John Barclay, Pauline Churches and Diaspora Jews
David Horrell, The Making of Christian Morality
The books are the finest of NT studies today.
Read one chapter at a time as they are both collections of their studies. Read each carefully and ponder their every move because their moves are evidence-based and historically-sound and exegetically-grounded.In each you see a mature NT scholar’s approach and as such they become paradigms of scholarly work. Yet, both write with sufficient accessibility that you don’t feel you have waded into some German lecture hall to hear from a scholar talking only to scholars.
It would be good for pastors to buy one of these or both of these and work through one chapter a week (or month) to reacquaint oneself with seminary level and academic level reading. These are works of scholarship, to be sure, but they are insights page-by-page into the world, the theology, and the missionary practice of Paul. Barclay has a section on Josephus, too, of whom he’s a scholar as well.
Barclay sticks more to the historian’s task while Horrell has been pondering for some time how Pauline theology and ethics might impact ethics in the modern world (and he’s exploring folks like Habermas and Hauerwas).