The Apostle Paul as Theologizer

The Apostle Paul as Theologizer November 13, 2019

Nice quote from James Dunn on the apostle Paul as not so much a theologian but as a theologizer:

Writing a theology of Paul, in other words, is like trying to listen to a sequence of varied dialogues, of which we can hear clearly one side of the dialogue, but which we must understand as a dialogue, otherwise we will inevitably misunderstand what Paul says. One cannot hope to write a theology of Paul except by listening to his letters as dialogue, over-hearing, as it were, a great theological mind and spirit as it grappled with diversely challenging situations and questions. Put another way, Paul’s letters are not just like erratic boulders left by some ancient glacier. Nor are they windows into a neatly rounded and completely theology of Paul; that would be theologicism, the theological equivalent to historicism, the assumption that the theology of Paul is like a complete and intact object accessed through and behind the letters, or like a solid artefact buried under the layers of his letters. Rather, in the letters we see and are privileged to overhear theology in the making, theology coming to expression, Paul theologizing.

James Dunn, New Testament Theology: An Introduction (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2009), 15-16.


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