Friday, March 2, 2012

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

I'll admit, the idea of "rediscovering Paul" sounds some what presumptuous. So when I was sent a review copy of Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology, I came into the text with the attitude of "yeah, yeah. I've heard of people trying to put new spins on Paul. This isn't anything new." I was right...and let me tell you, that's a good thing!

Authors David Capes, Rodney Reeves and E. Randolph Richards have written a book that takes recent Pauline scholarship and boils it down to the essentials. There isn't much by way of pioneering here. What you have is just a flat out consistent, relevant and fun (yes, fun) textbook on Paul. They are uncompromisingly conservative on their approach to Paul and give him the benefit of the doubt. They argue for the legitimacy of the disputed Pauline letters and provide a balanced approach to the N.P.P. The authors are also quite fair, providing the spectrum of arguments.

As the title of the book already tells the reader, the authors devote time to background issues in Paul and from there they move on to evaluating each letter and finally, they give an overview of his theology. The chapters devoted to Pauline background are fascinating. I really enjoyed the chapter on letter writing in antiquity.

The overview of each of Paul's letters is great. What makes this book standout is that the authors will have a little subsection every few pages that explains the relevance a particular point of Paul's letters. Their application was always very challenging to me. They often tie in Paul's theology to present day issues. It is absolutely fantastic.

The only point where I can really complain is their section on Paul's theology. They really own devote a chapter to synthesizing Paul's thinking. The result is that it is a bit light. While I acknowledge that this is just an introduction, it would have been nice to at least spend three or so chapters on different parts of Paul's theology.

These are small complaints though for a really fantastic book. It never really felt like I was reading a textbook on Paul. The pacing seemed just right. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a refresher on Paul or an excellent introduction on his thought.

*Thanks to IVP Academic who provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair review*

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