Theses Doctoral

A Seal of Faith: Rereading Paul on Circumcision, Torah, and the Gentiles

Moorthy, Asha

It is generally held that the Apostle Paul dismissed the rite of circumcision for Gentiles. This dissertation, however, offers a different perspective. Through examination of relevant sources regarding the role of circumcision in conversion along with consideration of Philo of Alexandria's depiction of Abraham as an exemplar of and for the proselyte, this project will suggest that Paul, in Rom 4:11-12, uses the example of Abraham in order to explain the value of circumcision for Jews as well as for Gentiles. It will be argued, moreover, that Paul's objections to circumcision, as found in Romans as well as in Galatians, Philippians, and 1 Corinthians, were not to the rite <em>per se</em> but rather to the notion that circumcision was necessary for entering the Abrahamic covenant, "becoming a Jew," justification, salvation, spiritual transformation, protection or identity in Christ. A case will be made, moreover, that in Paul's day there were two competing forms of circumcision and that Paul was opposed to the more radical procedure. Finally, divergences in Paul's handling of the topic of circumcision in different letters will be explained through attention to particular audience concerns.



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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Carr, David M.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 31, 2013