Archives For Paul

 

Enter to win a copy of this fascinating new book!

 
We’re giving away THREE copies of:

Paul: A Biography
N.T. Wright

Hardback: HarperOne.
Giveaway copies provided by the publisher… 
 
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On Reading a “Big Book”

A Review of

Paul and the Faithfulness of God

N.T. Wright

Paperback (2 vol.): Fortress Press, 2013
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

 

Reviewed by Daniel M. Yencich

 
N.T. Wright’s long-awaited treatise on the theology of Paul is a big book. Indeed: although it is one work, Paul and the Faithfulness of God (PFG hereafter) is split into two volumes and spans a mammoth 1660 pages. There is a joke about an author attaining true historical significance when the volume of writings about him surpasses the number of things he actually wrote, but Wright’s five-pound book renders it rather obvious. Beyond physical measurements, however, PFG must still be described as a “big book,” in the sense of the impact it has had and will have in New Testament scholarship, theological reflection, and Christian ministry for years to come. Wright is not always persuasive in his arguments in PFG, but his perspective is certainly interesting and, especially in evangelical circles, his voice certainly commands attention. PFG is an important work, if a bit physically unwieldy, and will challenge scholars, pastors, and interested non-specialists alike with its comprehensive vision of Christianity’s most famous apostle and the theological thought he bequeathed to history.

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Disciples Engaged in Mutual Ministry

A Feature Review of

The Rebirth of the Church: Applying Paul’s Vision for Ministry in Our Post-Christian World

Eddie Gibbs

Paperback: Baker Academic
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Andy Hassler

 

I have spent a lot time over the past decade with Paul. As a doctoral student, my focus was on Paul’s view of the law and justification. Paul and I became pretty close, but not so much in the areas of missiology and ecclesiology. In fact, as the missional church movement was taking shape, I was mostly locked away in an office parsing Greek nouns and verbs, trying to come to grips with concepts like “works of the law” and “righteousness.” After graduating, though, this changed significantly, and I have become very interested in the present state of the church and mission. So when I saw the subtitle of Eddie Gibbs’s book that included Paul, the church, and the post-Christian world, my interest was seriously piqued. By and large I was not disappointed, as Gibbs shows that in the hands of the right person there is profound wisdom to be mined from Paul’s letters, and this wisdom is as relevant now as it has ever been.

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Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul? J. R. Daniel KirkThe Straight Story on Jesus and Paul

Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul?:
A Narrative Approach to
the Problem of Pauline Christianity

J. R. Daniel Kirk

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Christian Amondson.

Someone gave Daniel Kirk a difficult task. It is no small feat to trace the lines of continuity between Jesus and Paul, let alone do so in such a manner that re-kindles interest in Paul for contemporary Christians who, though largely inspired by the compassion and inclusion of Jesus, struggle to appreciate the fiery Apostle to the Gentiles. To that end, Kirk largely succeeds. Readers of Kirk’s book will find ample evidence that the Paul of the New Testament bears more resemblance to Jesus than the hard-hearted rule monger with which many of us grew up. In fact, on several fronts Kirk demonstrates how, upon closer inspection, Paul turns out to be as radical as Jesus: Paul the champion of individual salvation turns out to be Paul the Christian communitarian; Paul the articulator of a salvation by faith without works turns out to be Paul the radical disciple on the way of the cross; Paul the exclusive judge turns out to be Paul the universalizing ecumenist; Paul the patriarchal misogynist turns out be Paul the co-laborer with many women of his day; and Paul the homophobic guardian of the sanctity of marriage turns out to be Paul the good Samaritan who places all sex under the need of redemption.

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An excerpt from the excellent new book:

Jesus, Paul and the People of God:
A Theological Dialogue with N.T. Wright
.
Nicholas Perrin and RIchard Hays, eds.
Paperback: IVP Academic, 2011.
Pre-order now: [ Amazon ]

Watch for our review in our print issue #2, due out later this month!

