In this comprehensive work on Paul, we see not only the theology, but also the social, cultural, and political dynamics that helped to form his thinking. The book takes a chronological perspective starting with his Jewish upbringing, follows him through his conversion to a follower of Jesus and his journeys to the early Christian communities.
The book is well written and easy to follow even if you’re not a Paul scholar. I found the early chapters some of the most interesting. It’s easy to ignore the fact that the early Christians living in world shaped by political and social realities. Paul was raised in the Jewish tradition and the scope of that history had a significant bearing on his later writing.
My other favorite chapter was the last chapter where Wright puts the whole thing together. He emphasizes that Paul’s concept of love and the outward looking church were significant factors in the way Christian communities developed and responded to social challenges. He suggests this world view was responsible for founding hospitals to care for everyone and for the development of education.
Weaving the cultural and historical factors of the time into Paul’s story and teachings made the scriptures come alive for me. I highly recommend this book. Whether you’re a Paul scholar or even particularly religious, this book will make you think and, I hope, bring a new level of understanding to Paul’s Letters.
I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for this review.