centuries, Paul, the apostle who "saw the light on the Road to Damascus"
and changed dramatically from zealous Pharisee persecutor to devoted
follower of Jesus, has been one of the church's most widely cited early
teachers. Yet for leading New Testament scholar and Anglican bishop N.
T. Wright, most Bible scholars and pastors have not fully grasped what
Paul was actually doing and why.
In focusing on Paul's letters and theology, Wright argues, they have,
in short, overlooked the essence of the man's life and the extreme
unlikelihood of what he achieved. In response, Wright offers a new way
of understanding one of the most famous Christian figures. Wright draws
attention to Paul the man--the man who survived assassination attempts,
imprisonments, and shipwrecks all while inventing new language and
concepts for faithfully translating Jesus's story for the Gentile world.
In this pioneering new account, Wright celebrates Paul's humanity,
arguing that this is the best context for understanding him and
ultimately for appreciating how he invented new paradigms for how we
understand Jesus. "The problem," Wright explains, "is that while Paul is
central to any understanding of early Christianity, we cannot
understand him without taking full account of the pre-Christian Jewish
beliefs and hopes that he believed had been fulfilled in Jesus." Only
when we consider Paul in this manner can we move on to understanding how
he led the way for Christianity to conquer the Roman world.