Jacob Taubes, Krister Stendahl, paul

Jacob Taubes on Krister Stendahl and Paul

Jacob Taubes recounts an excellent anecdote about Stendahl for an even better point about Paul:

I want to tell you a story about this. I have a very good friend–now he’s a bishop in Stockholm, he used to be a professor at Harvard, where I knew him well — Krister Stendahl. And I remember (I’m telling you this as a personal story), he visited me once in New York, and we were standing in front of a very large fireplace. And Krister — he’s a real warrior type, you know, Goebbels would have envied him his figure — he says to me that his deepest worry is whether he belongs (we were speaking English) to the “commonwealth of Israel.” So I said to myself, Krister, you super-Aryan from Sweden, at the end of the world, as viewed from the Mediterranean, other worries you don’t have? No, he has no other worries! There I saw what Paul had done: that someone in the jungles of Sweden — as seen from where I’m standing — is worrying about whether he belongs to the “commonwealth of Israel,” that’s something that’s impossible without Paul. (I was able to reassure him: as far as I’m concerned he’s in.)

Jacob Taubes, The Political Theology of Paul, Translated by Dana Hollander, 41.

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