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Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology

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Paul was the talk of the marketplace and the raconteur of the Parthenon. Maybe it's time to give Paul a break, let go of some stereotypes and try to get to know him on his own terms. Let the authors be your guides in this book that helps us find Paul again through contemporary scholarship. Paul was the talk of the marketplace and the raconteur of the Parthenon. Maybe it's time to give Paul a break, let go of some stereotypes and try to get to know him on his own terms. Let the authors be your guides in this book that helps us find Paul again through contemporary scholarship.


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Paul was the talk of the marketplace and the raconteur of the Parthenon. Maybe it's time to give Paul a break, let go of some stereotypes and try to get to know him on his own terms. Let the authors be your guides in this book that helps us find Paul again through contemporary scholarship. Paul was the talk of the marketplace and the raconteur of the Parthenon. Maybe it's time to give Paul a break, let go of some stereotypes and try to get to know him on his own terms. Let the authors be your guides in this book that helps us find Paul again through contemporary scholarship.

30 review for Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology

  1. 5 out of 5

    James

    I previously reviewed David Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards' Rediscovering Jesus  (IVP Academic, 2015) That book was an evocative and whimsical look at both biblical images of Jesus in the New Testament and later cultural portrayals of Jesus (e.g. Gnostic Jesus, Jesus in Islam, Mormon Jesus, the cinematic Jesus, and American Jesus, etc). However, that book was not Capes, Reeves and Richard's first collaboration. Way back in 2007 they published Rediscovering Paul: an Introduction to I previously reviewed David Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards' Rediscovering Jesus  (IVP Academic, 2015) That book was an evocative and whimsical look at both biblical images of Jesus in the New Testament and later cultural portrayals of Jesus (e.g. Gnostic Jesus, Jesus in Islam, Mormon Jesus, the cinematic Jesus, and American Jesus, etc). However, that book was not Capes, Reeves and Richard's first collaboration. Way back in 2007 they published Rediscovering Paul: an Introduction to His World, Letters, and Theology.  I did not have the privilege of reading the first edition, but there is now a second edition (Nov 2017), which has been expanded to include recent Pauline research, and new material for the "So What?" and "What's More?" sections (I'll explain what these are below). This is a non-technical, introductory textbook which examines the life and thought of the Apostle Paul. Capes is the associate dean of biblical and theological studies and professor of New Testament at Wheaton, Reeves is the dean and biblical studies professor at the Court Redford College of Theology and Ministry, and Randolph is provost and professor of biblical studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University.  In addition to their collaboration, each has penned monographs on Paul (Capes's The Divine Christ: Paul, the Lord Jesus, and the Scriptures of Israel, forthcoming from Baker Academic; Reeves's Spirituality According to Paul, IVP Academic, 2011; and Randolph's Paul Behaving Badly, IVP 2015).  Each of the book's twelve chapters includes two types of text boxes. The "So What?" discusses why the topic being discussed (e.g. an aspect of Paul's life, theology or interpretation of his letters) should matter to us. The "What's More" sections provide supplementary information to aid our rediscovery of Paul. Additionally, each chapter (except for the last one), closes with suggestions for further reading, and there is a Pauline studies glossary and bibliography at the back of the book. Chapter 1 describes Paul's thought world—his Jewish Diaspora, Mediterranean Greco-Roman context and his understanding and his use of Greek Rhetoric. Chapter 2 delves deeper into Paul's biography and his 'Christophany' as described in Acts and Galatians. Chapter 3 discusses Paul's letter writing (i.e. his format, literary devices and writing process). Chapters 4 through 9 provide brief overviews of each of Paul's letters. Chapter 10 describes the influences on, and influence of Paul's theology and spirituality. Chapter 11 explores Paul's literary legacy and the journey his writings took toward canonization. Chapter 12, concludes the book with reflections on how Paul has been read through church history and what contemporary issues he peculiarly speaks to. Because this is an introductory textbook, Capes, Randolph and Richards do not break a lot of new ground. However, they give you an overview of Pauline studies from a scholarly, confessional perspective. That doesn't mean they don't engage critical scholarship though they tend to favor a more traditional and New Perspective sympathetic approach to Pauline research (though they will critique both traditional and New Perspective approaches gently along the way) One of the places where it may matter is in terms of Pauline authorship. They begin their survey of Paul's letters with the uncontested books: Galatians, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Romans before turning to more contested Prison letters (Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians) and pastorals (Timothy and Titus). (Philemon is also clearly Pauline, but discussed with the later Prison letters because of its relationship to Colossians). However, Capes, Reeves, and Randolph argue, along traditional lines, that Paul is indeed the author of all the books in the New Testament which bear his name. They account for the stylistic and grammatical differences between the various books by the occasional nature of each letter, the communal process of ancient letter writing and Paul's use of secretaries for preparing each of his letters (103-105). They note: Apollonarius's secretaries clearly accounted for the considerable stylistic differences in his letters. Scholars of Cicero indicate that Cicero's letters varied considerably in