Reviews - What do customers think about Gospel and Mission in the Writings of Paul: An Exegetical and Theological Analysis?
Penetrating Insight through Thorough Exegesis Jan 14, 2008
Purpose: Some scholars claim that the church as a whole should not shoulder the burden of evangelism. Only a select few with a clear calling should do the work of missions. The core of their claim is that they find no exhortations in the Pauline letters that encourage congregations to actively participate in evangelism. O'Brien's goal is to refute this view, first by examining Paul's view of his own mission and second by identifying and exegeting passages that show that Paul did indeed encourage his congregations in evangelism. Understanding Paul primarily as a missionary is critical to the subject and O'Brien keeps that at the forefront of his argument.
The book is written with the pastor and seminary trained missionary in mind. Greek appears in its original form, transliterated, and translated which makes it readable for the laity but more helpful to those who know Greek. While arguing thoroughly, he avoids getting bogged down with technicalities by referring you to scholarly works that deal with pertinent grammatical issues more fully.
Things I liked: 1. O'Brien's exegesis is thorough and methodical. He discusses all the relevant views and in his footnotes points you in the direction of both those who agree and disagree with him. He gives us an exemplary model of what contextual and grammatical exegesis should be.
2. O'Brien does an excellent job in drawing conclusions from his exegesis. He rarely reads too much into a text but still marvelously illumines the depth of the Word. Pastors would do well to follow his example of grounding their conclusions in careful study of scripture.
3. While doing exegesis phrase by phrase, O'Brien does an excellent job of keeping the big picture in mind. This manifests itself particularly clearly in his discussion of 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1. He does an excellent job of interpreting it within its wider context.
Criticisms: 1. O'Brien's interpretation of Ephesians 6:10-20 was unconvincing and he did not point to another work where the arguments behind his conclusions were given. I assume he gives greater support for his conclusions in his commentary on Ephesians, but that was published six years after the first release of this book. I don't think that his interpretation is common, so I feel that more defense of his position is necessary.
2. I have never seen such a poorly produced book. It looks like it was made at Kinkos. The cover was a thin gray piece of cardboard and the typeset was mediocre. I bought it as a gift and was embarrassed to give it.
Overall I give the book four stars. It is carefully and thoughtfully argued for the most part. His chapters are slow at the beginning because he spends page after page in exegesis, but understanding his exegesis is critical for the conclusions he draws. All who are interested in seriously studying missiology would do well to read it.