Must-Read Book List for Preparing to be a Pauline Research/Scholar

As I am nearing the completion of my doctoral research, I have been reflecting on how ‘ready’ I am to engage within the guild of NT and specifically Pauline scholars and whether my base of knowledge is mature enough and up-to-date, so to speak. It is becoming increasingly difficult to play catch-up because of the rate of scholarship output in Paul. But, one must have goals. So, I am setting my sights to complete a list of books on Paul that I think everyone should read before, during, or soon after their doctorate. You may have concerns with what I included, or you may feel that I left things out. So be it. I am not going for an exhaustive list, but a reasonable one. You will notice that I have aimed for covering a broad range of areas so as to touch upon key categories of research. I have not read every book on this list – some I have read in full, others in part, and a few I wish to work through in the next two years.

A. Schweitzer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle (NY: H. Holt & Co., 1931).

V.P. Furnish, Theology and Ethics in Paul (Nashville: Abingdon, 1968).

E. Kasemann, Perspectives on Paul (London: SCM, 1971).

Krister Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974) paperback, $12. This includes his classic essay, “Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West.”

E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977) paperback, $30. A landmark study.

Gerd Theissen, The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth, trans. John Schulz (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982).

Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983) paperback, $18. A widely-acclaimed social analysis of the early Christian movement.

J. Christiaan Beker, Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984)

Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven: Yale UP, 1989).

Abraham Malherbe, Paul and the Popular Philosophers (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989).

Morna Hooker. From Adam to Christ: Essays on Paul. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Jerome H. Neyrey, Paul, In Other Words: A Cultural Reading of His Letters (Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox, 1990) hardcover, $23.

Wright, N. T. The Climax of the Covenant : Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

G.D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994).

J. Louis Martyn, Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul (Nashville: Abingdon, 1997) hardcover, $40.

B. Longenecker, ed. Narrative Dynamics in Paul: A Critical Assessment (Louisville: WJK, 2002).

J.P. Sampley, ed. Paul in the Greco-Roman World: A Handbook (Continuum 2003).

J.D.G. Dunn, The New Perspective on Paul (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007).

Horsley, Richard A., ed. Paul and Empire: Religion and Power in Roman Imperial Society. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997.

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10 thoughts on “Must-Read Book List for Preparing to be a Pauline Research/Scholar

  1. Yes, I would definitely add Hays’ Echoes of Scripture. I would also add Schnabel’s Paul the Missionary and Crossan & Reed’s In Search of Paul. That appears to cover most major sections of thought, except perhaps ethics.

  2. As always, thanks for your good work Nijay.

    Just to add an excellent book on ethics to the list:

    David G. Horrell, Solidarity and Difference: A Contemporary Reading of Paul’s Ethics (London: T & T Clark, 2005).

  3. I’m looking for a good chart or categorization of the Pauline letters based upon content not location of writing, time of writing ect… just based upon content like eschatology, evangelistic ect… thanks John

    I have Howleys (spell?) but would like to compare.

  4. I also would like to narrow it down to three. I havent done it yet but my thought is that you could go off of key words and more weighted theological terms (repetition) maybe key word with more theological weight would be worth 3 terms that have less weight or ect. so it would be a pretty objective evaluation of the content with the goal of forming three branches based upon content to categorize all of the Pauline letters.

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