vocabulary and style. In fact, some letters are stylistically more similar to the letters of others than to his own. Since secretaries often caused minor differences in the letters of other writers, we should allow this for Paul's letters. Letters may vary because the secreatries varied. (106). They review some of the arguments against Pauline authorship in their discussion of the Prison and pastoral letters, as it relates to each of the letters, but they maintain Pauline authorship in each case. Critics of Paul malign him as chauvinist, sexist, homophobic and judgmental. Capes, Reeves and Randolph note that "Caricaturing Jesus as loving and Paul as judgmental is incredibly misleading because they are so distorted: for example, more than anyone else, Jesus is the one who preached about hell. Paul never mentions it" (402). They note Paul's opposition to homosexuality but note the differences between Ancient Rome's sexual practices and our own (and that Paul doesn't signal same-sex practice out in particular but lists it alongside other sins, like gossiping). They contextualize Paul's comments about women. This book doesn't answer any of these questions to my satisfaction, but the authors take care to read Paul well and point at some of the inherent issues in interpreting the text. In general, this is a pretty solid introduction to the writing and thought of Paul, appropriate for college undergrads. It leaves off the more technical discussions and summarizes the contours of debates. The surveys of the letters may also be useful for those who are preaching or teaching through one of Paul's epistles and would like a birds-eye-view of the letter and its theology. Unfortunately, at 462 pages, this book is likely to scare off the general reader, though it is certainly accessible enough. It is unsurprising that I liked Rediscovering Jesus more than Rediscovering Paul. After all, if I had to choose between those two, it would be Jesus every time. Still, while this book lacks some of the whimsy of their Jesus volume, this book does a great job of describing Paul's thought and impact. I give this four stars. ★★★★ Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from IVP Academic in exchange for my honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology by David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards is a unique resource that offers itself as a manageably sized textbook aiming to tackle a number of key Pauline related introductory matters in a single volume. Capes, Reeves, and Richards guide the reader through an analysis of Paul’s background, an introduction to the letters and a survey of the ministry surrounding Paul’s letters, and an integrated study of Paul’s Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology by David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards is a unique resource that offers itself as a manageably sized textbook aiming to tackle a number of key Pauline related introductory matters in a single volume. Capes, Reeves, and Richards guide the reader through an analysis of Paul’s background, an introduction to the letters and a survey of the ministry surrounding Paul’s letters, and an integrated study of Paul’s theology and spirituality. Now, with the recent release of a second edition, Capes, Reeves, and Richards bring a welcomed update and revision to an increasingly useful introductory textbook. Capes, Reeves, and Richards do much to strip away many of the preconceived notions that readers may have concerning Paul (particularly Western interpretive influences). But more than simply deconstruct the readers understanding, Capes, Reeves, and Richards offer a new set of lenses guided by a biblically informed and contextually sensitive worldview. Rediscovering Paul begins with a biographical approach in the initial two chapters, providing readers with a background to the Apostle and his conversion. Next, Capes, Reeves, and Richards discuss Paul as a writer and the nature of his epistolary corpus, before the reader’s attention is turned towards his writings. Lastly, attention is directed towards the life, impact, and legacy of Paul’s theology and spirituality. Throughout, the readers will discover “So What?” and “What’s More” sections that provide further detail and application to specific topics. These have been revised and expanded in the second edition. Additionally, most of the chapters in the book conclude with a “Read More About It” section, including a brief list of recommended resources and a list of relevant articles from the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (IVP, 1993). There is much to be praised about Rediscovering Paul. First and foremost, as with the previous edition, the authors have done a fantastic job synthesizing and updating the need to know information relevant in an introductory textbook. Both teachers and students should rejoice in their collective effort. Second, the updates included in the second edition provide readers interaction with many recent conversations within the arena of Pauline studies. Interestingly, readers are afforded an opportunity to observe some of the updated conversation if they follow the recommended articles from the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, which is nearly twenty-five years old now. Third, the intentionality of the authors to connect readers to the world of Paul is refreshing. It will be difficult to have read this volume without learning something new about the Apostle and not being challenged along the way. The second edition of Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology by David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards is to be both welcomed and celebrated. Capes, Reeves, and Richards have refined, expanded, and updated a book that has impacted many, and influenced many more. Rediscovering Paul is an introductory investigation that guides readers through the deep forest of contemporary Pauline studies. It’s well-written, appropriately challenging, and surprisingly enjoyable. If you are looking for a recent book on Paul that will rightly orient you towards the Apostle and everything that made him tick, then Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology couldn’t be recommended more!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy Reagan

