The folks at Zondervan sponsored this year’s Institute for Biblical Research meeting reception. In addition to the deserts there, they very kindly provided attending members with a copy of the recent (2012) Counterpoints volume on Paul, edited by Michael Bird. According to the publisher’s description:
The apostle Paul was a vital force in the development of Christianity. Paul’s historical and religious context affects the theological interpretation of Paul’s writings, no small issue in the whole of Christian theology.
Recent years have seen much controversy about the apostle Paul, his religious and social context, and its effects on his theology. In the helpful Counterpoints format, four leading scholars present their views on the best framework for describing Paul’s theological perspective, including his view of salvation, the significance of Christ, and his vision for the churches.
Contributors and views include:
Reformed View: Thomas R. Schreiner
Catholic View: Luke Timothy Johnson
Post-New Perspective View: Douglas Campbell
Jewish View: Mark D. Nanos
Like other titles in the Counterpoints: Bible and Theology collection, Four Views on the Apostle Paul gives theology students the tools they need to draw informed conclusions on debated issues.
General editor and New Testament scholar Michael F. Bird covers foundational issues and provides helpful summaries in his introduction and conclusion. New Testament scholars, pastors, and students of Christian history and theology will find Four Views on the Apostle Paul an indispensable introduction to ongoing debates on the apostle Paul’s life and teaching.
Ben Dunson and I were at Westminster together for a bit before his Durham days, and it’s wonderful to see that this volume is now available. For those who want to take a look at the original thesis, Durham has it archived here.
Google Books has available two full PDF copies (1, 2) of the original German of F. C. Baur’s Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi (1845). Also available are the first and second volumes of second edition of the English translation produced by Eduard Zeller (Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, 2 vols., 1873–1875). In addition, the book’s second, posthumously produced German edition (2 vols., 1866–1867) from which Zeller translated the English version is available in a single, combined PDF that contains both of its volumes.
In his Romans commentary, F. F. Bruce gives the following, sound advice for those who want to understand Paul better:
We may agree or disagree with Paul, but we must do him the justice of letting him hold and teach his own beliefs, and not distort his beliefs into conformity with what we should prefer him to have said (136).
Of course, determining what exactly Paul believed is a task that inevitably involves readers and those readers’ preunderstandings, but still the adage holds: “if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time” (cf. Hermeneutics and “the Near”).
In his new monograph, The Resurrection of Jesus, Michael Licona summarizes as follows how he sees Paul conceiving of believers’ possible ends:
Paul sees two options before believers. Some believers will die prior to the parousia and will become disembodied until the general resurrection, while believers alive at the parousia will have their earthly bodies clothed with their new resurrection body made by God. Paul certainly prefers to avoid the former. But his faith gives him confidence that, if he dies prior to the parousia, he will be with the Lord, although in a disembodied state, which he prefers over present life in the earthly body. And being with Christ is what matters most to Paul (435–36).
Yet, those who do die before the parousia remain conscious in their disembodied state, but they also await the fresh clothing of their disembodiment by a “resurrection body” (420–22, 425–36).
While expressing doubts about the correctness of the “New Perspective(s) on Paul,” Stan Porter makes the following, interesting observation about the New Perspective(s) vis-à-vis the question of continuity between the portraits of Paul in Acts and the letters:
If this new perspective is correct, then it would appear that the Jewish elements that typify the account in Acts, such as Paul’s beginning much of his local preaching with a visit to the synagogue . . . , his agreeing to participate in the ritual in Jerusalem (Acts 21:17–26 . . . ), and his defenses focusing upon his continuity with Judaism, all point toward continuity between the Paul of Acts and of the Letters. Thus, the new perspective on Paul would appear to render this criticism of [E.] Haenchen [that Luke is unaware of Paul’s answer to the question of the law and the Gentile mission] no longer valid (191).
Despite Porter’s preference for “the traditional view of Paul and the law” (190), he still disagrees with Haenchen’s position about the portraits of Paul in Acts and the letters, but Porter bases his argument on grounds other than those that are available to those who prefer a New Perspective reading of the background behind these key texts (see 191–93).