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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Basic introduction to Pauline issues, January 10, 2004
This review is from: The Letters of Paul: Interpreting Biblical Texts Series (Paperback)
I actually gave this book three stars to begin with but upped it one after I began writing. That's because I was wanting something other than what this book offered when I bought it, but I realized that for what it is - for what it promises - it actually does fairly well.
I was looking for an in-depth treatment of Paul's theology and rhetoric in his lettes. This is not that treatment. It is, however, a good overview of all things Pauline. This book is like a stone skipping over a pond - hitting all the important points without ever staying long to go real deep.
In a sense that is a strength of this book since it allows for a relatively easy digestion of the issues at hand for beginners. The book starts with a section examing letters as a means of writing - their stories, rhetoric, analysis, readers etc. Just like the skipping stone it jumps along from issue to issue, giving a couple of pages of depth and then moving along so as to not drown.
The second part, the heart of the book, looks at the theological themes of the letters. Cousar avoids making his project more complicated by focusing on the letters themselves and not attempting to distill the ideas from the mind of the apostle. This section is his best work, written in a simple, inviting way that encourages questions, applications and interpretation (the key word for this series) of Paul's letters. Cousar is lively and engaging but not overwhelming, allowing easy stepping stones to understanding the letters. Two things really stand out here:
1) Nearly all the Pauline issues are covered: sin as power, event of Jesus Christ, dying and rising with Christ, law, flesh, death, community, gospel, Spirit, etc.
2) Cousar brings in modern scholarship to bear on Paul's letters (Dunn's new perspective, e.g.) that will introduce new readers to these debates without confusing them.
The third section covers the classic duetero-pauline epistles but only give the briefest of comments on any of them. It is by far the weakest section.
If you are looking for a deep survey of Paul's letters pass on this book, but if you need a basic introduction or review this will serve your needs fine.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Map Into Understanding Paul's Epistles, August 22, 2006
By 
John D. White "camsterdad" (Cayce, South Carolina United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Letters of Paul: Interpreting Biblical Texts Series (Paperback)
Charlie Cousar has spent a lifetime helping students understand the New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary (PCUSA) in Decatur, GA. For those who know him, it will come as no surprise to say that this is a person that loves the biblical text, tries to be shaped by that same biblical text--to live into the newness of life which Paul promises is a result of Jesus Christ's person and work, and who also has a deep, deep appreciation for the Greek language in which the N.T. text is written. I was fortunate enought to have Prof. Cousar as a teacher when in Seminary, both for the Greek Language, for classes in the New Testament, and also for a class on the Historical Jesus. His approach was always the same: "What does the text say?" Not, "What do we want the text to say?" "What do we hope the text might say?" "What might the text say, if we had written the letter/ gospel etc., instead of the biblical writer?" The original question is the best--simply put to us: "What does the text say?" In this "beginners" guide to the Apostle Paul and his letters, Cousar introduces the student to the latest research on Paul, but even better--begins to help the student really "read" the Apostle Paul. There are loads of books and theories on the Apostle Paul, many bigger than this. But as an entry into the world of Paul, the Apostle, I can think of none better. As a resource to help one preach the Pauline literature, I would highly recommend a close, careful, studious reading of this book (in one hand) and the Bible (in the other). We pastors, who were fortunate to be his students, remain indebted to Charlie Cousar and of course with this book in hand--we remain happily in his debt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars User friendly., February 2, 2013
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Excellent scholarship in a user friendly format. I love the narrative approach to NT letters, reconstructing an informing story makes situating ourselves easier.
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The Letters of Paul: Interpreting Biblical Texts Series
The Letters of Paul: Interpreting Biblical Texts Series by Charles B. Cousar (Paperback - November 1, 1996)
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