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Paul, Then and Now
HARDCOVER; Published: 6/17/2022
ISBN: 978-0-8028-8171-7
Price: $ 44.00
264 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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Reckoning with the hermeneutical struggle to make sense of Paul as both a historical figure and a canonical muse. 

Matthew Novenson has become a leading advocate for the continuing relevance of historical-critical readings of Paul even as some New Testament scholars have turned to purely theological or political approaches. In this collection of a decade’s worth of essays, Novenson puts contextual understandings of Paul’s letters into conversation with their Christian reception history. After a new, programmatic introductory essay that frames the other eleven essays, Novenson explores topics including:

  • the relation between theology and historical criticism
  • the place of Jews and gentiles in Paul’s gospel
  • Paul’s relation to Judaism
  • the relevance of messianism to Paul’s Christology
  • Paul’s eschatology in relation to ancient Jewish eschatologies
  • the aptness of monotheism as a category for understanding antiquity
  • the reception of Paul by diverse early Christian writers
  • the peculiar place of Protestantism in the modern study of Paul
  • the debate over the recent Paul-within-Judaism movement
  • anti-Judaism in modern New Testament scholarship
  • disputes over Romans and Galatians
  • the meta-question of what it would mean to get Paul right or wrong 

Engaging with numerous schools of thought in Pauline studies—Augustinian, Lutheran, New Perspective, apocalyptic, Paul-within-Judaism, religious studies, and more—while also rising above partisan disputes between schools, Novenson illuminates the ancient Mediterranean context of Paul’s letters, their complicated afterlives in the history of interpretation, and the hermeneutical struggle to make sense of it all.

Table of Contents

1. Our Apostles, Ourselves
2. Romans 1–2 between Theology and Historical Criticism
3. Ioudaios, Pharisee, Zealot
4. Did Paul Abandon Either Judaism or Monotheism?
5. Romans and Galatians
6. The Self-Styled Jew of Romans 2 and the Actual Jews of Romans 9–11
7. The Messiah ben Abraham in Galatians
8. “God Is Witness”: A Classical Rhetorical Idiom in Its Pauline Usage
9. What Eschatological Pilgrimage of the Gentiles?
10. Whither the Paul within Judaism Schule?
11. The Pauline Epistles in Tertullian’s Bible
12. Anti-Judaism and Philo-Judaism in Pauline Studies, Then and Now

“Matthew Novenson has emerged as a leading Pauline scholar, and this fine collection of his essays indicates why. Through careful analysis of the sources, he insists on placing Paul honestly in the historical past, in all its strangeness from our point of view. But he has also thought deeply and clearly about the hermeneutical responsibility we undertake if we wish to activate Paul’s voice today. Lively, provocative, and self-aware, these essays are a rich resource for all who study Paul.”
— John M. G. Barclay
Durham University
“This fine collection of essays takes up a number of important issues in Pauline studies and displays at every turn Matthew Novenson’s remarkable capacity for astute questions and gracious engagement with the work of others. The results are insightful and instructive. This is must-reading for Pauline specialists.”
— Beverly Roberts Gaventa
Princeton Theological Seminary
“In this very interesting book, Novenson pursues his primary interest in the original historical situations of the Pauline letters and their meaning in those contexts. At the same time, he studies other, later readings to clarify the differences between them and what the apostle was up to. This is a fascinating and original approach, and its fruits are worth considering seriously.”
— Adela Yarbro Collins
Yale Divinity School
“These brilliant essays—with historical knowledge and theological awareness, with clarity and wit—advance our understanding both of Paul’s historical context and of how our own contexts influence our readings.”
— Amy-Jill Levine
Vanderbilt University
Review of Biblical Literature
“Writing with grace, wit, and quiet authority, Novenson offers his reader both wide-angle scholarly panoramas and closeup textual analyses. He combines collegial courtesy with keen criticism. Paul, Then and Now orients the reader in some of the most important intellectual and ethical issues shaping current work on the protean apostle. This fine collection benefits both student and specialist. Tolle, lege.”