The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon  -     By: Marcus J. Borg, John Dominic Crossan
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The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon

HarperOne / 2009 / Hardcover

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Product Description

Iconoclasts Borg and Crossan seek to uncover the original Paul, believing his radical egalitarian message was squelched by later New Testament writers who turned him into a defender of the status quo by endorsing slavery, subordinating women, condemning homosexuality, and appeasing Caesar. 240 pages, hardcover. HarperOne.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: HarperOne
Publication Date: 2009
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.5 (inches)
ISBN: 0061430722
ISBN-13: 9780061430725
Availability: Usually ships in 24-48 hours.

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Publisher's Description

Bestselling authors of The Last Week and The First Christmas, Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan join once again to present a new understanding of early Christianity—this time to reveal a radical Paul who has been suppressed by the church.

Paul is second only to Jesus as the most important person in the birth of Christianity, and yet he continues to be controversial, even among Christians. How could the letters of Paul be used both to inspire radical grace and to endorse systems of oppression—condoning slavery, subordinating women, condemning homosexual behavior? Borg and Crossan use the best of biblical and historical scholarship to explain the reasons for Paul's mixed reputation and reveal to us what scholars have known for decades: that the later letters of Paul were created by the early church to dilute Paul's egalitarian message and transform him into something more "acceptable." They argue there are actually "Three Pauls" in the New Testament: "The Radical Paul" (of the seven genuine letters), "The Conservative Paul" (of the three disputed epistles), and "The Reactionary Paul" (of the three inauthentic letters). By closely examining this progression of Paul's letters—from the authentic to the inauthentic—the authors show how the apostle was slowly but steadily "deradicalized" to fit Roman social norms in regards to slavery, patriarchy, and patronage. In truth, Paul was an appealing apostle of Jesus whose vision of life "in Christ"—one of his favored phrases—is remarkably faithful to the message of Jesus himself.

Author Bio

Marcus J. Borg is canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon, and was Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University. Described by the New York Times as "a leading figure in his generation of Jesus scholars," he has appeared on NBC's The Today Show and Dateline, ABC's World News, and NPR's Fresh Air. He is the author of the bestselling books Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The Heart of Christianity, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, The God We Never Knew, Jesus, Speaking Christian, and The Evolution of the Word. His blog appears on the Progressive Christian Channel of Patheos.com.

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.

Publisher's Weekly

Revered as a saint of the early church or reviled as a defender of such ills as misogyny and slavery, Paul is one of the most controversial figures in Christian history—and one of the most misunderstood, say Jesus Seminar scholars Borg and Crossan. By helping readers understand the authorship debates surrounding the Pauline letters (scholarship suggests that there were three different Pauls), placing his writing in historical context and emphasizing his identity as a “Jewish Christian mystic,” Crossan and Borg recast Paul’s message as “remarkably consistent” with that of a radical Jesus. The authentic Paul was nonhierarchical, anti-imperialist and communal, they claim, and characterizations of his theology as anything else are inaccurate historical overlays. Paul’s ideas, they posit, “challenged the normalcy of civilization, then and now, with an alternative vision of how life on earth can and should be.” Some readers may find the authors’ Paul fitting too neatly into the mold of liberal Christianity, but many will be thrilled with this fresh, erudite portrait of the man. (Mar. 3)Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Editorial Reviews

“A refreshing and heartening exculpation of a still routinely maligned figure of the first importance to culture and civilization.”
“Paul is one of the most controversial figures in Christian history—and one of the most misunderstood. . . . Many will be thrilled with this fresh, erudite portrait of the man.”
“In this scholarly and engaging account . . . Borg and Crossan successfully argue that we must separate the genuine writings of the apostle from the writings attributed to him . . . This well-researched and highly readable account is recommended for all students of Paul [and] interested lay readers.””

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