Paul, The Apostle’s Life, Letters and Thought Part Four

On pp. 58-59 Sanders points out that Exod. 22.27 which has Elohim for God was read, because of the LXX as you shall not revile gods, and interpreted by Josephus and Philo to mean that Jews in the Diaspora should not revile or blaspheme other peoples’ gods, or oppose their building temples for them and Josephus even extended the law to mean that Jews should not steal treasure dedicated to other gods, or rob such temples.On p. 60 Sanders suggests that the uncertain text of the LXX means that w … [Read more...]

Paul, The Apostle’s Life, Letters and Thought Part Three

Beginning on p. 28ff. there is a description of Pharisaic belief and practice. He lists the following derived mainly from Josephus--- they believed in some form of the afterlife, they combined a belief in free will and determinism, they were legal experts who had some distinctive views on some issues, they accepted the ‘traditions of the elders’ which were non-Biblical traditions, and they were lenient in judgment unlike the harsh Sadducees. Sanders argues that the three major parties (Essenes, … [Read more...]

Paul, The Apostle’s Life, Letters and Thought Part Two

Chapter One deals with Acts, which Sanders thinks was composed in the 80s, or latest in the early 90s. There was an explosion of interest in Paul in the 90s, and Acts was probably a stimulus to the collection of Paul’s letters. Acts ranks as a good piece of Hellenistic historiography, more specifically good Hellenistic apologetic historiography and biography (p. 14). Acts presents Christianity as enlightened, harmless and beneficent. He quotes Thucydides on p. 15 but fails to include the i … [Read more...]

Paul, The Apostle’s Life, Letters and Thought Part One

This is the beginning of a very long and detailed analysis of one of the most important books to be written on Paul in the last 20 years. It will involve both description and critique. The critique mostly will occur in square brackets [ ], though occasionally it leaks over into the description itself. This discussion will go on for at least a month of blog posts, so I would suggest you strap on your helmets, and prepare for the longer roller coaster ride, reading it to the conclusions. I … [Read more...]

Beverly Gaventa’s When in Romans— Part Four

It is wrong to fault a book which has limited goals and a specific purpose for not addressing every hot button issue connected with Romans. Still, there are things one hopes will be more fully addressed in the forthcoming commentary on Romans. From a social context point of view, much more needs to be made of the fact that Paul nowhere speaks of ‘the ekklesia of God in Rome’ as he does, even of the much-divided Christians in Corinth. Indeed, Paul hardly uses his usual term for the ‘church’ in … [Read more...]

Beverly Gaventa’s When in Romans— Part Three

One of the very best chapters in this book is Chapter 3, entitled ‘When in Romans, Give Glory to God.’ Here we have an essential and helpful discussion about the relationship between true worship and Christian ethics, the distaff of the discussion about the relationship between idolatry and immorality in Romans 1. I agree with Gaventa when she stresses that the right place to start discussing how Christians live and behave is by discussing a text like Rom. 12.1-2, discussing the issues of wor … [Read more...]

Invitation 2: First Things Has Arrived!

I'm very pleased to tell you that the second edition of my NT Introduction for Oxford University Press is now available both on Amazon and at the OUP website. It differs from the first edition in having additional Paul chapters, and a lot more helps for the student, as well as celestial resources online for teachers (including quizzes). It is the only Introduction of its kind, in that it provides an oral and rhetorical, indeed a socio-rhetorical guide to the whole NT.New to this … [Read more...]

Beverly Gaventa’s When in Romans– Part Two

In the second full chapter, Gaventa argues that ‘Israel is God’s creation and belongs to God’ (p.49). Once again, the stress is on the divine initiative. She insists that Paul does not treat Israel as an ethnic entity, he treats her in terms of creation and redemption. “We construe the question too narrowly when we think of it as having to do with Israel’s belief or Israel’s (dis)obedience.” (p. 49). She insists that overwhelmingly the issue for Paul is about God and God’s redemption, faithf … [Read more...]

Beverly Gaventa’s When in Romans— Part One

B. Gaventa, When in Romans: An Invitation to Linger with the Gospel according to Paul, (Baker, 2016), $22.99, 130 pages of text.In a preview of coming attractions (because Professor Gaventa is currently working on a commentary on Romans), When in Romans: An Invitation to Linger with the Gospel according to Paul, provides us with a glimpse of the helpful and sometimes provocative ways she reads Romans. While this volume is brief (130 pages of text, counting bibliography) it is by no means … [Read more...]