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St. Paul Vs. St. Peter [Paperback]

By Michael Goulder (Author)
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Item description for St. Paul Vs. St. Peter by Michael Goulder...

Most Christians believe that there was essentially only one early church which was later imperiled by false teachings. The New Testament was the developing statement of this early church, and from it grew the whole structure of Christian belief. In this remarkable book, Michael Goulder sets out to disprove this commonly held theory.

Publishers Description

Most Christians believe that there was essentially only one early church which was later imperiled by false teachings. The New Testament was the developing statement of this early church, and from it grew the whole structure of Christian belief. In this remarkable book, Michael Goulder sets out to disprove this commonly held theory.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   196
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.41" Width: 5.46" Height: 0.62"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1994
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664255612  
ISBN13  9780664255619  

Availability  104 units.
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More About Michael Goulder

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Michael Goulder was Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the University of Birmingham in England prior to his death in 2010.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General

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Books > Bible Study > General Studies > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about St. Paul Vs. St. Peter?

Good entry point into 1st century Christianity  Apr 7, 2007
I have been troubled for many years by the question of what "really" happened in the first century, when Christianity was formed. It was clear to me that Paul was in many ways the founder of Christianity, in that he spread the gospel to the gentiles, and it was the gentile faction that won out, as any believers in Jesus as the Messiah within Judaism faded very quickly. Since Paul was the apostle who never even met Jesus during his life, I found this disturbing, and it was an obstacle to faith.

This book at once confirmed some of my suspicions -- that Paul put forward a very different message than Peter and the other leaders of the Jerusalem church in early Christianity. But it also surprised me greatly, because for the modern reader, Paul's Christianity is much more sensible. He stresses the importance of work and making a living while waiting for the kingdom of God, while Peter and crew advocated selling everything and giving the money to the church, because the kingdom of God had already arrived. This resulted in their descendants, the "Ebionites", living in poverty and marginalization. Paul thought highly of wisdom, helpfulness and other relatively sober "gifts of the Spirit", while the Petrines were fans of "speaking in tongues" -- i.e. in ecstatic gibberish. Paul's model makes a lot more sense for most of us today.

Goulder's book was my first step on my journey to trying to figure out what happened in the period between Jesus and real establishment of Christianity. It has whetted my appetite for more information and given me a framework in which to think of the most important questions. I highly recommend it.
Remarkable Insight Into the First Century  Nov 6, 2003
This little book is the most penetrating and incisive work I've come across about the very early church. History is at its best when a few straight-forward insights into well-attested sources can shift an entire historical situation into focus, and this book does just that.

Goulder starts with a fairly simple hypothesis about the gentile-focused Pauline mission and its tension with Peter, James and the other Jerusalem "pillars". The next task is simply applying "loyalty tests" to the gospels and acts -- how do they portray peter; how do they portray strict observance of the Jewish law? It's easy then to begin seeing Mark, the earliest gospel, as a fairly raw product of the Pauline school; Matthew as an adaption and expansion of Mark aimed at more Jewish sensibilities; and then Luke/Acts as the work of another Pauline attempting to reassert the Pauline theology of Mark, while incorporating and improving upon the Matthean redactions and taking a conciliatory stance toward the pillars. This isn't a book about the synoptic problem, but the insights Goulder provide here really help to illuminate his theory of Markan priority without the existence of the hypothetical "Q" document.

Some of Goulder's best observations and logical interpolations come in his analysis of the Pauline and deutero-Pauline epistles. Every problem Paul addresses in his letters comes to new life against the background of Goulder's basic hypothesis of Paul's central struggle, not with docetist and gnostic heretics, but with the Hebraic influence and ideas of Peter and James.

The closer Goulder's arguments get to the second century, the less persuasive they become, in my opinion. But they remain most thought-provoking. The book as a whole is brilliant. Many will bemoan the lack of footnotes and the failure to discuss dissenting arguments. I recall reading somewhere that Goulder planned a more scholarly version of this hypothesis, but I don't know that it ever happened. Regardless, this is a book not to miss.

New insights on early christianity  Jun 24, 2002
Michael Goulder is the most insightful voice I have encountered in the study of early Christianity. His hypothosis of two Christian churches, one headed by Peter and James in Jeruselum and the other headed by Paul during his travels is nothing short of genius. He draws almost exclusively on biblical texts to paint a picture of early Christianity struggling to remain true to its Jewish past (the Petrines) while drawing an ever-growing number of gentile followers (the Paulines). The tension in Goulder's dichotomy sheds a fascinating light on many of the more troubling passages in Acts and Paul's letters, making them instantly come into focus. This is a book which will have you wondering why you never made these connections in the first place. It will also cause you to rethink the traditional views that Paul was writing to oppose the influences of traditional Jews, gnostics, or some other faction. Goulder's insights are simply breathtaking.
A Fascinating Look into the First Century, C. E.  Sep 3, 2000
Michael Goulder is an outstanding biblical scholar, who usually writes for a scholarly audience, but this book was written for the general reader interested in the history of the Bible and of Christianity. Goulder is no Isaac Asimov, but he does manage to write a book the interested layman can understand. It requires more effort on the reader's part than it would if Asimov had written it, but the effort is still not excessive, and is well worth it.

Paul, a Jew who had been strongly opposed to the "Followers of the Way" (the proto-Christian movement within Judaism) experienced something on the road to Damascus which converted him from an opponent of the Jesus movement to an ardent supporter. Paul was convinced that Jesus' message was not just for Jews, but for all humanity. He took his mission out of Israel, where most of the people were Jews, to Turkey and elsewhere where there were few Jews. He wisely realized that few Gentiles would accept circumcision and the strict Kosher (food) laws of Judaism as a condition of joining the churches Paul was founding, so he downplayed these tough requirements, and did not seek to enforce them. Peter and Jesus' brother James, meanwhile, remained in Jerusalem and kept the Jewish Law entirely. They sent out pairs of missionaries to the churches Paul had established, and these missionaries tried to bring the far-flung churches into line with Jewish law, which Peter and James saw as essential, but which Paul saw as superseded by Jesus.

It will likely never be possible to determine which position the historical Jesus would have taken in this controversy (quite possibly somewhere between Peter and Paul), but it is clear that the Pauline position won out; it has even been suggested that Paul, rather than Jesus, was the founder of Christianity, and in a sense he surely was.

This book is a must read for anyone who wants to know and understand the beginnings of Christianity. Read it and make up your own mind!
Paul's won, and Jesus' lost.  Jun 16, 2000
Goulder shows how, by appealing to the gentiles, Paul usurped authority from Peter, ending the mission set in motion by Jesus. After reading "St. Paul versus St. Peter," you may agree with A. N. Wilson, who says at the conclusion of his book, "Paul: the Mind of the Apostle," that "Paul, and not Jesus, was...the 'Founder of Christianity.'" Goulder, a professor of Biblical Studies at the U. of Birmingham, U.K., is a gifted writer, making some fairly complex ideas very easy to understand. His book is in need of a bibliography and an index, and this is frustrating if you wish to further explore his ideas, but it is well worth the buy.

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