In Paul and the Miraculous, New Testament scholar Graham Twelftree shows that there is often-overlooked material in Paul’s letters and aspects of the New Testament data that call for a more historically sensitive approach to Paul. He argues that the historical Paul is only adequately understood if the miraculous is permitted the place it had in his national life and history, his sectarian allegiance as a Pharisee, his probable synagogue experience, his traditions inherited from followers of Jesus, his conversion, his experiences in answer to prayer, his theological enterprise, and his experience as a missionary and pastor.
Challenging the view that Paul was primarily a thinker, Twelftree reimagines him as an apostle of Jesus for whom the miraculous was of fundamental importance.
“Modern Western biblical interpreters tend to view Paul primarily as an academic–a theologian and writer. Twelftree reminds us that he was far more than a writer, and his religious world was not only philosophical but also experiential. Twelftree collects and examines occasions where the historical Paul mentions and experiences the miraculous. Perhaps most valuable of all, this book attempts to explain how one might integrate Paul’s theology of weakness with his experience of the empowering Spirit. Well researched, fresh, engaging, and appropriately cautious about drawing tempered conclusions, this examination allows a neglected area of New Testament study to be brought into the forefront. While the reader may not agree with every part of Twelftree’s historical reconstruction of Paul, it is nearly impossible to reject his main hypothesis that the miraculous played an important role in Paul’s ministry and theology.” – Nijay Gupta, Northeastern Seminary
“Twelftree’s new book is a welcome contribution to the growing momentum in the quest for the historical Paul. His focus on the miraculous locates Paul even closer to his Galilean master, and the often-assumed divide between Jesus and Paul is bridged from a rather unexpected angle. The book serves as a healthy reminder that ‘transempirical realities’ are an indispensable part of the experiential basis and theological fabric of the earliest followers of Jesus. It also shows how expectations and experiences of the miraculous formed a shared religious language across the Jewish and pagan contexts of early Christianity. That the miracle traditions are regularly ignored or downplayed has more to do with the potential embarrassment they might cause to the portrait of Paul as an intellectual master theologian than with pure exegesis. Twelftree succeeds in reminding us that ‘the full range of the miraculous’ did not disappear with Jesus but continued in an even more widely ‘democratized’ form as one of the results of the ministry of Paul.” – Roland Deines, University of Nottingham
Graham H. Twelftree (PhD, University of Nottingham) is the Charles L. Holman Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity and the director of the PhD program in the School of Divinity at Regent University, Virginia. In addition to many scholarly articles and reviews, he is the author of a number of books, including In the Name of Jesus: Exorcism among Early Christians and People of the Spirit: Exploring Luke’s View of the Church.
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