In Search of Paul: The New Quest to Understand His World and Words

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"With dusty, tired, much-traveled Paul came Rome's most dangerous opponent,not legions but ideas, not an alternative force but an alternative faith. Paul too proclaimed one who was Lord, Savior, Redeemer, and Liberator. He announced one who was Divine, Son of God, God, and God from God. But Paul's new divinity was Christ, not Caesar. His was a radically divergent but equally global theology." — from the Prologue

Many theories exist about who Paul was, what he believed, and what role he played in the origins of ...

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Overview

"With dusty, tired, much-traveled Paul came Rome's most dangerous opponent,not legions but ideas, not an alternative force but an alternative faith. Paul too proclaimed one who was Lord, Savior, Redeemer, and Liberator. He announced one who was Divine, Son of God, God, and God from God. But Paul's new divinity was Christ, not Caesar. His was a radically divergent but equally global theology." — from the Prologue

Many theories exist about who Paul was, what he believed, and what role he played in the origins of Christianity. Using archaeological and textual evidence, and taking advantage of recent major discoveries in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Syria, John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed show that Paul was a fallible but dedicated successor to Jesus, carrying on Jesus's mission of inaugurating the Kingdom of God on earth in opposition to the reign of Rome. Against the concrete backdrop of first-century Greco-Roman and Jewish life, In Search of Paul reveals the work of Paul as never before, showing how and why the liberating messages and practices of equality, caring for the poor, and a just society under God's rules, not Rome's, were so appealing.

Crossan and Reed's concise, engaging prose conjures up the complex and rich world of Paul's time, from the imperial intrigues of Rome to the theological infighting among Christian communities in Greece and Turkey to the beautiful landscapes and the cultural conflicts of the Middle East. The illustrations and short, rich, "you are there" descriptions help the reader to follow in the footsteps of Paul and, indeed, in the footsteps of Christianity.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
No figure in the early Christianity is more controversial than the Apostle Paul. Fervent debates continue to rage around him: Did he "invent" Christianity? Did he reject Judaism? Was he a misogynist? Did he accept the institution of slavery? In this probing study, the author of Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography and a specialist in New Testament archaeology examine what we know about Paul of Tarsis and how we know it.
Publishers Weekly
Crossan and Reed make a compelling case for the idea that culture, politics and quest for empire played as large a part in the formation of the Apostle Paul as did theology and religious training. It is an approach that will leave some wondering just how much of a role spirituality played in the Paul story. The authors (Crossan is a prolific author and former co-chair of the Jesus Seminar, Reed is Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at La Verne College in California) dig deeply into the history and archeology of Paul's world, searching for an understanding of the enigmatic apostle. Paul emerges as a fervent advocate for both the uniqueness of the Christian faith and the marginalization of others, the triumph of the City of God over the pagan and anti-God Roman empire. And this Paul is willing to reach out to both Jew and Gentile to accomplish his aims. In the end, Paul the man of faith is subsumed in Paul the agenda-driven revolutionary. The authors' masterful use of history, geography and theology combine to offer a strong case for their thesis. This book is written for a sophisticated audience, and therefore will be inaccessible to many readers, but it will be a valuable addition to the scholar's library. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060514570
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/26/2004
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.41 (d)

Meet the Author

John Dominic Crossan,professor emeritus at DePaul University, iswidely regarded as the foremost historicalJesus scholar of our time. He currentlyserves as the president of the Society of BiblicalLiterature. He is the author of severalbestselling books, including The HistoricalJesus; Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography; and,most recently, The Greatest Prayer. Crossanlives in Minneola, Florida.

Jonathan L Reed is a leading authority on the archaeology of early Christianity and has excavated in Galilee since 1987. He has conducted research at the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, the American Academy in Rome, and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. He is author of Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus and has co-authored with John Dominic Crossan two bestselling books, Excavating Jesus and In Search of Paul. He is professor of New Testament at the University of La Verne and is on the research council of Claremont Graduate University's world-renowned Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, where he is directing their Galilean Archaeology and the Historical Jesus project.

