This volume posits two pillars as the foundations of Paul’s thought: one, the interaction between coherence and contingency in Paul’s interpretation of the Gospel, and two, the apocalyptic character of his Gospel.
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“In short, Paul’s conversion experience is not the entrance to his thought. Paul is preoccupied by his call to the apostolate and gospel as service to the world, not by his conversion experience.” (Page 10)
“It is in this sense that I speak about the coherent center of Paul’s gospel as a symbolic structure: it is a Christian apocalyptic structure of thought—derived from a constitutive primordial experience and delineating the Christ-event in its meaning for the apocalyptic consummation of history, that is, in its meaning for the triumph of God.” (Page 16)
“My claim, however, is that the character of Paul’s contingent hermeneutic is shaped by his apocalyptic core in that in nearly all cases the contingent interpretation of the gospel points—whether implicitly or explicitly—to the imminent cosmic triumph of God.” (Page 19)
“Rather, he is able to make the gospel a word on target for the particular needs of his churches without either compromising its basic content or reducing it to a petrified conceptuality.” (Page 12)
“three basic ideas: (1) historical dualism; (2) universal cosmic expectation; and (3) the imminent end of the world” (Page 136)
This theological construction is so imposing that it is likely to become the lightning rod for the next phase of scholarly storms. . . . Both in opening up new solutions to knotty interpretive problems, Paul the Apostle is a major achievement. It should be on the ‘must-read’ list for every serious devotee of the New Testament.
. . . a full-dress study of Paul’s thought, characterized by comprehensiveness, exegetical discipline, theological penetration, and a passion for a responsible contemporary hermeneutic. . . . It will grace our Pauline shelves for a very long time, not least because readers will sense that the theological passions that raged in the heart and mind of Paul incite a contagious resonance in the heart and mind of the distinguished author.
—Word and World
This book is a serious proposal by a mature scholar. Its specificity will drive others to investigate the breadth of learning it presumes. Its theological concern is candidly accessible on the grounds of historical and exegetical inquiry. It is a welcome contribution to New Testament interpretation.
—Catholic Biblical Quarterly