Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought

Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought

Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought

Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought


With a new preface by the author, this book posists two pillars as the foundations of Paul's thought: (1) the interaction between coherence and contingency in Paul's interpretation of the gospel and (2) the apocalyptic character of his gospel.

"This theological construction is so imposing that it is likely to become the lightning rod for the next phase of scholarly storms. . . . Both in opening up new solutions to knotty interpretive problems, Paul the Apostle is a major achievement. It should be on the 'must-read' list for every serious devotee of the New Testament."

--Robert Jewett

Theology Today

". . . a full-dress study of Paul's thought, characterized by comprehensiveness, exegetical discipline, theological penetration, and a passion for a responsible contemporary hermeneutic. . . . It will grace our Pauline shelves for a very long time, not least because readers will sense that the theological passions that raged in the heart and mind of Paul incite a contagious resonance in the heart and mind of the distinguished author."

--J. Louis Martyn

Word and World

"This book is a serious proposal by a mature scholar. Its specificity will drive others to investigate the breadth of learning it presumes. Its theological concern is candidly accessible on the grounds of historical and exegetical inquiry. It is a welcome contribution to New Testament interpretation."

--David L. Tiede

Catholic Biblical Quarterly


Paul has been a controversial figure throughout history and has provoked extreme reactions of admiration and dislike. the complexity of his thought is in no small way responsible for this.

However, when we turn to the world of scholarship for a more balanced judgment, we encounter similar extremes. the history of interpretation presents us with a bewildering variety of evaluations: portraits of Paul the rationalist and systematic theologian, and of Paul the mystic or religious genius, have claimed equal validity. Champions of a pervasive Hellenistic influence on Paul have vied with those who claim his purely Jewish provenance.

Although in recent years the sharp alternatives have been reduced to a broader consensus, the nature of Paul's thought and its relevance for the variety of human circumstance in his mission field have not been sufficiendy clarified. Too often analyses of various segments of Paul's thought have been made to appear as if they comprehend the whole of Paul; and too often the “original” of Paul's thought has been distorted for the sake of modern relevance and instant edification.

This study attempts to move toward an understanding of “the whole Paul” by focusing on two fundamental questions. What is the coherent theme of Paul's thought and what is the texture of his hcrmeneutic?

I posit the triumph of God as the coherent theme of Paul's gospel; that is, the hope in the dawning victory of God and in the imminent redemption of the created order, which he has inaugurated in Christ. Moreover, I claim that Paul's hermeneutic translates the apocalyptic theme of the gospel into the contingent particularities of the human situation. Paul's ability to correlate the consistent theme of the gospel and its contingent relevance constitutes his unique achievement in the history of early Christian thought.

Paul neither imposes a doctrinal system on his hearers nor compromises the truth of the gospel for the sake of strategic victories nor celebrates spiritual immediacy at the price of consistency.

The book attempts throughout to make the historical understanding of Paul hermeneutically relevant for our own theological situation. For not . . .

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