As one of the most significant figures in the history of Western civilization, the apostle Paul has influenced and inspired countless individuals and institutions. But for some, he holds a controversial place in Christianity.
From antiquity, Paul has been criticized for deviating from the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus. The nineteenth century saw an increasing number of thinkers give credit to Paul for assuming a formative role in Christianity—more formative, even, than Jesus. In the twentieth century, intellectuals and cultural leaders claimed to follow Jesus over Paul.
In Paul as a Problem in History and Culture, Patrick Gray explores why many people have been wary of Paul and what such criticisms reveal about the church, the broader culture, and ourselves.
“Many scholars write only for other scholars, and some experts are adept at writing for more general audiences, but only a few can write well with both audiences in mind. Patrick Gray is one of those rare scholars, and his book on reactions to Paul through the centuries is a gem that merits the attention of all readers interested in early Christianity’s most controversial apostle.”—John T. Fitzgerald, University of Notre Dame
“With much erudition, eloquence, and wit, Patrick Gray sets forth a fascinating two-thousand-year history of anti-Paulinism. Citing both scholarly and popular sources, he exposes the various (and at times bewildering) attitudes, assumptions, and motivations that lie behind the virile dislike of the apostle to the gentiles. This book will challenge both friends and foes of Paul to reflect critically on the relationship between Paul and the one he proclaimed as Messiah and Lord.”—Thomas D. Stegman, SJ, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
“Every Paul scholar knows that Paul has always been controversial, but I wager that few know the breadth and depth of the animus toward him surveyed by Patrick Gray….Sure to be a great discussion starter.”—Mark D. Given, Missouri State University
“An insightful and accessible overview of the negative reception of the apostle Paul, from the Corinthians to Kazantzakis. An important contribution is the way in which Gray steers a reasonable middle course amid choppy, polemical waters. This book has great potential for sparking lively discussion in a classroom setting.”—David L. Eastman, author of Paul the Martyr
Patrick Gray (PhD, Emory University) is associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the author of Opening Paul’s Letters and has coedited several books, including Teaching the Bible through Popular Culture and the Arts.
For more information on Paul as a Problem in History and Culture, click here.