Judaism, Paul the Apostle and Judaism.)
At the Council, following advice offered by Simon Peter (Acts 15:7–11 and Acts 15:14), Barnabas and Paul gave an account of their ministry among the gentiles (Acts 15:12), and the apostle James quoted from the words of the prophet Amos (Acts 15:16–17, quoting Amos 9:11–12). James added his own words to the quotation: "Known to God from eternity are all His works" and then submitted a proposal, which was accepted by the Church and became known as the Apostolic Decree:
It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.
Acts 15:23–29 sets out the content of the letter written in accordance with James' proposal.
This determined questions wider than that of circumcision, particularly dietary questions, but also fornication and idolatry and blood, and also the application of Biblical law to non-Jews. It was stated by the Apostles and Elders in the Council: "the Holy Spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper." (Acts 15:27–28) And this Apostolic Decree was considered binding on all the other local Christian congregations in other regions. See also Biblical law directed at non-Jews, Seven Laws of Noah, Biblical law in Christianity, and the Ten Commandments in Christianity.
The writer of Acts gives an account of a restatement by James and the elders in Jerusalem of the contents of the letter on the occasion of Paul's final Jerusalem visit, immediately prior to Paul's arrest at the temple, recounting: "When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present." (Acts 21:17–18, ESV) The elders then proceed to notify Paul of what seems to have been a common concern among Jewish believers, that he was teaching Diaspora Jewish converts to Christianity "to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs." They remind the assembly that, "as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality". In the view of some scholars, the reminder of James and the elders here is an expression of concern that Paul was not fully teaching the decision of the Jerusalem Council's letter to Gentiles, particularly in regard to non-strangled kosher meat, which contrasts with Paul's advice to Gentiles in Corinth, to "eat whatever is sold in the meat markets" (1 Corinthians 10:25).
The description of the Apostolic Council in Acts 15, generally considered the same event described in Galatians 2, is considered by some scholars to be contradictory to the Galatians account. The historicity of Luke's account has been challenged, and was rejected completely by some scholars in the mid to late 20th century. However, more recent scholarship inclines towards treating the Jerusalem Council and its rulings as a historical event, though this is sometimes expressed with caution. Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament includes a summary of current research on the topic as of about 1994:
In conclusion, therefore, it appears that the least unsatisfactory solution of the complicated textual and exegetical problems of the Apostolic Decree is to regard the fourfold decree as original (foods offered to idols, strangled meat, eating blood, and unchastity—whether ritual or moral), and to explain the two forms of the threefold decree in some such way as those suggested above. An extensive literature exists on the text and exegesis of the Apostolic Decree. ... According to Jacques Dupont, "Present day scholarship is practically unanimous in considering the 'Eastern' text of the decree as the only authentic text (in four items) and in interpreting its prescriptions in a sense not ethical but ritual" [Les problèmes du Livre des Actes d'après les travaux récents (Louvain, 1950), p.70].
Interpreting the Council's decision
James's "Apostolic Decree" was that the requirement of circumcision for males was not obligatory for Gentile converts, possibly in order to make it easier for them to join the movement. However, the Council did retain the prohibitions against Gentile converts eating meat containing blood, or meat of animals not properly slain. It also retained the prohibitions against "fornication" and "idol worship". The Decree may have been a major act of differentiation of the Church from its Jewish roots.
For great as was the success of Barnabas and Paul in the heathen world, the authorities in Jerusalem insisted upon circumcision as the condition of admission of members into the church, until, on the initiative of Peter, and of James, the head of the Jerusalem church, it was agreed that acceptance of the Noachian Laws—namely, regarding avoidance of idolatry, fornication, and the eating of flesh cut from a living animal—should be demanded of the heathen desirous of entering the Church.
R. Emden, in a remarkable apology for Christianity contained in his appendix to "Seder 'Olam" (pp. 32b-34b, Hamburg, 1752), gives it as his opinion that the original intention of Jesus, and especially of Paul, was to convert only the Gentiles to the seven moral laws of Noah and to let the Jews follow the Mosaic law—which explains the apparent contradictions in the New Testament regarding the laws of Moses and the Sabbath.
Paul, on the other hand, not only did not object to the observance of the Mosaic Law, as long as it did not interfere with the liberty of the Gentiles, but he conformed to its prescriptions when occasion required (1Corinthians 9:20). Thus he shortly after circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:1–3), and he was in the very act of observing the Mosaic ritual when he was arrested at Jerusalem (Acts 21:26 sqq.)