 

Two New Books on Early Christianity

What’s With Paul and Women?
Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2
.
Paperback: Ekklesia Press, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Commentary on the Gospel of John
(Ancient Christian Texts Series)

Theodore of Mopsuestia
Hardback: IVP Academic, 2010.
Buy Now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Jon Zens’ newest book with the Seinfeld-esque name What’s With Paul and Women? offers a brief, but pointed critique of the literal and superficial reading of I Timothy 2 that understands that passage as saying that women should categorically never be able to teach men in churches.  Zens, who is editor of the engaging and long-thriving periodical Searching Together, does a wonderful job here of confirming my intuitions (and I suspect those of others as well) that Paul’s instruction was contextual – for the church in Ephesus in that time – and not universal.  Many objections that might be raised are identified and delicately dismantled.  This clear and thorough treatment of this passage is essential reading for anyone who has questions about the place of women teachers in the church, or for anyone in dialogue with those who doubt that women should teach.

The newest volume in IVP’s Ancient Christian Texts Series is Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Commentary on the Gospel of John.  Before I picked up this volume, Theodore was not a figure with whom I was familiar, and there is good reason why Theodore’s name is not a familiar one: in the mid-sixth century, more than a hundred years after his death, his writings were condemned as Nestorian and thus heretical and were in large part destroyed.  However, as described in the book’s introduction, the latest scholarship (and specifically variant versions of this text that have survived the centuries) calls into question Theodore’s condemnation as a Nestorian.  Since the Nestorian controversy centered on the nature of Christ’s person, this commentary on John’s Gospel gives us a excellent vantage point for exploring Theodore’s position, and for broadening our own perspectives on Church History, reminding us of the reality that historical situations – even within the Church – are almost always more complex than what we learn in our basic historical introductions.

 

A Brief Review of

Navigating Paul: An Introduction to Key Theological Concepts.
Jouette M. Bassler.

Paperback: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by John Schaaf.

In Navigating Paul: An Introduction to Key Theological Concepts, Jouette M. Bassler, former editor of Journal of Biblical Literature, brings together a collection of essays to navigate some of the currents of the Pauline letters in such a manner so as each chapter stands on its own. Bassler writes in a fashion that is valuable to both the seasoned scholar and the novice by uniting a great deal of scholarship to provide what can easily be termed an extended glossary on some of Paul’s key theological views.

In chapter one, originally published in Interpretation 57.1 (2003): 24-32, Bassler begins by examining Paul’s view of grace. Affirming modern scholarship, Bassler makes it clear at the beginning of the chapter that grace was not central to Paul’s thought alone but to all forms of first century Judaism. Bassler continues the chapter by exploring the question of how Paul’s viewpoint was unique in the midst of a swarm of conflicting viewpoints. The chapter finishes with a discussion of what “his most polemical grace-language” was directed toward (1). Continue Reading…

 

“The Fixed Point
In Whose Orbit We Move”

A Review of
Justification:
God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision.

by N.T. Wright.

 Reviewed by Austen Sandifer-Williams.

 

Justification:
God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision.

N.T. Wright.
Hardback: IVP Academic, 2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

 

God is bigger than us. The statement may seem trite, but Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision explains that many pastors and biblical scholars have missed that point when they cherry-pick certain passages and interpret them according to a Reformed tradition that focuses on individuals rather than according to the rich tradition that unfolds in the Bible itself, from the story of Israel to the story of the restoration of creation. In this book, N.T. Wright, esteemed New Testament scholar and Bishop of Durham in the Church of England, has done a remarkable job of condensing the weighty topic of justification into a single digestible volume.

 

Justification is the act by which God makes people (sinners) righteous to God. The details of justification (how, why, when, etc.) are the subject of significant debate, and Wright brings to life why this debate matters and what justification means to Christians as the inheritors of God’s promise for the world through Israel. He does this by delving into Paul’s writings in a way that connects them to an overarching biblical story, the story of God’s promise for the redemption of creation.

 

Wright’s book is superficially spurred by John Piper’s implicit challenge in his book, The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright, a critique of Wright’s analysis of Paul. However, Wright is clear that his intent is not only to answer Piper, but also to clarify Paul’s whole theology on justification for the church today, in opposition to “the truncated and self-centered readings which have become endemic in Western thought (25).” In this context, the differences between Wright and Piper become representative of larger differences in Pauline scholarship between the “new” perspective (Wright) and “old,” traditional Reformed perspective (Piper). Continue Reading…