43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2004
This is a must-have book for those interested in Paul's writings. The first part contains his letters in the Revised Standard Version, with introductions and footnotes. The Revised Standard Version is probably the best translation of Paul - because it is very literal (vs. the clumsy inclusiveness of the NRSV, which changes "brothers" into "brothers and sisters").
The second part of the book excerpts many, many commentaries about Paul and his work and his place in the Church - and this is quite fascinating. These include works by the Early Church Fathers, but also comments by such folks as Martin Luther, Nietzsche, George Bernard Shaw, Kierkegaard, Albert Schweitzer.
Get this book. It is stunning in its depth and breath.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The Writings of St. Paul, Edited by Wayne A. Meeks and John T. Fitzgerald is far more than just the letters attributed to St. Paul. It is intended as a textbook of both ancient and modern readings. It is NOT a work by a single author, or even two authors. It begins with the seven "authentic" letters of St. Paul, plus the six which have often been attributed to Paul (Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus), all in the TNIV translation. If you prefer a different translation, you will not be wasting much, as the thirteen letters take up only 138 out of the 710 pages in the volume (If you are reading this book, you probably already have a copy of your translation of choice.)
The remainder is an anthology of writings and articles in seven chapters:
III. Pseudo-Pauline Works (2 - 4 century anonymous works written in Paul's name.)
IV. Views of Paul in the Ancient Church (Selections from Acts, and authors such as Irenaeus, Jerome, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, Julian, and Marcion, plus 20th century writers such as von Harnack, , Elaine Pagals, and J. Louis Martyn.)
V. Law Versus Grace (THE Pauline theological debate by Origen, Luther, Barth, and others.)
VI. The Second Founder of Christianity (Important scholarly works and literary comments from Harnack, G. B. Shaw, Baur, and Nietzsche.)
VII. Pauline Christianity and Judaism (Writers from 2nd half of 20th Century)
VIII. Reading Romans (Ancient and modern commentators on Paul's most important letter.)
IX. A Sampler of Modern Approaches to Paul and His Letters (mostly 2nd half of 20th century.)
To be sure, even 700 pages could hold a very small portion of work on Paul, and I think the writings from the ancient world are well represented. It is possible that the editors would have done slightly better by cutting things off at about 200 CE, and picking up again in the 20th century. On the one hand, pieces such as the two page excerpt from Nietzsche is probably worthless, since it is taken from a 100 year old translation, which may have been taken from a text corrupted by Nietzsche's sister. Far better translations exist, it there were any reason to find out that Nietzsche did not like Paul very much.
The Nietzsche translation points out that one selection criterion the editors probably had to consider was the cost of licensing the privilege to reprint the documents. One remedy to that problem would be to have a very good Bibliography. The fact that the book contains only a "Selected Bibliography" is redeemed by the fact that the first section is a list of Bibliographies. One may believe that modern Internet library searches may have replaced printed Bibliographies, but if the printed edition is "critical", I would still give it some weight. Google and other search engines cannot yet read Koine Greek.
The Selected Bibliography contains most of what I would expect, especially from important authors on the "New Perspective" on Paul such as Krister Stendahl, W. D. Davies, E.P. Sanders, and Jim Dunn. It also includes Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's biography, which may be the best done so far. But there are two weak points. The first is the remarkable absence of Albert Schweitzer's two important books on Paul, "Paul and His Interpreters" and "The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle". The Second is to have been a bit more critical in its suggestions on commentaries on the Pauline letters. It just cites, in very general terms, which ones are ok for those who know Greek and which ones are free of Greek. This is in spite of the fact that it admits that these series are "notoriously uneven". Better would have been to cite, in addition, two of the best commentaries for each genuine Pauline letter, and maybe one for the six letters from the Pauline school.
The other side of the coin is that for all the ancient stuff, such as "The Acts of Paul and Thecla", you would have had to track down possibly a dozen or so different volumes and either have them put on reserve or scan them into an on line access tool. You also have the advantage of Dr. Meeks' commentary, as he is one of the most highly regarded Pauline scholars in the business. So, for an Amazon price of $18.66 (at the time of this writing, there is no discount!) this is a pretty good deal. But, it is just "very good", not "excellent" as the other two reviewers have said.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2010
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The Writings of Saint Paul is the most comprehensive compendium of contemporary and historical scholars' reviews of St. Paul's Biblical writings, including his disputed and undisputed writings. There is something for everyone and every scholarly point of view of the works of St. Paul is presented in this book. It is an excellent reference and resource for all things related to the works of St. Paul.