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Approaches to Paul: A Student's Guide to Recent Scholarship Paperback – May 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800663373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800663377
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #614,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Magnus Zetterholm is Associate Professor of New Testament Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He is the author of The Formation of Christianity in Antioch: A Social-Scientific Approach to the Separation between Judaism and Christianity (2003), editor of The Messiah: Messianism in Early Judaism and Christianity (Fortress, 2007), and coeditor of The Ancient Synagogue from Its Origins until 200 C.E. (2003).

More About the Author

I work as a scholar and teacher in New Testament Studies, a discipline which deals with the New Testament texts in their original environment, i.e., what the texts meant when they were written, and what they later were understood to mean.

My main research area is the early Jesus movement's development and its transition from a Jewish movement to a non-Jewish, new religion, Christianity, in the beginning of the second century. In my dissertation (The Formation of Christianity in Antioch, Routledge, 2003) I specifically addressed the issue of the separation between Jews and non-Jews in the early Jesus movement. In my second monograph (Approaches to Paul, Fortress, 2009) I treat the emergence of the traditional perspective on the Apostle Paul, which is essentially a normative theological paradigm.

I am currently working on a third monograph, based on the hypothesis that Paul never left Judaism, arguing that the conflicts within the movement probably concerned various strategies for dealing with the relations between Jews and non-Jews in the Jesus movement.

Customer Reviews

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Charles E. Meadows on August 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a very nice intro to current Paul studies. Professor Zetterholm starts with liberal protestant studies (Bultmann, Kasemann, Bornkamm), moves through the "new perspective"(treating Sanders, Dunn, and Wright), and then into what he refers to as the "radical new perspective" (Gaston, Nanos, and others). He then moves back into contemporary conservative authors (treating Das, Thielmann, and Westermann). He ends with a brief survey of alternate approaches (such as the feminist perspective).

In all the evaluations of each individual author are, in my opinion, very fair. His 3-5 page summaries condense the important features of each author's work and add incisive commentary about the potential biases or limitations of those works.

He does a nice job of demonstrating how the "Lutheran" assumptions have colored Paul studes and how the theological biases of many authors (even liberal ones) have affected their works. He makes a point to introduce the "radical new perspective" as a loose group of approaches which, although different, share a commonality in the fact that they do not take anything for granted.

Though far from exhaustive this very readable 240 page book is a superb introduction - or even refresher course - for those intersted in Paul studies. Though the author claims to be writing from a secular vantage point, and in the end gives a nod to the "radical new perspective", his work is completely fair and objective.

Highly recommended, especially for conservatives (like me) who may not have as much familiarity with the nonchristian authors.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Marcelo A. D'asero on April 2, 2010
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APPROACHES TO PAUL is a comprehensive, but concise overview of the last thirty or so years of Protestant scholarship in the study of St. Paul's soteriology.

Being only an amateur in New Testament theological studies, this book finally provided me the "big picture" of the debate between E.P. Sander's New Perspective on Pauline theology and its critics.

Prior to reading this book, I had to piece together, as best as I could, what the terms of that debate were from the works of partisan authors. APPROACHES TO PAUL filled in the gaps and objectively clarified where each of the major contributors to the debate (Sanders, Wright, Dunn, Gathercole, etc.) stood.

APPROACHES TO PAUL also convinced a Catholic like me (I won't hazard to say what other readers will take away from this book) that Protestant Pauline theology - at least among academics - is slowly converging with Orthodox, Catholic, and even Jewish soteriological views.
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This book is really about recent scholarship concerning the question of whether Saint Paul left Judaism, remained a Jew, or simply wanted Christ-believing Gentiles not to become Jews. It really good, but it is not a comprehensive analysis of all things Pauline. That being said, the book is easy to read and insightful. The author admits that he's bias. He thinks Paul never left Judaism. Nevertheless, he does present both sides of the argument well. The book is essentially a summary of important scholarship concerning the Jewish question and Paul. The bibliography is wonderful. It will definitely serve as a starting point for further research. Enjoy.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jamie B. on August 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
As other commentators have said, this is a quick summary of the historical development of the interpretations of Paul. It is quite useful in this regard, and manages to summarize in a very brief format what would normally take students numerous, dense volumes to appropriate otherwise. A few notes, though:

1. The author's exclusive interest is in Paul's view of Judaism, along with related questions (Paul's understanding of law, justification and faith). There is no substantial treatment here of Paul's life, conversion, ecclesiology, ethics, Christology, etc. It does not provide a comprehensive treatment of Paul and his theology.
2. There is no significant attempt to grapple with patristic or medieval views, which are simply glossed over in 5-10 pages under the heading 'anti-Semitism', as though those authors had nothing else to say about Paul than to use him as a club with which to beat Jews. The author's real interest is in 19th and 20th century interpretation. If you want patristic surveys, try the book _The Divine Apostle_.
3. Pace the term 'Student' in the book's title, this book is probably too narrowly construed, and packed with technical and historical jargon, to be of much use to most undergraduates. Numerous other books out there are probably more appropriate for an undergraduate survey of Paul: among them, Gorman's _Paul: Apostle of the Crucified Lord_.
4. By his own admission, the author writes from a non-religious, secular point of view. To his benefit, he is very fair to the very religious authors he is treating. He does, however, frequently criticize them (and this is rather the point of the whole book) for reading Paul through religious lenses.
5.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Albert Wells on August 12, 2011
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The author offers a wide angle view of Paul that goes beyond the man, his efforts, doubts and enemies. He includes how Paul was used and manipulated by the early church and later Protestant propagandists.

Readers can implicitly grasp that once the Jesus movement is launched, the question whether Jesus existed or not becomes subsidiary. And once the Church is launched, it's Paul's turn to become a symbol and be used to support orthodoxy, internal splits and segregating from Judaism. The author shows how the reformed Church will use grace as a divinely offered righteousness to oppose self-righteousness by works of the law and condemn Judaism.

The tug of war using Paul explains that few agree on what he really said or meant to say. The initial message and intentions are presently boomeranging back into Pauline studies, attempting to see more honestly his indelible Jewish outlook and the meaning of the Jesus movement. The author shows the meanders of the scholarly paths that are leading to a revised Paul.

What the man really meant and the reasons for his dedication to the cause he initially scorned will however not be fully accessible until the background of the gospels is correctly cleared.

Future developments, not presented here, to which students may be more receptive than scholars will take into account the non historical Jesus. With Jesus messiah standing for a strongly opinionated community group, Mark's gospel was written as a reaction against Essene traditionalists. The early gospels related community history supported by a symbolic messiah.

It then becomes clearer that Paul's commitment consists in propagating a Jewish messiah-mediated revival cult and not the deeds and words of a contemporary man.
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