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Paul: A Brief History

ISBN: 978-1-4051-7891-4
264 pages
December 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
Paul: A Brief History (1405178914) cover image
Seesengood traces the life and impact of Paul – one of Christianity’s most influential figures – through the major periods Christian history. Exploring the changing interpretations of Paul and his work, the author throws new light on his writings and on religious history.

  • Offers a unique, insightful journey through the many and varied interpretations of Paul’s life and work over 2,000 years – from the Gnostic controversy, to Luther and the Reformation, to contemporary debates over religion and science

  • Explains Paul’s pivotal role within Christian history, and how his missionary journeys, canonized epistles and theological insights were cornerstones of the early Church and central to the formation of Christian doctrine

  • Argues that each new interpretation of Paul is the result of a fresh set of cultural, social and ideological circumstances – and so questions whether it is ever possible to discover the real Paul

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Acknowledgments.

Introduction: Meeting Paul Again for the First Time.

1 What Do We Know About "Paul," and How Do We Know It?

Who Is "Paul"?

Sifting the Data: Five Starting Assumptions.

More Problems: The Question of Canon.

Sorting through the Data: The Range of Scholarly Views.

(Finally) A Brief Tour of Paul’s Letters.

The Acts of the Apostles.

Hebrews.

2 Paul in the Ante-Nicene Church.

What is "Ante-Nicene" Christianity?

Some Ancient "Heretics": Marcion and the Gnostics.

Marcion's Paul.

Marcion's Bible.

Lessons from Marcion.

Paul Outside the New Testament.

Pseudepigraphy: A Closer Look.

The Developing "Science" of Biblical Interpretation.

3 Paul in Late Antiquity.

Western and Eastern Christianity.

Canon Closure.

Augustine of Hippo.

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.

4 The Medieval Paul(s).

Paul and the Bible in the Middle Ages.

Diversity of Thought in the Middle Ages.

Paul as the Scholar.

Paul and Medieval Cosmology and Anthropology.

Paul and the Doctrine of Transubstantiation.

Social and Civil Order.

Paul and Medieval Anti-Judaism.

Paul the Ascetic and Mystic.

5 Paul and the Rise of Protestant Christianity.

Luther's Challenge.

Sola Scriptura.

The Science of Biblical Interpretation.

Luther's Reading of Paul’s View of the Jews.

6 Paul in the Age of Colonization.

The Rise of European Colonization.

The Rise of Christian Missions.

Debating Biblical Historicity.

The Letter to Philemon and Debates over Slavery.

7 Paul in the Twentieth Century.

Late Modernism and Postmodernism.

Early Twentieth-Century Biblical Scholarship.

Counter-responses.

Debates over the Bible and the Rise of Anti-Semitism.

Redeeming Paul: Paul in the Later Twentieth Century.

Paul and Subjectivity.

The "New Perspective" on Paul (Paul and Judaism).

Paul and Gender.

Paul and Sexual Preference.

Paul and Politics and Ethnicity.

The Historicity of the Pauline Writings and Acts (again).

Paul and the Fragmentation of the Twentieth Century.

Paul and Postmodernity.

Conclusion: The Quest for the Historical Paul; or, What did we find if we couldn’t find Paul?

(Auto)biography and Paul.

Where Is Paul?

Questing.

The Ethics of Historical Reconstructions.

Comparing the Historical Data for Paul and for Jesus.

Implications: The Language of Paul.

Further Reading.

Index of New Testament Citations.

Index of Subjects and Proper Names.

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Robert Paul Seesengood is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Albright College. He is the author of Competing Identities: The Athlete and the Gladiator in Early Christianity (2006), and has written numerous articles on Paul and Pauline studies.
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Seesengood traces the life and impact of Paul – one of Christianity’s most influential figures – through the major periods Christian history. Exploring the changing interpretations of Paul and his work, the author throws new light on his writings and on religious history.
  • Traces the life and impact of one of Christianity's most influential figures throughout the major periods of its history, throwing new light on Paul¦s writings and on religious history
  • Offers a unique, insightful journey through the many and varied interpretations of Paul's life and work over 2,000 years  from the Gnostic controversy, to Luther and the Reformation, to contemporary debates over religion and science
  • Argues that each new interpretation of Paul is the result of a fresh set of cultural, social and ideological circumstances  and so questions whether it is ever possible to discover the real Paul
See More
"An accessible narrative of interpretations and manifestations of Paul’s intellectual, religious, and political effects in history. Seesengood offers a ‘brief’, though impressive, survey of the history of scholarship about Paul, unmasking myths, legends, and popular images. This excellent resource for undergraduate and seminary students will also be of interest both to non-specialist, general readers and to biblical scholars."
David J. Lull, Wartburg Theological Seminary

"This outstanding and accessible book is a welcome and timely contribution. At a time when writers beyond theologians and biblical scholars have begun to examine Paul’s thought, this clear-eyed account and critique of the use (and abuse) of Paul through the centuries opens for students and sharpens for scholars the worlds of historical method and postmodern cultural critique. A rich addition to the study of Paul through the ages and paradigm for how to think about such matters."
Jerry L Sumney, Lexington Theological Seminary

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