Monday, January 18, 2010

4 introductory books on St. Paul


I have read these four introductory texts on Paul. All are different in strength and weaknesses. Here's the summary.

Simply noted, N. T. Wright's Paul: Fresh Perspectives and What St. Paul Really Said provide a sketch on Paul's worldview and thoughts. Hence compared with the rest, these two books try to unveil Paul's structure of thoughts. Reading Wright's works gave me the sense of not only learning new things about Paul but also learning how to learn new things by myself. If you plan to read only one, then just get Paul: Fresh Perspectives. This is a more developed book which main point is identical with What St. Paul Really Said yet goes beyond it.

Paul Barnett's Paul: Missionary of Jesus mainly is an exercise on historical construction over Paul's life. The work explores Paul's relation with his teacher Gamaliel, his missing years in the Arabia, and his relation with the other apostles as well as the historical Jesus. Contrast Wright, Barnett sees Paul belonging to the Hellel school of thoughts, following Gamaliel (p.49). To Barnett, Paul is rather tender and tame. To Wright, Paul belonged to the Shammaite school which was zealous to overthrow the socio-political oppressors of that time.

Anthony Thiselton's The Living Paul is an elementary work compared to Wright's and Barnett's. Thiselton provides brief survey over contentious issues concerning contemporary interpretation of Paul. He covers topics like women leadership in the church, the language of atonement, postmodernism, etc. Lucid in its points. The best book among the four as an introductory text on Paul. Due to its brevity, it is inevitable to get a sense of 'proof-texting' in this book.

1 comment:

Israel Lee said...

waiting for you to review Piper and Wright's latest book. ;-)