    If you are looking for a quality textbook on Paul, then you should consider this second edition of “Rediscovering Paul” by David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards. It addresses enough of modern scholarly debates on Paul to please students while being well-written enough to please pastors or Bible students. I felt that chapter 1 about placing Paul in his times and world was worth the price of the book. It read so well, and so engages the reader, that it was a pure joy. Some works t If you are looking for a quality textbook on Paul, then you should consider this second edition of “Rediscovering Paul” by David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards. It addresses enough of modern scholarly debates on Paul to please students while being well-written enough to please pastors or Bible students. I felt that chapter 1 about placing Paul in his times and world was worth the price of the book. It read so well, and so engages the reader, that it was a pure joy. Some works that explain to us how we err in viewing Paul through Western eyes are so dry, but that could not be said of this one. The next chapter addresses what the authors call the Christophany. Some modern scholars almost paint Paul and Christ as rivals, but these authors do a good job of making them friends. Still, they reference and interact with some of those wild scholarly theories. In fairness, as a textbook they had no choice. Chapter 3 looks at Paul as a letter writer and contains some interesting information I had not seen anywhere else. The next four chapters consider Galatians, the Thessalonian letters, the Corinthian letters, and Romans. The other Pauline letters are addressed in chapters 8 and 9. The final chapters consider Paul’s theology, his legacy, and then viewing his letters in modern times. There are some maps, a very helpful glossary for students, a lengthy bibliography, and several helpful indices at the end of this attractive hardback. There were some capitulations to some of the newer scholarly conclusions that I couldn’t agree with, but overall this is a quite helpful book. It succeeds on every level as a textbook, but as a pastor I’d label it an asset to the rest of us too. It’s engaging writing style was its best asset. Some of the interesting asides covering no more than a page or so were also appreciated. I warmly recommend this volume. I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kenson Gonzalez

    In the New Testament, after Jesus the most outstanding character is the apostle Paul. Over the decades, his figure has been the object of study, reaching a hypothesis that in some respects contradicts each other. For the average christian, the apostle Paul is the writer of most letters in the New Testament. That is all. There is no knowledge of who this character was, what his social and cultural environment was. How to know about Paul? This book helps us to do it. It is a book very friendly but i In the New Testament, after Jesus the most outstanding character is the apostle Paul. Over the decades, his figure has been the object of study, reaching a hypothesis that in some respects contradicts each other. For the average christian, the apostle Paul is the writer of most letters in the New Testament. That is all. There is no knowledge of who this character was, what his social and cultural environment was. How to know about Paul? This book helps us to do it. It is a book very friendly but it remains solid in content. Readers will find information about Paul's social and cultural environment, as well as about the revolutionary moment in the life of the apostle, that is, the encounter he had with Jesus en route to Damascus. What makes this book different and special is that it offers the possibility that each one of us can know Paul and not only that, but the context in which he writes his letters. In this way, the student is enriched in the study of the Pauline epistles. In each chapter we can also find two type of text boxes titled "What's more..." and "So what...", which offer additional information on some issue or ideas to reflect on what was discussed in the chapter.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy McNeese

