Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Gary Wills, What Paul Meant, 2006.

Wills romps through Paul’s writings in an effort to reclaim what he sees as the—too often occluded—true message of Paul. He argues that Paul did not “subvert” the true message of Jesus, but rather that Paul is transformed by his encounter with the risen Jesus, and so seeks constantly to find the fullness of his Jewish faith as expressed through Jesus. Much of the book is taken up with addressing the concerns of specific criticisms of Paul’s writing. Wills makes an effort to rebut those who charge Paul with anti-Semitism, misogyny; he offers another look at Paul’s relationships with Rome and with Jerusalem. It’s a much better book than Wills’ earlier book, What Jesus Meant, though it’s nowhere near as strong a book, for example, as Donald Akenson’s Saint Saul: A Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus—a book that accomplishes the same tasks, but with more depth. The difference between the two is that Wills’ book is aimed at a popular audience, and Akenson’s requires more of its readers.

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