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Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity? [Paperback]

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Item Number 144358  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   468
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.04" Width: 6.07" Height: 1.2"
Weight:   1.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 1999
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802801242  
EAN  9780802801241  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This book provides a broad, popular look at the relationship between Paul and Jesus. Considering the recurrent question of how much Paul knew and was dependent on the teachings of Jesus, Wenham studies the Gospels and Paul's letters, systematically compares the teachings of Jesus and Paul, and reveals the intriguing connections and differences between the two. His conclusions make this volume a ground-breaking work with exciting implications for the study of Jesus and the Gospels of Paul and early Christianity.

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More About David Wenham

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! David Wenham (Ph.D., Manchester) is tutor in New Testament at Trinity College, Bristol, having previously spent many years at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, where he served as dean and vice principal. He is the author of Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity? and coauthor (with Steve Walton) of Exploring the New Testament: A Guide to the Gospels and Acts.

David Wenham was born in 1965 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Oxford.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Paul the faithful disciple of Messiah Jesus  Oct 10, 2007
New Testament specialist Professor David Wenham demonstrates conclusively that Jesus, not Paul, was the founder of "Christianity", as it is now called. Paul was, in fact, a faithful disciple of Jesus in every respect.

Paul's contributions to the development of Christian thinking and church life were undoubtedly massive. With God's direct inspiration, working through his own personality, Paul worked out an interpretation that was accepted by Jesus' other disciples as faithful both to Jesus Himself and to the social context in which he was working.

Therefore, despite the significance of his conclusions, Paul himself would have been horrified at the suggestion that was the founder of "Christianity". For him the fountain of all theology was none other than Jesus Himself. Therefore, although Paul's theological thought and teaching was of the highest importance, it was not original to himself, but in essence actually a transmission of Jesus' own thought and teaching. Wenham shows this by means of detailed comparisons between Jesus' teaching and that of Paul.

Paul was always aware that the Jesus whom he encountered on the Damascus road and the Jesus of Christian tradition were one and the same Person. Indeed, Paul saw himself as the "slave of Jesus Christ", not as the founder of "Christianity". And Wenham's book demonstrates in the clearest terms that Paul was accurate in seeing himself in that way.

This has the further implication for theologians that, instead of trying to read Paul's Letters in isolation from the Four Gospels, his Letters should actually be read in the light of these Gospels.
He needs more citations  Apr 16, 2007
I am still not convinced that Paul is not the great villian and founder of the new religion called Christianity. Just read the book called "Mythmaker: Paul and the Inventions of Christianity". I thought this book would be more convincing. I wasted almost $10 on this book. That money could have gone towards better use such a charity donation. I am going to be more careful before I purchase religious books (especially ones that claim the Christian way to be the only way backed up by evidence). I am stupid for making this mistake twice.

All I can say was the author needs more citations to back up his findings that Jesus (not Paul) was the actual founder of Christianity. I wasn't amused by all his citations in the back.
level headed reading  Jan 22, 2007
this book does a good job showing the theological/thematic connections between Jesus and the apostle Paul. Paul echoed many of the teachings and concerns of Jesus. this work aims to exposit these connections and it will go a long way towards discrediting the notion that Paul "invented" christianity. Also see the very helpful discussion of this subject in Craig Blomberg's little book, Making Sense of The New Testament.
Very conservative scholarship: defending the traditional  Jul 26, 2006
I found this book to be disappointing. The author is obviously a scholar well-versed in the literature and controversies over Paul's relationship to Jesus and to Christianity in general. He knows the issues very well, and he generally seems to resist unfairly characterizing those who disagree with his viewpoint.

That said, many of his arguments just seem tenuous and unpersuasive. He finds supposed allusions to Jesus in Paul's letters that are too creative for my taste.

Of course Paul knew some of the Jesus stories and traditions - it would be almost inconceivable to me that he wouldn't know anything of Jesus considering his wide travels and discussions with fellow Christians. The question is how much meaningful knowlege and congruence was there?

Here is where I find the principal weakness. In order for Wenham to find the maximum number of congruences, he fequently abstracts concrete statements and terminology to a higher interpretive level. For example, the Kingdom of God concept was very important to Jesus but relatively minor to Paul - unless you start theorizing what the Kingdom of God MIGHT mean and then show that some of Paul's teachings MIGHT mean the same thing.

Wenham also tries to explain some discrepancies between Paul and Jesus based on historical context. Supposedly, some of Paul's ideas were just specific to churches he is addressing, for example, and that causes him to sound different than Jesus. On occasion, Wenham suggests, Paul (or gospel writer) avoids certain language that might be used by their enemies.

While theorizing on Paul's knowledge (or ignorance) about Jesus and his teachings has some interest, the broader question of whether Christianity is Jesus-based or Pauline in character is more critical. I came in thinking that Christianity is more Pauline oriented and I wanted to give Wenham a fair chance to unconvince me. He did not. And that's the bottom line to me. I found his opinion that Paul basically continued & expanded the ideas of Jesus - rather than radically re-directed some important areas of dogma - to be less based on evidence than his personal conviction.
A Sober Inquiry Into a Nagging Question  Aug 19, 2004
This is the most thorough discussion of Paul's relationship with the teachings and life of Jesus available for the layperson. Wenham has struck a masterful balance between scholarly discussion and accessibility. No one should be intimidated by this book, but they also need not fear that they are missing out on relevant issues.

A real strength of this book is the seriousness with which Wenham approaches the issues. Discovering what, if anything, Paul knew and carried on from Jesus is not a simple matter. One cannot just throw scriptures at a wall and hope that as much sticks as possible (he even includes a section on avoiding what he calls "parrallelomania").

To his credit, Wenham spends the first 30 pages + framing the issue. He candidly admits that Paul rarely refers explicitly to Jesus's teachings or ministry. He notes that the two usual explanations for this, that Paul either did not know much about Jesus or assumed that his audience knew much about Jesus, fail -- standing on their own -- to explain the situation satisfactorily. But as Wenham points out, there is an even larger issue. To what extent is Paul's message consistent with or the same as Jesus'? Given Paul's influence on Christianity and these questions, Wenham takes no offense about the question that entitled the book: Was Paul a Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity?

To make his comparison, Wenham does not simply take Gospel verses and compare them to Pauline verses. Instead, he probes underneath to determine what Jesus' message, for example, regarding the Kingdom really was. Then he does the same with the Pauline letters. Only then does he make his comparison. Wenham finds many points of contacts, such as Jesus' use of Abba, the Last Supper narrative (notably determining that the Lukan version was most likely used in the Pauline churches), Jesus' teachings on divorce and paying ministers, and others. He concludes the book with a very helpful summary. Because he covers so much ground, the summary neatly provides the answer to the question raised by the title of the book: "Paul saw himself as the slave of Jesus Christ, not the founder of Christianity. He was right to see himself in that way."

This book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the relationship between Paul and Jesus. If you want answers instead of polemics or simplistic reassurances, then you will benefit from this book.

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