One of my students brought to my attention this Washington Post article on “The Year’s Ten Most Intriguing Religion Books” (2013). Books by Reza Aslan and Gary Anderson made the list. The unique Coffee with Jesus collection. And Flannery O’Connor’s “A Prayer Journal” (newly discovered by a biographer). But also N.T. Wright’s titanic Paul and the Faithfulness of God – here is the description:
In this magnum opus, one of the most prolific Christian theologians of our time lays out his case for Paul as a thinker on par with Aristotle and Plato. Clocking in at nearly 1,700 pages, including 70 just for the footnotes, this tome has been hailed as “magisterial” and is already being held up as the standard reference work on Christianity’s first and, arguably foremost, theologian. Wright’s vigorous prose provides an engaging introduction to the Judaism and Christianity of the first century. Wright contends that Paul’s writings are to be understood as those of a devout Jew who reworks Jewish redemptive theology around the figure of Jesus in the furtherance of “getting the Creation project back on track.”
Actually, this is an accurate and superbly insightful little overview. Impressive. And congrats to Wright, well-deserving of accolades, but I am sure we will see more than one critical academic review in the coming months (and perhaps years as folks marathon-read through the work!).
My buddy Todd Still has co-authored an introduction to Paul along with Bruce Longenecker called Thinking through Paul. The book should appear before SBL 2014. I hope I don’t need to tell you that these are two of the best minds in Pauline studies. I am sure we will get a chance to review this in Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters. Here is the summary:
The study of Paul and his letters can be exciting, challenging, and life-changing, but only if it is done well and only if students achieve more than a basic familiarity with the subject. This is exactly what Pauline experts Bruce W. Longenecker and Todd D. Still accomplish with their new textbook aimed at college and seminary level courses on Paul and his writings.
Longenecker and Still bring decades of study and expertise to Thinking through Paul, challenging readers to delve deeply into Paul’s writings and wrestle with his richly-layered and dynamic theological discourse.
Seeking to situate their study of the Apostle in proper perspective, Longenecker and Still first look at Paul’s life before and after his encounter with the risen Christ en route to Damascus, then examine each of Paul’s letters individually, and finally synthesize the Pauline writings to highlight the main strands of Paul’s theologizing—all the while keeping in mind the particular context of first-century Christianity. Filled with images, maps, charts, and questions for further study and discussion, Thinking through Paul is both engaging and easy-to-follow, making it the perfect choice for classrooms and for interested readers.