Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism

I have started wading through E. P. Sanders’ important work Paul and Palestinian Judaism, which is widely regarded as the starting point (not without its antecedents, however) for the New Perspective on Paul.[1] This is a dense work, and I anticipate that it will take me a while to get through it. I have started by reading the introduction and the conclusion, which already have been helpful to me in giving the broad structure and conclusions of his argument.

Every intro to the New Perspective mentions Sanders’ work, but Michael Thompson has a particular, colorful detail which I wanted to see for myself firsthand. He states that “the entry for ‘truth, ultimate’ in the index to his Paul and Palestinian Judaism refers only to three consecutive pages—all of which are blank!”[2] This is indeed the case (except the pages are not consecutive). Sanders has the following in his index:

Truth, ultimate, 30, 32, 430[3]

Each of the pages referenced is indeed a blank, left-hand page which precedes the first page of a section or chapter. (Publishers routinely do this so that new sections or chapters begin on a right-hand page, which is a cleaner look for a printed text.) Perhaps Sanders meant to depict graphically his general philosophical agnosticism on the basic question of epistemology, or perhaps an intern got the better of him in the preparation of the manuscript. I don’t anticipate that we’ll ever know, but I’m going to keep a close eye on my interns, just in case.

  1. E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (London: SCM, 1977).  ↩

  2. Michael B. Thompson, The New Perspective on Paul (Cambridge: Grove Books Unlimited, 2002), 8.  ↩

  3. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, 627.  ↩