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Participating in Christ

Explorations in Paul's Theology and Spirituality

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Renowned scholar Michael Gorman examines the important Pauline theme of participation in Christ, a topic of great interest in New Testament circles and one that is central to Paul's theology and spirituality.

Building on his previous work on the topic, Gorman carefully examines participation in Christ in Paul's letters. His book explores this theme across the letters and includes in-depth studies of key texts such as Galatians 2, 2 Corinthians 5, and Philippians 2. Gorman also explores the contemporary significance of participating in Christ for Christian life and ministry, arguing that it has wide implications for the life of the believer.

Throughout the book, Gorman insightfully unpacks the many theological, spiritual, and pastoral dimensions of participation in Christ and shows its close connection to such related themes as cruciformity, resurrection, justification, theosis, mission, and apocalyptic. One of the themes Gorman explores in particular is what he now calls "resurrectional cruciformity"--that participating in Christ is simultaneously dying and rising with him and that cross-shaped living, infused with the life of the resurrected Lord, is life-giving.

New Testament scholars, professors, and students will value this work.


Part 1: Paul and Participation
1. Participating in Christ: An Overview
2. The Cross: Revelation of Christ and God, of Humanity and the Church
3. Cruciform or Resurrectiform? Paul's Paradoxical Practice of Resurrectional Cruciformity
4. A New Translation of Philippians 2:5 and Its Significance for Paul's Theology and Spirituality
5. The Apocalyptic New Covenant and the Shape of Life in the Spirit according to Galatians
6. Reading Galatians 2:15-21 Theologically: Beyond Old and New, West and East
7. New Creation! Justification and Participation from Galatians to 2 Corinthians
8. Righteousness, Resurrection, Reconciliation: From 2 Corinthians to Romans
9. Theosis in 2 Corinthians
Part 2: Paul and Participation Today
10. Being "In Christ" Today: Paul's Letter to the Contemporary Church in North America
11. Paul on Practicing and Preaching the Resurrection Today Indexes


"Michael Gorman is one of the leading Paul scholars of our time, committing his professional career to expounding the significance of union with Christ for both academic theology and practical Christianity. In this collection of essays we find Gorman at his erudite best, combining Pauline themes of participation, justification, cruciformity, mission, resurrection living, and spirituality with rare poignancy and power. Few volumes are both informative and spiritually uplifting--this one is!"

Michael F. Bird, academic dean and lecturer in theology, Ridley College

"Michael Gorman's Participating in Christ: Explorations in Paul's Theology and Spirituality is far more directed than the word 'exploration' in the subtitle might suggest. In bringing together and amplifying previous essays as a single coherent argument, this book resembles a carefully planned and executed expedition far more than a whimsical series of adventures. In it, Gorman demonstrates how Pauline justification/righteousness is seamlessly interwoven with transformation--indeed, with what later church theologians shockingly called 'theosis.' The book seemingly takes its cue from St. John Chrysostom's depiction of the Scriptures as both a treasure-trove and an ever-flowing fountain: Gorman offers both careful (and typically provocative) exegeses of key texts and an exhilarating panorama into which these close analyses are cunningly fitted. Of special interest are the function that he assigns to 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (as a mediating text between Galatians and Romans) and his new reading of the Philippian Christ-hymn, which offers a tertium quid in the ongoing debate over this passage. The book closes with a cheeky but helpful word from 'Paul' to the contemporary Christian community that encourages believers to embrace practical outcomes of their participation in Christ, as they become together 'the righteousness of God.'"

Edith M. Humphrey, William F. Orr Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

"The fruit of a lifetime of study on Paul, Participating in Christ is accessible, clear, and compelling. Michael Gorman expertly explores the foundational coherence uniting Paul's theology across his corpus--participation in Christ's narrative through co-crucifixion and co-resurrection. Importantly, he moves beyond simply providing historical exegesis by demonstrating the integration of this reading within the history of the church and in the life of the church today."

Ben C. Blackwell, associate professor of early Christianity, Houston Baptist University

"Michael Gorman is America's leading Pauline theologian. I have been following his work on Paul for over fifteen years. Each installment of his research adds fresh and stimulating ideas to the conversation, and Participating in Christ is no exception. This is more than just a book on a narrow topic called 'participation'; rather, Gorman both addresses this master concept and draws in many other key topics in Paul, such as justification, reconciliation, covenant, and mission."

Nijay K. Gupta, associate professor of New Testament, Portland Seminary

"Once again Michael Gorman opens our eyes to fresh perspectives on the theology and spirituality of the apostle Paul, empowering readers of the Pauline epistles to see the apostle and his efforts through a fully participatory lens. In a unique mix of in-depth exegesis and reflection on the significance of Paul's narrative and participationist theology for contemporary Christian praxis, Gorman unravels how being 'in Christ' means embodying continuously and simultaneously Good Friday and Easter. This highly original account of what Gorman terms 'resurrectional cruciformity' has enormous potential to move New Testament scholars as well as everyday readers beyond Old and New, and Western and Eastern, perspectives on Paul."

Volker Rabens, Faculty of Theology, New Testament Studies, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

The Author

  1. Michael J. Gorman

    Michael J. Gorman

    Michael J. Gorman (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary's Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland. He formerly served as dean of the Ecumenical Institute of...

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