In his study of Paul, Stephen Westerholm suggests that despite the unparalleled influence the apostle has exercised over the last two thousand years, he is little understood by contemporary readers because they often read the Pauline Epistles from the largely unconsidered presuppositions of modern culture. To counter that perspective, Westerholm proposes investigating the mindset of Paul himself.
Westerholm’s well-crafted book presents an insightful survey of the apostle’s thought world. It focuses on the Epistle to the Romans as the most thorough and detailed account of Paul’s convictions regarding Christian life and doctrine. Westerholm uses the letter of Romans as a guide to the themes that were most important for the apostle, revealing the fundamental elements of Paul’s thought and the Jewish tradition from which it emerged. Following the thematic approach of the epistle, he considers each subject in the order it was taken up by Paul. Along the way, he delves into the writings of the Old Testament and their influence on Paul, presenting the issues in a manner that will challenge contemporary readers to rethink their ideas about faith, belief, and the life well lived.
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Accessible yet challenging, written with clarity and lightness of touch, uncluttered with citations of secondary literature yet brimming with biblical references, this book aims to show you how Paul thought about life, while bidding you to think about your own—and it succeeds brilliantly in that aim…Highly recommended.
—R. Barry Matlock, Journal for the Study of the New Testament Booklist
If C. S. Lewis had been a biblical scholar, he would have written a book like this one. Westerholm combines scholarly precision, delightful prose, and a sympathetic reading of Paul to produce a book that is difficult for anyone—whether scholar, student, or curious inquirer—to put down.
—Frank Thielman, Beeson Divinity School
This is a sparkling introduction to Paul’s thought, written with uncommon verve. Westerholm uncovers the gap between Paul’s presuppositions and those of the modern West but provokes us into taking Paul seriously and widening our limited horizons. Students will find this an engaging guide to Paul in general and Romans in particular; scholars will be challenged to match Westerholm’s brilliance as a communicator.
—John M. G. Barclay, University of Durham
It is difficult to imagine anyone who would not profit from this engaging and well-written introduction to Paul’s thought and world. Since Romans forms the basis of the engagement, Paul’s essential themes emerge. Westerholm has succeeded well in his task of showing moderns what makes Paul tick. This would be a great textbook in a course on the entire New Testament or on the epistles in which only one small volume had to serve to introduce Paul’s thought.
—William W. Klein, Ashland Theological Journal
Challenging, provocative, biblically informed, lucid, and well-written…I join with others in proclaiming that the book deserves a wide audience and sets a high standard for religious dialogue.
—Richard N. Longenecker, Studies in Religion
Stephen Westerholm (D.Th., Lund University) is the author of Perspectives Old and New on Paul and Jesus and Scribal Authority. He is associate professor of religious studies at McMaster University.