Reading Paul. By Michael J. Gorman
Article first published online: 27 NOV 2008
© The author 2009. Journal compilation © Trustees for Roman Catholic Purposes Registered 2009
The Heythrop Journal
Volume 50, Issue 1, page 145, January 2009
How to Cite
Turner, G. (2009), Reading Paul. By Michael J. Gorman. The Heythrop Journal, 50: 145. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2265.2009.00438_29.x
- Issue published online: 27 NOV 2008
- Article first published online: 27 NOV 2008
Pp. x, 196 . Paternoster , Milton Keynes , 2008 , $22.00 .
Lurking beneath the multiplicity of academic publications about Paul lies the problem of how to draw new readers into a sound understanding of this difficult and elusive and unsystematic thinker. There are other introductions to Paul but this is as good as any: more reliable than Sanders very short introduction and less stretching that Wright's account of what Paul really said. There is here only a very little on Paul's biography and the background and content of particular letters: the author prefers to concentrate of Paul as a thinker by outlining a number of theological themes, drawing on the various letters. It is an unashamedly confessional work. Michael Gorman provides not only a summary to each short chapter but points for reflection which would be suitable for an individual reader or a church group who might be working their way into Paul. Paul's letters are here read as Scripture. Gorman focuses on the scriptural narrative that underpins Paul's theology but shows how he believes that narrative has been transformed in the arrival of Christ. It is a very orthodox account of Paul which emphasizes the incarnational and Trinitarian basis of the theology, but it also follows Wright and others in showing how Paul was politically subversive in his implicit criticism of the Emperor and the state. Gorman is a leftie-evangelical who believes that Paul – and a fortiori Christianity – stands for non-violence and peace-making. He gives a good account of justification but I am not sure he has all the details right. Yet he links justification with participation ‘in Christ’ to show the transformative power of Christian belief, emphasizing saint-liness and the cruciformity of the Christian life. The author brings the fruits of recent scholarship to lay people and new undergraduates in a way that, one hopes, will lead to the reading of the letters themselves. This is an excellent book that presents Paul as both profound and positive in the way he has shown what it is to think and live the Christianity life.