The Paul of Surprises

The Paul of Surprises

Geoffrey Turner, Darton Longman and Todd

Over the past few decades scholarship on Paul and his letters has changed enormously. We have a new awareness of Paul’s Jewish background and what his controversies and debates were about. Paul is not, as has often been suggested in Protestant circles, caricaturing Judaism as “works righteousness;” rather he is concerned about the terms on which non-Jews become part of the community of Jesus-followers. It is therefore refreshing to find a book whose author is well aware of these scholarly discussions, but at the same time writes clearly and engagingly for the non-specialist.

Turner’s book is different from most books on Paul in that he approaches him by exploring his vision of the Christian life. How shall we live? He sees Paul as someone who is less concerned about providing rules, and more about the kind of person we shall be. His ethical approach is about character formation, under the guidance of the Spirit.

In the first chapter, Turner outlines this understanding of Paul’s approach. The following nine chapters are then on the themes of humility, slavery, faithfulness, hope, love, holiness, unity and life in Christ.

For anyone who wants a helpful introduction to Paul’s theology and ethics, this is an excellent starter.

Robert Bos

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