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Paul and the Gift
HARDCOVER; Published: 9/3/2015
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6889-3
672 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9

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A fresh scholarly reading of grace in Paul's theology

In this book esteemed Pauline scholar John Barclay presents a strikingly fresh reading of grace in Paul's theology, studying it in view of ancient notions of "gift" and shining new light on Paul's relationship to Second Temple Judaism.

Paul and the Gift centers on divine gift-giving, which for Paul, Barclay says, is focused and fulfilled in the gift of Christ. He offers a new appraisal of Paul's theology of the Christ-event as gift as it comes to expression in Galatians and Romans, and he presents a nuanced and detailed discussion of the history of reception of Paul. This exegetically responsible, theologically informed, hermeneutically useful book shows that a respectful, though not uncritical, reading of Paul contains resources that remain important for Christians today.

Jesus Creed 2015 Book of the Year
Academy for Parish Clergy 2015 Top Ten Book for Parish Ministry
Bible Study Magazine
"Significant. . . . An essential read for scholars interested in the original meaning of Paul."
Exegetical Tools Quarterly
"Formidable. . . . This book should be required reading for anyone studying the new and old perspectives on Paul."
Books at a Glance
"Monumental. . . . A welcome addition to Pauline scholarship that should not be overlooked."
"One of the most important books on Paul's theology in years. . . . Truly a gift."
Journal for the Study of The New Testament Booklist
"Offers a wealth of material, but, more importantly, it changes the perspective in a virtually gridlocked area of scholarship. . . . Barclay has managed in a masterly way to introduce a new paradigm, from within the ancient world, which makes a fresh reading of Paul possible."
Beverly Roberts Gaventa
— Baylor University
"What else can possibly be said about `grace' in the letters of Paul? Quite a lot, as it turns out. John Barclay reveals just how little we have grasped the multitude of ways in which grace — `the gift' — was parsed among Paul's contemporaries, including questions of reciprocity and the worth of recipients. The resulting bold proposal for reorienting Pauline theology is a landmark in New Testament scholarship. A must-have, must-read, must-ponder book!"
Francis Watson
— Durham University
"In this exceptional book, John Barclay places Paul in the context of Jewish and Greco-Roman ideas about divine and human giving, arguing that — contrary to popular belief — Paul does not teach that grace is `free' or `unconditional.' Rather, divine grace is incongruous, given without regard for conventional criteria of status and worth, thereby questioning the legitimacy of those criteria. This hermeneutically sophisticated work opens up a range of new perspectives on key themes of Pauline theology, beyond the entrenched positions that so often characterize the debate in this area."
Douglas A. Campbell
— Duke Divinity School
"This brilliant book is a substantial and methodological tour de force. Barclay's fascinating study complicates the notion of `grace' in Paul's thinking in terms of `gift' primarily by threading together insights drawn from anthropological, ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman, and exegetical realms of analysis. Subtle engagements with classic theological figures and key modern Pauline interpreters further enrich the discussion. . . . A deeply impressive study by a superb scholar from whom all will learn a great deal. Indeed, future Pauline scholars are now significantly indebted to Barclay for this superabundant scholarly gift."
David G. Horrell
— University of Exeter
"We have come to expect superb work from John Barclay, but that should not lessen our appreciation when it appears! . . . Barclay's magisterial analysis results in a powerful and compelling new understanding of Paul's theology of grace that cuts across traditional debates and disciplinary categorizations, remaps Paul's location among his fellow Jews, and manages to be both historically sensitive and theologically rich. This major work should — and no doubt will — be very widely discussed."
Michael Wolter
— University of Bonn
"Barclay has provided New Testament scholarship with a gift whose impact can hardly be overestimated. . . . You need not be a prophet to predict that this study will serve the efforts of understanding Paul's theology as a bright and far-shining lighthouse for many years."
Stephen Westerholm
— McMaster University
"John Barclay's Paul and the Gift has the singular virtue of making seem self-evident a point missed in the extensive literature spawned by Sanders's Paul and Palestinian Judaism: modern understandings of grace — shaped by Paul — have prevented us from seeing aright the real but diverse ways in which grace functioned in Jewish literature of the Second Temple period. . . . This book as a whole represents a watershed in Pauline studies."
Simon Gathercole
— University of Cambridge
"Reading Barclay's Paul and the Gift is a gripping and humbling experience. Gripping because it has a clear, original thesis that is pursued lucidly and tenaciously. Humbling because Barclay shows such a remarkable range of expertise across anthropology, Jewish literature, and the Pauline epistles, and exudes here both theoretical sophistication and sound exegetical good sense. If you are at all interested in Paul, block out two days, switch off your electronic devices, and digest this book."
Spirit & Life
"Barclay's well-written and readable exegesis will prove useful for students and teachers, as well as for all Christians who wish to learn more about the roots and history of our faith."
Wesley Hill
Books and Culture
"What emerges from Barclay's book is a new story that disrupts the normal telling of the progress of Pauline scholarship. . . . Grace excludes working because that is the shape of the Christ-event, the Christ-gift, itself. It was an even that blossomed unbidden. . . . After such an interruption, after such a seismic occurrence, definitions would have to change, patterns of religion would have to be rethought. Grace itself would have to be understood afresh. It is the unique gift of this book to show us how that happened in and through the 1st-century apostle to the Gentiles — and to give us hope that it might happen through his letters once again."
Scot McKnight
Books and Culture
"Pauline studies and the church will be indebted to Barclay's Paul and the Gift for decades, and those who read and ponder will never be the same again."
First Things
"Paul and the Gift is one of the more important books on Paul to appear in many years. It reopens the question of the theology of grace in the Judaism of Paul's time and carefully redescribes his construal of the God of Israel's gift in Jesus Christ."