Joseph Fitzmyer disputes the claim that the Apostolic Decree is based on Noahide Law (Gen 9) and instead proposes Lev 17–18 as the basis, see also Leviticus 18. He also argues that the decision was meant as a practical compromise to help Jewish and Gentile Christians to get along, not a theological statement intended to bind Christians for all time.
According to the 19th-century Roman Catholic Bishop Karl Josef von Hefele, the Apostolic Decree of the Jerusalem Council "has been obsolete for centuries in the West", though it is still recognized and observed by the Greek Orthodox Church. Acts 28 Hyperdispensationalists, such as the 20th century Anglican E. W. Bullinger, would be another example of a group that believes the decree (and everything before Acts 28) no longer applies.
- Ancient church councils (pre-ecumenical)
- Biblical law in Christianity
- Binding and loosing
- Brotherly love (philosophy)
- Christian ethics
- Christian Torah-submission
- Circumcision controversy in early Christianity
- Circumcision in the Bible#In rabbinic literature
- Circumcision in the Bible
- Jewish Christians
- Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification
- Legalism (theology)
- New Perspective on Paul
- Pauline Christianity
- Restorationism (Christian primitivism)
- ^ Galatians 2:12
- ^ Robert Eisenman in James the Brother of Jesus identifies Paul with Ananias the Jewish merchant (as described by Josephus: Jewish Antiquities 20.2.3–4), who proselytized Gentiles teaching them that faith in God is superior to circumcision.
- ^ There are two major versions of Acts: Alexandrian and Western; with preference generally given to the Alexandrian, see Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament which has for the Western 15:2, "for Paul spoke maintaining firmly that they should stay as they were when converted; but those who had come from Jerusalem ordered them, Paul and Barnabas and certain others, to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders that they might be judged before them about this question."
- ^ According to Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament: "the Apostolic Decree [15.29, 15.20, 21.25] ... contain many problems concerning text and exegesis"; "it is possible ... (fornication means) marriage within the prohibited Levitical Degrees (Leviticus 18:6–18), which the rabbis described as "forbidden for porneia", or mixed marriages with pagans (Numbers 25:1; also compare 2Corinthians 6.14), or participation in pagan worship which had long been described by Old Testament prophets as spiritual adultery and which, in fact, offered opportunity in many temples for religious prostitution"; "An extensive literature exists on the text and exegesis"; NRSV has things polluted by idols, fornication, whatever has been strangled, blood; NIV has food polluted by idols, sexual immorality, meat of strangled animals, blood; Young's has pollutions of the idols, whoredom, strangled thing, blood; Gaus' Unvarnished New Testament has pollution of idolatrous sacrifices, unchastity, meat of strangled animals, blood; NAB has pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, meat of strangled animals, blood. Karl Josef von Hefele's commentary on canon II of Gangra notes: "We further see that, at the time of the Synod of Gangra, the rule of the Apostolic Synod with regard to blood and things strangled was still in force. With the Greeks, indeed, it continued always in force as their Euchologies still show. Balsamon also, the well-known commentator on the canons of the Middle Ages, in his commentary on the sixty-third Apostolic Canon, expressly blames the Latins because they had ceased to observe this command. What the Latin Church, however, thought on this subject about the year 400, is shown by St. Augustine in his work Contra Faustum, where he states that the Apostles had given this command in order to unite the heathens and Jews in the one ark of Noah; but that then, when the barrier between Jewish and heathen converts had fallen, this command concerning things strangled and blood had lost its meaning, and was only observed by few. But still, as late as the eighth century, Pope Gregory the Third (731) forbade the eating of blood or things strangled under threat of a penance of forty days. No one will pretend that the disciplinary enactments of any council, even though it be one of the undisputed Ecumenical Synods, can be of greater and more unchanging force than the decree of that first council, held by the Holy Apostles at Jerusalem, and the fact that its decree has been obsolete for centuries in the West is proof that even Ecumenical canons may be of only temporary utility and may be repealed by disuse, like other laws."
- ^ Hillel the Elder when asked by a Gentile to teach the whole Torah while standing on one foot cited the negative form of the Golden Rule, also cited in Tobit 4:15. Jesus in Matthew 7:12, part of the Sermon on the Mount, cited the positive form as summary of the "Law and Prophets."
