The more I read the traditional account of the relationship of Judaism and Christianity, the more it seems like a sick joke. The Jews were apparently given a law that is impossible to fulfill, all so that they could stand as an object lesson for the majority-Gentile movement that inherited God’s promises to the Jews.
Meanwhile, in the real world, there’s no indication that pious Jews have any particular difficulty following their laws, which makes sense given that they are inculcated from early childhood — it’s much like how I don’t have trouble following Midwestern American cultural practices. Nor indeed did Paul, who is supposed to have originated this notion of the function of the law, report having any difficulty in following the strictest version of Judaism in his own time (cf. Philippians).
Gentiles, on the other hand, who wanted to become Jewish converts (not an uncommon phenomenon at the time), may well have experienced the law as an incitement to sin, since the law would seem like a bunch of arbitrary precepts rather than an encoded version of cultural common sense. For instance, it seems plausible to me that someone converting to Judaism might say: “I didn’t realize how much I loved pork until you told me I couldn’t eat pork!” This leads me to believe, following Ted Jennings’ interpretation, that Romans 7 is actually spoken from the Gentile point of view rather than from Paul’s own experience — and therefore, the whole narrative of how the law is impossible to fulfill and the Jews were a big object lesson, etc., etc., is based on a misunderstanding.
All of this leads to the big question: Would it have killed Christianity to have a founder with a clearer prose style?