    Amazing take and historical look at St Paul, and the life/likely reasoning behind his letters.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Annie Large

    Read for seminary. It was pretty interesting but a slow read, friend!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rod Zinkel

    Very good overview of Paul's letters, including his cultural and personal background. The approach emphasizes Paul's Jewishness and belief in Jesus as the fulfillment of Judaism. Very good overview of Paul's letters, including his cultural and personal background. The approach emphasizes Paul's Jewishness and belief in Jesus as the fulfillment of Judaism.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    4.5–5 stars This book is a nice intro to Paul, his world, & his letters. I especially liked the suggested articles at the end of each chapter—from the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (which will need to be updated when the second edition of DPL comes out in 2022ish)—that correlate with each chapter.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caedmon

    Rediscovering Paul – An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology. By David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves and E. Randolph Richards. InterVarsity Press, 2007. 329 pages. Hardback. “Rediscovering Paul”, a book written by David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves and E. Randolph Richards is (for the most part) a successful attempt to provide an introductory text that gives a fair overview of Paul, his writings and his theology; giving special consideration to those topics in light of Paul’s world as he lived it. Rediscovering Paul – An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology. By David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves and E. Randolph Richards. InterVarsity Press, 2007. 329 pages. Hardback. “Rediscovering Paul”, a book written by David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves and E. Randolph Richards is (for the most part) a successful attempt to provide an introductory text that gives a fair overview of Paul, his writings and his theology; giving special consideration to those topics in light of Paul’s world as he lived it. (pgs. 15-16) Particularly, the authors strive to present a Paul that in many respects runs contrary to the preconceived notions of the students whom they teach. All three are deans of respected Universities in the Bible Belt, and all combat “Western”, Americanized misguided perceptions of Paul and his letters. These preconceived notions of Paul (presumably the notions of the authors’ students) are at the forefront of the authors’ minds as they explore who Paul really was. For instance, one of the authors states that as he thought about who Paul was, he “…began to question if my Western, domesticated, middle-class perception of Paul was the real Paul. Had my culture superimposed its values over the biblical Paul? (p. 14)”. In some respects, this statement smacks of the same tired critiques of “the West” that have recently been offered up by those in the Emergent Movement. Yet perhaps such critiques are needed, especially those directed at church-goers. It must be said that all three of the authors are obviously well-read and well-studied. To their credit, they have learned the ideas and writings of men throughout church history whom they disagree with, yet they present the material in a fair and thoughtful way. In the chapter entitled “Paul’s Conversion, Call and Chronology”, the authors give a substantial amount of thought and ink to dealing with the “New Perspective on Paul” contention that Paul’s “conversion” was not along the lines of the traditional Lutheran type of salvific conversion, but rather it was more along the lines of a re-focusing of his “Jewishness” to include the Gentiles as well. While the authors seem to disagree with the “New Perspective”, they do so in a balanced and somewhat refreshing way (pgs. 90-94). Additionally, the authors do a fair job of defending the primary issues of Christian Orthodoxy. In defending the creation of the Canon, they state that “Sometimes it is necessary to question the ‘establishment,’ as Martin Luther did; however, the verdict even on Luther’s actions was determined by the church over an extended period of time. (p. 293)”. They perceptively ask the rhetorical question: “Why do we think we have the right to question a decision accepted by millions of Christians worldwide over two thousand years? (p. 293)”. While the authors are not shy about asking some hard questions of themselves, their students and their readers, they do well to not go too far and leave the walls of Orthodoxy itself. Yet, “Rediscovering Paul” is not without its weaknesses. While the authors aimed to have a “…finished product that was relatively seamless, speaking with one voice while still drawing on the expertise of each author (p. 16)”, the book does not read as seamlessly as the authors would have liked. In the discussion on the book of Romans, much effort is given to explaining chapters one through eleven, yet chapters twelve through sixteen, the “application” part of Romans, is only given a terse two page summary. This abruptness is somewhat disconcerting, especially when viewed in concert with the long (and somewhat tedious) discussion regarding letter writing in Paul’s day (pgs. 54-82). While many will find things in this book that will challenge them, make them uncomfortable and perhaps even anger them; the authors deal with the question of who Paul was with a necessary honesty and openness that their students and their readers would do well to follow.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This book is a very good introduction to the life and writings of the Apostle Paul. The audience is college-educated evangelical Protestants (such as myself), but I think this book would make for profitable writing for anyone interested in learning more about Paul, his letters, and his world. For me, the best parts of the book were the sections on "Paul, The Letter Writer" and "Paul's Legacy." The former covered letter writing conventions in Paul's day, which was fascinating and helps to explain This book is a very good introduction to the life and writings of the Apostle Paul. The audience is college-educated evangelical Protestants (such as myself), but I think this book would make for profitable writing for anyone interested in learning more about Paul, his letters, and his world. For me, the best parts of the book were the sections on "Paul, The Letter Writer" and "Paul's Legacy." The former covered letter writing conventions in Paul's day, which was fascinating and helps to explain many of the stylistic differences between Paul's letters. The legacy section was interesting because it introduced the topic of how we got from individual letters to a "Pauline collection" to the collection that we now call the New Testament. In my view, the first and last chapters could have been better executed and perhaps were overly simplistic: the writing is well-done and thoughtful, but I thought that the discussion could have been more thorough.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bob Price

