In this book esteemed Pauline scholar John Barclay presents a strikingly fresh reading of grace in Paul’s theology, studying it in view of ancient notions of “gift” and shining new light on Paul’s relationship to Second Temple Judaism. Paul and the Gift centers on divine gift-giving, which for Paul, Barclay says, is focused and fulfilled in the gift of Christ. He offers a new appraisal of Paul’s theology of the Christ-event as gift expressed in Galatians and Romans, and he presents a nuanced and detailed discussion of the history of reception of Paul. This theologically-informed and hermeneutically-useful book shows that a respectful, though not uncritical, reading of Paul contains resources that remain important for Christians today.
What else can possibly be said about ‘grace’ in the letters of Paul? Quite a lot, as it turns out. John Barclay reveals just how little we have grasped the multitude of ways in which grace—‘the gift’—was parsed among Paul’s contemporaries, including questions of reciprocity and the worth of recipients. The resulting bold proposal for reorienting Pauline theology is a landmark in New Testament scholarship.
—Beverly Roberts Gaventa, professor of New Testament, Baylor University
We have come to expect superb work from John Barclay, but that should not lessen our appreciation when it appears! Barclay’s magisterial analysis results in a powerful and compelling new understanding of Paul’s theology of grace that cuts across traditional debates and disciplinary categorizations, remaps Paul’s location among his fellow Jews, and manages to be both historically sensitive and theologically rich. This major work should—and no doubt will—be very widely discussed.
—David G. Horrell, professor of New Testament studies, University of Exeter
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