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Paul: The Man and the Myth
(Studies on Personalities of the New Testament)
Calvin J. Roetzel
From The Publisher:
Paul: The Man and the Myth opens the window into the humanity of the most influential apostle of the early Christian church and, in doing so, offers a fresh view of this important historical figure. In examining the apostle and his theology, Calvin J. Roetzel vividly depicts Paul's world - the land where he grew up, the language he spoke, the scriptures he studied, and the lessons he learned in letter writing and rhetoric. Roetzel presents an evangelist anxious about the welfare of his churches, a theologian facing fierce opposition, a missionary at the mercy of the elements, and a man suffering physical assault, slander, and imprisonment. In contrast to the powerful hero described in Acts and the Apocryphal Acts, Roetzel's portrayal presents a physically weak, even sickly, theologian; a letter writer; and a preacher unskilled in speech. Questioning the historicity of widely held beliefs about the apostle - including his Roman citizenship - Roetzel suggests that Paul never abandoned ties to his native Judaism or to the Hellenistic culture of his childhood. Roetzel underscores that no matter how Paul's image has changed through history, he remains forever tied to support for the weak and vulnerable, faith in one God, and the transgressing of social boundaries.
We are left to reconstruct a portrait of Paul with only scraps of what was once a large and imposing canvas as small collection of letters and a historical narrative written a generation after his death. This reconstruction focuses on important parts of the image that usually fall in the shadows, parts dealing with Pauls sexual asceticism, his preoccupation with holiness Holy Spirit, holy community, and holy ethos the evolution of his theology, and his emergence a a legendary figure. Although I have tried to follow the strict rules of historical investigation, of necessity much guesswork is involved in any exploration of Pauls life . . . All of these efforts are attempts to deal with the gaps in the text, understood in the broadest sense to include not just Pauls written words but also the culture, social world, and political realities surrounding them.
from the Introduction
"...this is a charmingly constructed, and rich and yet readable, set of reflections on Paul."
International Journal of Systematic Theology 3.2 (July 2001)
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About the Author
Calvin Roetzel is the Arnold Lowe Professor of Religious Studies at Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota. His publications include: Judgment in the Community (1972), The World That Shaped the New Testament (1985), and The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context (3d ed., 1991).
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