Item description for Understanding Paul: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans by Stephen Westerholm...
Overview Written for undergraduates, this book provides postmoderns with the big picture of the biblical worldview as found in the writings of Paul (esp. Romans).
Publishers Description Two thousand years later, Paul attracts more attention than any other figure from antiquity besides one," writes Stephen Westerholm. Why the fascination with the apostle Paul? Westerholm explains that Paul remains such a compelling figure because he was "a man completely captivated by a particular way of looking at life." Using the themes of the Epistle to the Romans, Westerholm helps readers understand the major components of Paul's vision of life. He delves into the writings of the Old Testament, explores their influence on Paul, and engages contemporary readers in a thought-provoking reconsideration of their own assumptions about faith, theology, and ethics. This insightful introduction gives postmodern readers, especially those with little or no biblical background, a necessary big-picture look at Paul's view of reality.
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Stephen Westerholm is professor of early Christianity at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. Among his previous books are Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking a Pauline Theme and Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The -Lutheran- Paul and His Critics.
Martin Westerholm is lecturer in systematic theology at Durham University, England, and author of The Ordering of the Christian Mind: Karl Barth and Theological Rationality.
Stephen Westerholm was born in 1949 and has an academic affiliation as follows - McMaster University, Canada.
Reviews - What do customers think about Understanding Paul: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans?
Keen insights Sep 28, 2005
The connection between liturgy and learning is one that has long been of interest to me. One of the reasons church is increasingly irrelevant in the lives of many is the disconnect between what goes on there and what happens outside in the world. The sense of ministry of all the church to the world has been lost, and part of this is due to a lack of education taking place in the church.
Debra Dean Murphy describes in the prologue the church in which she grew up where Sunday school rather than the 'preaching' part was the heart of the place - they were on a Methodist circuit where the minister wasn't able to attend each week. Even here, however, there was a sense of disconnect between the task of 'Christian education' and worship. Murphy argues for the use of the term 'catechesis' over 'Christian education' as it seems more connected, more 'integrally linked to worship, praise ad doxology' that constitutes the important part of Christian formation. Murphy edges away from some more 'traditional' senses of catechesis as rote memorisation of dogmatic statements toward a more wholistic idea of discipleship. Similarly, the term 'liturgy' is not a particular worship pattern, but rather the work of the whole people of God in worship in 'the identifiable, recognisable continuation of the historic forms of Word and Table.' Murphy argues that the liturgical renewal movement of the past generation helps recovery aspects that more minimalist, pietist Protestants have lost.
In the first major section of this text, Murphy looks at the problems with religious education in the modern/postmodern world. Religious education, as a term and as a project, is ambiguous and problematic. 'To promote "religious education" in general, universal terms is to participate (however unwittingly) in the modern project of dissolving difference...' Problems also arrive with universals from the Enlightenment, such as freedom and justice, that these are self-evident truths that require no context or tradition. Looking at the ideas and constructs of Gabriel Moran, Thomas Groome and Mary Boys, Murphy accepts some of their intentions, but highlights the pitfall that they exist within the very structure they attempt to overthrow.
The second major section looks at pedagogy in broad strokes laid out as a liturgical pattern. Much of the effort at education fails to take into account the powerful aspects of the church for catechesis, according to Murphy. Part of this goes to the epistemological question, how do we know what we know? It also gets to the pedagogical question, how do we learn what we learn? Murphy argues against the 'objectivist' model of learning as being too limiting and increasingly irrelevant for church life. Learning and formation takes place in worship when worship is intentional toward this purpose. The proclaimed word needs to call us into community, not simply transmit information for us to remember (or, more likely, forget). Prayer, ritual and sacraments help embody our ideas of who we are. 'All Christian prayer is in some sense eucharistic - an opening up of the self to God in praise and thanksgiving - and that eucharistic prayer of the community gathered at the Table of the Lord is the centre of all Christian prayer.' From this centre, we go forth into the world to do the liturgy after the liturgy.
This is a wonderful book for ministers, teachers, and indeed any member of the Christian community. Ministry and formation are not the tasks of the professional clergy alone, nor extended only to the dedicated volunteers who are authorised. The task belongs to the whole community, collectively and individually. Debra Dean Murphy gives good insight into the problems, and possibilities for transformation.