Daniel Kirk’s New Book

When I read the gospels I am undone by the stories Jesus tells; stories which have worked their way deep down into my soul and have produced in me an allegiance to the teachings of Jesus, and deep down conviction that following his teachings is the best way to be a human being in the world. It has always been this way for me. When I read Paul, I generally had a completely different experience. Paul would always frustrate me. I felt like he was arrogant and closed minded, over-rationalized and dogmatic. I used to say, I really don’t like Paul. (I still tell people who are stuck in the “my information is better than your information” phase of spiritual growth that they should stop reading Paul until they deal with their own dualism.)
Seminary was a gift for me, because it taught be how to read Paul in a different way. I as forced to read Paul in tandem with the gospels and to tease out the tensions in order to refine my view of both. Now I am free to love Paul’s writings, because I know how to read them w/out forcing them to say what I need them to say in order to use them to control people. I often talk with those who either love Paul too much (and for the wrong reasons), or can’t stand Paul because the see too much tension between Paul and Jesus. I never know what to tell them except, “you could go to seminary and it would change the way you feel!”
Now I can send them to this new book by J.R. Daniel Kirk. It’s called Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul?: A Narrative Approach to the Problem of Pauline Christianity. I met Daniel Kirk a few years ago at a conference & have been a follower of his blog, Storied Theology, and his work ever since. Daniel is a top notch New Testament scholar – studied at Duke, teaches at Fuller – with the heart of a new (typically younger), generation of Christians who have come of age after Christendom. I really think you’ll love this book! Here’s a quick video of Daniel talking about why he wrote the book:
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  • Den

    Tim, one thing I've read about the (apparent) difference between Paul and Jesus is that Jesus set the church in motion, and Paul was focused on implementing the church as an on-going reality.

    Another thought that came to me as I was reading what you said about Daniel Kirk and his approach to Paul, was that while Jesus used stories to convey much of what he said, Paul is more embedded in a Hellenic mode, where reasoning and argument are the standard methods. This squares well with his rabbinical training as well, I would say. It might also be worth considering that Paul and Jesus are examples of two different emphases, one right-brained and the other left-brained. I'm not suggesting that this is the totality for either man, but merely suggesting that there was an emphasis on one mode or the other in the way they communicated what they felt needed to be said.

    The differences between Jesus and Paul remain, and for me at least, convey a complete picture of the totality of the church, as it began and as it's existed throughout its history. This church, this "body of Christ," is a reflection of the mind of g-d and the soul of man, joined into a sometimes uncomfortable union that will only reach its true fulfillment on that last Day. Maranatha, indeed!

  • Thanks for the book recommendation. I believe I have Kirk for fall semester.
    I can relate to your previous antipathy for Paul. I've had trouble synthesizing Paul and the gospels. I probably get it wrong but he reminds me of myself (not the good parts). Coming to Christ at the age of 30 you can become this crazy, zealous Jesus guy. Very legalistic and arrogant. Time and a desire for patience sure can smooth out the rough edges.