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First Chapter

In Search of Paul
How Jesus' Apostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom

Chapter One

Jewish Faith and Pagan Society

The influence of Judaism on non-Jews in the Roman Empire was profound and lasting. This is paradoxical. For the exclusiveness of Jewish worship, and the strictness of the Jewish food laws, served as a barrier between Jew and gentile. Moreover the Jews do not as a rule appear to have actively propagated their religion. So evidently there was something in the nature of Jewish religion, and of the Jewish community, which satisfied a need felt by many within and even beyond the frontiers of the Empire.

-- Wolf Liebeschuetz, "The Influence of Judaism Among Non-Jews in the Imperial Period" (2001)

Judaism throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods and even after the triumph of Christianity showed tremendous vigor not only in strengthening itself internally with the development of that remarkable document, the Talmud, but also in reaching out to pagans and later to Christians and winning large numbers as proselytes and as "sympathizers." ... Even after the three great revolts of 66–74, 115–17, and 132–35, the Jews were hardly powerless and indeed continued to win proselytes and especially "sympathizers." In short, the lachrymose theory of Jewish history, highlighting the weakness and suffering of the Jews, would not, on the whole, seem to apply to the ancient period.

-- Louis H. Feldman, Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World (1993)

Judaism, by the early third century, may well have been a more popular religion among the pagans, and therefore a more powerful rival to Christianity in the race for the soul of the Roman world, than we have had any reason to think until now. This helps us understand the tension between the Church and the Synagogue in the first few centuries A.D.

-- Robert F. Tannenbaum, "Jews and God-Fearers in the Holy City of Aphrodite" (1986)

In the City of Aphrodite

Overture

You come to Aphrodisias on a full-day visit from Denizli, in southwestern Turkey. As you leave that city its innumerable modern textile factories continue the area's ancient importance for the manufacture of cotton, linen, and woolen garments. So also do the flocks of sheep and goats that take right-of-way across the narrow roads as you shortcut through the mountains off the main Denizli-Antalya road. It is a beautiful mid-September day in 2002, cool and cloudy, with an odd shower early and late, so not really inconvenient.

Two thousand years ago, Octavian, the not-yet Augustus, said, "Aphrodisias is the one city from all of Asia I have selected to be my own," and the citizens carved that accolade on the archive wall of their theater. Since the Greek goddess Aphrodite was the Roman goddess Venus, from whom the Julian line was allegedly descended, the city was most fortunately named at that precise historical moment. Millennia later, in Aphrodisias: City of Venus Aphrodite, the frontispiece poem by L. G. Harvey says,

when all paper words
are turned to ash
there will remain
one scarred hillside
beautiful enough to last
forever.

Kenan Erim, of New York University, the city's Turkish-born excavator and that book's author, spent his professional life there and is now buried most appropriately beside the reconstructed gate to Aphrodite's temple. He said that "of all the Graeco-Roman sites of Anatolia, Aphrodisias is the most hauntingly beautiful" (1). Agreed.

The hamlet of Geyre once sat atop the ancient site, but was removed and rebuilt in its nearby location after an earthquake in the 1960s. That opened the site for archaeology, but the old village square still underlies the new entrance plaza ringed by restrooms (very elegant), a restaurant (very limited), and a museum (very beautiful). You get there around 11:30 a.m. and have the site almost totally to yourself. The morning tour buses heading west from Hierapolis and the hot-spring pools of Pamukkale are just leaving, and those reversing that itinerary will not arrive until much later. You sit high up in the once thirty-thousand-seat theater, eat a quiet picnic lunch, admire the stands of stately poplars amid the marbled ruins (Figure 7), and look east to where the seven-thousand-foot tip of Baba Dag emerges periodically from scudding cloud cover. At the foot of that mountain are the marble quarries that gave the city ready material for sculpture or inscription and made its products famous far beyond its own borders. The Dandalaz tributary, fed from the snows of that eastern mountain range, circled the city's south side and took sculptures northwestward to the ancient Meander, the modern Büyük Menderes, which carried them westward to the coast and the world.

