|About the Book|
When we read 1 Thessalonians 1:8, Paul seems to be calling for an end to all missionary activity: In every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to speak a word. Given what we know about Paul, this notion strikesMoreWhen we read 1 Thessalonians 1:8, Paul seems to be calling for an end to all missionary activity: In every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to speak a word. Given what we know about Paul, this notion strikes Christian readers as very curious. According to Lauri Thuren, Paul and his listeners would find modern Pauline scholarship and interpretation equally curious. Expressions like the one from 1 Thessalonians were never meant to be taken at face value, and have promoted sophisticated but erroneous theological and historical reflections. These errors are due not only to the scholarly ignorance of ancient rhetorical and epistolary conventions, but also to a static attitude toward the text itself. Thuren offers a different kind of study, one based on a natural and dynamic reading of Pauls letters. These letters need to be stripped of rhetoric, he says, in order to describe any theology beyond the texts. This means identifying persuasive devices in Pauline texts in order to filter out their effect on the theological ideas expressed. Thuren applies this principle to a controversial issue in Pauline theology, the question of law. He claims that Pauls exaggerated statements correspond to his hyperbolic way of thinking. Paul s search for consistency on the Old Testament, Thuren claims, was a major reason for his revolt against the Law. Derhetorizing Paul offers a bold new reading of Pauls letters and a striking reinterpretation of Pauline theology. Lauri Thuren is Senior Research Fellow at the Academy of Finland and is the author of Argument and Theology in 1 Peter.