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The Paul Quest: The Renewed Search for the Jew of Tarsus

Witherington, Ben, III Author

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A Christianity Today 1999 Book of the Year! Who was the real Paul? Some of Paul's contemporaries seem to have asked the same question. For some he was Paul the tentmaker. For others he was Paul the heretic, Paul the peripatetic philosopher, Paul the would-be apostle, Paul the prophet, or Paul the founder of Christian communities and missionary hero. For more than a decade there has been a renewed quest for the real Paul behind the Acts of the Apostles and the collection of Pauline letters. Although this quest has not gained the visibility of the renewed quest of the historical Jesus, it is a thriving enterprise joined by Protestant, Catholic and Jewish scholars as well as those interested in Paul as a figure of the first-century Greco-Roman world. One of the great gains of this quest for the historical Paul has been a fresh encounter with Paul the Jew. The flood of new insight into Judaism of the first century has illuminated features of Paul that were previously obscured. A scholarly reacquaintance with the classical Roman world has filled in even more details. In this book, Ben Witherington III examines and evaluates the various profiles of Paul that have been newly discovered or recently refurbished. We encounter Paul as an ancient Mediterranean personality and watch him operate in a social environment where honor, shame, patronage and corporate identity are daily considerations. We discover new dimensions of Paul's epistles as we observe him dictating letters and gauging his rhetoric. We enter into the field of controversy where Paul the apostle and prophet meets his opponents. We reconsider the nature of the human body and Christian community as we meet Paul the anthropologist and champion of woman and slave. Paul, the man of the big idea, shows himself to be in truth a storyteller and interpreter of Israel's holy history. In and through all of these complexities, we discover Paul to be a consistent and coherent theologian and ethicist whose thinking reaches out across nearly two thousand years to engage men and women today. With The Paul Quest Witherington leads an exploratory tour and reappraisal of the historical Paul, a sweeping survey of the contemporary rediscovery of the Jew from Tarsus.

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About the Author:

Bible scholar Ben Witherington III is Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. A graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, he went on to receive the MDiv degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a PhD from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, a society dedicated to New Testament studies. Witherington has also taught at Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell. An ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and a popular lecturer, he has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings not only in the United States but also in England, Estonia, Russia, Europe, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. He has also led tours to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications, and is a frequent contributor to the Patheos website. Along with many interviews on radio networks across the country, Witherington has been seen in programs such as 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline on outlets like the History Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, The Discovery Channel, A&E, and the PAX Network.

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