E. P. Sanders offers an expansive introduction to the apostle, navigating some of the thorniest issues in scholarship using language accessible to the novice and seasoned scholar alike. Always careful to distinguish what we can know historically from what we may only conjecture, and these from dogmatically driven misrepresentations, Sanders sketches a fresh picture of the apostle as an ardent defender of his own convictions, ever ready to craft the sorts of arguments that now fill his letters.
“Paul would be one of the most interesting people in the ancient world to study even if he occupied a smaller place in history. But, of course, he is one of the most influential figures in the history of the Near East and the West. Paul was trying to convert gentiles (non-Jews) to worship the God of Israel and to accept Jesus as Son of God and savior of the world. Other missionaries had this same task, but Paul was the preeminent ‘apostle to the gentiles.’ He faced the problem of thinking up new theological expressions and new practices for a movement that, though deeply rooted in Judaism and thus in some ways old, was partly new.” (Page xxi)