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Paul and the Gift
PAPERBACK; Published: 9/11/2017
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7532-7
Price: $ 61.99
672 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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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.
— Scot McKnight in Books & 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."
— C. Kavin Rowe in First Things
"One of the more important books on Paul to appear in many years."
— Matthew L. Skinner in The Christian Century
"Technical, learned, and masterful, this book could prove to be the most rewarding and influential exposition of Pauline theology written in nearly two decades."
P. K. Moser in Choice
“Barclay’s distinctions regarding various perspectives on grace illuminate much of the ongoing controversy over what constitutes grace. In doing so, he interacts with a wide range of scholarly literature without getting lost in scholarly detail. . . . Recommended.”
Matthew V. Novenson in Review of Biblical Literature
Paul and the Gift is a brilliant book. It is not just a big, important book — an opus from a senior scholar with which anyone working in the field is obliged to interact — although it certainly is that. . . . A model of surefooted use of theory, devastating criticism of previous interpretation, thorough command of relevant classical and Jewish sources, and critical but empathetic exegesis.”
Douglas J. Moo in Themelios
“One of the most important books on Paul’s theology in years. . . . Truly a gift.”
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.”
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.”
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. . . . 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.”
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.”
Southwestern Journal of Theology
“[Paul and the Gift] shows that deep, careful engagement with both the ancient material and modern social-scientific models can yield fruitful dividends for exegesis.”