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Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.3" Width: 6.5" Height: 0.54"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2009
Publisher   IVP Academic
ISBN  0830828974  
EAN  9780830828975  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Michael F. Bird suggests that if the Paul we claim to know looks and sounds a lot like us, it's probably a sign that we don't know him as well as we think. In this book Bird offers an animated and penetrating survey of Paul's life and teaching, including the principal issues and themes in Paul's theology.

Publishers Description
Many Christians who know and love the Bible think they know the apostle Paul. He's a theological master, a pastoral mentor, a spiritual adviser and a missionary hero. Yet just when we think we have him in our grasp, he slips through our fingers. At the point where we suppose we have finally understood him, Paul again confounds us. But he also beckons us to explore God's ways more deeply. Michael Bird suggests that if the Paul we claim to know looks and sounds a lot like us, it's probably a warning light that we don't know him as well as we think we do. But if we let Paul be Paul, allowing him to speak for himself in his language, on his terms and for his purposes, then we stand a chance of meeting him anew. Introducing Paul is an animated and penetrating survey of Paul's life and teaching. It covers all the basics students need, while offering new insights with a light touch. Blending life and study, Bird aims to get us excited about reading Paul's letters, sharing his gospel and living the Christian life the way he thought it should be lived. For beginning students and laypeople, Introducing Paul is a valuable entrance into the contemporary study of Paul.

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More About Michael F. Bird

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Michael F. Bird (PhD, University of Queensland) is lecturer in theology at Ridley Melbourne Mission and Ministry College in Australia. He is the author of Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission and The Saving Righteousness of God, and is a co-contributor to the biblical studies blog "Euangelion."

Michael F. Bird has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Counterpoints: Bible & Theology
  2. Library of New Testament Studies
  3. Snapshots
  4. Story of God Bible Commentary

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Learned a lot  Sep 12, 2009
I learned a lot from this little gem of a book, but at times found it to plod along. Still recommend both for long-time scholars as well as novices.
A great introduction: readable, balanced, and instructive  Jul 19, 2009
Michael Bird's Introducing Paul (IVP in England used the whimsical title A Bird's Eye View of Paul for this same volume there) is a great little introduction to Paul's life and thought. In this short book, obviously intended as a college or seminary text, Bird cover's the necessary ground for an intro, dealing with matters of upbringing and training, Paul's conversion, his literary legacy, the important components of his thought, and his ethics and spirituality. Bird's coverage of these areas is uniformly well written and up to date, reflecting the latest issues and advances in scholarship without giving over to a faddish interpretation of the apostle. One leaves the pages understanding the contested ground but at the same time having a well-grounded understanding of Paul's theology that reflects both the best of the historic interpretations of Paul and some important modifications and improvements from the "new perspective."

Bird does a great job of situating Paul in his second-temple Jewish contect, and notes how the Old Testament and Judaism provide the important seedbed and framework for his thought, while also noting the role of Rome in his thinking.

Bird's book is my favorite introduction to Paul that I have so far encountered. He straightforwardly deals with the important issues, he gives solid background and well-reasoned and balanced conclusions, all the while inviting the reader into Paul's rich and gospel-focused world. An extremely good book; thanks Mike.
Offers much that should educate and inspire readers about this vitally important historical figure  Jun 16, 2009
One of the most influential apostles was Paul; to know him is to know early Christianity. "Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission, and His Message" is a biography of Paul the apostle and seeks to blend his life's story with his teachings. Author Michael Bird offers much that should educate and inspire readers about this vitally important historical figure. A collection of lessons through life, "Introducing Paul" would be well considered for inquisitive Christians everywhere.
A Bird's Eye View of Paul  May 9, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI declared 2008 to be the "Year of The Apostle Paul" in celebration of the apostle's 2000th birthday. Coming to terms with the theology expressed in the letters of Paul has kept theologians and pastors busy for nearly two millennia now.

Michael Bird's new book, Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message (IVP, 2009) is a wonderful introduction to the Apostle Paul that manages to be both brief and substantive. Some books on Paul focus on the theology of the apostle expressed in his letters. Others provide a biographical look at the apostle's life and missionary journeys.

Introducing Paul combines the best of these approaches. Bird delves into Pauline theology, the specific letters, the story of Paul's life. And he accomplishes these tasks in less than 200 pages.

