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Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 14 have been attributed to Paul; 7 of these are widely considered authentic and Paul's own, while the authorship of the other 7 is disputed.[119][120][121] The undisputed letters are considered the most important sources since they contain what everyone agrees to be Paul's own statements about his life and thoughts. Theologian Mark Powell writes that Paul directed these 7 letters to specific occasions at particular churches. As an example, if the Corinthian church had not experienced problems concerning its celebration of the Lord's Supper,[1 Cor. 11:17–34] today we would not know that Paul even believed in that observance or had any opinions about it one way or the other. Powell asks if we might be ignorant of other matters simply because no crises arose that prompted Paul to comment on them.[122]

In Paul's writings, he provides the first written account of what it is to be a Christian and thus a description of Christian spirituality. His letters have been characterized as being the most influential books of the New Testament after the Gospels of Matthew and John.[7][note 10]

Authorship

Paul is critical both theologically and empirically of claims of moral or lineal superiority [Rom. 2:16–26] of Jews while conversely strongly sustaining the notion of a special place for the Children of Israel.[9–11] Paul's theology of the gospel accelerated the separation of the messianic sect of Christians from Judaism, a development contrary to Paul's own intent. He wrote that faith in Christ was alone decisive in salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike, making the schism between the followers of Christ and mainstream Jews inevitable and permanent. He argued that Gentile converts did not need to become Jews, get circumcised, follow Jewish dietary restrictions, or otherwise observe Mosaic laws to be saved.[28] According to Fredriksen, Paul's opposition to male circumcision for Gentiles is in line with Old Testament predictions that "in the last days the gentile nations would come to the God of Israel, as gentiles (e.g., Zechariah 8:20–23), not as proselytes to Israel."[149] For Paul, Gentile male circumcision was therefore an affront to God's intentions.[149]Paul is critical both theologically and empirically of claims of moral or lineal superiority [Rom. 2:16–26] of Jews while conversely strongly sustaining the notion of a special place for the Children of Israel.[9–11] Paul's theology of the gospel accelerated the separation of the messianic sect of Christians from Judaism, a development contrary to Paul's own intent. He wrote that faith in Christ was alone decisive in salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike, making the schism between the followers of Christ and mainstream Jews inevitable and permanent. He argued that Gentile converts did not need to become Jews, get circumcised, follow Jewish dietary restrictions, or otherwise observe Mosaic laws to be saved.[28] According to Fredriksen, Paul's opposition to male circumcision for Gentiles is in line with Old Testament predictions that "in the last days the gentile nations would come to the God of Israel, as gentiles (e.g., Zechariah 8:20–23), not as proselytes to Israel."[149] For Paul, Gentile male circumcision was therefore an affront to God's intentions.[149] According to Hurtado, "Paul saw himself as what Munck called a salvation-historical figure in his own right," who was "personally and singularly deputized by God to bring about the predicted ingathering (the "fullness") of the nations (Romans 11:25)."[149]

Accor

According to Sanders, Paul insists that salvation is received by the grace of God; according to Sanders, this insistence is in line with Judaism of c. 200 BCE until 200 CE, which saw God's covenant with Israel as an act of grace of God. Observance of the Law is needed to maintain the covenant, but the covenant is not earned by observing the Law, but by the grace of God.[144]