Often seen as the author of timeless Christian theology, Paul himself heatedly maintained that he lived and worked in history’s closing hours. His letters propel his readers into two ancient worlds, one Jewish, one pagan. The first was incandescent with apocalyptic hopes, expecting God through his messiah to fulfill his ancient promises of redemption to Israel. The second teemed with ancient actors, not only human but also divine: angry superhuman forces, jealous demons, and hostile cosmic gods. Both worlds are Paul’s, and his convictions about the first shaped his actions in the second.
Only by situating Paul within this charged social context of gods and humans, pagans and Jews, cities, synagogues, and competing Christ-following assemblies can we begin to understand his mission and message. This original and provocative book offers a dramatically new perspective on one of history’s seminal figures.
Though Paul is often lauded as the first great Christian theologian and a champion for Gentile inclusion in the church, in his own time he was universally regarded as a strange and controversial person. In this book Pauline scholar Michael Bird explains why.
An Anomalous Jew presents the figure of Paul in all his complexity with his blend of common and controversial Jewish beliefs and a faith in Christ that brought him into conflict with the socio-religious scene around him. Bird elucidates how the apostle Paul was variously perceived — as a religious deviant by Jews, as a divisive figure by Jewish Christians, as a purveyor of dubious philosophy by Greeks, and as a dangerous troublemaker by the Romans. Readers of this book will better understand the truly anomalous shape of Paul’s thinking and worldview.
Recent years have seen much controversy about the apostle Paul, his religious and social context, and its effects on his theology. In the helpful Counterpoints format, four leading scholars present their views on the best framework for describing Paul’s theological perspective, including his view of salvation, the significance of Christ, and his vision for the churches.
Contributors and views include:Reformed View: Thomas R. SchreinerCatholic View: Luke Timothy JohnsonPost-New Perspective View: Douglas CampbellJewish View: Mark D. Nanos
Like other titles in the Counterpoints: Bible and Theology collection, Four Views on the Apostle Paul gives theology students the tools they need to draw informed conclusions on debated issues.
General editor and New Testament scholar Michael F. Bird covers foundational issues and provides helpful summaries in his introduction and conclusion. New Testament scholars, pastors, and students of Christian history and theology will find Four Views on the Apostle Paul an indispensable introduction to ongoing debates on the apostle Paul’s life and teaching.
The Paul who comes to light in these pages is agent and thinker, apostle and theologian. He is a highly contextual figure, yet his account of Christian identity continues to shape the church's life to this day. He is the founder of mainly Gentile, Christ-believing communities, separated from the synagogue; and yet he can see this distinctive existence as an authentic response to Jewish scripture and tradition, as fulfilled in Christ. He is a many-sided figure, transcending all our attempts to categorize him or to co-opt him for our own favored causes.
Unlike previous attempts to solve this problem have focused mainly on ideology, Zetterholm's excellent study emphasizes the interplay between sociological and ideological elements.
For students of religious studies, classical studies, history and social science, this will give leverage and knowledge in the pursuit of their course studies.