Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Apostle of the Last Days Review

C. Marvin Pate's "Apostle of the Last Days: The Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul" is a book I wanted to really love. Eschatology really is a key element in Paul's thinking and a book-by-book analysis of Paul's eschatological thought would be wonderful to have.

Pate, to be fair, delivers this. But the product delivered strikes me as questionable. The reason why is because I feel that Pate relies too heavily upon mirror-readings of Paul's argument. In other words, Pate argues that Paul is responding to various eschatological groups that offered differing perspectives on the end times. While that is no doubt true in certain circumstances, Pate uses this as a model for every single one of Paul's letters. I am not convinced and there are times when I feel that Pate has to really stretch his argument.

What also troubles me is the lack of care given to the editing of this book. There are several pages in the introduction that repeated and there are a few spelling and verse mistakes I found throughout. Finally, (and perhaps this is just an issue of preference on my part), there is no works cited or bibliography at the end. There were a few times I wanted to find the exact work cited and was unable to.

However, do not think that this work is useless. By no means! There are some treasures here. I particularly like the synthesis of Paul's eschatological thought with systematic theology (the last chapter). Also, his chapter on Romans is really good.

So how do I summarize this work? It is a book that is useful, beneficial but not perfect. It could have been absolutely fantastic. I love the premise of it. In the end, however, it fails to completely convince. Further, it strikes me as fairly rushed and poorly edited.

For the price, I am not sure it is worth a spot in your library. If you can find a good deal on the book, however, pick it up. It does have some really good chapters.

*Thanks to Kregel Academic for providing a free review copy in exchange for a fair review.*