Two Books for an Education

Two Books for an Education July 15, 2019

If you want to read two books that will be both a challenge and an education, and I’m thinking here of an education the top level of Pauline studies, I’ve got two to mention:

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).

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