Paul Behaving Badly: Was the Apostle a Racist, Chauvinist Jerk?
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Paul Behaving Badly: Was the Apostle a Racist, Chauvinist Jerk?

InterVarsity Press / 2016 / Paperback

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Stock No: WW844722


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The apostle Paul was kind of a jerk. He was arrogant and stubborn. He called his opponents derogatory, racist names. He legitimized slavery and silenced women. He was a moralistic, homophobic killjoy who imposed his narrow religious views on others. Or was he?

Compiling the common charges against Paul—that he was rude and arrogant, a chauvinist and racist, a prude and a homophobe, a hypocrite and a twister of Scripture— Paul Behaving Badly explores the complicated persona and teaching of the apostle Paul.

Unpacking his personal history and cultural context, professors Randolph Richards and Brandon O'Brien demonstrate how Paul both offended Roman perspective and scandalized Jewish sensibilities, deeply disturbing people with his vision of the Christian faith—in his day, as well as in our own. Paul Behaving Badly provides a humble, witty, well-reasoned, and frank assessment about the character, teaching, and ministry of the apostle Paul, reminding readers that he was a human being with all the foibles and potentials every person carries. Paul behaved badly, but not just in the ways we might think. Take another look at Paul and see why this "worst of sinners" dares to say, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: InterVarsity Press
Publication Date: 2016
ISBN: 0830844724
ISBN-13: 9780830844722

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Author Bio

E. Randolph Richards (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is dean and professor of biblical studies in the School of Ministry at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He is a popular speaker and has authored and coauthored dozens of books and articles including Rediscovering Jesus, Rediscovering Paul, and Paul and First-Century Letter Writing.

Brandon J. O'Brien (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is assistant professor of Christian theology at Ouachita Baptist University and director of OBU at New Life Church in Conway, Arkansas. Together O'Brien and Richards are coauthors of Misreading Scriptures with Western Eyes.

Editorial Reviews

"I often hear people say, 'The apostle Paul was a sexist, homophobic bigot, so who cares what he thinks?' Well, Randy Richards and Brandon O'Brien care what he thinks, and they want to make sure that we get a proper picture of Paul, warts and all! They show that while Paul is much maligned, he is little understood, and they act like an attorney cross-examining the controversial apostle on scintillating topics like slavery, women, and homosexuality to get to the bottom of the issues. This is an honest grappling with one of the most controversial figures of Western religious history. Whether you love Paul or despise him, you'll never see him the same way again after reading this book!"

—Michael F. Bird, lecturer in theology, Ridley College, Melbourne

"Like Jesus Behaving Badly, this book helpfully responds to many of the misconceptions people have about a key figure in the forming of our faith. In easy-to-understand and engaging language, it explores how Paul related to the setting in which he lived and wrote."

—Craig S. Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Seminary

"For those who have been daunted, angered, confused, or shocked by the apostle Paul, this fine, honest, lucid book by Richards and O'Brien helps readers better understand Paul in his own first-century setting. The authors do not fully exonerate Paul (he too was finite and sinful), nor do they engage in chronological snobbery, as many of Paul's critics are wont to do ('It's a good thing we moderns know better than Paul'). Paul Behaving Badly gives a fresh glimpse into the life and thought of the controversial apostle—one that is both fair minded and charitable, at once challenging to staid assumptions while faithful to Christian orthodoxy."

—Paul Copan, professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Florida

"Richards and O'Brien offer the latest installment in IVP's Behaving Badly books. Unlike when God or Jesus seems to behave badly, we need not exonerate Paul of everything he did, even when it is narrated in Scripture. The stakes are higher with what he taught, however. Our authors show that Paul's teaching surpassed the quality of his peers, even if he didn't go all the way toward certain positions we might wish he held. This is an easy-to-read, judicious guide to responding to Paul's apparent misogyny, homophobia, Scripture-twisting, hypocrisy, and more. In some instances there are other credible options as well, but Richards and O'Brien always give us defensible options. Highly recommended for all who are troubled about these issues or who want to help those who are troubled about them."

—Craig L. Blomberg, distinguished professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

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