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Pauline studies
An annotated bibliography

This list is in the process of being built. There are many important studies old and new that I have not yet treated here. Absence is not to be taken as a sign of unimportance; nor is inclusion to be taken as a sign of recommendation (as will be seen by some of the ratings below). If an important study is not on here, it is either because I have not managed to read it yet, or read it too long ago to provide a decent annotation. Alternatively, I just haven't got around to writing an annotation yet. I hope to build this list over time to make it more useful. Listings are in alphabetical order by author. Recommendations are by "scrolls," on a ranking of 1 to 5. And I must admit: I don't give out a 5 very readily.


Beker, J. Christiaan. Paul the Apostle
Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980

This is Beker's opus on "coherence and contingency." His thesis is that while Paul's theologizing is not strictly consistent, it is always built upon a coherent core, which consists of an apocalyptic theology: the turn of the ages has come, and God's triumph impends. I happen to believe that Paul's writing is more consistent than Beker credits, but this is a compelling book. Not light reading; don't try it as an introduction. 3 1/2 scrolls.

Cranfield, C. E. B. On Romans and Other New Testament Essays
London: T. & T. Clark, 1998

This work by a respected scholar is an anthology of essays published elsewhere, largely in theological journals. Cranfield's style, for better or worse, feels about 80 years out of date; some readers may find that endearing (I am indifferent). I frankly did not find very much of the work compelling; the best article is probably Cranfield's response to Dunn's Christology in the Making. If you are looking for a good anthology of essays on Paul, Wright's Climax of the Covenant is a much better bet. Cranfield's book is of value, largely as a testimony to disagreement, such as his take on pistis Christou (chapter 7). 3 scrolls.

Das, A. Andrew. Paul and the Jews
Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003. Library of Pauline Studies. Stanley Porter, gen. ed.

Das's second major work on Paul (I have a full review of his earlier book, Paul, the Law, and the Covenant here) reaches out more broadly from his earlier work, which focused on the law. Here, Das shows more interest in Paul's overarching relationship to Judaism and his people generally. A fine effort, but not particularly ground-breaking. 3 1/2 scrolls.

Das, A. Andrew. Paul, the Law, and the Covenant
Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2001

3 1/2 scrolls. Click here for full review.

Davies, W. D. Paul and Rabbinic Judaism
London: SPCK, 1965

Davies's book is for many reasons considered a classic text on Paul. His work was a large contributing factor in pulling New Testament scholarship away from its fixation with seeking Paul's antecedents in Hellenism, whether in Greek philosophy of the mystery religions. Davies roots Paul squarely in his Jewish and rabbinic upbringing. Still, I am less than satisfied with this book; it largely assumes a questionable history-of-religions approach, and too often explains Paul's beliefs in terms of questionable chains of reasoning, rather than Paul's experience of Christ. For example, the pre-existence of Christ in Colossians 1.15ff. is attributed to Paul's equation of Christ as Torah - Judaism was developing a tradition that Torah was God's first creation, and that He made the world after its pattern. Much more likely, Paul's recognition of Christ's pre-existence is bound up in the sort of theophanic glory which constituted Christ's confrontation with Paul on the Damascus road. It is also to be observed that Davies belonged to an era that dated Gnosticism much earlier than present scholarship allows, and thus is susceptible to anachronism. An important work, but most evangelicals will find it frequently frustrating. 3 scrolls.

Donaldson, Terence L. Paul and the Gentiles
Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997

This is Donaldson's effort to go beyond Beker's "coherence and contingency" model (see the annotation on Paul the Apostle, above), developing a three-fold structure to Paul's thought world (compared to Beker's two levels). Donaldson's work largely revolves around an effort to determine the source of Paul's theology and practice (i.e. how much carries over from Pharisaic conviction; how much is to be attributed to his conversion experience etc.) - not, I admit, particularly compelling for me. Nonetheless, Donaldson does have some helpful contributions to make, not least in connection with Romans 11. A specialized work. 3 scrolls.

