Sarah Ruden's Paul Among the People

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In Sarah Ruden’s book, Paul Among the People, Ruden strives to disprove modern society’s common belief that the apostle Paul was a man strongly against women and homosexuality. She makes the claim that he was actually fighting for more equality and love than what Roman society allowed in Paul’s time and even before his time. Ruden compares the words Paul wrote around the middle of 50 A.D. and into the early 60 A.D.’s against other popular literary works of the Roman first and second century an effort to challenge contemporary negative thoughts regarding Paul. Despite the negative opinions that a majority of modern society hold about the apostle, Sarah Ruden does a remarkable job of refuting the claims that Paul was a misogynist homophobe by putting Paul in perspective inside the society that he lived in. She claims that Paul was offering equality and a better life for the people of his time. By doing this, Ruden attests that Paul was not the negative man that most people believe but that he actually fought for more equality and compassion than what he is given credit for by most people today.
Firstly, Ruden gives Paul partial credit for the growing popularity of Christianity because of the equality and compassion that he preached to others. He offered every person a sense of belonging no matter what background they came from, she claims (Ruden 37). Paul was offering a sense of belonging to a community as well as a life full of eternal riches and glory for people to inherit after death. The rising Christian population was inevitable as Paul and others in the Christian faith were offering this inheritable heaven to those who had no claims to any of these things. Paul even offered a better life for the slaves of the communit...

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...olved since the time his letters were written. Of course if we look at Paul with scrutiny through the lens of our contemporary beliefs, he looks as though he lacks compassion and a desire for equality; in fact, it would appear as though he was preaching against equality. Sarah Ruden puts the highlight on the time period that Paul was actually living in to validate her thesis that Paul was actually a revolutionary. He gave options and encouraged happiness and equality for women, preached compassion for slaves, and argued against an aggressive tradition in Roman society. Taking a look at his writing with the background information that Ruden provides a more insightful look at the apostle’s teachings, which was exactly her goal.

Works Cited

Ruden, Sarah. Paul among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time. New York: Pantheon, 2010. Print.
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