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Interpreting Paul
The Canonical Paul, volume 2
HARDCOVER; Published: 5/20/2021
ISBN: 978-0-8028-2466-0
Price: $ 60.00
616 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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Discerning the voice of Paul across the Pauline collection 

With the contextual framework in place from volume one of The Canonical Paul, Luke Timothy Johnson now probes each of the thirteen biblical letters traditionally attributed to the apostle Paul in a way that balances respect for historical integrity with attention to present-day realities. In doing so, Johnson reforges the connection between biblical studies and the life of the church, seeking to establish once again the foundational and generative role that the thirteen letters of Paul have had among Christians for centuries. 

Far from being a “definitive theology” of Paul, or an oversimplified synthesis, Interpreting Paul provides glimpses into various moments of Paul’s thinking and teaching that we find in Scripture, modeling how one might read his letters closely for fresh, creative interpretations now and into the future. Approached in this way, both in minute detail and as a whole canon, Paul’s letters yield rich insights, and his voice becomes accessible to all readers of the Bible. 

“For me, Paul has always been the most difficult and therefore also most delightful advocate and interpreter of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the human experience of God’s transforming power through Christ. In Paul’s letters above all I have found the quality of mind and the depth of conviction that could arouse in me both excitement and passion. And it is Paul’s letters, above all, that show how important and difficult is life together in the church.”

 — from the preface

Table of Contents

1. Romans 3:21–26 and the Faith of Jesus
2. The Social Dimensions of Sōtēria in Luke-Acts and Paul
3. Transformation of Mind and Moral Discernment in Romans
4. Life-Giving Spirit
5. The Body in Question
6. Glossolalia and the Embarrassments of Experience
7. God Was in Christ
8. Truth and Reconciliation in 2 Corinthians
9. Ritual Imprinting and the Politics of Perfection
10. The Truth of Christian Experience
11. The Expression of Christian Experience
12. Paul’s Vision of the Church
13. The Rise of Church Order
14. Fellowship of Suffering
15. Mystery and Metaphor in Colossians
16. Doing the Truth in Love
17. Sacrament of the World
18. Discernment, Edification, and Holiness
19. The Apostle as Crisis Manager
20. Oikonomia Theou
21. The Shape of the Struggle
22. Second Timothy and the Polemic against False Teachers
23. The Pedagogy of Grace

Catholic Media Association Book Award in Scripture: Academic Studies 2nd Place (2022)
“All great scholars have a clear and distinctive view about the people, texts, and topics about which they write. This is indisputably true for Luke Timothy Johnson, who rightly insists on the importance of religious experience in understanding who Paul was, what he cared about most deeply, and how that reverberates throughout all of his letters. Few will agree with all that Johnson says here, but all will learn from him and his insights into the life, letters, and legacy of Paul.”
— John T. Fitzgerald
University of Notre Dame
Interpreting Paul usefully brings together all the major essays (some reprints, some new) Luke Timothy Johnson has written on Paul. The thoughtful and often delightfully independent take on current issues in Paul for which Johnson is known is fully on display in these essays. While not a ‘Pauline theology’ in the usual sense of that phrase, the volume provides a breathtakingly broad scope of comment on many of the key issues in the apostle’s theology.”
— Douglas J. Moo
Wheaton College
“The essays themselves attend to Paul’s theology, with clarity and often with insight. . . . Recommended.”
Review of Biblical Literature
“The first volume of this project, Constructing Paul, sets forth Johnson’s stance and approach to interpreting the canonical Paul. Interpreting Paul illustrates this approach in action. Each of the twenty-three essays included here focuses on a particular Pauline text, often widening the scope to include the whole context, book, or entire Pauline corpus.”
“Johnson highlights the centrality of resurrection life and the experience of the Spirit in Paul’s thought. The end result is that he provides pastors, students, and young scholars with a reliable model for interpreting Paul. Most importantly, these essays allow us to see how an accomplished exegete teases out Paul’s theology by focusing on concrete problems and issues that the apostle faced as he deals with all the letters that comprise the canonical corpus of Paul’s writings”