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Paul: An Outline of His Theology Paperback – September 11, 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Christianity Today
"A mine of many treasures. . . Every student of New Testament theology will want to own and study this perceptive, comprehensive outline of Paul's theology."

Ernst Kasemann
"Among recent research on Paul, I consider Herman Ridderbos's book a standard. It offers extraordinary insights and information and presents an interpretation of Pauline theology that should be carefully considered and thoroughly discussed."

George Eldon Ladd
"At last we have a comprehensive, satisfying work on the theology of Paul, written by one who is probably the most outstanding evangelical New Testament scholar on the continent of Europe."

F. F. Bruce
"Ridderbos has devoted many years to studying Paul's writings in depth; he is also familiar with the main lines of Pauline research from F. C. Baur to our own contemporaries. He gives us his own exposition of Paul's thought and at the same time interacts with the interpretations of other scholars. . . A standard work."

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
"In many ways this is the most comprehensive and thorough exposition of the teaching of the apostle Paul that I have ever read. It will stimulate thought and study by its originality at points, and even when it provokes some disagreement. The translation is most readable."

G. C. Berkouwer
"Paul's epistles demand intensive attention, and Ridderbos takes us along all the routes of the apostle's thinking. We are acquainted with his missionary journeys; how much more important his travels through the depths and riches of the gospel!"

Bastiaan VanElderen
"Here we find sound exegesis, perceptive analysis, profound insight, and a humble listening to the voice of Paul. This comprehensive study is not only highly recommended; it is a sine qua non for every student of the New Testament and its message.

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Text: English, Dutch (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 587 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (September 11, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802844693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802844699
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the classic modern exposition of Paul's thought and theology. Topically arranged, Ridderbos exposes the structure and Paul's system and sheds a calm, thorough light on such matters as Paul's meaning of law/grace, flesh/spirit, present age/age to come. Ridderbos is in line with Geerhardus Vos' biblical theology without being dependent on the great Princeton theologian.
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Format: Paperback
I first read this book in 1980 as part of my Bible school curriculum. I bought another copy because my old one was deteriorating from so much use. This is the only book I've found that explains Paul's Revelation from a theological standpoint, but without making it stiff and difficult to understand. A must for any Christian who shares Paul's desire to "comprehend the One by whom he has been apprehended."
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In Paul: An Outline of His Theology Ridderbos is concerned with gaining insights in to the fundamental structures of Paul’s preaching and doctrine. Beginning with the Reformation he shows the doctrine of justification by faith as being primary to interpreting Paul, even when , as in Calvin’s case, it was not the center. The author moves through history showing the different interpretations that have come to light. Highlighting F.C. Baur’s antithetical motif of the Spirit and the flesh being in opposition. Moving to the liberal interpretation where man must gain a rational victory over the sensual flesh. Then in the history of religions approach, he illuminates how scholars turned away from philosophy and towards syncretistic religious views of the Hellenistic period as the basis of understanding Paul. In the eschatological interpretation he writes of Schweitzer’s work of seeing Paul’s doctrine as resting on Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom. In more recent times, Bultmann has written that Paul’s theology is not about the redeemer who dies and come to life, but a cosmic drama of which the mythology of gnosis speaks. Ridderbos holds that the content of Paul’s preaching is of the eschatological time of salvation inaugurated with Christ’s death and resurrection. By the resurrection, Jesus as the first born from the dead and the second Adam will raise a new and justified humanity.

The attention to historical detail by which our author begins the book makes for a helpful introduction and context for what lies ahead. There is not only a summary of the key lines of interpretation, but the philosophical influences that undergird these positions.
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A tour de force but difficult to follow. It is a translation; I don't know if the original is smoother. It reads like the lecture notes of a genius. I'm sure that Ridderbos would have been able to take any page and expound on it at length and to great effect. However, to the student who is trying to understand the material the first time, it's hard to discern the meaning. It's as though he assumes you are already familiar with the scholarly corpus.

The concept is fascinating. Ridderbos presents what is essentially a systematic theology using Pauline references alone. Generally, a systematic theology treats the entire Bible topically but here Ridderbos uses only Pauline epistles. He addresses these major topics:
1. Main lines in the history of Pauline interpretation.
2. Fundamental structures (e.g., "fullness of time," "the old and the new man," "the last Adam," etc.)
3. The life in sin (somewhat corresponding to the Anthropology section of most systematic theology books)
4. The revelation of the righteousness of God (including justification by faith)
5. Reconciliation (including atonement)
6. The new life
7. The new obedience (including three uses of the Law, marriage, and subjection to civil authority)
8. The church as the people of God
9. The church as the body of Christ
10. Baptism and the Lord's Supper
11. The upbuilding of the church (including offices, worship, and gifts)
12. The Future of the Lord (generally corresponding to eschatology in most treatments of systematic theology)

Ridderbos is solidly Reformed. His presentation is very scholarly. It is worthwhile as a reference. 562 pages.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There are numerous sloppy errors in the Kindle edition. While reading Section 3 (which is pages 47-91 or so in the printed version, but pages 47-76 in the Kindle version, which makes me wonder if sections are missing) I came upon numerous mistakes. Lines are broken in the middle of sentences, spaces are placed inappropriately (l i k e t h i s) and in one case 2 or 3 sentences had been moved and placed a paragraph later than they should have been. I also found words that were spelled incorrectly (like 'hab' instead of 'had'). Bad form! If I handed in a paper like this for my grad classes I would have been docked quite a bit!
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Format: Paperback
One of the greatest ongoing challenges to the historic faith is the conception of baptism promulgated by Anabaptism (those whom Luther called 'Schwärmerei' or Enthusiasts). The corporate dimensions of salvation that affect the ekklesia or 'assembly of God' are often overlooked in favor of the individual's conversion experience, whereby the soteriology of Paul suffers from a lack of objectivity in its ecclesiological dimension. 'We have already determined that with this old and new man one is not to think in the first place of the conversion of individual believers, but of the common mode of existence of "the many" in Adam and in Christ respectively.' p 401

"...because we have concluded this: that One has died for all, therefore all have died." 2 Cor 5:14

Ridderbos firstly began with the elimination of the relevant non-Pauline texts which refer to Spirit baptism and may have a bearing on the polemic. An unhealthy preoccupation with 'the anointing' is rejected as he placed the undivided intent of those texts on the gift at regeneration, and definitely not a separate or second blessing: 'To our mind one will with the 'anointing' have to think directly of the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38; 1 John 2:20, 27).' p 400 Furthermore, Ridderbos denied the prospect of regenerational baptism in stating that the proper perspective of baptism 'does not denote conversion.' p 404 A homiletical error that is often heard at baptismal events is the analogy that the baptized is himself/herself undergoing a symbolic burial and resurrection.
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