The Apostle of God: Paul and the Promise of Abraham

John Lee White

The Apostle of God: Paul and the Promise of Abraham
The Apostle of God: Paul and the Promise of Abraham

Book Details

Categories: Pauline Studies

Book Information

Most interpreters of Paul emphasize that for Paul, God, as universal lawgiver and judge, effects righteousness through Christ's saving death, that is, along lines entirely compatible with Paul's previously Pharisaic understanding of God. But since for Paul the power of Torah and tradition to save had in essence its legs kicked out from under it, the questions need to be asked, What made it possible for Gentiles to be saved? What effect did Paul's conversion have on his understanding of God? Loyola University Professor John L. White contends that to understand the Christ-event in accordance with Torah and Jewish tradition, Paul—the Apostle to the Gentiles—recognized in Abraham and Sarah (as neither ethnically Jewish nor Torah-bound) the explanation for the new status of Gentiles. Because of Christ, the promised seed of Abraham, the Gentiles receive the blessing of Abraham. For the apostle of God, this revelation came not from others or from human teaching, but from his encounter with the God of Abraham and Sarah.

"In this unique study White proposes that Paul believed in a creator God who started spiritual creation with Abraham and continued with the resurrected Christ. The procreative God can be seen in Paul's use of analogies and rhetoric. Because of the new creation Paul expects a world in which God is the universal Father and in which Christ is Lord of God's universe and head of the family of faith. To demonstrate his thesis White includes extensive discussion of the Greco-Roman ruler cult and its impact on the readers of Paul's letters, as well as Paul himself. White's assertion that Paul's theology stems from a God of creation rather than a redeemer God will undoubtedly stimulate considerable discussion."
—Graydon F. Snyder, Professor of New Testament, Emeritus, Chicago Theological Seminary

Pages: 320
Publisher: Hendrickson Publishers
Published: 1999
ISBN-10: 1565632834
ISBN-13: 9781565632837


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5 out of 5 based on 1 user ratings
John White thanks a number of fellow scholars at Loyola University, and he interacts with some of the current thinking on Pauline theology, but he goes very much his own way in this book. White argues for a dual background (Jewish and Greco-Roman) to Paul's family metaphors, but for a mainly Roman background to his images of Christ's lordship. Despite practices that are friendly to students and lay readers (quoting rather than merely citing biblical passages; good explanatory footnotes; a lucid style), this book may be too advanced for most seminary students, at least as regards critically assessing the "Roman" thesis. The level of the narrative, however, will be accessible to students. There is some inconsistency in the use of Greek. Frequently, relevant terms are discussed (even the origins of qeo/jand ku/rioj- pp. 174, 178), but there is a reticence to cite Greek in other places. There is no mention of Greek in the discussion of "become" and "know" (p. 148). When White asserts that "teleological" would be a better term than "apocalyptic" to describe Paul's theology (pp. 58, 156), no Greek is used to strengthen the argument. Although the opening paragraph announces an intention to answer two questions "What prompted Paul's radical new understanding of the God of Abraham, and what was that understanding?" (p. 3)–the book only tackles the latter one. There is no searching out of Paul's psychology. [Full Review]

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