Walking between the Times: Paul's Moral Reasoning

Walking between the Times: Paul's Moral Reasoning

Walking between the Times: Paul's Moral Reasoning

Walking between the Times: Paul's Moral Reasoning


Two times govern Paul's thought world: the death and resurrection of Jesus, marking the origin of the believer's life; and Christ's return or parousia, culminating God's purposes with this world. Between these two times Paul is concerned about how believers behave - how they walk. J. Paul Sampley provides a guidebook for all who want to understand Paul's thought world, his moral reasoning, and the resources for deliberation that Paul considers available to believers.


Two times frame Paul's thought world or symbolic universe. One is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which marks the origin of the new life of faith. the other is Christ's return, or Parousia, which will signal the culmination of God's purposes with the world. Paul is concerned with how believers behave, or walk, between these two times.

Two questions have fired much of my investigation of Paul in recent years: How did Paul do his moral reasoning and what resources did he think were available to those who were in Christ? Paul's letters are written conversations with various communities of believers across the northeast quadrant of the Mediterranean world. This book asks how Paul approaches moral issues. It focuses on Paul as his letters show him arriving at moral counsel or disclosing some already-established teaching about how his followers ought to behave. the study does not pursue the interesting questions of how well or how poorly Paul's different communities understood him or put his counsel into practice.

Unless otherwise noted, the translations of Paul's letters are mine. Paul's predilection for technical terms, for using words in such a way as to make them take on a special meaning, is the reason for occasional Greek transliterations in the text. I have tried to keep references to the Greek to a minimum so that there is not too much distraction, but have included them so that the curious student may see patterns in Paul's choice of terms.

Many people have favored me with a close reading of the manuscript and with suggestions. I appreciate their time and their sharing of themselves with me and with Sally in this effort. in particular I want to thank Wayne and Martha Meeks, each of whom . . .

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