Paul as a Problem in History and Culture

The Apostle and His Critics through the Centuries

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As one of the most significant figures in the history of Western civilization, the apostle Paul has influenced and inspired countless individuals and institutions. But for some, he holds a controversial place in Christianity. This engaging book explores why many people have been wary of Paul and what their criticisms reveal about the church and the broader culture. Patrick Gray brings intellectual and cultural history into conversation with study of the New Testament, providing a balanced account and assessment of widespread antipathy to Paul and exploring what the controversy tells us about ourselves.

Contents

Introduction: A Thorn in the Flesh
Part 1: Anti-Paulinism through the Centuries
1. The First Hundred Years: The Problem of Paul in the New Testament
2. The Premodern Era: The Early Church, Late Antiquity, and the Middle Ages
3. The Enlightenment and Beyond: Jesus, Paul, and the Rise of Modern Biblical Scholarship
4. The Nineteenth Century: Paul's Cultured Despisers
5. Yesterday and Today: Jesus versus Paul in the Public Square
Part 2: Anti-Pauline Contexts, Subtexts, and Pretexts
6. In the Tents of Shem: Paul among Jews and Muslims
7. Jesus versus Paul: Spiritual but Not Religious?
8. A World without Paul? Christian History in Counterfactual Perspective
9. Not by Paul Alone: Other "Founders" of Christianity
10. From Jesus to Paul: An Experiment in Comparative Religion
Conclusion: What We Talk about When We Talk about Paul
Indexes


Endorsements

"Many scholars write only for other scholars, and some experts are adept at writing for more general audiences, but only a few can write well with both audiences in mind. Patrick Gray is one of those rare scholars, and his book on reactions to Paul through the centuries is a gem that merits the attention of all readers interested in early Christianity's most controversial apostle."

John T. Fitzgerald, professor of New Testament and early Christianity, University of Notre Dame

"With much erudition, eloquence, and wit, Patrick Gray sets forth a fascinating two-thousand-year history of anti-Paulinism. Citing both scholarly and popular sources, he exposes the various (and at times bewildering) attitudes, assumptions, and motivations that lie behind the virile dislike of the apostle to the gentiles. This book will challenge both friends and foes of Paul to reflect critically on the relationship between Paul and the one he proclaimed as Messiah and Lord."

Thomas D. Stegman, SJ, professor ordinarius and chair of the ecclesiastical faculty, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

"Every Paul scholar knows that Paul has always been controversial, but I wager that few know the breadth and depth of the animus toward him surveyed by Patrick Gray. Not everyone will agree with Gray's perspectives on all issues, but everyone will benefit from his thorough research and astute insights. I will not be able to resist using this volume in upcoming Paul seminars. It is sure to be a great discussion starter."

Mark D. Given, associate professor, department of religious studies, Missouri State University

"Gray provides an insightful and accessible overview of the negative reception of the apostle Paul, from the Corinthians to Kazantzakis. An important contribution is the way in which Gray steers a reasonable middle course amid choppy, polemical waters. This book has great potential for sparking lively discussion in a classroom setting."

David L. Eastman, author of Paul the Martyr: The Cult of the Apostle in the Latin West


The Author

  1. Patrick Gray

    Patrick Gray

    Patrick Gray (PhD, Emory University) is associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the author of Opening Paul's Letters and Godly Fear: The Epistle to the Hebrews and Greco-Roman Critiques of...

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Reviews

"Gray has read broadly to identify negative attitudes toward Paul. The book includes critiques with origins in Jewish, Muslim and Christian traditions ranging from antiquity to our time. To establish such a rich collection is quite an achievement, but there is more. The second part of the work examines the contexts, subtexts and pretexts of all these critiques. . . . The book ends by creatively addressing the perennial question of the relation between Jesus and Paul from the perspective of comparative religion. All in all, this volume covers an amazing amount of ground. Gray's lucid and at times humorous style makes this book accessible to a wide audience."

John C. Endres, SJ,

America

"In a wide-ranging new book, Patrick Gray . . . reviews attitudes toward Paul among Jews, Muslims, and critics of Christianity, from antiquity to the present. With clear prose and wry humor, Gray navigates the long, strange history of criticisms of Paul. The sheer variety makes it difficult to believe that all refer to the same person."

Michael C. Legaspi,

First Things


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