Paul: A Critical Life

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9780192853424: Paul: A Critical Life
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Traditionally the Acts of the Apostles has provided the framework for biographies of the Apostle Paul. In recent years, however, the historical value of the Acts has come into question. Many scholars argue that, despite the accuracy of many details, the text as a whole reflects the interests of Luke rather than objective reality.

This book presents a completely new, and much more vivid and dramatic, account of the life of Paul than any before. While continuing to give consideration to the Acts, Murphy-O'Connor reconstructs the apostle's life--from his childhood in Taursus and his years as a student in Jerusalem, to the successes and failures of his ministry--from his own writings. Reinforcing his critical analysis of Paul's letters with close attention to archaeology and contemporary texts, Murphy-O'Connor not only charts Paul's movements, but extracts a new understanding of his motives and the social and cultural aspects of his ministry. Most important of all, this biography transforms a fountain of theological ideas into a human being.

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About the Author:


Jerome Murphy-O'Connor is Professor of the New Testament at the École Biblique et Archéologique Française, Jerusalem. He is a world expert on Paul, and a contributor both to the Oxford Companion to the Bible, and the forthcoming Oxford Bible Commentary.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A dry historical tome that would be more aptly titled ``Paul: A Cultural History.'' The difficulties of doing ancient biography are compounded when one of the two major sources available is believed to be historically unreliable and corrupt. One of New Testament scholar Murphy-O'Connor's primary objectives is to demonstrate why Luke's account of Paul's life, contained in the Book of Acts, is an inaccurate basis for biography. Point well taken, but where to go from there? The author relies heavily on Paul's own letters, but the portrait available from them is incomplete at best. Paul revealed relatively little about his personal life, preferring to call attention to his mission. Some surprising hypotheses do emerge from this work. First, Murphy-O'Connor conjectures that Paul was not a bachelor, but a widower who had lost his family in some sort of tragedy. The psychological evidence for this is slim, and the historical evidence is nonexistent. Much stronger are the author's deductions about the letters themselves; he makes an excellent case for 2 Thessalonians as a genuine Pauline letter, a minority opinion among New Testament scholars. He also challenges Rome as the traditional site of Paul's imprisonment and demonstrates why Ephesus was a far more logical locale. The primary contribution of the book is not that it is a biography of Paul, but that it opens the door to Paul's world through geography, Roman history, and Jewish-Christian conflict. Unfortunately, the prose is mired in academic passivity and such dense phrases as ``abstracting from the spurious clarity of the philological argument.'' The book is so weighed down with cultural history that there is relatively little about Paul himself, and what there is seems to be mostly speculation. Acts, though historically imprecise, makes for a much better story. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Here Jerome Murphy-O Connor presents a completely new, and much more vivid and dramatic account of the life of Paul than has ever previously been attempted. From his childhood in Tarsus and his years as a student in Jerusalem to the successes and failures of his ministry, this biography has no peer in terms of its detailed reconstructions of Paul s movements and motives. Traditionally, the Acts of the Apostles has provided the framework for the lives of Paul. In recent years, however, the historical value of the Acts has been called into question. Despite the accuracy of many details, they have been linked in ways which reflect the interests of Luke rather than objective reality. Critical assessment is called for if they are to be incorporated into a life of Paul. The prime source for a reconstruction of the Apostle s life must be his own writings. Recent advances in the study of the letters have brought to light new depths which enables them to be used for biographical purposes. The originality of this book lies in the combination of these two approaches, which are reinforced by close attention to the social and cultural aspects of Paul s ministry as revealed by archaeology and contemporary texts-and it transforms a fountain of theological ideas into a human being. Seller Inventory # BTE9780192853424

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