It is easy to forget that the books of the Bible are not really “books,” but individual documents composed in a wide array of literary genres. This clear, concise, and accessible text on the Pauline letters orients beginning students to the genre in which Paul writes. The book compares and contrasts Paul’s letters with ancient and modern letters. It reveals the distinctive conventions, forms, and purposes of Paul’s Epistles. It focuses on the literary genre of the letter in ancient Greece and Rome and provides an overview of subjects, strategies, and concerns of immediate relevance for readers who wish to understand Paul in his ancient context. Discussion questions are included.
The Logos Bible Software edition of this volume is designed to encourage and stimulate your study and understanding of Scripture. Biblical passages link directly to your English translations and original-language texts, and important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. In addition, you can perform powerful searches by topic and find what other authors, scholars, and theologians have to say about the Word of God.
Gray not only describes complicated literary matters in clear and accessible ways but also provides helpful examples to show how knowing this information enriches understanding. His advice to readers wisely makes genre and rhetoric the servants of interpretation rather than straitjackets that demand particular forms or turns in an argument. This combination of introducing new information and demonstrating nuanced usage is just what beginning students need. The balance and clarity of this volume make it an excellent supplement in a course on Paul.
—Jerry L. Sumney, professor of biblical studies, Lexington Theological Seminary
A superb guide to Paul’s letters, impressive in its command of the relevant ancient sources and current scholarly debates. Gray’s exposition reflects a gifted teacher’s instinct for connecting with students through astute use of popular culture and classic literary texts while giving due attention to the fascinating complexity of Paul’s ancient context.
—Carl R. Holladay, Charles Howard Candler Professor of New Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Appropriately interpreting a work entails recognition of its literary genre, and that is especially true for reading the Bible, which contains a wide variety of genres. Gray’s delightful new book provides useful guidance to students in learning how to read Paul’s letters as letters, doing so in light of ancient epistolary theory and practice and with an eye to how ancient conventions differ from those used today.
—John Fitzgerald, professor of religious studies, University of Miami
This is the best entry on the letters of Paul in print. Gray covers the basic areas with clarity and balance. He invites students to experience Paul by opening their eyes rather than narrowing them. The cultural examples are a model of pedagogy.
—Gregory E. Sterling, dean, Yale Divinity School
This book should become the go-to introductory book on Paul’s letters. Clearly written and carefully organized, it moves across the complicated landscape of Paul’s letters with ease. Gray always has the reader in mind—the reader of Paul and the reader of this book—as he raises and answers questions that are essential for understanding Paul and his literary setting.
—Gail R. O’Day, dean, Wake Forest University School of Divinity
Patrick Gray is the associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the author of Godly Fear: The Epistle to the Hebrews and Greco-Roman Critiques of Superstition and the coeditor of several books, including Teaching the Bible: Practical Strategies for Classroom Instruction.