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Paul Apostle of the Heart Set Free Paperback – March 3, 2000
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"From one of the best-known evangelical biblical scholars comes yet another excellent volume for our learning. . . This is a book that will be read with profit by all who have an interest in the primitive church—from the armchair student of the Bible to the most advanced biblical scholar. This will certainly remain a standard text for years to come."
"This work shows depth of study, a familiarity with the important bibliographical material and a fairness in approach, and it provides a wealth of materials not only on Paul and his letters but also on the world of the apostle. . . A valuable addition to any Bible student's library."
"You are not likely to find anything better on the life and letters of the great apostle. Extravagantly informative. A veritable gold mine of information on Paul, the New Testament, and the early church."
The Christian Century
"F. F. Bruce offers in this illustrated book an exposition of all the primary themes in Paul's thought as these developed in the historical context of his life and travels. A remarkably even and coherent work, Bruce's portrait of Paul is convincing from every vantage point—historical, theological, psychological, personal. . . A balanced and attractive book."
"This study can without doubt be labelled F. F. Bruce's magnum opus. . . It is so rich in acute observation and historical detail that few readers will fail to profit from it."
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I especially enjoyed the discussions of the Corinthian correspondence (Paul's teaching about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7 in particular, I found it to be very pastoral and sensible) and the proposition that the Onesimus in Philemon went on to become bishop of Ephesus years later.
Bruce believes that the heart of Pauline teaching is that true religion is not a matter of rules and regulations, that Christ makes us all one in Him, that people matter more than things, principles, and causes (not sure about this one, I would want to qualify it), and that unfair discrimination against others is an offense to God. I think the first two points are the strongest.
One of the most INTERESTING books on Paul I have ever read. Bruce is like an investigative reporter, digging into the New Testament documents and historical sources to present the clearest picture of Paul. Highly recommended.
Bruce's account is full of important information, and helps bring the biographical and historical details about Paul and his first-century setting together with his epistles. This sheds insightful light on Paul's writing, and helps to contextualize his theology. And his well-thought-out and well-reasoned positions on things like authorship, chronology, and theology, make this book a great starting point in the study of Paul. He is also well aware of the major critical issues with regard to Pauline scholarship, and introduces the reader to the relevant questions as well as guiding the readers toward well-reasoned answers. The book was written in 1977, which means that there have been some major changes in Pauline scholarship, but E. P. Sanders had already begun the "new perspective" movement, so even though Bruce doesn't interact with it in detail, the trajectory of what would certainly have become a more detailed evaluation at later date is already evident in its pages.
Paul played a central role in the development of Christianity, and in its spread throughout the Mediterranean region in the years after Jesus' death. And through is writings he has decisively shaped Christian thought ever since. Bruce lends a scholar's and historian's eye to the study of this important figure and the writings he left. His contribution is full of important information, and is certainly an important building block in understanding this most important Apostle. Highly recommended.