John Kilgallen, «Hostility to Paul in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13,45) — Why?», Vol. 84 (2003) 1-15
Throughout Acts 13–14 Luke brings to the reader’s knowledge opponents of Paul who are called " the Jews" . The present essay attempts to clarify the meaning of this short-hand identification of Paul’s Jewish opponents. It seems best to understand these particular Jews in the light of zealotry which has its roots in centuries of vigorous defense of Jewish religious convictions.
religion30. Can we get a purchase on these people? Can we perceive in their description at least an historical precedent which might explain them as reasonable in their zh=loj? Or are we to assume that they are simply stubborn, unreasonable people whose opposition to Paul has no merit and causes no hesitation?
VII. oi( 'Ioudai=oi defined by zh=loj
Given that the term ‘the Jews’ occurs at Antioch only in the context of zeal/jealousy at the offer of salvation to ‘the pagans’, it seems best to see the meaning of that term in the references to zeal/jealousy aroused by earlier Jewish confrontations with paganism.
There are a number of examples in the Old Testament of zh=loj, both divine (e.g., 2 K 19,31; Isa 9,6; 11,11; 37,32; Joel 2,18) and human (1 Sam 21,2; 2 Kings 10,16; Judith 9,4; Prov 23,17; Sirach 51,18). I note here particular examples of this zeal; that these examples are offered as heroic and to be imitated is certain.
The prophet Elijah described himself to the Lord, "e)zh/lwka tw=| Kuri/w| ...because the sons of Israel have abandoned You (1 Kings 19,10)...abandoned Your covenant" (19,14). The Book of ben Sirach clothed its memory of Elijah in this word tw|= zh/lw| au)tou= w)ligopoi/hsen au)tou/j [Ephraim] (48,2).
One of the most famous examples is the zh=loj of Phinehas, who, in the Lord’s own words, "... has turned My anger from the Israelites by his zeal for My honor among them (e)n tw=| zhlw=sai/ mou to_n zh=lon e)n au)toi=j)" (Num 25,11.13). This jealousy for the Lord, turned to zeal for the Lord and against false idols, became legendary, as we read in Ps 106,30; Sir 45,23; 1 Macc 2,26.54; 4 Macc 18,12; more importantly, his example offered a model for the religious struggle against paganism as one nears the time of Christ, whether the struggle be in Palestine or in the enclaves scattered throughout the Mediterranean world of the pagans.
Indeed, in this latter historical moment31, the account of the freeing of Israel from Antiochus IV and his successors, zh=loj becomes a key word to describe the great ardor of Mattathias and his sons and followers, by which the Jewish religion was saved and defended from