John Dominic Crossan, the eminent historical Jesus scholar, and Jonathan L. Reed, an expert in biblical archaeology, reveal through archaeology and textual scholarship that Paul, like Jesus, focused on championing the Kingdom of God––a realm of justice and equality––against the dominant, worldly powers of the Roman empire.
Many theories exist about who Paul was, what he believed, and what role he played in the origins of Christianity. Using archaeological and textual evidence, and taking advantage of recent major discoveries in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Syria, Crossan and Reed show that Paul was a fallible but dedicated successor to Jesus, carrying on Jesus's mission of inaugurating the Kingdom of God on earth in opposition to the reign of Rome. Against the concrete backdrop of first–century Grego–Roman and Jewish life, In Search of Paul reveals the work of Paul as never before, showing how and why the liberating messages and practices of equality, caring for the poor, and a just society under God's rules, not Rome's, were so appealing.
Readers interested in Paul as a historical figure and his place in the development of Christianity
•Readers interested in archaeology and anthropology
Crossan and Reed make a compelling case for the idea that culture, politics and quest for empire played as large a part in the formation of the Apostle Paul as did theology and religious training. It is an approach that will leave some wondering just how much of a role spirituality played in the Paul story. The authors (Crossan is a prolific author and former co-chair of the Jesus Seminar, Reed is Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at La Verne College in California) dig deeply into the history and archeology of Paul's world, searching for an understanding of the enigmatic apostle. Paul emerges as a fervent advocate for both the uniqueness of the Christian faith and the marginalization of others, the triumph of the City of God over the pagan and anti-God Roman empire. And this Paul is willing to reach out to both Jew and Gentile to accomplish his aims. In the end, Paul the man of faith is subsumed in Paul the agenda-driven revolutionary. The authors' masterful use of history, geography and theology combine to offer a strong case for their thesis. This book is written for a sophisticated audience, and therefore will be inaccessible to many readers, but it will be a valuable addition to the scholar's library.