Bird is careful to read Paul in his own historical context. Many times in the book, he insists that we first realize that Paul's letters are not written to us, even if God intends that the letters be for us. If we are to understand Paul rightly, we must read him in his own context.

"If the Paul we claim to know looks and sounds a lot like us, then that is probably a good indication that we do not know him as well as we think we do. There is always a temptation to recruit him to our cause, to make our enemies his enemies, our beliefs his beliefs... If we can be mature enough to let Paul be Paul and treat his letters as windows into his world rather than as deposits of theological dogma, then we stand a chance of meeting him anew, letting him speak for himself in his language, on his terms and for his purposes." (12, 13)

Bird starts off by talking about Paul the man. He focuses on five important aspects of the story of Paul's life: the persecutor of the church, the greatest missionary who ever lived, a world-class theologian, a pastor with a heart for the church, and the martyr who died for his faith. Bird describes as a "maverick."

Bird spends a good deal of time recounting Paul's conversion experience. He argues for continuity in Paul's thought after coming to faith in Christ. Against some scholars who argue for late-life shifts in Paul's theology, Bird believes that his theology remained generally stable from conversion until his martyrdom. The conversion experience is central for understanding Paul:

"This encounter with the risen Jesus had an enormous impact on his continuing religious experience of God, on his missionary drive and upon his theological reflection about God, Israel, Torah and salvation. That grace-event killed Saul the Pharisee and birthed Paul the apostle." (37)

From there, Bird spends considerable time familiarizing his readers with "the stories behind the Story." In order to properly understand Paul, we must know the stories about God and creation, Adam and Christ, Abraham and Israel, Jesus and the church. These worldview stories provide frameworks into which we can fit the letters of Paul.

After he sets up the historical framework, he then launches into a chapter that gives a brief overview of the historical circumstances, original audience, and basic theology of each of Paul's letters. In a single chapter, Bird successfully surveys all of the letters.

What makes Bird's contribution especially timely is the way in which he weaves together old and new perspectives on Paul. He has great appreciation for N. T. Wright and for other New Perspective authors; yet he affirms the traditional view of imputation of Christ's righteousness:

"Although no text explicitly says that Christ's righteousness is imputed to believers, nonetheless, without some kind of theology of imputation a lot of what Paul says about justification does not make sense...imputation is the integrating point for a variety of ideas in Paul's letters." (97)

Bird attempts to do what many believe is impossible: incorporate the best aspects of the New Perspective within a largely traditional Reformed framework.

Some of Bird's views are unconvincing. I disagree with his take on Romans 7. Likewise, though Bird does not advocate egalitarianism or complementarianism, he clearly leaves the egalitarian option open.

I was also disappointed to not see any discussion at all about the inspiration of the Scriptures or at least the inspiration of Paul's letters (which is ultimately the reason we should pay attention to what Paul says). Theories of inspiration seem to be assumed in this book rather than stated. Perhaps treatment of this subject is missing due to the brevity of the book.

But overall, Introducing Paul serves as a wonderful introduction to Paul's theology. It covers the relevant material in a way that is easy for the reader to understand, and it provides a good overview of the main issues in Pauline studies.
A Very Good Introduction to The Apostle's Life and Theology  Apr 24, 2009
Introducing Paul is my first encounter with Michael F. Bird. I must say that I was very favorably impressed. He is a good writer. His writing is easily understood. His style is comfortable to me.

Bird takes Paul, studies his life, writings, backgrounds, travels, and theology. That could make for boring reading, or very interesting reading. It would be difficult to fall anywhere between the two. Thankfully, Bird made this interesting.

Bird's approach to Paul is relatively conservative, for which I am grateful. While he does not pretend to give us a complete biography, he shows us that we can all learn more about Paul's life. Bird's coverage of Paul's intentions, missionary work, and writings are good, too.

I was especially grateful for the overview of Paul's theology. Bird did a good job with that as well as the rest of the book. While this is not intended to be a systematic theology based upon the Pauline corpus, it is none the less a good overview of what Paul had to say.

The one drawback I saw was regarding Paul's views of roles of women. I believe Bird could have gone further and stated Paul's teaching a little more plainly.

As a whole, this book is a five star book. It takes a large, difficult subject and presents it in a concise, accurate, and interesting manner.

I recommend it to all Christians.

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