Dunn, James D. G., ed. Paul and the Mosaic Law
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001 (1996). 3rd Durham-Tubingen Research Symposium on Earliest Christianity and Judaism.

Symposiums tend to be a mixed bag; frequently there are a handful of quality essays and a great deal of unhelpful fodder. Paul and the Mosaic Law is for the most part an exception; it is chock-full of excellent papers from leading scholars such as Martin Hengel, N. T. Wright, Jan Lambrecht, Bruce Longenecker, Richard Hays and others. Otfried Hofius's paper on Romans 5.12-21, while very technical and difficult, is also very rewarding. If you want something a bit technical but wide-ranging, this is a good pick. 4 1/2 scrolls.

Gallant, Tim. Paul's Travail: A Reintroduction to Galatians
Pactum Reformanda, 2013

Here is a full exposition of the Galatians material which underlay much of the argumentation in These Are Two Covenants. Building from a viewpoint argued some years ago by Joseph Braswell, I take Galatians 3:10's statement, "as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse" to mean, not that certain people are accursed, but that Israel was bound by a curse-bearing oath to the Mosaic covenant. The death of the Messiah in terms of Torah's penalty against apostasy is the liberating agent so that Jew and Gentile can enjoy the new covenant and new creation blessings together. This is a relatively technical commentary aimed at pastors, scholars, and serious readers willing to work through some Greek exegesis.

Gallant, Tim. These Are Two Covenants: Reconsidering Paul On the Mosaic Law
Pactum Reformanda, 2012

I will not assess the quality of my own book, but so far as contents, These Are Two Covenants covers a great deal of the ground relating to Paul's handling of the law of Moses. Drawing heavily from Galatians and the other Paulines, this book shows that Paul's writings that seem critical of the law bear that character insofar as he views the law as a covenantal administration, and Christ as the new covenant. These two covenants are mutually exclusive. At the same time, Paul views the whole "Old Testament" as authoritative Scripture. If you are looking for a treatment of Paul that places heavy focus upon salvation history, you will want this book.

Gathercole, Simon J. Where is Boasting?
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002

This dissertation is a combination of a study in Judaism and a corresponding evaluation of Paul's treatment of boasting in Romans 1-5. Gathercole's thesis is founded upon the inadequacy of E. P. Sanders's categories of "getting in" and "staying in." Such a paradigm, Gathercole points out, de-eschatologizes Jewish concern with Torah, which was angled toward a judgment according to works, and an anticipated renewal of all things. Gathercole, however, places Scripture - and Paul himself - in this eschatological line (i.e. Paul too believes in a "judgment according to works"). The difference, Gathercole suggests, is the Spirit of Pentecost. Unfortunately, Gathercole never explicitly ties the threads together all that well; we are left wondering how the Jewish view of a "judgment according to works" gets brought down onto the level of present justification in Paul's polemics. It's a very worthwhile and stimulating read, but don't expect to find all the answers here. 3 1/2 scrolls.

Hays, Richard B. The Faith of Jesus Christ, 2nd ed.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002 (1983)

The ground-breaking study which was largely responsible for two key movements in Pauline studies: narrative interpretation, and reading the Greek phrase pistis Christou subjectively ("the faith[fulness] of Christ") rather than objectively ("faith in Christ"). Hays's primary thesis is that underlying all of Paul's theologizing is a "narrative substructure:" the epoch-shaking story of Jesus Christ. The technical, theoretical aspects of the Greimas narrative model he employs are questionable, and Hays himself is now dubious of their value. Still, this is worthwhile, and the inclusion of the James Dunn essay (opposing "the faith of Christ" reading) along with Hays's counter-response only makes the second edition all the more attractive. Not an introductory book, but once you are beginning to specialize, this is valuable. 3 1/2 scrolls.

Hubner, Hans. Law in Paul's Thought
Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1986 (1978). James Greig, trans. Studies of the New Testament and its World, John Riches, ed.

