Here, finally, is a much-needed review and analysis of the divergent interpretations of Paul. With a clear head and winsome sense of humor, Stephen Westerholm compares the traditional understanding of Paul to more recent readings, drawing on the writings of key figures in the debate both past and present.Westerholm first offers a detailed portrait of the Lutheran Paul, including the way such theologians as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley have traditionally interpreted justification by faith to mean that God declares sinners righteous by his grace apart from works. Westerholm then explores how Paul has fared in the twentieth century, in which New Perspective readings of Paul see him teaching that Gentiles need not become Jews or observe Jewish law to be God's people. The final section of the book looks anew at disputed areas of Paul's theological language and offers compelling discussion on the place of both justification by faith and Mosaic law in divine redemption.
Biblical texts create worlds of meaning and invite readers to enter them. When readers enter such textual worlds, which are strange and complex, they are confronted with theological claims. With this in mind, the purpose of the IBT series is to help serious readers in their experience of reading and interpreting by providing guides for their journeys into textual worlds. The focus of the series is not so much on the world behind the text as on the worlds created by the texts in their engagement with readers.
Nowhere is the world of the biblical text stranger than in the apocalyptic literature of both the Old and New Testaments. In this volume, Stephen Cook makes the puzzling visions and symbols of the biblical apocalyptic literature intelligible to modern readers. He begins with definitions of apocalypticism and apocalyptic literature and introduces the various scholarly approaches to and issues for our understanding of the text. Cook introduces the reader to the social and historical worlds of the apocalyptic groups that gave rise to such literature and leads the reader into a better appreciation and understanding of the theological import of biblical apocalyptic literature.
In the second major section of the book, Cook guides the reader through specific examples of the Bible's apocalyptic literature. He addresses both the best-known examples (the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation) and other important but lesser known examples (Zechariah and some words of Jesus and Paul).
In what is both a radical approach to the Bible, and a fundamental return to its narrative prose, Robert Alter reads the Old Testament with new eyes--the eyes of a literary critic. Alter takes the old yet simple step of reading the Bible as a literary creation.
The Psalms possess an enduring fascination for us. For frankness, directness, intensity and intimacy, they are unrivaled in all of Scripture. Somehow the psalmists seem to have anticipated all our awe, desires and frustrations. No wonder Christians have used the Psalms in worship from the earliest times to the present. Yet the Psalms cause us difficulties when we look at them closely. Their poetry is unfamiliar in form. Many images they use are foreign to us today. And the psalmists sometimes express thoughts that seem unworthy of Scripture. Tremper Longman gives us the kind of help we need to overcome the distance between the psalmists' world and ours. He explains the various kinds of psalms, the way they were used in Hebrew worship and their relationship to the rest of the Old Testament. Then he looks at how Christians can appropriate their message and insights today. Turning to the art of Old Testament poetry, he explains the use of parallelism and imagery. Step-by-step suggestions for interpretating the psalms on our own are followed by exercises for further study and reflection. Also included is a helpful guide to commentaries on the Psalms. Here is a book for all those who long to better understand these mirrors of the soul.
This important study shows how the early movement centred on Jesus is best seen as Christian Judaism'. Only with the Epistle to the Hebrews did the profile of a new and distinct Christian religion emerge.
"The followers of Jesus are to different," writes John Stott, "different from both the nominal church and the secular world, different from both the religious and the irreligious. The Sermon on the Mount is the most complete delineation anywhere in the New Testament of the Christian counter-culture. Here is a Christian value-system, ethical standard, religious devotion, attitude to money, ambition, lifestyle and network of relationships--all of which are totally at variance with those in the non-Christian world. And this Christian counter-culture is the life of the kingdom of God, a fully human life indeed but lived out under the divine rule." In this careful exposition of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, John R. W. Stott accurately expounds the biblical text and relates it to life today. Above all, the author says, he wants to let Christ speak this sermon again, this time to the modern world.
To enclaves of young converts tucked away in the mountains of Asia Minor, Paul wrote what is perhaps the oldest document in the New Testament--the letter to the Galatians. What problems were they facing? Among a variety of religious authorities espousing different teachings, how were they to know who was right? How were men and women to be put right with God? How could Christians in the midst of a pagan culture live lives truly pleasing to God? 'Only one way--' answered Paul, 'through Jesus Christ.' His answer holds true for us as well. The details of our struggle have changed since Paul's day, but the principles he sets forth are as timeless as the Lord he exalts. In this book John Stott helps us to understand and apply the message of Galatians in the face of contemporary challenges to our faith.
Paula Fredriksen, renowned historian and author of From Christ to Jesus, begins this inquiry into the historic Jesus with a fact that may be the only undisputed thing we know about him: his crucifixion.Rome reserved this means of execution particularly for political insurrectionists; and the Roman charge posted at the head of the cross indicted Jesus for claiming to be King of the Jews. To reconstruct the Jesus who provoked this punishment, Fredriksen takes us into the religious worlds, Jewish and pagan, of Mediterranean antiquity, through the labyrinth of Galilean and Judean politics, and on into the ancient narratives of Paul's letters, the gospels, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Josephus' histories. The result is a profound contribution both to our understanding of the social and religious contexts within which Jesus of Nazareth moved, and to our appreciation of the mission and message that ended in the proclamation of Jesus as Messiah.
Reading the Old Testament is a clear and carefully organized introduction for contemporary readers. It is designed to guide the student of the Bible through the text and its problems, enrich their understanding of the individual biblical books, and explore the way the Bible came to be written. Reading the Old Testament combines the latest scholarship with sensitivity to religious issues and Israel's ever deepening understanding of God's ways. The author gives special attention to recent archeological discoveries in the Middle East and how these affect our understanding of the Old Testament. The book contains numerous maps, charts, and drawings. Reading the Old Testament is particularly illuminating about the way Israel's religious experience was translated into written records. No other introduction offers the same thorough treatment of the Exile and the post-exilic periods as crucial times in the formation of the Old Testament.
In this timely, provocative, and uplifting journey, the bestselling author of Walking the Bible searches for the man at the heart of the world's three monotheistic religions -- and today's deadliest conflicts.
At a moment when the world is asking, "Can the religions get along?" one figure stands out as the shared ancestor of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. One man holds the key to our deepest fears -- and our possible reconciliation. Abraham.
Bruce Feiler set out on a personal quest to better understand our common patriarch. Traveling in war zones, climbing through caves and ancient shrines, and sitting down with the world's leading religious minds, Feiler uncovers fascinating, little-known details of the man who defines faith for half the world.
Both immediate and timeless, Abraham is a powerful, universal story, the first-ever interfaith portrait of the man God chose to be his partner. Thoughtful and inspiring, it offers a rare vision of hope that will redefine what we think about our neighbors, our future, and ourselves.