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Paul (Very Short Introductions #42)

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  191 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Missionary, theologian, and religious genius, Paul is one of the most powerful human personalities in the history of the Church. E.P. Sanders, an influential Pauline scholar, analyzes the fundamental beliefs and vigorous contradictions in Paul's thought, discovering a philosophy that is less of a monolithic system than the apostle's convictions would seem to suggest. This ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published July 9th 2001 by OUP UK (first published 1991)
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Justin Evans
Nov 18, 2013 Justin Evans rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I got far more from this than I was expecting, which is both good (inasmuch as I actually think I know something about Paul and interpretations of him) and bad (inasmuch as I wanted a quick weekend read and instead got a crash course in how-to-argue-with-ancient-Christians-who-say-all-Christians-must-be-circumsized). I knew just enough about Paul and the way people understand him to feel that I knew what was going on, but be warned, this is much more academic/rigorous than most VSIs. Sanders is ...more
Nov 09, 2008 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nick by: N.T. Wright
Shelves: biblical-studies
While doing research for a paper on Romans 9-11 and sniffing around in the bibliography to What Saint Paul Really Said, which I read this past year for a Pauline literature class, I came across this slim little introduction. E.P. Sanders represents a milestone in the history of the interpretation of Paul, and I believe this book sums up nicely what he does in his larger, more magisterial works. N.T. Wright takes up much of Sanders' thinking for his own presentation. What's addressed here is the ...more
Alexander Velasquez
A Great Synopsis on St. Paul:

This books covers a lot of ground for understanding the Apostle Paul and the milieu that he wrote in. The first three chapters covers St. Paul's life and background, and then the rest of the book covers the fundamentals of Paul's theology.

However, this is not just a super basic book on Paul (as all VSI's go somewhat in-depth into the material). E.P Sanders takes the liberty of employing Greek terminology at times to make his point clear, especially on the chapters co
Ahmad Sharabiani
Paul: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #42), E.P. Sanders

Missionary, theologian, and religious genius, Paul is one of the most powerful human personalities in the history of the Church. E.P. Sanders, an influential Pauline scholar, analyzes the fundamental beliefs and vigorous contradictions in Paul's thought, discovering a philosophy that is less of a monolithic system than the apostle's convictions would seem to suggest. This volume offers an incisive summation of Paul's car
Ben De Bono
May 21, 2011 Ben De Bono rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
As someone relatively new to (and very much interested in) the New Perspective on Paul, it was great to finally start to dig into E.P. Sanders' work.

I wasn't disappointed. Paul: A Very Short Introduction is deep, accessible and very challenging. One of the major arguments he makes throughout the book is that Paul was not a systematic theologian. He wasn't approaching theology from a philosophic and organized perspective where everything he said needed to line up perfectly. Rather, he was an ad
Sep 15, 2012 Ethan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
A short overview of Sanders' understanding of Paul and his theology.

The author does well at contextualizing Paul within first century Judaism, attempting to analyze his theology as an attempt to maintain things which he knows to be true regarding God and Israel while making sense of what has changed on account of Jesus. Primarily discussing only those works of Paul accepted by liberal scholarship he discusses Paul's life and developing theology especially through Romans and Galatians. He seeks t
Jun 14, 2015 Trevor rated it it was ok
I decided to read this book before reading Paul’s epistles, hoping the “introduction” would make Paul easier to read. In retrospect, having now read both this book and Paul’s letters shortly thereafter, I think this book might function better as an “epilogue” read after one is acquainted with Paul’s writings. Having read it without much familiarity with Paul’s thought and letters, I found E. P. Sander’s relatively dry discussions hard to follow at times.

However, as I review over my notes and hig
Danny Daley
Considering Sanders' pedigree, and incredible success with his more well known and longer writings, I found this book very frustrating. Rather than a true "introduction" to Paul, this book plays like an introduction to Sanders' specific, nuanced views, and because of the short length these views are not demonstrated clearly and very little is shown of how these views interact with far more dominant views on Paul over the past century or so. I know Sanders' views fairly well, and have read some o ...more
Aug 17, 2014 Austen rated it it was amazing
Did you know that when you're reading the English words "righteous" and "justified" in Paul's letters, it's actually the same word in Greek? It just doesn't make any sense in English to say that we're "righteoused by faith!"

This tiny, dense book explains why grammar is important, why Paul seems to contradict himself in Galatians vs. his writing in Romans, and why Martin Luther may have been wrong about what Paul thought about Law/Gospel. I've never been a fan of Paul, and even my master's level
Daniel Wright
E. P. Sanders is a notable scholar, at the liberal protestant end of the controversial 'New Perspective' on Paul. To this extent, I can't help but criticize OUP for their choice of him to write a general introduction, since he was never going to give a particularly balanced overview - and indeed, he doesn't. Having said that, I'm personally open to the New Perspective, even if I don't take it blindly. Sanders' introduction is fairly helpful of its presentation of the character and thought of Pau ...more
Justin Pitt
Mar 09, 2015 Justin Pitt rated it really liked it
This is a great, short book for anyone who wants a fresh, scholarly look at Paul and his writing. Rather than reading Paul through the lens of Luther and Augustine, Sanders lets Paul tell his own story in the context of second Temple Judaism. Paul was a theologian, but not a systematic one. Sanders crediby argues that attempts to read Paul as the latter lead only to confusion. Instead, Sanders sees Paul as an intensely passionate, intensely Jewish, charismatic, apocalyptic evangelist committed t ...more
Jan 20, 2017 Maya rated it it was amazing
While I fussed about some of the scholarly debates, ultimately this is an extremely worthwhile read. We don't have to agree on all the things we cat know for sure- but what we can agree upon are some of the distinctions which are clear: The Apostle Paul is not to be confused with what Luther or others THOUGHT of the Apostle Paul. We need to try to read Paul for Paul as much as we can.
Sanders' work on Paul in his more academic books revolutionized Pauline studies over the last half century. The VSI series is always excellent, and this is no exception. A wonderful introduction to recent work on Paul and the so-called "New Perspective on Paul."
Oct 04, 2009 Suzanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
This little book was indeed informative, and offered many good insights into the life and culture of Paul the Apostle, but it was more academic than I had hoped, and the language and organization was pretty dry. It did make me want to read more about Paul.
May 14, 2011 Tim rated it liked it
Like other works in this series from Oxford, this is a concise introduction to its subject, in this case the apostle Paul whose life and work to such a great extend directed the spread of what became Christianity beyond the its origins as a small Jewish sect in Palestine.
George Serebrennikov
Jun 05, 2015 George Serebrennikov rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book. Shows Paul’s attempt to reconcile logically between God’s promises to Jews, based on the requirement to follow the law and God’s promises to Christians, based on demand for unconditional faith.
Nicholas Quient
Brief but packed. Helpful.
Maged Zakher
A great read and a very useful reference.
Nicholas Quient
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Ed Parish Sanders is a New Testament scholar, and is one of the principal proponents of the New Perspective on Paul. He has been Arts and Sciences Professor of Religion at Duke University, North Carolina, since 1990. He retired in 2005
More about E.P. Sanders...

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