Hubner's fundamental thesis is that Paul's thought undergoes fundamental development between Galatians and Romans. While his view of contradiction in Paul is not as radical as Raisanen, it seems to me to be "taking the easy way out" when scholars posit that Paul cannot be synthesized. Some of Hubner's problems are in fact of his own doing, such as his claim that in Galatians 3.19, Paul is asserting that Torah was given by malevolent angels. An important work of scholarship, but not the place to begin (or end). 3 scrolls.

Hultgren, Arland J. Paul's Gospel and Mission
Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985

A short book (about 150 pages) that focuses upon justification and concludes with a consideration of Paul's mission. The discussion of justification is hampered by Hultgren's antithesis between apocalyptic and forensic categories. Hultgren asserts that there is an accomplished justification of the entire creation (elucidated in Romans 5.12-21); justification by faith is a "forensic" category that refers to present believers who are the firstfruits of universal salvation. The consideration of the Pauline judgment texts is nowhere close to allowing Hultgren to establish his claim. There are some interesting insights in the final chapter, where Hultgren insists that we should hear a distinct note of "nations" (and not just "Gentiles," individually considered) when Paul speaks of his mission to the ethne. 3 scrolls.

Kasemann, Ernst. Perspectives on Paul
Miflintown, PA: Sigler, 1996 (Reprint: SCM, 1971)

A series of essays on Pauline themes. The student diverged quite markedly from the master, but I have to admit there is still a great deal too much Bultmann here for my taste. Rather less exegetical demonstration than one may have hoped in a work of this sort. As so often is the temptation, Kasemann accedes to false antitheses. For example: "The Spirit is the Lord who becomes present on earth through the Word, and who may not simply be remembered in a theology of the facts of redemption or replaced by a creed" (p. 166); throughout the work, the author makes it clear that he is not interested in balancing the latter two elements, but essentially negating them. Kasemann is undoubtedly an important figure in modern Pauline theology, but I frankly did not find this book to be all that helpful. 2 1/2 scrolls.

Longenecker, Bruce W., ed. Narrative Dynamics in Paul: A Critical Assessment
Louisville: John Knox Press, 2002

This is an attempt by a number of well-known British scholars to apply a narrative model to Paul, following five key "stories": God and creation; Israel; Jesus; Paul; and "predecessors and inheritors." Although there is helpful material here, this really does not follow through on Hays's vision articulated in The Faith of Jesus Christ; the writers get bogged down looking for "stories," which is not really what Hays was intending. Interesting as an example of scholarly dialogue, and some fruitful insights can be found, but for the most part, your time and money is better spent somewhere else, unless you are a narrative theology fanatic. 2 1/2 scrolls.

Longenecker, Bruce W. The Triumph of Abraham's God
Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1998

This provocative and stimulating study serves up a semi-thematic consideration of Galatians. While I take issue with Longenecker at a number of key points (e.g. the apparent arbitrariness which he ascribes to Paul's handling of Scripture; his undervaluation of "prescription" in Paul; the "Martyn-esque" approach to salvation-historical issues), this is a worthwhile and generally-balanced look at Galatians from a critical perspective. 4 scrolls.

Ridderbos, Herman. Paul: An Outline of His Theology
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975 (1966). Translated by John R. de Witt.

Written before the "Sanders revolution," but unquestionably a classic. Despite prevalent questionable assumptions regarding Judaism as a merit-religion, Ridderbos's Paul is a magnum opus that displays a breadth of learning and depth of insight. 5 scrolls.

Sanders, E. P. Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People
Minneapolis: Fortress, 1983

Although Paul and Palestinian Judaism was a mammoth work, in truth Sanders did very little with Paul in that book. Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People was a more concerted, albeit much shorter, attempt to explain Paul. Sanders has numerous valuable insights, but he is often frustrating, because he tends to blink when it counts. For example, rather than investigate Paul's use of Scripture, Sanders simply says that Paul chooses texts merely because they use the terms he is interested in, not because they really mean what Paul himself is arguing at the time. This is an important work, but there is a reason that Sanders is best known for his insights into Judaism, rather than Paul. 3 scrolls.

