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What Paul Meant

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  • Posted May 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Don't be fooled by the slimness of this volume. It is larger than its size.

    The Apostle Paul has been named as one of the 10 most influential thinkers of history. His writings have survived 2000 years of scrutiny, multiple interpretations and have influenced the leaders of reformations of the Church (Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, to name but three). These same writings have been used to support: Slavery, Male domination, misongyny, anti-Semitism, absurd dress codes and a host of ludicrous issues that he had no idea of given the culture and context of the age when he was penning majority of the Biblical New Testament. (Dr. Willis indicates, and supports, there being only seven letters in the New Testament which are authentically Pauline in origin.) It is because of these misleading interpretations that this Student had arrived at a place of distaste for this Saintly, early church leader. Actually, it was an idea that this small, but powerful, book would support his disdain (and it was in the sale bin at one of my dealer's) that this uneducated pupil purchased this book. I was wrong about the purpose of the book and am a better: Christ-follower, Biblically educated and have a renewed friendship with Paul after reading this volume.
    Dr. Willis has a Curriculum Vitae that is astounding (Ph.D. in the classics, Greek Professor at Johns Hopkins, Professor of History Emeritus at Northwestern University) but his passion and respect for the scripture is what gives this book about the Apostle Paul its authenticity. Dr. Willis has no agenda in writing this work beyond seeking to clarify what the title indicates, what did Paul mean in his writings? For those of us who have had the opportunity to formally study religion, it is doubtful we had anyone as qualified or as well researched into Paul's writings as is Dr. Willis. He reminds (or instructs) the reader that Paul's writings are dated the earliest in the New Testament and are therefore to be seen as having a large influence over the other writings contained therein. He uses the nine chapters to address the different issues causing the most confusion in the reading of Paul's writings. The most astounding for me was the discussion Dr. Willis has of the ongoing conflict Paul had with the early church leaders in Jerusalem and the contradiction Luke's account of Paul's life and activities had from Paul's account of his life and actions.
    This is a book filled with Scripture. Having been written by a Greek Professor, one can expect the interpretation of the various New Testament passages to be commonly unfamiliar. Dr. Willis changes nothing about what the scripture says, he only translates the Greek more closely to what was probably said. He is respectful to the Scripture, as reflected in his frequent references thereto and in the passion with which he "allows" Paul to speak. He understands Paul as an "emissary" of "the revelation (that God has arrived to redeem all humanity)" and all of his writings were directed toward getting that message to the entire world. To achieve this goal, he was called upon to address the conflicts present in those gatherings around the known world of which he was involved. After reading this book, I found the comfort of knowing that Church people have been fighting each other since approximately day one of the second month after the Ascension.
    This book confirmed for me, yet again, of the need for me to "let the Scripture say what it says, not what I want (or have been necessarily taught) it to say.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2007

    Wills Writes a Compelling Book

    How's this? Paul was the first of the writers, not the Gospels, but Paul himself. He didn't borrow from the Gospels because they weren't written yet and his accounts are the closest we have to Jesus's life of all the material in the New Testament. Wills takes the seven books that are definitely written by Paul and analyzes what Paul meant. The book is fascinating and anyone with an interest in New Testament history and theology will enjoy reading it. Frank Scoblete: author of Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution! and Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    all that Paul is

    This author told me things about the apostle Paul that I had never noticed before. Most books I've read about Paul portray him in a negative light, but Garry Wills will let you see Paul in a light comparable to how Luke portrays Jesus. Paul, in What Paul Meant, is seen as a friend and spokesperson for Jesus.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2010

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