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The Pagans' Apostle

Paula Fredriksen

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A groundbreaking new portrait of the apostle Paul, from one of today’s leading historians of antiquity

Often seen as the author of timeless Christian theology, Paul himself heatedly maintained that he lived and worked in history’s closing hours. His letters propel his readers into two ancient worlds, one Jewish, one pagan. The first was incandescent with apocalyptic hopes, expecting God through his messiah to fulfill his ancient promises of redemption to Israel. The second teemed with ancient actors, not only human but also divine: angry superhuman forces, jealous demons, and hostile cosmic gods. Both worlds are Paul’s, and his convictions about the first shaped his actions in the second.
Only by situating Paul within this charged social context of gods and humans, pagans and Jews, cities, synagogues, and competing Christ-following assemblies can we begin to understand his mission and message. This original and provocative book offers a dramatically new perspective on one of history’s seminal figures.

Paula Fredriksen, Aurelio Professor of Scripture emerita at Boston University, is a member of the Humanities Faculty of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

“Brilliant, elegant, and important––this volume reshapes an entire field of study.  Here stands the finest history of the Apostle Paul to appear in generations.”—J. Albert Harrill, author of Paul the Apostle: His Life and Legacy in Their Roman Context

“Wide-ranging, deeply learned, but accessible . . . A good source for historical context, a keen stimulus for rereading Paul’s letters, and a great book to argue with.”—Sarah Ruden, Commonweal

“A gem . . . a fresh and exciting reframing of Paul and his mission . . . Fredriksen writes with a piercing clarity.”—John-Patrick O’Connor, Princeton Theological Review

“This book offers a new paradigm for Pauline scholarship . . . Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle is a tour de force.”—Olivia Stewart Lester, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"A rare treat of a book worthy of both popular attention and scholarly engagement."Mark S. Kinzer, Reviews of the Enoch Seminar

“This book is a delight to read. . . . Easily one of the most important new books on Paul, a work that models reliable, articulate, and incisive scholarship.”—Nijay K. Gupta, Interpretation

“A provocative intervention in Pauline studies”—Brad East, Los Angeles Review of Books

“A very welcome book for classrooms like mine . . . [an] accessible yet rich writing style . . . Fredriksen’s project powerfully undercuts some of the most pervasive narratives about Paul. This makes it invaluable for teaching.”—Jennifer Quigley, Ancient Jew Review

“[With] accessible yet rich writing . . . Fredriksen’s project powerfully undercuts some of the most pervasive narratives about Paul.”—Jennifer Quigley, Ancient Jew Review

“A rich and deeply learned book that forces a reevaluation of Paul and his work . . . Eminently accessible . . . A crucial addition in the field of Pauline studies.”—Galina Krasskova, Reading Religion

Won the 2018 Prose Award in Theology and Religious Studies
ISBN: 9780300240153
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
336 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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