In her review of How the Bible Became Holy in the Wall Street Journal, Sarah Ruden wrote:
He tries to undercut, for instance, the well-founded consensus that Paul was a Diaspora Jew, from a family established in Tarsus (in modern-day Turkey), who first lived in Jerusalem during his youth or young adulthood for study and professional and religious development. For this account Mr. Satlow substitutes a speculative one of Paul as a cradle Palestinian Jew, and he does this seemingly in order to support a widespread characterization of the evangelist as a traitor to his heritage: As far as scripture is concerned, Paul hawked a debased version among people he didn’t know and who themselves didn’t know any better; he wasn’t one of them, attuned to their needs and aspirations; holy writing as he presented it and remade it thus has no deep integrity.
Ruden’s charge that appears after the sentence in bold – that Paul “hawked a debased version” and was a “traitor” – I found entirely bizarre. I neither made this charge in my book nor do I believe that it is remotely true.
As for the sentence in bold, I do argue that Paul was born and raised in Palestine. But is it speculative? Or, maybe more precisely, is it any more speculative than the “well-founded consensus”? And what is at stake? I have recently posted an essay that sketches the existing evidence on both sides of this question and develops in more detail why I think what I do. A more scholarly version of this argument is forthcoming, and will eventually be posted here.
In the interim, my essay can be found here.