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Contours of Pauline Theology: A Radical New Survey of the Influences on Paul's Biblical Writings

Overview

New Paperback edition. The Apostle Paul is a controversial church figure. Many theologians accuse Paul of starting a new religion: of hi- jacking early Christianity in a different direction. Is this a fair charge? Tom Holland points us to a neglected fact, that the Jews in the first century AD would view concepts of salvation through the Exodus of Israel from Egypt to the promised land. Until now, a real elephant in the centre of the hermeneutical room.Such a viewpoint opens up new understanding on Pauline ...

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Overview

New Paperback edition. The Apostle Paul is a controversial church figure. Many theologians accuse Paul of starting a new religion: of hi- jacking early Christianity in a different direction. Is this a fair charge? Tom Holland points us to a neglected fact, that the Jews in the first century AD would view concepts of salvation through the Exodus of Israel from Egypt to the promised land. Until now, a real elephant in the centre of the hermeneutical room.Such a viewpoint opens up new understanding on Pauline studies - it is true of this book that it will change your view of the New Testament and deserves to radically alter New Testament studies in Universities, Theological Colleges and Seminaries around the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In constant critical engagement... Holland maps out new ways of understanding Paul and offers new insights into a range of absolutely vital issues from justification to Christology, and new insights into Pauline texts from Romans to Colossians. Challenging, unsettling and infuriating Dr. Holland's tour de force cannot be ignored." ~ Peter Head (Cambridge University)
From the Publisher
"In constant critical engagement... Holland maps out new ways of understanding Paul and offers new insights into a range of absolutely vital issues from justification to Christology, and new insights into Pauline texts from Romans to Colossians. Challenging, unsettling and infuriating Dr. Holland's tour de force cannot be ignored." ~ Peter Head(Cambridge University)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781845506254
  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • Publication date: 11/20/2010
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Holland, professor of New Testament and Hermeneutics at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology. (Formerly known as ETCW)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    New Exodus & the Paschal Community The main thrust of Conto

    New Exodus & the Paschal Community

    The main thrust of Contours of Pauline Theology is that Paul did not depart from the gospel taught by Jesus and that his message was not hellenized; it was rooted in the Old Testament and in particular “the model of the Passover and the Exodus which he sees to have been a type of the work of Jesus” (12). In this way, what Holland is suggesting is a radical departure from the some of the popular and prominent New Testament scholarship. He also emphasizes a corporate understanding of the New Testament epistles corporately.


    Upon these two ideas hang the entire book. Section One (“Explorations of Heritage”) sets the stage by examining past and current Pauline scholarship. In particular he works to show that the inter-testamental literature is not reliable to establish a monolithic Judaism. He also introduces the corporate understanding against the backdrop of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant. Section Two (“Passover and Community”) moves full force into exploring and unpacking the corporate understanding and introduces the paschal (“passover”) theme. Paramount to his argument is an understanding Romans 6 and the phrase “body of sin.” I found his exegesis very compelling for a corporate understanding of this passage. This section for me was the most thought provoking.

    Section Three (“Soteriology and Passover”) introduces the paschal theme into the doctrine of Redemption by examining Romans 3. Chapter 9 interacts with the New Perspective on Paul (he brings in E.P. Sanders, James Dunn, & N.T. Wright to name a few). He attacks some of the foundational understandings of the NPP about second temple Judaism and then asks why should those same presuppositions then be used to interpret Paul in other places? He offers his an understanding of justification which emphasizes the corporate understanding while retaining the judicial, forensic emphasis of the Reformers. Holland places the judicial, forensic understanding in the Hebrew, covenantal court, not a Roman court. He therefore argues that justification is about creating a covenant in Christ and declaring sinners righteous on the basis of that covenant. Later in the book he offers a selection from Reformers which seem to emphasize to some extent the kernel of his understanding (see Appendix 3 “The Reformed Faith and Justification”).

    Section Four (“Christology and Passover”) discusses the meaning of firstborn. Holland argues the term should be understood as a paschal reference in connection with the paschal propitiation theme unpacked in chapter 8 (“The Paschal Community and Redemption”). He then examines current scholarship surrounding the Colossian Hymn seeking to show that the paschal theme works better exegetically.

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  • Posted March 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Dubious Disciple Book Review

    This is a deep, controversial look at some of the more important aspects of Paul's writings. Many scholars essentially consider Paul the founder of Christianity, recognizing his contributions in building a Gentile religion. But Holland adamantly disagrees, and points to Paul's Jewishness by addressing the dependence of Paul's theology on Hebrew Bible themes. Paul, he says, never left the religion of the Old Testament and never departed from the teachings of Jesus. Central to Holland's thesis is the Passover and Exodus teachings, which he shows were a strong part of Jewish doctrine. Observing Jews anticipated a second exodus of some sort—though it appears there were differing ideas of what this second exodus would be like—and Holland recognizes this theme weaving its way through Paul's writings. Holland leans on the community aspects of the Passover and Exodus themes to highlight two different ways of thinking: Individualistic, and Corporate. Consider Paul's writings about the Body of Sin. Does Paul mean our individual bodies are prone to sin, and warn about individual sinfulness, or is he concerned about community sanctification—mankind as a whole, or the Jewish nation, or the Christian community? Paul, says Holland, is speaking of the state of unredeemed humanity in its relationship to Satan (Sin). A man or woman's righteousness depends upon the community to which they belong ... a very Semitic way of thinking. I can't say I'm convinced yet, but before rejecting this line of thinking out of hand, Holland's arguments are worth further study, and I hope to read over Paul's letters soon from this vantage point. So where do Gentiles fit in? The prophets said that the Gentiles would become members of the covenant community when the New Exodus had taken place. Paul writes that "your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit." Most read this to mean God takes up residence in our individual bodies, but Holland argues it should be read in a corporate manner: the church, or community, is the temple of the Spirit. When Paul writes, "Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body," Paul speaks not of an individual visiting a prostitute, but of a community frolicking with Satan. Also in the context of the Passover/New Exodus/Community thinking, Holland addresses the meaning of baptism, redemption, justification, and the implication of Christ as the firstborn. He explains that the role of the firstborn in the Passover was vitally important to the early church, who used its imagery to describe the work of Jesus. Holland concludes that Paul did not tamper with the Christian message; he is not responsible for leading the church to a "high Christology." Rather, the church held this view from reading the prophets long before Paul converted. Thus, when Holland examines the Colossian hymn, which many scholars believe was not penned by Paul at all, he finds it consistent with Pauline thinking in terms of Christology and the motifs already discussed, and concludes that "there is therefore no need to treat the letter as anything other than a Pauline letter." Not an easy read, but well worth the effort.

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