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What Paul Meant [Paperback]

By Garry Wills (Author)
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Item description for What Paul Meant by Garry Wills...

A synthesis of the apostle's thought and influence evaluates the disparate qualities attributed to his character in the Bible and throughout history, arguing that Paul's intentions were consistent with the teachings of Jesus and sought to manage controversy throughout the early days of Christianity. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lincoln at Gettysburgh. Reprint. 75,000 first printing.

Publishers Description
"If you think you knew Paul, get ready to have all sorts of cherished preconceptions exhilaratingly stripped away. If you've ever been vaguely curious, there is no finer introduction." ("Los Angeles"" Times")
In his "New York Times" bestsellers "What Jesus Meant "and "What the Gospels Meant," Garry Wills offers fresh and incisive readings of Jesus' teachings and the four gospels. Here Wills turns to Paul the Apostle, whose writings have provoked controversy throughout Christian history. Upending many common assumptions, Wills argues eloquently that Paul's teachings are not opposed to Jesus'message. Rather, the best way to know Jesus is to discover Paul. In this stimulating and masterly analysis, Wills illuminates how Paul, writing on the road and in the heat of the moment, and often in the midst of controversy, galvanized a movement and offers us the best reflection of those early times.

Citations And Professional Reviews
What Paul Meant by Garry Wills has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • New York Review of Books - 10/23/2008 page 69
  • New York Times Book Review - 11/25/2007 page 32

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Pages   193
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.96" Width: 5.58" Height: 0.56"
Weight:   0.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2007
Publisher   Penguin Group USA
Age  18
ISBN  0143112635  
ISBN13  9780143112631  

Availability  3 units.
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More About Garry Wills

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Garry Wills is one of the most respected writers on religion today. He is the author of Saint Augustine s Childhood, Saint Augustine s Memory, and Saint Augustine s Sin, the first three volumes in this series, as well as the Penguin Lives biography Saint Augustine. His other books include Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Power, Why I Am a Catholic, Papal Sin, and Lincoln at Gettysburg, which won the Pulitzer Prize."

Garry Wills was born in 1934 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Northwestern University.

Garry Wills has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities
  2. Emblems of Antiquity
  3. Penguin Classics
  4. Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions
  5. Penguin Lives Biographies
  6. Simon & Schuster Lincoln Library

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Commentaries
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament > Study
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Catholic

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > General Studies > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about What Paul Meant?

An Early Witness Who Was Fully In-Sync With Jesus  Jul 2, 2007
Garry Wills, Professor of History Emeritus, Northwestern University, and former seminarian, has written several provocative books covering the Catholic Church ("The Papal Sin," "Why I am Catholic), Jesus ("What Jesus Meant"), and now Apostle Paul with "What Paul Meant." "What Paul Meant" is no less provocative and is a great add to Will's legacy.

Paul has been accused of substituting his own "high-flown but also dark theology for the simple teachings of the itinerant preacher from Galilee. Accusers believe he was bound to as he never knew or understood Jesus, a figure he never met. Wills shows us that this misunderstanding derives from a massive misreading of Paul and of a misleading of minds of people down through centuries. He argues that the heart of the problem is that Paul entered the bloodstream of Western civilization mainly through "one artery, the vein carrying the consciousness of sin, of guilt, of the tortured conscience." Thus, religion was able to take over the legacy of Paul as it did that of Jesus - "because they both opposed it."

"What Paul Meant" highlights, through Paul's thirteen epistles, that the worship of God is a matter of interior love, not based on external observances, on temples or churches, on hierarchies or priesthoods. He, as Jesus, saw only two basic moral duties, love of God and love of neighbor. Both were liberators, not imprisoners. Both were aligned theologically.

We are reminded that Paul's writings are the first to reach us from a follower of Jesus. He takes us closer in time to Jesus than does any other person or group or body of writings. So the best way to find out what Jesus meant to his early followers is to see what Paul meant to his fellow believers. He was not an underminer of Jesus. He was not a counterforce but one of the early believers who bore witness to him and wrote about it.

Wills, using excerpts from Paul's writings and from Luke's Acts of the Apostles, examines Paul and the Risen Jesus (Paul is our expert on this); Paul and the Pre-Resurrection Jesus (Paul's accounts of how to address problems are probably closer to what Jesus said than are later records in the Gospels); Paul on the Road (monotheism, high moral principles, full religious equality); Paul and Peter (both were on the same side in the end); Paul and Women (women and men were equal); Paul and the Troubled Gatherings (how he managed damage control); Paul and Jews (he was not the father of Christian anti-Semitism); Paul and Jerusalem (the struggle to keep mindful of the needy); and, Paul and Rome (a "fishy" likelihood).

"What Paul Meant" is an excellent read. Wills is good at making his point - Paul was instep, not out-of-step, with Jesus and what Jesus meant.

Parsing Paul...  Jun 23, 2007
What Paul Meant, a companion volume to Wills' What Jesus Meant, is an attempt to reach through Luke to get to Paul. Circumventing alleged contradictions and anachronisms in the Book of Acts, Wills proceeds to the genuine Pauline epistles to find the man. What results is a thin biography/apologetic which, despite it's diminutive size, provides interesting reading. Lacking any real theology, the book is more a confirmation of Paul's travels, testimony, and political maneuvering from his first apostolic journey to his execution in Rome. It is Acts vs. the epistles which provides the motive power throughout.

Wills reviews Paul's relationships with each Diaspora community and his rather prickly association with Peter and James. If there is one regret, it is that the author didn't elaborate further the destruction of Paul at the hands of Nero. It would no doubt prove compelling.

Better than What Jesus Meant, for there are fewer radical departures and revisionist decrees, I consider this latest Wills effort a worthwhile read. It is quick, concise, though confrontational to Lukan chronology. 4 stars.
Low on theology  Jun 13, 2007
I was disappointed by the neglect of the "theology of the body" and other aspects of Pauline thought.
On a positive note, I did enjoy Will's usual clear exposition of the subject and I appreciate his background in the classics. This is a good introduction to Paul and it clears up many misconceptions. For that, I recommend it.
Highly recommended.  May 15, 2007
Clear, concise, an easy flow of words. I've enjoyed it very much.
The Real Paul  Apr 12, 2007
The author does a great job in this book of explaining what Paul meant from his own letters before religion translated them into what they thought Paul meant. Paul's letters are the closest we come to the historical Jesus, they were written even before the Gospels. Paul also knew Peter and James (Jesus's brother).Paul was not an American Protestant church man like the modern church would lead us to believe. He was a devout Jew above all else who miraculously converted to belief in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. His Bible was the Jewish Old testament, he had no new testament in his time. He also had no intent for his letters to become new scripture, he was writing letters to Messianic gatherings to address specific issues, he was making no attempt to write a new Bible. The English translations do not do justice to Paul's original Greek letters. Words such as Christian, Church, conversion, sacraments, Trinity, apostle and many others did not really exist in Greek in the present English meanings. This misreading twists Paul's words far from what he meant based on who the letters were addressed to. The back of the book has an excellent appendix to help look at the original words and there true meanings with in the context they were used. It will be surprising to find out for some readers that several letters attributed to Paul, Timothy 1 and 2 and Titus were not written by him.

The author explains how Augustine and Luther took us away from Paul's letters of grace by a belief in Jesus and a circumcision of the heart and created a culture of guilt.

I highly recommend buying this book for a quick read that will take you much closer to knowing what Paul really meant by his letters. In the end Paul meant the same thing Jesus meant, that love is the only law.

If I have faith that can move mountains but have not love, I am nothing....Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...And now these three remain:faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Apostle Paul 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

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