Sunday, April 10, 2016

Seminary Library Essentials: Pauline Chronology & Life

Last time I went over the various primary sources for Second Temple Judaism, and the benefits of each individual book. This time, I am offering a select bibliography of various writings that I have found to be valuable and worthy of your time. There are other elements of various aspects of this, such as volumes on Pauline theology as a whole, and individual commentaries. But, these works function to highlight the issues within the timing of events in Paul. 

Pauline Chronology & Life.

Pauline chronology is a highly disputed issue in New Testament studies, especially since this affects some significant aspects of Pauline theology (e.g., where does Ephesians or the Pastoral Epistles fit into the life of Paul?). Whether or not one thinks Paul wrote a specific epistle has some implication for Pauline theology. Douglas Campbell hints at this issue in his work.

And we’re off!

·      Douglas Campbell, Framing Paul. $26.

This is most recent work to delve into the intricacies of Paul’s life and the chronology of his epistles. Campbell’s work has been criticized and praised across the board within the scholarly realm, and I suspect it will be a few years until scholars have felt the full weight of his arguments. For instance, he argues that Paul wrote all of the epistles attributed to him except for the Pastoral Epistles.

Campbell also thinks the epistle to “Ephesians” is not the epistle to Ephesus, but is rather to Laodicea—a hypothesis that I think has some serious traction. All in all, Campbell leaves few stones unturned, and he has shown himself willing to accept few scholarly conventions at face value. Whether or not he is successful will be seen in the next few years.

·      Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, Paul: A Critical Life. $35.

Written in the mid-1990s, this was one of two books Allison allowed me to bring on our honeymoon to Hawaii. As I sat in a Romanesque bathhouse, I was struck by O’Connor’s work. I was new to the theology realm, and hadn’t been accepted to seminary yet, so all of this was new. Unlike Campbell, who tends to stay away from the historical backdrop of Paul’s world, O’Connor delves deeply into the Mediterranean realm in order to situate Paul in his own social context.

Like Campbell, O’Connor challenges several conventions, excluded Ephesians and the Pastoral Epistles as being Pauline. However, he argues passionately for Pauline authorship of Colossians and 2 Thessalonians, even suggesting that the Thessalonian correspondence contains several partition theories. All in all, a fascinating book that eschews theology in favor of historical placement.

·      F.F. Bruce, Paul: An Apostle of the Heart Set Free. $20.

Bruce’s book is considered a classic, though it is now outdated. It is long and a bit of a slog to get through, as opposed to Campbell and O’Connor, who write with verve and wit. Bruce’s book is similar to O’Connor in vision, focusing on the various Mediterranean elements, and even does a bit of theology, especially regarding anthropology. A critical-evangelical classic.

·      Anthony Thiselton, The Living Paul. $18.

Thiselton’s work is short, barely under 200 pages. In this little work, however, is a wealth of information. The introductory nature of this book is not hindered by Thiselton’s ability to capture major scholarly debates within a short span of pages. Thiselton covers issues of justification, resurrection, baptism, and even postmodernity. A wealth of information is in here, and it is well worth your time.

Total: $99. Woo hoo! Made it. I wish I could add more in here, but rest assured, I included these works beneath.

Recommended Works:

·      Richard Pervo, The Making of Paul. $29.

Pervo is a maximalist in the Pauline world. Paul only wrote 7 epistles and even then, there are many possible interpolations within these epistles. Pervo surveys the undisputed Pauline epistles, and spends much of the book showing the “making of Paul” throughout the first few hundred years. Tidbits include Matthew as an “anti-Paulinist,” the “Acts of Paul,” and the “gnostic” interpreters of Paul. As critical and liberal as one can get, but Pervo’s writing is witty, sly, and filled with subtle insights and wisecracks. For a “liberal” reading of Paul, this is simply my favorite.

·      David Horrell, An Introduction to the Study of Paul. $24.

Similar in format to Thiselton, but more structured and less theological. Horrell survey’s Paul’s life, his main debates (Judaism, for example), and the legacy of Paul within the New Testament (c.f. Ephesians and the rest of the Deutero-Pauline corpus). Horrell is critical but humble, allowing tensions to stand without dismissing them.

·      Jouette Bassler, Navigating Paul. $13.

Billed more as an “introduction to key theological concepts,” Bassler’s book was one of the first works on Paul to put a pebble in my shoe. She surveys several main issues in this work, including Paul and the Law, the mystical reality of Christ, the future of Israel and the Parousia.

·      Amy-Jill Levine, ed. A Feminist Companion to Paul. Used $14. Available Third-Party Sellers.

As someone who enjoys reading feminist criticism of Paul (who else, after all, inspires such responses?), this book is a treasure trove of insights. Another volume is A Feminist Companion to Deutero-Paul. While I rarely agree with these interrupters, I find myself challenged to further explore the depths of Paul’s impact on the Western world.

I hope this all helps!

In Christ,

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