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The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context [Paperback]

By Calvin J. Roetzel (Author)
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Item description for The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context by Calvin J. Roetzel...

Exploring the sometimes heated exchanges found in the letters of Paul, Calvin Roetzel compares Paul's Jewish background and the cultures of his converts. Roetzel brings alive Paul's intriguing and sometimes enigmatic personality, making his theology as accessible and engaging to Christians today as it was to Christians living in the first century.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   241
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 3, 2011
Edition  Large Type  
ISBN  0664257828  
ISBN13  9780664257828  

Availability  84 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 23, 2016 06:27.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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More About Calvin J. Roetzel

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Sundet Professor of New Testament and Christian Studies, Department of Classical & Near Eastern Studies, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Calvin J. Roetzel has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Abingdon New Testament Commentaries
  2. Personalities of the New Testament

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament > Study
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Paul

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Pastoral Help > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context?

Excellent Resource  Aug 30, 2003
This book was the text for class I took on Paul's letters. Very readable with very insightful essays on each of the letters. Excellent background on the life and times of Paul. A must for anyone who wants to study or teach on Paul's letters.
Read 'the letters' first!  Jun 7, 2001
The Letters of Paul was written by a retired professor of Religious Studies at Macalester College. His former teaching career is evident when reading this book, although he admits in the preface it is written for the "nonspecialist." (ix) I got the sense that this book, first published in 1975 (ix), was a textbook for students. Roetzel himself describes it as a book for "those who are systematically reading Paul's letters for the first time as well as those returning to Paul for a fresh look." (xi) He says that the book is meant to be read before looking at Paul's actual letters, a point I disagree on; at least a perfunctory reading of the letters would be helpful before reading this book. Roetzel's aim is to have readers see the letters "less as repositories of static truth than as lively and sometimes turbulent exchanges over the nature of the gospel," (xi) and to "help the novice reader read the letters in light of their social and cultural background." (5) He is also trying to guide students in how they approach the study of Paul, and to help them understand basic structural and functional aspects of letters in Paul's time (xi).

Roetzel opens the introduction skillfully, drawing the reader in with a discussion of Paul's views on women. He then touches on some other controversial contemporary issues. Roetzel presents other dichotomous views of Paul. These "contrary impressions" (1) effectively tease the reader, and hint at the issues to be dealt with in the book.

The book concludes well by picking up where the introduction left off. It discusses controversial issues in a little more detail, but they make more sense now because of the background of the book. I especially enjoyed the last few pages as they provided an excellent, concise summary of Paul, and put him into perspective. Particularly the conclusion notes, that "...he raised hard questions that the church had to face. And he dealt with real issues most of which still lie near the heart of humankind." (190)

Roetzel was excellent at fulfilling his aims. He made me understand that Paul's letters are not static, but real conversations between Paul and the churches. The book also helped me to understand the world through Paul's eyes, which were focused on "the cross, the resurrection, and Jesus' imminent return." (72)

There are few negative things to say about this book. A couple of minor contentions I had were the use of theological words, and the black and white presentation of the material. First, Roetzel tossed theological words into the book several times, often without proper explanation (e.g. "eucharistic" 63, "exegesis" 39, and "doxology," 70) This would not be a problem if Roetzel was writing for the specialist, but if as he claims, his audience is composed of non-specialists, the use of theological words can lead to confusion.

One other minor criticism: Roetzel made many assumptions that he treated as undisputed truth. For example he writes, "we know, of course, that Paul is unfaithful here to the original intent of the Genesis material." (101) Do we know this for certain? How? These are the unanswered questions I had while reading comments like that. (In this case he is erring on the side of the non-specialist, who would be confused by an introduction of all the ambiguities.)

Overall though, I really enjoyed this book. Besides a few glitches it was at a level for the beginner reader to understand clearly. Whenever possible Roetzel referred to Paul's letters to make a point. He also summarized scholarly opinion about an issue, and provided further references for reading in the helpful selected bibliography at the back of the book. Even though the book has too much detail for the general public, it would be great for a serious student who is analyzing the letters of Paul. Overall it was well written and interesting. I think the only problem was that the author stated that this book was for the non-specialist, but I think it would be difficult to understand for someone with no background at all in Paul's writings. I would suggest a reader to be familiar with Paul's letters before he/she decides to read the book.

Conversations  Apr 28, 2001
The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context, by Calvin J. Roetzel, is a book on the letters of Paul written from a historical perspective. As the subtitle implies, Roetzel attempts to interrupt the letters in the historical context in which they were written, as the writer Paul converses with his readers. Roetzel analyzes Paul's letters within first-century Judaism and the world of mystery religions, stoicism, Neo-Pythagoreanism and Gnosticism. Roetzel examines the structure and function of the letter in the ancient world. He attempts to show how Paul used this medium to express the authoritative understanding of Christian life to communities that where experiencing specific problems. As for presenting a historical background on Paul and his letters, Roetzel does an admirable job. The book is outlined and organized well. He does emphasis the role of the historical setting for proper interruption of scripture, but I feel the canonical context is significant, also. Paul's letters were clearly written for particular situations during his lifetime, but they exist in canon today because the early church found value in them for themselves in different times and contexts.
Frist rate introduction  Aug 9, 2000
This is a terrific introduction to the Apostle Paul and the letters attributed to him in the New Testament. Roetzl is a superbly clear and concise writer who knows how to write introductory material without distorting and oversimplifying. This is a well tested textbook, and the new fourth edition brings it into line with the most current Pauline scholarship. Roetzl fully incorporates the continuing influences of the "Sanders revolution" into his own understanding of Paul and his writings. The book provides a thorough treatment of each of the epistles in terms of posible dating, situation, and literary structure before explicating the primary themes. Roetzl does divide the Paul's letters into the categories of undisputed and disputed and treats them roughly according to his own chronology. Some will quibble with the ordering and the categorization, but Roetzl is far from dogmatic on these positions. Most importantly, as the subtitle indicates, Roetzl takes seriously the role Paul's letters play in an ongoing relationship with the churches to which he writes. In line with the the contemporary trend, he extends this principle to Romans, moving further away from the older, non-situaltional way of reading. I have used this as a textbook with undergraduate students and they have complimented it highly.

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