For centuries, Paul, the apostle who “saw the light on the Road to Damascus” and changed dramatically from zealous Pharisee persecutor to devoted follower of Jesus, has been one of the church's most widely cited early teachers. Yet for leading New Testament scholar and Anglican bishop N. T. Wright, most Bible scholars and pastors have not fully grasped what Paul was actually doing and why.
In focusing on Paul's letters and theology, Wright argues, they have, in short, overlooked the essence of the man's life and the extreme unlikelihood of what he achieved. In response, Wright offers a new way of understanding one of the most famous Christian figures. Wright draws attention to Paul the man-the man who survived assassination attempts, imprisonments, and shipwrecks all while inventing new language and concepts for faithfully translating Jesus's story for the Gentile world.
In this pioneering new account, Wright celebrates Paul's humanity, arguing that this is the best context for understanding him and ultimately for appreciating how he invented new paradigms for how we understand Jesus. “The problem,” Wright explains, “is that while Paul is central to any understanding of early Christianity, we cannot understand him without taking full account of the pre-Christian Jewish beliefs and hopes that he believed had been fulfilled in Jesus.” Only when we consider Paul in this manner can we move on to understanding how he led the way for Christianity to conquer the Roman world.
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