- ^ Whether or not Galatians 2:1–10 is a record of the Council of Jerusalem or a different event is not agreed. Paul writes of laying his gospel before the others "privately," not as in a Council. It has been argued that Galatians was written as Paul was on his way to the Council (see Paul the Apostle). Raymond E. Brown in Introduction to the New Testament argues that they are the same event but each from a different viewpoint with its own bias.
- ^ Acts 16 says Paul personally circumcised Timothy, even though his father was Greek, because his mother was a Jewish believer, i.e. a Jewish Christian.
- ^ Some took "freedom in Christ" to mean lawlessness, for example, Acts 21:21.
- ^ Possibly a reference to the Ebionites
- ^ Acts 15:19
- ^ Hans Conzelmann
- ^ Christopher Rowland, Christian Origins (SPCK 1985) p. 234
- Dunn, James D. G. (Autumn 1993). Reinhartz, Adele (ed.). "Echoes of Intra-Jewish Polemic in Paul's Letter to the Galatians". Journal of Biblical Literature. Society of Biblical Literature. 112 (3): 459–477. doi:10.2307/3267745. ISSN 0021-9231. JSTOR 3267745.
- Thiessen, Matthew (September 2014). Breytenbach, Cilliers; Thom, Johan (eds.). "Paul's Argument against Gentile Circumcision in Romans 2:17-29". Novum Testamentum. Leiden: Brill Publishers. 56 (4): 373–391. doi:10.1163/15685365-12341488. eISSN 1568-5365. ISSN 0048-1009. JSTOR 24735868.
- Whether or not Galatians 2:1–10 is a record of the Council of Jerusalem or a different event is not agreed. Paul writes of laying his gospel before the others "privately", not in a Council. It has been argued that Galatians was written as Paul was on his way to the Council (see Paul the Apostle). Raymond E. Brown in his Introduction to the New Testament argues that they (Acts 15 and Galatians 2) are the same event but each from a different viewpoint with its own bias.
- Hodges, Frederick M. (2001). "The Ideal Prepuce in Ancient Greece and Rome: Male Genital Aesthetics and Their Relation to Lipodermos, Circumcision, Foreskin Restoration, and the Kynodesme" (PDF). Bulletin of the History of Medicine. Johns Hopkins University Press. 75 (Fall 2001): 375–405. doi:10.1353/bhm.2001.0119. PMID 11568485. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
- Rubin, Jody P. (July 1980). "Celsus' Decircumcision Operation: Medical and Historical Implications". Urology. Elsevier. 16 (1): 121–124. doi:10.1016/0090-4295(80)90354-4. PMID 6994325. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
- Fredriksen, Paula (2018). When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation. London: Yale University Press. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-0-300-19051-9.
- Kohler, Kaufmann; Hirsch, Emil G.; Jacobs, Joseph; Friedenwald, Aaron; Broydé, Isaac. "Circumcision: In Apocryphal and Rabbinical Literature". Jewish Encyclopedia. Kopelman Foundation. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
Contact with Grecian life, especially at the games of the arena [which involved nudity], made this distinction obnoxious to the Hellenists, or antinationalists; and the consequence was their attempt to appear like the Greeks by epispasm ("making themselves foreskins"; I Macc. i. 15; Josephus, "Ant." xii. 5, § 1; Assumptio Mosis, viii.; I Cor. vii. 18; Tosef., Shab. xv. 9; Yeb. 72a, b; Yer. Peah i. 16b; Yeb. viii. 9a). All the more did the law-observing Jews defy the edict of Antiochus Epiphanes prohibiting circumcision (I Macc. i. 48, 60; ii. 46); and the Jewish women showed their loyalty to the Law, even at the risk of their lives, by themselves circumcising their sons.
- Neusner, Jacob (1993). Approaches to Ancient Judaism, New Series: Religious and Theological Studies. Scholars Press. p. 149.
Circumcised barbarians, along with any others who revealed the glans penis, were the butt of ribald humor. For Greek art portrays the foreskin, often drawn in meticulous detail, as an emblem of male beauty; and children with congenitally short foreskins were sometimes subjected to a treatment, known as epispasm, that was aimed at elongation.
- McGrath, Alister E., Christianity: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing (2006). ISBN 1-4051-0899-1. Page 174: "In effect, they [Jewish Christians] seemed to regard Christianity as an affirmation of every aspect of contemporary Judaism, with the addition of one extra belief — that Jesus was the Messiah."
