Dr. Tabor's new book, "Paul and Jesus", is the culmination of the author's thirty-year examination of the life of Paul, the meaning of his message, and nature of his relationship with the Jerusalem apostles and with James, the brother of Jesus. In this eminently readable and ultimately challenging investigation into these issues, Tabor refreshingly portrays Paul without the added reinterpretation provided by the later church. Basing his analysis almost exclusively on the authentic letters of Paul, Tabor re-introduces us to a man many of us might have thought we already knew. We quickly realize that the popular image of Paul has been heavily based on the Acts of the Apostles, which is little more than an "Acts of Paul", written as late as the early second century according to the author, and thus by someone who never knew Paul.
In this fascinating and revealing portrait of the Apostle to the Gentiles, Tabor makes it clear that not only did Paul never meet Jesus, he paid scant heed to the inheritors of Jesus' teaching: the apostles and brothers of Jesus. Instead, Paul based his entire "gospel" on his repeated, self-reported revelations that he claimed were of the risen Christ. As the author convincingly shows, Paul's unique message conflicted with that of Jesus' own disciples and led to open hostility and perhaps even to Paul's arrest and imprisonment in Rome.
Throughout this reevaluation of Paul, Tabor challenges us to understand that the New Testament is, with few exceptions, comprised of books that represent the Pauline teachings, not those of early Palestinian Jewish Christianity. All of them were written after Paul's letters were composed. This leads to some startling discoveries. For example, Tabor claims that it was Paul, not any of the Gospel writers, who first interpreted Jesus' Last Supper as inaugurating the routine consumption of the body and blood of Christ, terminology that Jesus, as a devout Jew, would have never used. At another point, Tabor challenges the conventional view that when Paul referred to what he "received" about Jesus' death and resurrection, he was not referring to tradition obtained from the apostles but to revelations he received from the risen Christ.
These and other intriguing new insights make the purchase of "Paul and Jesus" a must for anyone interested in the history of the New Testament and Christian origins. While the book is based on solid scholarship by one of the world's top researchers in the field, it is easily readable and highly absorbing. You may not want to put it down once you start.