Werner Forman/Art Resource, NY

The father of anti-Judaism? The anti-Israel passages in Paul’s letters have been thought to represent the apostle’s true beliefs almost since his Epistles were written; the pro-Israel passages have usually been seen as subordinate. By the time this Byzantine plaque was carved from soft green steatite in the 12th century, such an interpretation had become orthodoxy. As a result, Paul has come to be seen as the father of Christian anti-Judaism. Author Gager thinks this is because Paul has always been viewed through the lens of a later triumphal church. But Paul wrote before there was a Christianity and even before there was a New Testament. The notion that Judaism would be superseded by a later faith would have been inconceivable to Paul, Gager says. Paul’s passages relating to Israel and the Law, he argues, must be read in their entirety and in the context of when they were written, not in the context of subsequent centuries of misinterpretation.