The Status Quaestionis of the Pauline Theology



This lecture on “The Status Quaestionis of the Pauline Theology” took place in Ratisbonne Monastery of the Congregation of the Religious of Our Lady of Sion in the 7th of September 2017. 

Brother Élio Passeto, nds, who is a researcher on Biblical Theology and Jewish Tradition, shares his insights on some questions regarding the Theology of the Apostle Saint Paul. 

It is necessary to situate Paul in his Jewish context, as well as to understand him from the Jewish religious universe of his time; since the Messianic hope is exclusively Jewish, so is the proclamation about the coming of the Messiah is also Jewish. Paul finds himself in that complexity of Jewish reality, between the messianic waiting and the Jewish proclamation that the Messiah came. They are two genuinely Jewish realities. Paul therefore elaborated a synthesis of this new moment from the universal vision (prophetic) of Israel. To go to the nations is not to abandon Israel, on the contrary, it is only Israel that goes to the nations, because to be light to the Nations is it vocation-mission. That is where Paul stands.


Paul holds the particular place for Israel in history and opens the promises of Israel to the nations, to the universal. He built the Theology inclusion. That is why Israel is not the focus of concern of Paul, he occupies his life in view of the Nations. Israel is a stable reality from the point of view of the plan of salvation, he is and remains the chosen people of God, ‘the Israel of God’ so called by Paul.


Paul ‘thinks like a Jew’, his theology is Jewish and it is only within that context that it can be well understood. To ignore this fact is to put aside the determining factor for Paul’s theology.


Pope Benedict XVI makes an important warning that it must be heard and followed by Catholics in relation to Paul: “A reductive conception of the Law, the result of a reductive exegesis of Pauline theology, prevents us from seeing this joy of Israel, the joy of knowing the will of God and so be able, of having to live this will”. (Joseph Ratzinger – Benoît XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, 2007, p. 293).


Élio Passeto, nds / Jerusalem, Israel