Paul and the Nomos in light of ritual theory

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This article wishes to handle the subject of the Nomos in Paul from a new perspective, namely from Religious Studies, within a framework where rituals and Ritual Studies receive priority. Nomos is generally translated as 'the Law' (with a capital 'L'), meaning the Torah of Moses, the Pentateuch; by implication, it also covers the rabbinic modes of Torah explication. Commonly, the term and the negation of its religious relevance mark the manner in which Christianity views itself as superseding Judaism. However, the article argues that this understanding of the term and its significance in the writings of Paul is wrongly oriented. Paul himself discusses the issue of religious rules and regulations as part of the life of the communities, which he addresses in his Letters. If Paul is taken at his own words, rituals are important components in Christianity. Thus, the 'Protestant' oriented criticism of the cult is tantamount to making Paul address issues that Paul has no intention to take at their face value. This article, therefore, intends to reach new conclusions with regard to the common understanding of Paul's handling of the subject of the Law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-416
Number of pages19
JournalNew Testament Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008


  • Belief
  • Law
  • Nomos
  • Paul's letters
  • Ritual theory
  • Torah


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