Christian Humanist Profiles 62: The Paul Debate

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St. Paul is at once one of the most familiar literary voices and one of the most perplexing.  An early convert to the Jesus movement within first-century Judaism, Paul’s letters have come to us as Holy Scriptures, canonical epistles whose teaching and whose proclamation have given shape to almost every variety of Christianity.  For the scholarly community Paul has been at times a proto-Augustinian, the inspiration for Protestant reformers, a guide through the thickets of religion into true relationship with God, and an apocalyptic seer, calling for the faithful to ready themselves for a world to come.  Here to help us sort through all of this is N.T. Wright, whose recent book The Paul Debate provides a compact and a rigorous engagement with some of the questions that continue to define Pauline studies.

1 thought on “Christian Humanist Profiles 62: The Paul Debate

  1. This was another great N.T. Wright interview; Nathan & Tom were clearly on the same wavelength and were cooking with gas–a lot of ground was covered well. Just two comments:
    1) I am well persuaded that a ‘high christology’ began very early, although I also believe that it was shrouded in more mystery (see Mark’s gospel), and less ontologically understood–for better or for worse–than subsequently. However, some form critics/biblical historians argue that one stream/tradition of the kerygma posited that Jesus became the messiah only after his resurrection. William Wrede was famous for this view (admittedly before the form critics) and adduced texts like Acts 2:36, Romans
    1:4, and Philippians 2:6ff in support of his view. While I roundly reject almost all of Wrede’s thesis, I am curious about this particular argument. While it was denounced theologically in later centuries an adoptionist form of subordinationism, I wonder what Tom would say about it as a biblical historian.
    2) I was intrigued by Tom’s resistance to the dualism that holds God far away from all things terrestrial. More specifically, I’d be interested to know just how Tom understands (conceives of) the Spirit’s ongoing presence in the Church age. He may not be charismatic, but he is surely pneumatic…and I’d be genuinely curious to hear more of his pneumatology. As he observes, the (experience of) the coming of the Spirit was key in Paul’s experience, and in his argument/appeal to his churches. How are we to understand or contextualize this today–especially when an ‘over-realized eschatology’ often seems like  the furthest thing from our predicament…we often feel as though we’ve been left as orphans, it seems to me. 
    This was a quality interview; thanks again for the good work.
    Regards,

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