Karen Armstrong has written again about St. Paul (she covered this ground in 1983 in THE FIRST CHRISTIAN). In this year's book, even more straightforwardly titled ST. PAUL: THE APOSTLE WE LOVE TO HATE, she treats the conversion of Saul into Paul, and the rise of Christianity itself, as a text within the context of the conflict between Greek speaking and Aramaic speaking Jews, the conflict over assimilation that one associates with Hanukkah.
For pre-conversion Saul, she writes, "the Hellenistic followers of Jesus were insulting everything he believed to be most sacred, and he greatly feared that their devotion to a man executed so recently by the Roman authorities would put the entire community at risk. Paul ... would have been horrified to learn that Jesus had desecrated the Temple and argued that some of God's laws were more important than others. For a Pharisee with extreme views, like Paul, a Jew who did not observe every single one of the commandments was endangering the Jewish people, since God could punish such infidelity as severely as he had punished the ancient Israelites in the time of Moses."