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Paul and the Power of Grace

, 2020
ISBN: 9780802874610
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Paul and the Gift changed the landscape of Pauline studies forever upon its publication in 2015. In it, John Barclay led readers through a recontextualized analysis of grace and interrogated Paul’s original meaning in declaring it a “free gift” from God, revealing grace as a multifaceted concept that is socially radical and unconditioned—even if not unconditional.

Paul and the Power of Grace offers all of the most significant contributions from Paul and the Gift in a package several hundred pages lighter and more accessible. Additionally, Barclay adds further analysis of the theme of gift and grace in Paul’s other letters and explores contemporary implications for this new view of grace.

Resource Experts
  • Presents the most significant contributions of Paul and the Gift
  • Adds further analysis of the theme of gift and grace
  • Explores contemporary implications for this new view of grace

Top Highlights

“Paul took the Christ-gift, the ultimate gift of God to the world, to be given without regard to worth, and in the absence of worth—an unconditioned or incongruous gift that did not match the worth of its recipients but created it.” (Page xviii)

“As we shall see, most gifts and benefits in the ancient world were distributed discriminately to fitting or worthy recipients. In Christian theology, however, charis (and its Latin translation, gratia) acquired a distinctive tenor: they came to mean a favor or gift given to the undeserving.” (Page xiv)

“Thus, Augustine combined the incongruity of grace with its priority and efficacy, the three woven tightly together” (Page 20)

“We may conclude: grace is everywhere in Second Temple Judaism, but not everywhere the same.” (Page 36)

“Thirdly, charis (like the related term, eucharistia) can mean the return of gratitude or thanksgiving (e.g., 2 Cor 9:15: ‘charis [thanks] be to God for his inexpressible gift’). These three meanings of charis represent the circular movement of gifts: a gift given to a favored person creates gratitude in return.” (Page 2)

Pauline studies and the church will be indebted to Barclay’s Paul and the Gift for decades, and those who read and ponder will never be the same again.

—Scot McKnight

A deeply impressive study by a superb scholar from whom all will learn a great deal. Indeed, future Pauline scholars are now significantly indebted to Barclay for this superabundant scholarly gift.

—Douglas A. Campbell, Duke Divinity School

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.

—David G. Horrell, University of Exeter

John Barclay is Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at the University of Durham, succeeding the position held by James D.G. Dunn. He is the author of Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora, Paul and the Gift, Negotiating Diaspora: Jewish Strategies in the Roman Empire, and Colossians and Philemon, part of theT & T Clark Bible Guides Collection.


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  1. Zac Owens

    Zac Owens