How can we explain the difference between the "miraculous" Christianity expressed in the Gospels and the nearly miracle-free Christianity of Paul? In this historically informed study, senior New Testament scholar Graham Twelftree challenges the view that Paul was primarily a thinker and reimagines him as an apostle of Jesus for whom the miraculous was of profound importance. Highlighting often-overlooked material in Paul's letters, Twelftree offers a fresh consideration of what the life and work of Paul might teach us about miracles in early Christianity and sheds light on how early Christians lived out their faith.
Graham H. Twelftree (PhD, University of Nottingham) is the academic dean of London School of Theology. He previously taught at Regent University in Virginia. Twelftree is the author of a number of books, including Jesus the Exorcist, Jesus the Miracle Worker, In the Name of Jesus, and People of the Spirit.
Modern Western biblical interpreters tend to view Paul primarily as an academic--a theologian and writer. Twelftree reminds us that he was far more than a writer, and his religious world was not only philosophical but also experiential. Twelftree collects and examines occasions where the historical Paul mentions and experiences the miraculous. Perhaps most valuable of all, this book attempts to explain how one might integrate Paul's theology of weakness with his experience of the empowering Spirit. Well researched, fresh, engaging, and appropriately cautious about drawing tempered conclusions, this examination allows a neglected area of New Testament study to be brought into the forefront. While the reader may not agree with every part of Twelftree's historical reconstruction of Paul, it is nearly impossible to reject his main hypothesis that the miraculous played an important role in Paul's ministry and theology.
assistant professor of New Testament, Northeastern Seminary, Roberts Wesleyan College
Twelftree's new book is a welcome contribution to the growing momentum in the quest for the historical Paul. His focus on the miraculous locates Paul even closer to his Galilean master, and the often-assumed divide between Jesus and Paul is bridged from a rather unexpected angle. The book serves as a healthy reminder that 'transempirical realities' are an indispensable part of the experiential basis and theological fabric of the earliest followers of Jesus. It also shows how expectations and experiences of the miraculous formed a shared religious language across the Jewish and pagan contexts of early Christianity. That the miracle traditions are regularly ignored or downplayed has more to do with the potential embarrassment they might cause to the portrait of Paul as an intellectual master theologian than with pure exegesis. Twelftree succeeds in reminding us that 'the full range of the miraculous' did not disappear with Jesus but continued in an even more widely 'democratized' form as one of the results of the ministry of Paul.
professor for New Testament studies, University of Nottingham