The First Paul

Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon (New York: Harper One) 2009.

Borg - The First Paul
This book has been out for a while, but Borg and Crossan are very prolific and I don't try to keep up with everything they write. However, a friend recently recommended this book as a way to gain a bit of perspective on the Epistles and it was definitely useful for that purpose. The two scholars propose that there are probably at least three expressions of Pauline literature in the New Testament: Original texts most likely written by Paul himself, texts written in the style of Paul, but possibly written by disciples or followers of Paul, and later documents that are attributed to Paul, but not even especially in his style or manner. Borg and Crossan urge readers to look to what we can discern about Paul himself and his institution-challenging statements and beliefs. His radical Christianity confronted power and privilege and called followers to preach Christ crucified in the face of the authority of Roman and other imperial powers.

It is helpful to view Paul in his first-century context against the background of Roman imperial power offering an alternative way of life and an alternative way of viewing the world.

The book is very readable and accessible to those who are not scholars as well as to those who are students of the Epistles.