This Fall I am once again privileged to teach Pauline Literature this fall. This will be my second pass through Longenecker and Still, Thinking through Paul (Zondervan, 2014). Both authors are top-notch Pauline scholars and the book is well designed college textbook with plenty of photographs, charts and sidebars. What I have appreciated about this book is the balance between the theology of Paul’s letters and the kind of introductory material these kind of textbooks usually are required to cover. It is easy to get bogged down in the details of authorship, destination and chronology and give less emphasis to Paul’s thoughts. Thinking through Paul emphasizes Paul’s theology over the more controversial (and tedious) aspects of Paul’s letters. That is not to say I will not dwell on the tedious from time to time as we move through the semester, but the textbook at least avoids the dismal swamp of typical New Testament introductions.
What else have I been reading to prep for this class? I have finished Susan Eastman’s Paul and the Person (Eerdmans 2019), the first book on Pauline anthropology I have read in a long time. I received a copy of Pitre, Barber ad Kincaid, Paul, A New Covenant Jew (Eerdmans, 2019) last see and absolutely consumed the first 150 pages on one day. If is very good, and I look forward to working in some of the book’s insights into my notes. I have spent some time in the essay collection edited by Thate, Vanhoozer and Campbell, “In Christ” in Paul (Eerdmans 2018, reprinting a 2014 Mohr Seibeck volume). I will likely get some formal reviews of these three posted relatively soon, but plan on spending the next two weeks on some preliminary posts on “reading Paul.”
I will state upfront that I have strong opinions on the value of the Pauline letters for doing church today, and I hope some of these views will challenge readers to think more deeply about the application of the Pauline letters. I am committed to reading Paul in the context of the first century, as a Jewish thinker who is passionate about reaching the Gentile world with the Gospel.
I am curious what regular readers of Reading Acts would like to see covered within this overall framework? Are there any elements of Paul’s theology are overlooked or under-emphasized? Maybe the “apocalyptic Paul”? What about application of Pauline theology to mission?