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Product details

  • Paperback: 561 pages
  • Publisher: Signature Books (3 Dec 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156085216X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560852162
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 500,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Kindle Edition
Why would someone who'd never met the Jesus character become a more successful apostle than all those alleged to have spent so much time with the living Jesus?
Perhaps it's because the fictional Jesus et al didn't have the clout to recruit and rally the troops necessary to build what became the eponymous christian industry?
Because they didn't exist?
Did Paul?

Before I read Robert M Price's weighty volume "The Amazing Colossal Apostle," I'd thought Paul to be probably historical. Yet it seems words credited to him may have been stolen / hijacked from leaders of cults that were later subsumed into the second century CE Tesco / Walmart of retail religion. With market share growing, they appear to have expanded the branding and customer base of acquired dead prophets / apostles by inserting new marketing rationale within successful writings and styles presented as "Paul."
And why not? Religion has always, it seems, been the arch advertiser, arch marketeer. It claims ownership of Truth but sees no need to use truth. When "while stocks last" or "lifelong guarantee" continue to keep the customer loyal, it'd be folly to own up to honest analysis of your biblical texts. PPR or "Post Purchase Remorse" isn't given the chance to set in, because the message is continually reinforced with uniting messages and a sense of being special and wiser than the outsider. Epistles, apostles, gospels, saints and angels...
This is why I value and recommend the continuing efforts of true scholars like Robert M Price, Richard Carrier and many others available on kindle.

Yes, it's a long and tough read, but the stones are all turned and there's a well-written, well-crafted sincere insight. Maybe you'll form a different view to mine.
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Amazon.com: 15 reviews
61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Amazing Colossal Book 30 Jan 2013
By Marcello Jun De Oliveira - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Without Paul there would be no church and no Christianity. He's the most decisive person that shaped Christianity as it developed. Without Paul we would have had reformed Judaism... but no Christianity." -- Gerd Lüdemann, Chair of History and Literature of Early Christianity at the University of Göttingen.

For many decades now, it has been common practice among scholars, academics, and even Sunday School students to consider Paul of Tarsus as the de facto co-founder of Christianity. The preeminence of his missionary, theological, and literary contributions has risen above all others in importance and influence, such that it hardly seems possible to imagine the growth and evolution of the Christian faith without him.

This perception of Paul has troubled me for more than a decade now, and many scholars have articulated (and shaped) this concern for me. Much of what many consider as Paul's signature contributions do, upon further careful analysis, seem artificially laden with importance by those who either appropriated his message in support of their own particular religious views, or simply and unscrupulously appropriated his persona and shaped it to fit their own religious views.

In either case, it seems virtually undeniable for anyone that, regardless of the actual magnitude of his original influence and importance, Paul had created a reputation and an authority among early Christians enough for him to be cited, or appropriated by them, in their shaping of the evolving faith.

Well, not for everyone.

Robert Price is an accomplished and erudite New Testament scholar, with a prolific publishing career in biblical studies that is only surpassed in quantity by its quality. In his new title `The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul', recently published by Signature Books, he makes a comprehensive and coherent case against, if not the actual historicity of the person of Paul of Tarsus, then of his importance and relevance in the historical foundations of Christian
origins.

It must be said that these are hardly new or revolutionary ideas or arguments. Students familiar with the works of scholars such as Peter Gandy, Timothy Freke, Earl Doherty, and the earlier G.A. Wells, who mostly argue against a Historical Jesus, will hardly be surprised by the analytical tools and modes of reasoning employed by Price. Even in Pauline studies, the so-called "Dutch Radical" school, beginning in the late 19th century with Allard Pierson, A.D. Loman, and G.J.P.J. Bolland, all the way to their modern-day successor Hermann Detering, has long argued for the non-historicity of Paul, employing much -- if not all -- of the same arguments.

This is not lost on Price, of course, who readily and openly admits -- even embraces -- the work and the contributions of all of these authors from the past and present. If anything, Price may have the often annoying tendency to quote or mention too many academics, authors, and ancient texts or engage too many of their arguments in rapid succession without properly laying an expository background for the reader to follow. This may disrupt the flow of the reading and may be off-putting
for those readers who are less familiar with the scholars and ideas mentioned (it seems, unfortunately, to be an idiosyncrasy of Price that can be found in most of his other works), but it may also be an excellent starting point for a more interested and curious student for further research.

