Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review of Alan Segal's Paul the Convert

I thought I could finish marking the 35 reviews of Segal's book within 3 days but until now there is no end in sight. Of course, since the holidays started on 8th March, I had conducted a seminar on Revelation and then prepared a sermon for Chapel, but otherwise I have been occupied marking papers of my NT 2 class. Segal's Paul the Convert is one book I would recommend all NT students to read as it contains many interesting and new perspectives not found in the more traditional biographies or studies on Paul.
Not that I agree with Segal all the time, but his arguments need careful evaluation on the nature of Paul's conversion, its significance for Paul's understanding of his mission, Paul's Pharisaic past, whether Paul was converted from Judaism to Christianity, whether Paul's links with the gentile communities influenced his thinking or the other way round and whether Paul's understanding of the Law is crucial in his departure from Jewish Christianity to Gentile Christianity as Segal alleges and how these Mosaic laws (ceremonial) impact mixed congregations, like those in Rome and possibly in Corinth. Next Thursday I will spend about 15 minutes reviewing the salient points of the book with my students which is a pity for I wish I had an hour or more, but we are finishing Pauline epistles next week by looking at the Pastoral letters, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus and for that I will have 2 hours at the most. Kyrie Eleison!

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