Paul and the Gift
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Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2015 / Hardcover

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Paul and the Gift

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2015 / Hardcover

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Stock No: WW868893

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Product Description

A fresh scholarly reading of grace in Paul's theology

In Paul and the Gift, esteemed Pauline scholar John Barclay presents a strikingly fresh reading of grace in Paul's theology, studying it in view of ancient notions of "gift" and shining new light on Paul's relationship to Second Temple Judaism.

Paul and the Gift centers on divine gift-giving, which for Paul, Barclay says, is focused and fulfilled in the gift of Christ. He offers a new appraisal of Paul's theology of the Christ-event as gift as it comes to expression in Galatians and Romans, and he presents a nuanced and detailed discussion of the history of reception of Paul. This exegetically responsible, theologically informed, hermeneutically useful book shows that a respectful, though not uncritical, reading of Paul contains resources that remain important for Christians today.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 688
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2015
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0802868894
ISBN-13: 9780802868893

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Author Bio

John M. G. Barclay is Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University. His previous books include Pauline Churches and Diaspora Jews and Obeying the Truth: Paul's Ethics in Galatians.


What else can possibly be said about grace' in the letters of Paul? Quite a lot, as it turns out. John Barclay reveals just how little we have grasped the multitude of ways in which grace - the gift' - was parsed among Paul's contemporaries, including questions of reciprocity and the worth of recipients. The resulting bold proposal for reorienting Pauline theology is a landmark in New Testament scholarship. A must-have, must-read, must-ponder book!
-Beverly Roberts Gaventa,
Baylor University

In this exceptional book, John Barclay places Paul in the context of Jewish and Greco-Roman ideas about divine and human giving, arguing that - contrary to popular belief - Paul does not teach that grace is free' or unconditional.' Rather, divine grace is incongruous, given without regard for conventional criteria of status and worth, thereby questioning the legitimacy of those criteria. This hermeneutically sophisticated work opens up a range of new perspectives on key themes of Pauline theology, beyond the entrenched positions that so often characterize the debate in this area.
-Francis Watson,
Durham University

This brilliant book is a substantial and methodological tour de force. Barclay's fascinating study complicates the notion of grace' in Paul's thinking in terms of gift' primarily by threading together insights drawn from anthropological, ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman, and exegetical realms of analysis. Subtle engagements with classic theological figures and key modern Pauline interpreters further enrich the discussion. . . . A deeply impressive study by a superb scholar from whom all will learn a great deal. Indeed, future Pauline scholars are now significantly indebted to Barclay for this superabundant scholarly gift.
-Douglas A. Campbell,
Duke Divinity School

We have come to expect superb work from John Barclay, but that should not lessen our appreciation when it appears! . . . Barclay's magisterial analysis results in a powerful and compelling new understanding of Paul's theology of grace that cuts across traditional debates and disciplinary categorizations, remaps Paul's location among his fellow Jews, and manages to be both historically sensitive and theologically rich. This major work should - and no doubt will - be very widely discussed.
-David G. Horrell,
University of Exeter

Barclay has provided New Testament scholarship with a gift whose impact can hardly be overestimated. . . . You need not be a prophet to predict that this study will serve the efforts of understanding Paul's theology as a bright and far-shining lighthouse for many years.
-Michael Wolter,
University of Bonn

John Barclay's Paul and the Gift has the singular virtue of making seem self-evident a point missed in the extensive literature spawned by Sanders's Paul and Palestinian Judaism: modern understandings of grace - shaped by Paul - have prevented us from seeing aright the real but diverse ways in which grace functioned in Jewish literature of the Second Temple period. . . . This book as a whole represents a watershed in Pauline studies.
-Stephen Westerholm,
McMaster University

Reading Barclay's Paul and the Gift is a gripping and humbling experience. Gripping because it has a clear, original thesis that is pursued lucidly and tenaciously. Humbling because Barclay shows such a remarkable range of expertise across anthropology, Jewish literature, and the Pauline epistles, and exudes here both theoretical sophistication and sound exegetical good sense. If you are at all interested in Paul, block out two days, switch off your electronic devices, and digest this book.
-Simon Gathercole,
University of Cambridge

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  1. Barclay
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    Paul and the Gift
    October 16, 2015
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    I have been a student of Pauline Studies for thirty plus years. I both love and hate Paul. Paul is like a bear you wrestle and when you think you finally pinned the bear, you look up and the bear is standing up again! I have moved from Gunther Bornkamms, Paul through Wrights Paul and the Faithfulness of God and everything in between. I have variegated nomized and read virtually most every legitimate commentary on Pauls letters written in the last thirty years.

    I was raised in what we in the US would call a Protestant tradition by parents who showed up to services on Sunday, but had no real commitment to the good news. When I was fifteen years old, my Mother developed a malignant brain tumor and dedicated her life to the Christ message. I watched her die with a real attitude of gratitude for the gift.

    Since that time, I have dedicated myself to the Historical Jesus and the Theology of Paul. My emphasis has always been on the theology of Paul, as I am more interested in the canonical understanding of Jesus Remembered than in some historical reconstruction.

    Studying Paul has made me feel like an outcast. I have spent years of my life in Pauline studies and have found no contemporaries. I do not agree with the new perspective on Paul and have always felt that Sanders construction was not nuanced appropriately and could not hold water. A flattened out understanding of Second Temple Judaism, and especially of the concept of grace in that period, made the schema oversimplified and, therefore, unsupportable. I was, also, not a full proponent of the old perspective as it was, in my opinion, not appropriately nuanced. To me, the new perspective had a stake driven through its heart, and the old perspective only survived with a minimal heartbeat.

    I came to an understanding of Paul (a few years ago) that didnt seem to match anyones perspective from Moo through Jewett. I felt alone, and without any categories though which to understand/communicate my perspective on Paul.

    I have just completed reading Dr. Barclays book, Paul and the Gift and have not found one thing to disagree with. The book has (finally) allowed me to develop the structure/categories through which I can communicate my understanding of Paul.

    I was exhausted by my search to understand Paul and despairing whether I would ever find an understanding of Paul that corresponded to my perspective. From Bauckman, Hengel, to Green, I had done my homework regarding Second Temple Judaism and come to my own conclusions without any category of explanation or contemporary support for what I believed.

    There is no old or new perspective on Paul. There is only Paul in all the spectacular genius that is Paul. The unmerited gift of God in Christ (incongruent as Dr. Barclay would explain it) is the annihilation of all social constructions of worth. Pauls encounter with the risen Christ, and the destruction of his social capital ensured his understanding of the gospel and his Gentile mission. If his social capital as a Torah observant Jew and his zeal for the law accounted for nothing relative to the incongruent gift then there was no worth in any recipient that merited the gift. There can no longer be Jew or Greek, or salve or free. Paul "falls within" the scope of Second Temple Judaism, but is set apart by his unique understanding of incongruent gift and his anthropology. Again, because of his understanding of incongruence, and his Gentile mission, his anthropology had to develop along certain lines.

    I was also able to come to an understanding of our responsibilities regarding the gift. Gifts were not given in antiquity with no expectation of an appropriate response/obligation. If we read Paul carefully, through Dr. Barclays lens, we see that, indeed, the gift requires us to respond through the crucifixion of the old man based upon the incongruent gift of the new man and the new creation.

    I highly recommend this book to any student of Paul who has struggled in the manner I have. Thank you to Dr. Barclay for his gift to Pauline Studies.
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