Paul of Tarsus

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Saints Mark and Paul by Albrecht Dürer (1526)

Paul of Tarsus (GreekΠαῦλος Paûlos; Hebrewשָׁאוּל Sha'ul Saul; LatinSaul; * probably before the year 10, † after 60, probably in Rome) was the first and most important theologian in the history of Christianity and, along with Simon Peter, the most successful missionary of early Christianity.

As a Greek-educated Jew and law-abiding Pharisee, Paul initially persecuted the followers of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, whom he had never met. But since his Damascus experience, he saw himself as God's called apostle (Gal 1:15f). As such, he proclaimed the resurrected Jesus Christ, especially to non-Jews. To this end, he travelled the eastern Mediterranean region and founded several Christian congregations there. He remained in contact with them through his Pauline epistles.

These oldest preserved writings of the New Testament have influenced not only theologians such as Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther and Karl Barth, but also philosophers such as Sören Kierkegaard and Karl Jaspers, and have thus strongly influenced European intellectual history. Since the Enlightenment, many thinkers - including Friedrich Nietzsche or Hannah Arendt - see Paul as the actual founder of Christianity.


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