Sanders, E. P. Paul and Palestinian Judaism
Minneapolis: Fortress, 1977

4 scrolls. For a full review that provides a comparative analysis with Justification and Variegated Nomism, vol. 1 (D. A. Carson et al), click here.

Segal, Alan F. Paul the Convert
New Haven: Yale, 1990

Written by a modern Jewish scholar. Primarily useful for examination of the sociological implications of Paul's treatment of Torah-observance. Segal's own attempts to interpret Paul himself range from commonplace to idiosyncratic, such as his notion that "the law of sin" in Romans 7 refers to the ceremonial laws. Recommended only if you are interested in specialized Pauline study, not as an introduction. 2 1/2 scrolls.

Waters, Guy Prentiss. Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul
Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 2004

Waters is a former student of E. P. Sanders, but writes from a traditional southern Presbyterian perspective. Unfortunately, while his criticisms of Sanders are largely fair (both with regard to Judaism and Paul), the work as a whole is fraught with serious mischaracterizations and engages in no tough exegesis. Read Westerholm instead (below). 2 scrolls. For an extensive review of this book, click here.

Westerholm, Stephen. Perspectives Old and New on Paul
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004

Begun as a revision of Westerholm's 1988 classic, Israel's Law and the Church's Faith, this work needed a name change when a small format 220 page study became a large format 450+ page opus. The first 258 pages are devoted to an overview of various interpretations of Paul, beginning with an excellent historical look at the great so-called "Lutheran" interpreters: besides Luther himself, Westerholm discusses Augustine, Calvin, and Wesley, placing their views on justification within the larger context of their thought. Westerholm's own treatment of Paul scores some pretty big points against numerous NPP readings, but in the end leaves some big questions unanswered as well. Nonetheless, Westerholm has outdone himself. The writer is evenhanded, knowledgeable, readable, and often downright funny. The small classic has simply become a large one. 5 scrolls.

Wright, N. T. Climax of the Covenant
Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991.

This is a wonderful collection of essays, forays into deep Pauline exegesis, including the Christ-hymn in Philippians 2, the "sin-offering" text in Romans 8.3-4, the mysterious "now a mediator is not of one" of Galatians 2.20, and much more. Wright at his exegetical best, and despite the technical nature of the material, the author's spriteliness never allows discussion to bog down. 5 scrolls.

Wright, N. T. Romans
In The New Interpreter's Bible, Vol. X. Leander Keck, convener and NT ed. Nashville: Abingdon, 2002.

I do not intend to get into adding many commentaries to this bibliography (what a mammoth task it would become), but.... This is Wright's broadest-scale treatment of Paul to date, in the shape of a commentary on Romans. Wright does an admirable job keeping track of how Paul develops his arguments. Although there are weaknesses here (as always such there will be) - Wright relies too heavily on ethnological issues, in my judgment, and his reading of Romans 11 gives insufficient attention to contextual issues in the passages Paul cites - this is unquestionably one of the most important new commentaries in recent years. Frankly, I much prefer this to What Saint Paul Really Said as an introduction to Wright on Paul. 5 scrolls.

Wright, N. T. What Saint Paul Really Said
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.

This easy-reading introduction to Paul is the center of both Wright's popularity and controversy. Although many treat this book as Wright's "standard," I consider the material to be somewhat one-sided and too polemical, rather than Wright at his best. Still, he is still head and shoulders above the pack of modern NT scholarship, and it shows here too. 4 scrolls.

Young, Brad H. Paul the Jewish Theologian
Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997.

Young has soaked himself in Jewish studies, but this short book has little to commend it. It is a one-sided attempt to show that Paul in no sense abandoned Torah. Young's defense of his position essentially consists in repeating Romans 3.31 over and over, and avoiding dealing with genuinely difficult texts. Easy to read, but don't bother. 1 scroll.

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