Making Sense of Paul: A Basic Introduction to Pauline Theology

Virginia Wiles

Making Sense of Paul: A Basic Introduction to Pauline Theology
Making Sense of Paul: A Basic Introduction to Pauline Theology

Book Details

Categories: Pauline Studies

Book Information

Wiles introduces Paul's theology by helping readers bridge the gaps of time and place between twenty-first-century Western readers and the first-century Mediterranean apostle. Writing with undergraduates in mind, Wiles especially relies upon solid interpretation coupled with modern analogies and engages the reader in a meaningful way. Taking her cue from the notion that what may be familiar may not necessarily be understood, Wiles shows how assuming knowledge of Paul's thought world and language leads to confusion and misunderstanding. Thus "familiar" terms such as righteousness, sin, law, and grace take on a new dimension under Wiles's guiding hand. Paul's experience of God is also factored in as a very real dimension of his relationship with God. Wiles thinks once we are able to appreciate Paul in his own context, then Paul's writings offer lessons about human existence for believer and nonbeliever alike.

"Making Sense of Paul is a refreshingly insightful and splendid attempt to allow the complexity of the Apostle's theology to become intelligible both for the beginner as well as for the mature learner. Even those who might wish to place the emphases at different points in Paul's thought will profit from the lucidity of expression and the use of consistently thought-provoking and helpful illustrations. This magnificent little gem fills a huge void in Pauline literature and rightly will find very wide usage."
-Karl Paul Donfried, Professor and Chair, Department of Religion and Biblical Literature, Smith College

Pages: 176
Publisher: Hendrickson Publishers
Published: 2000
ISBN-10: 156563117X
ISBN-13: 9781565631175


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Many have taken it in hand to write an account of Paul and his message; few have attempted a broader canvas and a fuller range of contents than in the genial Paul, A Critical Life by Jerome Murphy-O’Connor several years back, though even that book, with its 420 packed pages, failed to answer all the questions one might ask about that zealous man from Tarsus. This present book is on a more modest scale. Written with less flair for controversy and with a more consistent eye to pedagogical clarity, it is aimed at the intelligent college student who wishes to come to grips with the apostle Paul, his world, his personality, his theology, and, above all, his understanding of Christ’s death as a saving power. Wiles, associate professor of New Testament at New Brusnwick Theological Seminary, is clearly a dedicated teacher who appreciates the problems that so often block students from a proper assessment of this complex apostle. Indeed, in her preface she straightaway tackles some of these major obstacles: Paul’s unsystematic system, the “time” and “terminological gaps” and the problems of rhetoric that must be overcome in order to see what Paul was getting at, as well as the fact that in much of Paul’s writing the experiential dimension is just as prominent as the doctrinal points he wishes to make. Of course, she also affirms most warmly the value of getting a personal grasp of Paul’s thought, no matter what efforts this may cost. [Full Review]

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