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.
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.
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.
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.
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