    In an effort to review some of my Biblical knowledge, I set about reading Paul's letters and reading Rediscovering Paul by David Capes, et al. What you find in these pages is very simply an introduction to Paul's writing. The writers give an overview of each of Paul's letters and tehn go on to discuss the finer points of Paul's theology and have closing thoughts on Paul's application to today. The book is not very challenging and provides side articles to help readers understand some of the cultur In an effort to review some of my Biblical knowledge, I set about reading Paul's letters and reading Rediscovering Paul by David Capes, et al. What you find in these pages is very simply an introduction to Paul's writing. The writers give an overview of each of Paul's letters and tehn go on to discuss the finer points of Paul's theology and have closing thoughts on Paul's application to today. The book is not very challenging and provides side articles to help readers understand some of the cultural impact of Paul's first century context. Overall, there is nothing truly new in the book in terms of content. The 'packaging' of the information is very good and very helpful for somebody who is new to biblical studies. Overall, this is a good solid introduction to Paul.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Haines

    This was an absolutely wonderful book to read. It engages the debates, and pushes the reader to pursue the questions even further. I will be writing a full review of this book on my blog (philosopherdhaines.blogspot.ca), but, I will say that I highly recommend this book to anyone who is in constant contact with the writings of Paul. This is a great introduction to Paul's writings, life and thought. This was an absolutely wonderful book to read. It engages the debates, and pushes the reader to pursue the questions even further. I will be writing a full review of this book on my blog (philosopherdhaines.blogspot.ca), but, I will say that I highly recommend this book to anyone who is in constant contact with the writings of Paul. This is a great introduction to Paul's writings, life and thought.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    This is a fantastic book. It sets the reading of the New Testament, particularly Paul's letters into a fresh perspective. The section on ancient letter writing is particularly useful and enlightening. It really enriches the reading of the epistles. I would highly recommend this book for any Christian. This is a fantastic book. It sets the reading of the New Testament, particularly Paul's letters into a fresh perspective. The section on ancient letter writing is particularly useful and enlightening. It really enriches the reading of the epistles. I would highly recommend this book for any Christian.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Landon

    This is by far the most helpful introduction to Paul's letter that I have come across. It is scholarly and accessible. Great resource for anyone who wants to understand Paul better. This is by far the most helpful introduction to Paul's letter that I have come across. It is scholarly and accessible. Great resource for anyone who wants to understand Paul better.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Jones

    A good book on each of the letters, organized in a way to check one of Paul's letters quickly. A good book on each of the letters, organized in a way to check one of Paul's letters quickly.

  16. 4 out of 5

    BLESSEN

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adam Larrison

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bekah

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eric Neudorf

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dustin Humphreys

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ray Wilkins

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dan Hues

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maarten De vries

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tony

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ebenezer Birink

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mike Jones

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Luke

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