Shorter Reviews and Notices -- the Figure of Abraham in the Epistles of St. Paul: In the Footsteps of Abraham by Roy A. Harrisville III

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The Figure of Abraham in the Epistles of St. Paul: In the Footsteps of Abraham, by Roy A. Harrisville, III. Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, 1992. 314 pp. $79.95. ISBN 0-7734-9841.

The intent of this study is to set Paul's interpretation of Abraham within the context of the biblical and Jewish writings that speak of the patriarch in order to establish the literary antecedents of the apostle's portrayal. An evaluation of nearly fifty extrabiblical Jewish sources that deal with Abraham leads Harrisville to the conclusion that none of them served as the literary source for Paul. Any similarities that exist are owing to independent reflections on the Genesis narrative. At the substantive level, however, Paul arrived at fundamentally different views from those of his Jewish counterparts on such theological themes as promise, faith, covenant, seed of Abraham, the gentiles, righteousness, circumcision, and the law.

The other New Testament writings that speak of Abraham originated later than Paul's letters and could not have been literary antecedents for him. Although they reflect Pauline influences in some instances, they also make references to the patriarch that go beyond Paul's uses. …