A slow rumbling that has been building up among New Testament scholars for the past twenty years is only now beginning to make its effects felt on a more general public. A new Paul is beginning to emerge—one who differs from the Paul of Augustine and Luther, who is no friend to the traditional orthodoxy that has co-opted him for almost two thousand years.
To help us see Paul in this new way, Scott arrives at three conclusions argued step-by-step throughout the book: (1) Paul was called, (2) his concern was with the nations, and (3) he addresses particular situations, not a universal human condition.
The new Paul threatened Roman authorities with anti-imperial rhetoric, much of which is still operative today. Thus, the new Paul may prove an even more radical challenge to church and society than did the historical Jesus.
Whatever you might think you know about Paul the apostle, prepare to be surprised, advises Scott (The Trouble with Resurrection), the Darbeth distinguished professor emeritus of New Testament at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Okla. Scott explains that he follows the recent work of other New Testament scholars in challenging the "Augustinian/Lutheran interpretation" of a "guilt-ridden" Paul that dominates Christian interpretation. In the easily readable style of an experienced teacher, Scott shows the anachronism of claiming a religious conversion for Paul, which helps readers understand why (the Jewish) Paul so focused on the paradox of Jesus's crucifixion as victory against Roman ideology. Plumbing the nuances of Paul's Greek leads to provocative conclusions (modeling "the faithfulness of Jesus" rather than having "faith in Jesus," for example) that may cause Christian readers to reconsider their own assumptions and beliefs. Some readers might find that enduring questions of some letters' authorship undermine Scott's argument, but that's a small problem in the face of a fine contribution to Pauline scholarship and understanding.