Overview

What text do you read to see most clearly Paul's life, and what site do you visit to see most clearly Paul's world -- even, or especially, if Paul himself neither wrote that text nor visited that site? In this chapter two chosen sites, the city of Aphrodisias, now in southwestern Turkey, and the island of Delos, now in mid-Aegean Greece (Figure 8), frame two contradictory aspects of the chosen text, Luke's Acts of the Apostles, now a prelude to Paul's letters in the New Testament.

We begin this chapter at Aphrodisias because it illustrates most forcibly two major themes of this book, the relationship of Paul to Roman imperial theology and to his Jewish religious tradition. The former theme focuses here on the Sebasteion, or Augusteum, whose elegant gate, three-storied facing porticoes, and high-stepped imperial temple celebrated the Roman Julio-Claudian divinities by inserting them among and above the ancient gods and traditions of Greece. The latter theme focuses here on a Jewish inscription that explicitly distinguishes Jews, converts, and a third category of "God-worshipers," with rather surprising numbers in each category ...

In Search of Paul
How Jesus' Apostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom
. Copyright © by John Crossan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    Still Searching

    I have great respect for John Dominick Crossan, but this book was more about lifestyles of the Roman Empire than Paul. Granted, to understand Paul and early Christianity, one must understand the framework within which Paul did his missionary work. But I was hoping for a little more about the life of Paul, and not so much about Roman history. Still, this should leave the reader with an appreciation of the competing religious systems that Paul had to contend with. Preaching that Jesus was the son of God ran headon into the Roman belief in the divine Julius and the divine Augtustus, who was also a 'divi filius' or son of god, being the adopted son of Julius Caesar.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2004

    The Real Paul

    This book is a masterpiece combining scholarship about Paul's writings with a thorough historical and archaeological understanding of the world in which he lived -- and which shows how Paul's writings cannot be understood without that historical context. Crossan's Biblical scholarship reveals the real Paul by contrasting authentic Pauline letters with those which, while included in the New Testament, were written in his name by later authors who sought to modify Paul's radical theology. The authentic Paul taught that, because God made no distinctions between Greek nor Jew, male or female, slave or free, then neither should the early community of faith. The pseudo-Pauline epistles reflect an effort to incorporate traditional Roman family values into the life of the early church, an effort that has remained effective to this day. One prominent example has been the church's use of pseudo-Pauline I Timothy to bar women from an equal role in family and in church leadership, even though, as Crossan points out,the authentic Pauline position clearly supports female and male equality in family and church. In addition to providing sound textual analysis of the epistles, this book is grounded in the real world in which Jesus and Paul lived. The book makes clear that the dominant view in Paul's world was that there was one 'God, Son of God, Savior, and Deliverer' -- and that his name was Caesar Augustus. The archaeological portions of this book -- more than worth the price of purchase just for the number of well-reproduced illustrations of temples and inscriptions -- graphically demonstrate that people of Paul's day were surrounded on a daily basis by images proclaiming the divinity of Caesar. Rather than being mere efforts to flatter vain and perhaps insane emperors, as is often assumed today, the divinity of the emperor was not incidental to Roman political power but was at its very heart. The point that Crossan would have us understand from this is that saying 'Jesus is Lord' was an implicit statement that 'Caesar is not Lord.' Thus, in its original form, Christianity was a challenge to the oppression of empire. Finally, this book is a must read book for any traveler to Greece or Turkey who seeks to understand not just what is to be seen at each site but also why the sites are important. Well-written, accessible to serious readers (not just scholars), and with many maps, pictures and diagrams, this book is a book that any serious student of the bible should own.

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