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James and Paul: The Politics of Identity at the Turn of the Ages

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Recent interest in the person and work of James of Jerusalem and in the community he led has sometimes put the apostle Paul in a negative light––a reversal of the more usual pattern in Protestantism, where Paul is the shining light and James is thrust into the shadows. Rather than exaggerating the opposition between these two figures, V. George Shillington seeks to understand them both as Jews, without prejudice, operating under the banner of Jesus crucified and risen, and engaged in different but complementary missions.

Examining what can be reconstructed of both men and their respective missions from Acts read critically and other epistolary and legendary sources, Shillington concludes that the tension between those missions indicates a conflict between different politics of identity, a conflict best understood by granting each figure the integrity of his own very Jewish vision—and recognizing the importance of how much they held in common.

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Key Features

  • Proposes a new analysis of how Paul and James' thought relates to the other
  • Avoids exaggerating the opposition between Paul and James
  • Seeks to understand both Apostles as Jews first


  • Evidence from the Rhetoric of a Primary Witness
  • An Underdeveloped Portrait in the Narrative of Luke-Acts
  • An Honorary Epistle
  • Withholding the Name of the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved
  • The Legendary James the Just
  • Awakening to the Dawn of a New Day
  • Between James and Paul: Pre-Pauline Faith Formulas Embedded in Paul’s Letters
  • The Exercise of Power in the Sphere of Christ
  • One Diverse Humanity “in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26–29)
  • Money from the Nations for the Poor Saints in Jerusalem: More Than “A Polite Bribe”
  • Conclusion: The Politics of James and Paul

Praise for the Print Edition

Provocative exegesis and readable prose combine to invite the reader into the current breakthrough period in study of a once neglected figure: James, the brother of Jesus. V. George Shillington develops a fresh portrait of James, and shows how reconceiving Jesus’ brother exerts a profound influence on how we see Paul.

—Steve Moyise

Like a detective novel, Shillington carefully sifts through the primary and secondary evidence for the lives of James and Paul. The result is a book full of insight and wisdom that will not only be of benefit to students but also to fellow scholars.

—Bruce Chilton

V. George Shillington deftly presents the imposing figures of James and Paul as both partners and rivals, impressively explaining their respective missions and commitments within different sociocultural locations. With a careful review of the evidence and recent scholarly discussion, this book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the internal diversities and conflicts within the movement claiming Jesus as Messiah in its earliest decades.

—Gordon Zerbe

Product Details

  • Title: James and Paul: The Politics of Identity at the Turn of the Ages
  • Author(s): V. George Shillington
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Pages: 382
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Topic: Pauline Studies

V. George Shillington is Professor Emeritus of Biblical and Theological Studies at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg. Publications (books): An Introduction to the Study of Luke-Acts (T & T Clark, 2007); On A Journey with God, (Springfield Publications, 2003), Reading the Sacred Text (T & T. Clark, 2002); 2 Corinthians (Herald Press, 1998). He has taught introductory courses to the New Testament for over thirty years, both at an undergraduate and a seminary level.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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