In this mature culmination of a lifetime of study, a world-famous Pauline scholar seeks to understand the personality behind the missionary journeys and lively epistles. What motivated Paul? How was he seen by others? By himself? Which were the key turning points in his life? Succinct and pithy. 200 pages, hardcover. Oxford University.
For someone who has exercised such a profound influence on Christian theology, Paul remains a shadowy figure behind the barrier of his complicated and difficult biblical letters. Debates about his meaning have deflected attention from his personality, yet his personality is an important key to understanding his theological ideas. This book redresses the balance. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's disciplined imagination, nourished by a lifetime of research, shapes numerous textual, historical, and archaeological details into a colourful and enjoyable story of which Paul is the flawed but undefeated hero.
This chronological narrative offers new insights into Paul's intellectual, emotional, and religious development and puts his travels, mission, and theological ideas into a plausible biographical context. As he changes from an assimilated Jewish teenager in Tarsus to a competitive Pharisee in Jerusalem and then to a driven missionary of Christ, the sometimes contradictory components of Paul's complex personality emerge from the way he interacts with people and problems. His theology was forged in dialogue and becomes more intelligible as our appreciation of his person deepens. In Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's engaging biography, the Apostle comes to life as a complex, intensely human individual.
Jerome Murphy-O'Connor is Professor of New Testament at the École Biblique et Archéologique Française, Jerusalem.
Murphy-O'Connor, a noted Pauline scholar, professor of New Testament at the
Ecole Biblique et Archeologique Francais in Jerusalem and author of a previous
work on the life of Paul, approaches the apostle from a critical and academic
standpoint. The present work combines the biblical record with a deep
understanding of the culture and geography of the region to produce an
excellent, albeit inventive, biography. O'Connor draws from Paul's letters
hints and shades of meaning that assist the reader in forming a consistent
view of a sometimes conflicted but always fervent servant of God. The book is
replete with conclusions drawn from inference, but the inferences are
reasonable, and taken together, put flesh on the man. Beginning with Paul's
childhood, and following him through his travels and finally to his death,
Murphy-O'Connor brings Paul to life as a real person with real passions. The
author nimbly handles aspects of Paul's teachings that have generated
controversy, such as his views on the Jewish law or the leadership role of
women. Written at a popular level, this book will be helpful as enrichment for
the lay reader. Critical issues such as authorship, translation, sources and
textual accuracy are mentioned only as they fit into the larger context of
Paul, the man. Several maps depict the travels of Paul, and a suggested
reading list offers guidance for further study. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed
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