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One view that continually springs up among biblical scholars is that Paul was the inventor of Christianity, or that Paul introduced the idea of a divine Christ to a church that earlier had simply followed the ethical teaching of a human Jesus. In this book Jerry Sumney responds to that claim by examining how, in reality, Paul drew on what the church already believed and confessed about Jesus.
As he explores how Paul's theology relates to that of the broader early church, Sumney identifies where in the Christian tradition distinctive theological claims about Christ, his death, the nature of salvation, and eschatology first seem to appear. Without diminishing significant differences, Sumney describes what common traditions and beliefs various branches of the early church shared and compares them to Paul's thought. Sumney interacts directly with arguments made by those who claim Paul as the inventor of Christianity and approaches the questions raised by that claim in a fresh way.
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2017
|Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)|
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Brite Divinity School
"Did Paul invent Christianity, as some have claimed? If not, what did he contribute? Employing an approach that compares teachings of the earliest communities with Pauls teachings, Jerry Sumney argues that Paul creatively interprets preformed teachings and confessions to address new questions and situations. The result is a highly recommended and insightful contribution to understanding Pauls place within the diversity and richness of Christian origins."
Troy W. Martin
Saint Xavier University
"An extensive and sustained argument against sensationalist claims that Paul was the inventor or second founder of Christianity or that he somehow corrupted the pure religion of Jesus. Sumneys careful historical approach situates Paul within pre-Pauline and non-Pauline traditions in the earliest church and presents Paul as more of a transmitter than an innovator of these traditions. Enormously helpful to students and scholars alike."
Patrick Gray (from the foreword)
"It is much easier to make facile claims about Paul founding Christianity, by accident or by design, or inventing this or that aspect of Christian theology than it is to engage in close, critical, dispassionate analysis of the primary texts. The devil is in the details. Sumney will have succeeded if his examination of these details makes it more difficult to invoke pat answers that do little to illuminate the origins of Christianity and Pauls role in it."
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