101 Questions & Answers on Paul
Barram, Michael, Interpretation
101 Questions & Answers on Paul by Ronald D. Witherup Paulist, New York, 2003. 220 pp. $16.95. ISBN 0-8091-4180-9.
IN THIS WORTHY ADDITION to Paulist Press's helpful 101 Questions & Answers series, Ronald Witherup treats a wide range of issues pertaining to Paul's life, career, and letters. Readers will welcome what amounts to a competent and readable overview of Pauline thought and scholarship.
The genius of the 101 Questions & Answers series is that topics are addressed in a dialogical fashion. The authors pose common, yet important questions they have encountered throughout their teaching careers, followed by brief but thoughtful responses informed by critical scholarship, pedagogical and pastoral sensitivity and, occasionally, relevant Catholic tradition and teaching. Non-specialists may find the question-and-answer format more accessible and interesting than traditional introductory texts designed for formal studies. In this case, serious and casual readers alike are able to test the convoluted Pauline waters without drowning in detail.
Witherup begins by noting his concern with the reception of Paul in popular imagination. Specifically, the apostle's letters are often read without adequate attention to their original contexts and thus "many people have often misunderstood Paul" (p. 4). Nevertheless, Witherup readily acknowledges that much about the apostle is difficult to understand, and that scholarly debate rages on myriad fronts. He does not purport, therefore, to offer definitive "answers" as much as reasoned "responses" to some of the most common concerns raised about Paul (p. …