Garry Wills has a new book out on St Paul. The surprise is: he's an unabashed fan. Here's an interesting review of the book, from Slate. Money quote:
Like the Niebuhrians before him, Wills will be mistaken for a conservative Christian, since he admires Paul so much and since he remains devoted to the orthodox teachings of the faith—the Messiah as sacrificial lamb and risen Lord, not just Jesus as ethical exemplar. But Wills remains a liberal because he highlights the gospel of love, asserts the equality of women, distrusts institutions and hierarchies, and endorses the findings of modern biblical scholarship. He depends on that scholarship to make his case for placing Paul back in a pre-church period, a time when Jews like him—followers of Jesus the Messiah—were proclaiming their faith in heated competition with Jewish traditionalists. Both groups of Jews vied for the conversions of gentiles drawn to the zealous monotheism of the Jewish faith, an increasingly attractive alternative in a Mediterranean world whose standard polytheistic beliefs struck many as anachronistic.
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