Studies in Philology
Zeal for the Promise:
The Mind of Paul
E Bruce Brooks
Paul is easily the best documented person in the New Testament, a quarter of which consists of letters written by him or his early circle of followers. Yet Paul is no less enigmatic as a personality than the mysterious Peter, or the elusive John the Baptist. This book attempts to use the existing evidence to dispel part of the fog.
Easily the most puzzling question about Paul is his conversion: what led a convinced and moral opponent of the early Jesus movement to become one of its most ardent advocates? The continuities in Paul's personality, his early background (which must be reconstructed without the aid of Acts), and his own statements combine to give what we think is a reasonably convincing account of this transformation. The answer is that it was no transformation at all, but simply the direction of the same personal energies in a redefined direction, a direction which involved for Paul the loss of his Jewishness, and his emancipation into the Gentile world in which, at Tarsus, he had grown up.
The second enigma about Paul is his doctrinal evolution over the long period of his missionary activity. If indeed there was any, since this is a much disputed point. The signs of evolution are to us unmistakable, and help to document the progress of disillusionment among the early Christians about the early arrival of the Last Days, a disillusionment that is reported in a still later and more severe form in the pseudonymous First Epistle of Peter.
Also of interest, not so much for Paul as for his relations with the other currents in early Christianity, are the identities of his associates (a list which seems to include not one but two of the Evangelists: Mark and Luke), and their contribution to his labors, as well as to their continuation after his death. Onesimus and Erastus, Alexander and Rufus, Apollos and Peter, all crossed Paul's path or helped him travel it, and a collective sense of them gives us a sense of the extent and texture of the early Christian world.
This book, based on and coordinating certain earlier researches, explores these topics and others, ending with a consideration of how Paul's theological legacy - his letters - was gathered, preserved, and extended in the years after his death.
Extracts from Zeal for the Promise:
Chapter 1: Paul's Conversion
Chapter 2: The Lost Years
Chapter 3: Doctrinal Evolution
Chapter 4: Death in Rome
Chapter 5: Fellow Workers
Chapter 6: The Epistle Collection
Chapter 7: DeuteroPauline Writings
Chapter 8: Paul and Early Christianity
This book, exploring the life of the foremost Beta Christian of early times, is a counterpart to the treatment of Alpha Christianity in the companion work Xristos, in this series.
E BRUCE BROOKS is Research Professor of Chinese at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Zeal for the Promise: The Mind of Paul
Approximately 352 pages.
Tentative $50.95 cloth. ISBN 978-936166-52-7
Tentative $27.95 paper. ISBN 978-036166-92-3
Release Date: To Be Announced
When announced, this book may be ordered from the University of Massachusetts Press
14 August 2010 / Contact The Project / Exit to Publications Page