Paul's “Mainline Platonism”
Once more, let me state the major thesis of this book. Paul's genius was not as a philosopher, which he was not, but in his realization that the common dualist ideology—ontology, anthropology, and hermeneutic—which together for him formed a christology, provided the answer to the theological problem that troubled him the most: How do the rest of the people in God's world fit into the plan of salvation revealed to the Jews through their Torah? Let me be absolutely clear. I am not claiming for Paul a radical dualism which denies value to the phenomenal world, but rather a dualism of the sort which has characterized western thought practically since its inception, that is, the understanding of human beings, the world, and language as all composed of a material and a spiritual component in correspondence with each other. In other words, what I am claiming is that Paul held to the kind of dualism, which N. T. Wright calls “cosmological duality: the classic position of Plato,” and identifies as “a mainline belief of the Greco-Roman (and modern Western world).”  There is, in this sense, nothing striking in claiming that Paul was such a dualist; if anything the bold step that I am making is to claim that the Rabbis (as opposed to both earlier Hellenistic Jews and later ones) resisted this form of dualism.