David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards. Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters, and Theology. Second edition. IVP Academic, 2017. See here to purchase the book. See here to buy the book.
The authors are professors of biblical studies. Rediscovering Paul is about the life, beliefs, letters, and impact of the apostle Paul.
The book is lucid and concise in terms of its writing style, but do not let that deceive you. It is a meaty book. It gets into such topics as how letters were produced in antiquity, scholarly ideas about how Paul’s letters came to be organized into a collection, the relationship between I Thessalonians and II Thessalonians, the old and the new perspectives, different perspectives on the center of Paul’s message, and the list goes on. Like a lot of conservative scholars, the authors maintain that Paul wrote Colossians, Ephesians, and the pastorals, and, while there are issues that they leave largely unaddressed (i.e., the question of whether Colossians differs from Paul’s letters on ideological matters), their arguments do not appear to be much of a stretch. They adroitly address some of the objections to the idea that Paul did not write the pastorals, offering suggestions as to why Paul could have written the pastorals as he did.
The book not only addresses technical issues, but it also allows the historical context to shed light on what Paul says in his letters. The authors situate Paul’s letters within the context of the patronage system, which entailed seeking and returning favors from social superiors. Paul did not hesitate to challenge social superiors, and, when he thanked them, he framed his appreciation in a manner that would not imply that he was beholden to them. The book also discusses how the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18 relates to the superstitious fear of spirits that existed in first century Ephesus. The book also has a religious content, as it proceeds through Paul’s letters, commenting on sections. The book is rather comprehensive, in that it has a historical, a theological, a spiritual/religious, and a practical element.
I read the authors’ Rediscovering Jesus a while back. Rediscovering Paul is much better. The authors provide more support for their positions, cover more historical context, and survey more scholarship, while still managing to create an easy read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest!