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Apostle to the Nations, An Introduction

by Walter F. Taylor Jr.

Publication Year: 2012

Who was Paul? What did he do? What did he write? Walter F. Taylor Jr. sets out to bring together a wealth of contemporary perspectives in a clear and accessible synthesis, bringing to bear on his subject the best of recent social-scientific and cultural-anthropological thinking on Paul.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. vi-9

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

List of Textboxes

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-17

The giving of thanks was important for Paul (see below on “Structure of Hellenistic Letters”), and it is important for me as the author of this study. To Gerhard Krodel and John Reumann go thanks for the excellent courses that introduced me to Paul. To Hans Dieter Betz go thanks for the insights and encouragement he gave as my doctoral advisor. To students at Trinity Lutheran Seminary from 1981 until today go thanks for probing questions...

Part One Who Was Paul and What Did He Do?

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pp. 1-19

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Introduction: Why Study Paul?

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pp. 3-10

Think of a well-known but controversial public figure from the present or the past: Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Lady Gaga, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan. Each person has passionate supporters—and equally ardent opponents. Paul, an early Christ-believing missionary, apostle (or “messenger,” see chapter 3), theologian, and author, has elicited the same kind of sharply opposed reactions. Over the centuries, he has been appreciated...

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1. How Can We Study Paul?

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pp. 11-20

If we had posed thirty years ago the lead question of this chapter, “How can we study Paul?” the answer would have been that we can do it by using history, with theology not far behind. In the twenty-first century, we have those options plus several others. While the larger number of interpretative options complicates the task of studying Paul, proper...

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2. What Sources Can We Use to Study Paul?

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pp. 21-34

We have explored reasons why the study of Paul is both intriguing and informative, and we have investigated different ways of studying ancient texts from Paul. Now we need to be more precise about the sources available for studying him. The major sources that have been used are his letters, the New Testament book of Acts, and various noncanonical...

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3. Where and When Did Paul Live and Work?

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pp. 35-50

Although scholars have often viewed Paul as a timeless figure issuing theological pronouncements independent of his own era, today scholars work hard to set Paul within his own world. Indeed, not to do so runs the risk of misunderstanding him by reading him as though he wrote in the fourth century, the seventeenth century, or the twenty-first century, instead of the first century. In this chapter, we will focus on details of Paul’s...

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4. What Kind of Person Was Paul?

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pp. 51-90

Part of the fun—and challenge—of learning to know Paul better is sorting out and putting back together again the stream of religious, cultural, and educational experiences that informed his life and letters. Paul was a Judean, he was a Greco-Roman, he was a leather worker, and he was a Christ-believer. Each identity, however, was more complex than the mere...

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5. What Did Paul Do?

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pp. 91-124

As we have seen, Paul’s mission was to announce the good news of what God had done in Jesus. While the message went first to Judean people, it was also for non-Judeans (Rom 1:16), and to those non-Judeans, Paul had a special mission. That mission, in addition, was understood by Paul to participate in God’s long-standing plan that through the...

Part TwoWhat Did Paul Write?

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pp. 125-143

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6. 1 Thessalonians: The End Is Near—but Not Yet

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pp. 127-142

Our imaginary early believer knew that the portion of the letter being read was in the second half of the letter and likely near the end not only when s/he heard the word finally, but even more when hearing the words we ask and urge you. Those words (especially the word urge) signaled...

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7. Galatians: Free to Be Children of God

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pp. 143-160

Imagine sitting in a Christ-believing congregation somewhere in the interior of Turkey. There are no pews, and in fact, you are gathered with other Christ-believers in someone’s home. Even though you are not well educated, you are well aware of how a letter should be constructed: salutation, thanksgiving, body, exhortation, conclusion. So as the reader begins the letter, you know what to lis-...

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8. 1 Corinthians: Life in the Body

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pp. 161-188

Our imaginary first-century follower of Jesus is trying to live her life in the way God wants her to live. But within even the few house churches in Corinth, believers are coming up with different responses on how to live in their multicultural, pluralistic world, and the different views are starting to divide the Corinthian believers from each other. In response, Paul writes the letter we call 1 Corinthians. Together with 2 Corinthians, it forms...

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9. 2 Corinthians: Treasure in Clay Jars

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pp. 189-222

The twenty-first-century reader might think 1 Corinthians should have resolved all problems among the Christ-believers in Corinth. Unfortunately, by the time of 2 Corinthians, the circumstances confronted by Paul were even more complex and difficult than before, with rival missionaries creating at least part of the new problem. To investigate how Paul deals with the new situation, we will need to do some detective work on 2 Corinthians. Our...

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10. Romans: God Justifies the Ungodly

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pp. 223-254

As is typical of Paul, he places his theological cards on the table in the opening section of the letter (1:1-17). Because these lines are filled with information about the way Paul understands himself, his mission, and the Roman congregation he addresses, they deserve particular attention at the start of our discussion of the letter. The salutation (1:1-7) is structured in typical fashion: sender (Paul) to recipients (“to all God’s beloved in...

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11. Philippians: Citizenship in Heaven

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pp. 255-276

Our imaginary believer lived in a city that had a special relationship with Rome. Philippi was located on the Via Egnatia, the main road linking Rome with the eastern part of its growing territory. Near Philippi in 42 bce, Octavian (later called Augustus) and Antony defeated the assassins of Julius Caesar. Philippi was reconstituted as a Roman colony, and many discharged army veterans were given land there. In 31 bce, Octavian...

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12. Philemon: Life in the Christ-Believing Family

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pp. 277-288

Norman R. Petersen’s classic book on Philemon has taught us that we must understand the story of Philemon, Onesimus, and Paul and their interaction if we want to understand the letter.2

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13. How Did People Develop What Paul Wrote?

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pp. 289-310

]The purpose of this chapter is to survey the Pauline tradition in the generations immediately following Paul, in order to see how Paul and his thought were utilized as the church continued to develop. Six letters in the New Testament that are associated with the name of Paul are understood in this book to have been written in his name by someone else after his death. Such writings were common in antiquity and were viewed as ways...


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pp. 311-318


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pp. 319-322


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pp. 323-372

General Index: Authors and Subjects

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pp. 373-384

E-ISBN-13: 9781451424461
E-ISBN-10: 1451424469
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800632595
Print-ISBN-10: 0800632591

Page Count: 398
Publication Year: 2012