This book concentrates on major Pauline themes and on I Thessalonians in its cultural and religious context, as well as exploring other major issues, especially with reference to chronology and Judaism.
The question of Paul's Jewishness is therefore raised with a new urgency. What kind of a Jew was Paul? Why do we find so many coherences between his language and thought with that of the Community of the Renewed Covenant (i.e. the Essenes)? One of the essays, 'Paul and Qumran', suggests that the Dead Sea Scrolls offer valuable clues to understanding Pauline language and thought. If, in fact, there was contact between Paul and the Essenes, where would it have taken place? If such meetings were held, possibly, in the Essene Quarter of Jerusalem, is there a connection between that area and the location of the earliest Christians in Jerusalem? And what kind of Christians were they and how did they impact on the Apostle's missionary activity?
In connection with this discussion of Paul and Judaism, a number of challenges are offered to the so-called 'New Perspective on Paul', especially in the work of E.P. Sanders and James D. G. Dunn, to suggest that a closer study of the Dead Sea Scrolls raises serious questions about the appropriateness of their interpretation of both Judaism and Paul, as well as opening new perspectives that will necessitate not only the rethinking of second temple Judaism, but also the origins of earliest Christianity and the relationship between them.