Pain, is of course a part of life for any fragile, mortal creature. And of course there are many different kinds of pain— physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Some people spend their entire lives seeking pleasure and trying to avoid pain. On the other end of the spectrum are people like those whom Sting talked about in his song ‘The King of Pain’. Some people really believe ‘no pain no gain’ in a literal sense and seek it out as a… Read more

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’. That phrase, should sound familiar to Americans. For many of us, those things are assumed to be what life is all about. Especially that last part— having freedom to pursue what makes you happy. And in a culture of aesthetes, it is often assumed that pleasure is the key to happiness, and so the more pleasure, the more happiness. Ethicists have a word for this sort of assumption about life— eudaemonism, and really… Read more

It takes some time to become a good novelist. And honestly, it requires some mild success even with something less than a person being on the top of their form. This she had when her second Felse novel won the Edgar award. I know what it’s like to be praised for something before you’re really good at it, when it comes to writing. I’ve been there, and done that. There is then something reassuring in seeing Edith Pargeter=Ellis Peters work… Read more

In the last major section of his book, Tom turns to a quarter many Pauline scholars have never explored or commented on, namely the analysis and use of Pauline material by modern philosophers. He begins (p. 308) by pointing out… “The apostle Paul has reemerged as a force on the contemporary philosophical scene. Some of the most powerful recent affirmations of nonrepresentational, materialist, and event oriented philosophies repeat topics and tropes of the ancient apostle. Paul is appropriated both for… Read more

The rest of the social analysis chapter (beginning at pp. 287-88) is devoted to a lengthy and useful discussion of David Horrell’s contributions to the analysis of Paul, in particular Horrell’s Solidarity and Difference . Horrell is treating Paul as a ‘practical moral philosopher’ The foundation of Horrell’s book is an account of ‘Paul’s ethics as a whole’ (1), seeing Paul as engaged in the ‘formation and maintenance of human community’ (2), exploring the kinds of values a community needs… Read more

In a candid moment, Tom reveals that Wayne Meek’s First Urban Christians provided something of a template for what he was trying to do in a major part of his Paul and the Faithfulness of God. He says this on pp. 260-61…. “One or two reviewers of my Paul and the Faithfulness of God have expressed surprise at the significant number of times I refer to Meeks’s book. There was a good reason. I envisaged Part II of my book… Read more

When one turns the page to Chapter Ten and the third major section of Tom’s book, the atmosphere changes. This is in part because Tom is very affirming of the recent gains in studying Paul in light of the social history of Paul’s period. He finds himself much indebted to Edwin Judge and his work in this regard, and also quite congenial with many of the insights of Wayne Meeks. It may come as something of a surprise that Tom… Read more

The concluding chapter of this second major section of Tom’s book devotes itself to a rather detailed critique of the controversial and very large and detailed work of Douglas Campbell on justification and Paul. Tom summarizes Campbell’s theses in this book as follows: “— The main argument of Campbell’s book is (a) that the normal way of reading Romans 1—4 is wrong, (b) that Romans 5—8 offers an altogether superior way of understanding Paul in general and Romans in particular,… Read more

Some movies are short and sweet, some are short and funny, and some, you’re just glad they are short. This one, with an all star cast (Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, and Mary Steenbergen) is of the second sort, and really, it should have been longer (it clocks in at one hour and thirty eight minutes). Bill Bryson is a funny guy who has written a lot of travelogue sort of books which are truly a pleasure to read…. Read more

Tom reserves his most strident critique of the apocalyptic approach to Paul for Lou Martyn’s Galatians commentary and the impact it has had on Pauline interpretation. So Chapter Eight of the book is an analysis of the work of Lou Martyn and his disciples e.g. M. de Boer, B. Gaventa. The basic analysis of the apocalyptic school involves the assumption that God in Christ breaks into the world bringing new creation and overthrowing not just one religion but the whole… Read more

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