Jason Staples – Paul and the Resurrection of Israel (Part I)

Episode: When the Spirit blows over the bones, flesh forms, and they rattle back to life. But the bones are Israel, all twelve tribes. Did the partial return of several tribes from Babylon satisfy God’s promises for all Israel? Or was a broader return expected? In his important and influential new book, Paul and the Resurrection of Israel, Jason Staples shows that Paul believed God was raising the nation of Israel from the dead in an unexpected way. Cohosted by Matt Bates and Erin Heim.

The Book: Jason A. Staples, Paul and the Resurrection of Israel: Jews, Former Gentiles, Israelites (Cambridge University Press, 2024). The gospel promoted by Paul has for many generations stirred passionate debate. That gospel proclaimed equal salvific access to Jews and gentiles alike. But on what basis? In making sense of such a remarkable step forward in religious history, Jason Staples reexamines texts that have proven thoroughly resistant to easy comprehension. He traces Paul’s inclusive theology to a hidden strand of thinking in the earlier story of Israel. Postexilic southern Judah, he argues, did not simply appropriate the identity of the fallen northern kingdom of Israel. Instead, Judah maintained a notion of ‘Israel’ as referring both to the north and the ongoing reality of a broad, pan-Israelite sensibility to which the descendants of both ancient kingdoms belonged. Paul’s concomitant belief was that northern Israel’s exile meant assimilation among the nations – effectively a people’s death – and that its restoration paradoxically required gentile inclusion to resurrect a greater ‘Israel’ from the dead. (Publisher’s description).

Guest: Jason A. Staples (Ph.D., UNC-Chapel Hill) is an author, historian, speaker, journalist, voice actor, and former American football coach. He is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at NC State University. In additon to Paul and the Resurrection of Israel, he is also the author of The Idea of Israel in Second Temple Judaism: A New Theory of People, Exile, and Israelite Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2021), as well as numerous journal articles. You can connect with him on X/Twitter (@JasonStaples).

OnScript’s Review: Enormously important and theologically productive. In Paul and the Resurrection of Israel, Jason Staples shows–again and again–how seemingly isolated puzzles in Paul’s letters can be explained coherently within a Second Temple framework of restoration. As the Holy Spirit transforms individuals amid the nations, the twelve tribes of Israel are being raised from the dead. An astonishing contribution. — Matthew W. Bates, author of Salvation by Allegiance Alone; professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary.

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