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Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith [Paperback]

Francis Watson

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Book Description

7 Oct 2004
In recent years, scholars from both Christian and Jewish backgrounds have tried to rethink the relationship between earliest Christianity and its Jewish milieu; and Paul has emerged as a central figure in this debate. Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith contributes to the scholarly discussion by seeing Paul and his Jewish contemporaries as, above all, readers of scripture. However different the conclusions they draw, they all endeavour to make sense of the same normative scriptural texts -- in the belief that, as they interpret the scriptural texts, the texts will themselves interpret and illuminate the world of contemporary experience. Francis Watson shows how three distinct bodies of literature in fact constitute a single intertextual field. It is therefore necessary to dismantle artificial scholarly boundaries between the Pauline letters, other extant Jewish writings of the period, and the scriptural texts themselves. The method adopted is to set a Pauline and a non-Pauline reading of a scriptural text alongside each other, to compare the ways in which the different readings seek to realize the semantic potential of the scriptural text, and to construct communal identity on that basis. Contrary to the view that these early readers merely impose their own pre-existing viewpoints on the scriptural texts, it becomes clear that they are profoundly engaged in fundamental hermeneutical issues.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"Francis Watson has opened an imaginative and fresh perspective on Paul as an interpreter of scripture. He's not the first in this field, of course, and the author expresses his debt to Richard Hayes whose Echoes of Scripture located the heart of Paul's theology in his interpretation of scripture, though Watson surveys the field at much greater length. The greater length is needed to examine not just the scriptural texts and Paul's interpretation of them, but also - and herein lies the originality of the book - readings of the same texts by other more or less contemporary Jewish writers." Geoffrey Turner, Heythrop Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Francis Watson is Professor of New Testament Exegesis, University of Aberdeen and was formerly Reader in Biblical Theology, King's College London. Previous publications include: Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles, Text, Church and World, Text and Truth and Agape, Eros, Gender. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for students of the Bible 27 Nov 2005
By Samuel M Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Professor Watson is one of the most consistently overlooked, but truly great, Pauline scholars working today. In the generation after Dunn, Sanders and Wright, I don't know of anyone else who is as good an interpreter of the New Testament who has as strong a grasp of the secondary literature and the pseudepigrapha, to say nothing of his extensive reading in hermeneutics and contemporary literary theory, especially biblical intertextuality.

In this work he combines his interest in hermeneutics with his mastery of the Pauline writings and other second temple sources to provide a stimulating portrait of Paul the interpreter of Israel's scriptures. I must confess that when I saw that he was going there, I was afraid that I had wasted my money. It's almost axiomatic that people who teach biblical studies for a living see figures in the Bible as those who taught biblical studies for a living.

But what sets Watson's work apart is his sensitivity to the text and willingness to follow Paul's logic (as alien as it might be to the average 21st century reader) rather than impose his own. You get the sense that he appreaciates Paul's argument in Romans 1-4 and wants to understand it rather than use it as an ideological club, which is refreshing.

His chapter on Hab. 2:4 as the hermeneutical key to the scriptures in Romans and Paul's antithetical hermeneutic alone is worth the price of admission. His discussion of how Paul understood the Abraham narrative vis-a-vis election sent me back to rethink intertextual linkages throughout the Bible.

I'm not finished with this massive (500 pages or so) tome yet, but it has supplanted every other book on my reading list until I am.

This book may be the one that establishes (or perhaps better, publicizes) Watson as one of the pre-eminent Pauline scholars in the world. I'd recommend it instead of most of the horrible introductions to Paul on the shelves today if someone came to me seriously wanting to know how he thought and why he thought it.
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