Paul : Fresh Perspectives, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


This builds on and develops a new approach to Paul being formulated by a group of scholars (including Tom Wright).

The book first outlines different angles that have been taken (accent on his Jewishness, his Citizenship, his approach to the Law, his determination to bring in non-Jews) etc.

It then puts forward, as a coherent thesis, the new approach that will be expanded on in the next large volume in the Christian Origins and the Question of God series.

The book is based on the prestigious Hulsean Lectures he gave this Spring at Cambridge.




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In this relatively brief volume Wright seeks to present a synthesis of his ideas about St Paul. After an introduction he goes on to arge that Paul's contribution was to rethink his Judaism in the light of his belief that Jesus was the Messiah. To do this Wright first sketches a worldview shared by Paul based on three related sets of pairs. The first is creation & covenant - the God who calls Israel is the Creator God, and for Paul, as for some strands of Judaism, the purpose of Israel's call and covenant was ultimately to bring everbody into God's kingdom. In the next chapter on Messaih and Apocalyptic Wright argues that, given the plan of creation and covenant have not gone to plan because of Sin, God needs to act in some way to restore things. This was a widespread Jewish belief, even if there was dispute over the modality of that intervention. For paul, of course, Jesus is that messiah (Wright argues against those who suggest that Paul mostly uses 'Christ' as a kind of surname for Jesus) and so God is intervening. The particular evidence of this is the gift of the spirit (hence there is at least an implicit trinitarian dimension to Paul's viusion). The third pair is Gospel and Empire. Although Paul famously urges obedience to wordly authorities, this does not represent an aproval of the idolatrous dimensions of Roman civic life, and Paul in various places shows that the only tru Lord is Jesus Christ., occasionaly with clear anti-imperial flourishes.In the secon half of the book Wright goes on to outline how thinking about God, God's people, and Eschatology are transformed in the light of Jesus and the spirit, thus providing an alternative and (Wright would argue) better framework for Pauline theology. I found the book engaging and interesting, though I found the frequent repetition of "I've dealt with that in greater detail elsewhere". The coloquial style betrays its origins as a series of lectures (at Cambridgw) which Wright deliberately retains. Wright in seversl places appeals to Colossians for support, which will undermine his case for some (though not me). Less useful was his occasional appeals to Ephesians and even Acts. Overall a good book if you want a sketch which you can read and digest in a day, but less helphull if yopu want the detail of the argument. For that you will have to, as Wright says, go to his other books