- Acts 15:1–2
- Acts 15:5
- Gill, J., "Acts 15". Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible. Accessed 13 September 2015.
- Acts 15:18
- "Apostolic Presbyterianism" by William Cunningham and Reg Barrow.
- Robert McQueen Grant Augustus to Constantine: The Rise and triumph of Christianity in the Roman World. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, p. iv. "According to Acts 21:25, the elders at Jerusalem were still concerned with observance of them when Paul last "
- Paul Barnett (2004). Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament. p. 292. "He chided Paul later for his failure to require the Gentiles to observe the decree (Acts 21:25). Paul delivered the letter from the Jerusalem meeting expressing James's decree, but only to churches in Syria, Cilicia and Galatia ... Paul did not impose the food requirements for the kosher-killed meat and against the idol-sacrificed meat upon the Corinthians"
- 1 Corinthians: a new translation Volume 32 Anchor Bible William Fridell Orr, James Arthur Walther – 1976 "Paul's openness regarding dietary restrictions raises again the question of the connection with the decrees of the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:29; Introduction, pp. 63–65). There is no hint here of an apostolic decree involving food."
- Gordon D. Fee (1987). The First Epistle to the Corinthians. p. 480. "Paul's 'rule' for everyday life in Corinth is a simple one: 'Eat anything sold in the meat market'".
- "In spite of the presence of discrepancies between these two accounts, most scholars agree that they do in fact refer to the same event.", Paget, "Jewish Christianity", in Horbury, et al., "The Cambridge History of Judaism: The Early Roman Period", volume 3, p. 744 (2008). Cambridge University Press.
- "Paul's account of the Jerusalem Council in Galatians 2 and the account of it recorded in Acts have been considered by some scholars as being in open contradiction.", Paget, "Jewish Christianity", in Horbury, et al., "The Cambridge History of Judaism: The Early Roman Period", volume 3, p. 744 (2008). Cambridge University Press.
- "There is a very strong case against the historicity of Luke's account of the Apostolic Council", Esler, "Community and Gospel in Luke-Acts: The Social and Political Motivations of Lucan Theology", p. 97 (1989). Cambridge University Press.
- "The historicity of Luke's account in Acts 15 has been questioned on a number of grounds.", Paget, "Jewish Christianity", in Horbury, et al., "The Cambridge History of Judaism: The Early Roman Period", volume 3, p. 744 (2008). Cambridge University Press.
- "However, numerous scholars have challenged the historicity of the Jerusalem Council as related by Acts, Paul's presence there in the manner that Luke describes, the issue of idol-food being thrust on Paul's Gentile mission, and the historical reliability of Acts in general.", Fotopolous, "Food Offered to Idols in Roman Corinth: a socio-rhetorical reconsideration", pp. 181–182 (2003). Mohr Siebeck.
- "Sahlin rejects the historicity of Acts completely (Der Messias und das Gottesvolk ). Haenchen's view is that the Apostolic Council "is an imaginary construction answering to no historical reality" (The Acts of the Apostles [Engtr 1971], p. 463). Dibelius' view (Studies in the Acts of the Apostles [Engtr 1956], pp. 93–101) is that Luke's treatment is literary-theological and can make no claim to historical worth.", Mounce, "Apostolic Council", in Bromiley (ed.) "The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia", volume 1, p. 200 (rev. ed. 2001). Wm. B. Eerdmans.
- "There is an increasing trend among scholars toward considering the Jerusalem Council as historical event. An overwhelming majority identifies the reference to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 with Paul's account in Gal. 2.1–10, and this accord is not just limited to the historicity of the gathering alone but extends also to the authenticity of the arguments deriving from the Jerusalem church itself.", Philip, "The Origins of Pauline Pneumatology: the Eschatological Bestowal of the Spirit", Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2, Reihe, p. 205 (2005). Mohr Siebeck.
- "The present writer accepts its basic historicity, i.e. that there was an event at Jerusalem concerning the matter of the entry of the Gentiles into the Christian community, but would be circumspect about going much further than that. For a robust defence of its historicity, see Bauckham, "James", and the relevant literature cited there.", Paget, "Jewish Christianity", in Horbury, et al., "The Cambridge History of Judaism: The Early Roman Period", volume 3, p. 744 (2008). Cambridge University Press.
- For a clarification of "fourfold decree" vs "threefold decree", see International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: A-D, 1995, by Geoffrey W. Bromiley ("Apostolic Council"), page 202.
- Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd edn, (NY: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994), 382.
- Metzger, Textual Commentary, 383n9.
- The Acts of the Apostles (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries), Yale University Press (December 2, 1998), ISBN 0-300-13982-9, chapter V
- Karl Josef von Hefele's commentary on canon II of Gangra notes: "We further see that, at the time of the Synod of Gangra, the rule of the Apostolic Synod with regard to blood and things strangled was still in force. With the Greeks, indeed, it continued always in force as their Euchologies still show. Balsamon also, the well-known commentator on the canons of the Middle Ages, in his commentary on the sixty-third Apostolic Canon, expressly blames the Latins because they had ceased to observe this command. What the Latin Church, however, thought on this subject about the year 400, is shown by St. Augustine in his work Contra Faustum, where he states that the Apostles had given this command in order to unite the heathens and Jews in the one ark of Noah; but that then, when the barrier between Jewish and heathen converts had fallen, this command concerning things strangled and blood had lost its meaning, and was only observed by few. But still, as late as the eighth century, Pope Gregory the Third (731) forbade the eating of blood or things strangled under threat of a penance of forty days. No one will pretend that the disciplinary enactments of any council, even though it be one of the undisputed Ecumenical Synods, can be of greater and more unchanging force than the decree of that first council, held by the Holy Apostles at Jerusalem, and the fact that its decree has been obsolete for centuries in the West is proof that even Ecumenical canons may be of only temporary utility and may be repealed by disuse, like other laws."
- Badenas, Robert. Christ the End of the Law, Romans 10.4 in Pauline Perspective, 1985 ISBN 0-905774-93-0
- Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Anchor Bible Series, 1997. ISBN 0-385-24767-2.
- Bruce, Frederick Fyvie. Peter, Stephen, James and John: Studies in Early Non-Pauline Christianity
- Bruce, Frederick Fyvie. Men and movements in the primitive church: Studies in early non-Pauline Christianity
- Clark, A.C. The Acts of the Apostles, A critical edition with Introduction and Notes on selected passages, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1933
- Dunn, James D.G. "The Incident at Antioch (Galatians 2:11–18)," JSNT 18, 1983, pg 95–122
- Dunn, James D.G. Jesus, Paul and the Law, ISBN 0-664-25095-5
- Dunn, James D.G. The Theology of Paul's Letter to the Galatians 1993 ISBN 0-521-35953-8
- Dunn, James D.G. The Theology of Paul the Apostle Eerdmans 1997 ISBN 0-8028-3844-8
- Ehrman, Bart D. Lost Christianities: The Battle for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew 2003
- Eisenman, Robert, 1997. James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. ISBN 0-670-86932-5 A cultural historian's dissenting view based on contemporary texts.
- Elsner, Jas. Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph: Oxford History of Early Non-Pauline Christianity 1998 ISBN 0-19-284201-3
- Gaus, Andy. The Unvarnished New Testament 1991 ISBN 0-933999-99-2
- Kim, Seyoon Paul and the New Perspective: Second Thoughts on the Origin of Paul's Gospel 2001 ISBN 0-8028-4974-1
- Maccoby, Hyam. The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity. New York: Harper & Row, 1986. ISBN 0-06-015582-5.
- MacDonald, Dennis Ronald, 1983. The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
- Metzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament 1975 ISBN 3-438-06010-8
- Mount, Christopher N. Pauline Christianity: Luke-Acts and the Legacy of Paul 2001
- Ropes, J.H., The Text of Acts, Vol. III; The Beginnings of Christianity: Part I: The Acts of the Apostles, London: MacMillan & Co., Ltd., 1926
- Sanders, E.P. Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion 1977 ISBN 0-8006-1899-8
- Sanders, E.P. Paul the Law and the Jewish People 1983
- Sanders, E.P. Jesus and Judaism, Fortress Press, 1987, ISBN 0-8006-2061-5
- Simon, Marcel. The Apostolic Decree and its Setting in the Ancient Church. Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, LII (1969–70), pp. 437–460
- Telfer, W. The Didache and the Apostolic Synod of Antioch The Journal of Theological Studies, 1939, pp. 133–146, 258–271
- Westerholm, Stephen. Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The "Lutheran" Paul and His Critics 2003 ISBN 0-8028-4809-5
- Wright, N.T. What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? 1997 ISBN 0-8028-4445-6
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