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Paul: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – June 7, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"An incisive summation of the essentials of Paul's career and role in development of early Christianity. Sanders highlights key elements in Pauline thought."--Harry Rosenberg, Colorado State Univ.


"This book is lucid and judicious. It's the most concise introduction to Paul I've seen, and it is excellent as a quick intro at the beginning of a course, preparing the students for further study of Paul's letters themselves."--Jeffrey A. Trumbower, St. Michael's College


"This short readable volume is packed with the wisdom and insights of a scholar whose contribution to the field of Pauline studies is respected around the world."--J. Samuel Escobar, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary


"Written clearly, and the focus is on the most important issues. The 'participation' business is treated well."--David P. Efroymson, La Salle University


About the Author


E.P. Sanders is a Professor of Religion at Duke University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854513
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.4 x 4.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
A very readable summary of Paul, based on Paul's letters in the New Testament. Not as hostile to Paul as other biographies, which place more of an emphasis on a claimed perversion and ignorance of Jesus's message by Paul. Still, it does devote some space to the conflict of ideas between the Jerusalum Apostles (mainly Peter) and Paul. It is more of an exposition of Paul's theology, and more briefly, of Jewish theology, and a very good one. Among other topics, deals with justification by faith, and how Paul reconciles (or tries to) why the law is not a vehicle for justification / salvation when God was the originator of the law (Torah). If you are familiar with the New Testament, it may lead you to some fresh insights, and if not, it is an excellent introduction to it.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on September 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
This little volume is a reissue of Ed Sanders's book on Paul in Oxford's "Past Masters" series. It's held up well.
Sanders, the author of several highly acclaimed works on Palestinian Judaism and of two absolutely magisterial works on the historical Jesus, here presents a highly condensed and accessible summary of Paul's thought. The reader should be aware that Sanders (a) locates Paul within the Judaism of his time and (b) has what most Christians (I'm not Christian myself) would call an extremely "liberal" approach to New Testament interpretation.
The book is already so short that summarizing it will require preternatural brevity. But here goes: for Sanders, Paul has an answer (Jesus's death and resurrection) to which he doesn't know the question, and his writings are an attempt not only to pass along the answer but to figure out just what that question is.
This little book is a nice introduction both to Sanders's thought on Paul and, for that matter, to Sanders himself. He's a master of expository prose style, reasonable almost to a fault, and a genuinely towering figure in modern New Testament scholarship; if you find that you like him, you'll want to check out his other books. I especially recommend _Jesus and Judaism_, _The Historical Figure of Jesus_, and _Studying the Synoptic Gospels_ (which he co-wrote with his wife, Margaret Davies -- who, incidentally, is the daughter of famed New Testament scholar W.D. Davies).
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Erin J on November 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Great Scholar, Easy Read do not always go hand in hand. It is difficult to recommend some books to people, because you are not sure if they will be able to stay with it due to the heavy technical language, but E P Sanders has written a great book that will familiarize someone with the gist of Paul's thought, and he has done so in a very readable style.

I cannot say that you will agree with every conclusion that he comes to, especially if you are hyper conservative when it comes to Scripture, but you will leave the book with the right questions that one should be asking about some of the difficult issues in Paul's writing.

Sanders deals with Paul's working out living in the Spirit and being in Christ against keeping the Law. The strength of Sanders is that he has such a thorough knowledge of the Judaism of Paul's day. He brings out many of the challenges that Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles had to deal in light of his thorough Jewishness.

What I found most interesting in this book was Sanders view on Romans 7, and Paul's views on sexuality. Sanders allows that Paul wrote Galatians earlier than Romans and by so he sees Romans as being more fully developed than Galatians. Sanders allows that Paul's theology developed and was modified over time as Paul had to deal with various issues about what it meant to be in Christ and be a Gentile and how the Law of the Jews relate to this new position.

This book deals with being "righteoused by faith" in Romans and Galatians. It deals with the resurrection of the dead which is very interesting chapter that many folks would benefit from reading.

The section on behavior deals with the Greco-Roman worlds view of sexuality versus the Jewish view of sexuality.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 16, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
`Paul, A Very Short Introduction' by the leading American Pauline scholar, E. P. Sanders is a revelation to me it will also probably be a surprise to anyone not familiar with this Oxford University Press series. My first surprise is that an author of such great academic distinction should be doing this kind of treatment which looks, on the surface, to be a popular gloss, evoking images of `Cliff Notes' and `Paul for Dummies'.

My reading of Pauline theology and exegesis is still a bit shallow; but I know enough already to see that while Sanders may just be covering the peaks, he is giving us a good enough look deep into some of the valleys to appreciate his stating that Paul is a difficult writer for modern readers. Not only was Paul not as polished a writer as his contemporary Philo in Alexandria, he used some Greek terms which simply do not easily translate into English. And, many important modern such as the RSV (Revised Standard Version) Bible translations don't help much when they mangle some of Paul's more important statements.

Since practically nothing is known about Paul's life with any certainty, Sanders takes little space for biography and no space on speculation on what Paul may have done, for example, during his early years in the Nabatean desert. Oddly, he does add to the question of where Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans. Some writers say he wrote in Miletus and others say he wrote it in Corinth. Sanders opts for Corinth.

Sanders is probably one of the very best writers from which to get the `non-Lutheran' interpretation of Paul, as he concentrates much more on seeing Paul concentrate on the membership of Christians in the body of Christ instead of Righteousness by faith. At the very least, he gives the two points of view equal importance.
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