In any case, regardless of how well explored and developed the theme (i.e., non-historicity of Paul) has been in the past or in other venues, this book has the outstanding advantage of presenting a concise, coherent case within one set of covers, encompassing most -- if not all -- of the relevant scholarship on the issue.

The book can roughly be divided in two major sections. The first section contains 8 chapters in which Price tackles the major academic and historical-critical subjects surrounding Paul individually and thematically, thereby introducing ideas and laying the groundwork for further reflection. The second section, arguably the most relevant and important original contribution by Price and worth the price of the book on its own, consists of analyses and exegeses of the Pauline epistles
individually, where Price will quote each epistle section by section, and provide academic and historical-critical consideration of each sequentially.

SECTION 1

Chapter 1 deals with Paul's conversion narratives (legends).

In this brief but very interesting chapter, Price discusses the inconsistencies of the many extant conversion narratives of Paul and argues for their historical unlikelihood. While the obvious embellishments from Acts of the Apostles are duly noted, his dismissal of Paul's own epistolary hints seems striking and a bit cavalier, even though he elaborates on them with more profundity in section 2.

The argument of interpolation is textually and intellectually valid, but it seems to demand a bit more caution and reservation than that of prima facie evidence, especially since Price himself strongly (cogently) argues against the use of the argument of interpolation to excuse seemingly anachronistic Christologies in the Pauline epistles.

(It should be noted here that Price takes a decided step-wise approach, whereby his exact opinions are not entirely manifest and obvious from the onset, but gradually emerge throughout the book. For instance, in this chapter he claims that the Galatians conversion self-reference must be an interpolation, as argued by Bauer and O'Neill. However, Price himself thinks Galatians is an outright Marcionite text, which means the passage is not interpolated, but rather anachronistic for a first
century letter but entirely fitting within its own historical context.)

Nevertheless, the chapter is thought-provoking and should raise further considerations regarding this historical nugget many (most?) scholars simply take for granted. Price's analogy with the historical problems with the conversion of Constantine, particularly, are very apropos and illuminating.

Chapter 2 deals with the authorship of the Pauline epistles.

In this all too brief chapter, Price superficially enumerates the many arguments scholars, of differing schools and opinions, have espoused to discredit the authorship claims of many (if not most) of the Pauline epistles.

Among them, he lists (and ever so briefly discusses) form criticism, redaction and interpolations, anachronisms, and lack of historical context. He also elaborates (again, briefly) on some key concerns about the lack of a coherent picture of Paul's opponents, the uneven leadership relationship Paul seems to maintain over his churches, the historical retrospective tones, and other such anachronistic insertions.

This chapter is too short and superficial, offering little to any reader familiar with Pauline scholarship, and overwhelming with statements underdeveloped to any reader so unfamiliar. Also, there is little argument here that would convince anyone over the pseudographic nature of the "established" Pauline epistles, considering few (apologists excepted) would argue for authenticity of the Pastoral or the Deutero-Pauline epistles.

Nevertheless, the chapter does serve the purpose of establishing, especially for the unaccustomed reader, these textual-critical and historical-critical questions, which will be discussed more in-depth in section 2.

Chapter 3 deals with the collection and historical evolution of the corpus of Pauline canon.

This chapter offers an interesting and insightful discussion on how the corpus of Pauline epistles came into existence. It is hardly an obvious and common question, but it proves to be invaluable, and quite intriguing, viz. how did a collection of letters written by Paul come to exist to begin with. The easier, more common answer (that Marcion came up with his set of letters that would eventually become known as the first Christian canon, in the middle of the second century CE)completely ignores the question as to how he came by them in the first place.

Price surveys the academic literature and comes up with a 4-theories summary that permeates the scholarly community: 1) Paul kept copies of his own letters and collected them for future reference; 2) disciples of Paul, immediately after his death, distributed amongst themselves copies of letters each community had received (and kept for decades) as a way of continuing Paul's influence and presence amongst themselves; 3) organically, these letters cropped up here and there as situations and controversies erupted, and Christians turned to older writings of past charismatic leaders, such as Paul; and 4) the publication and circulation of Luke's Acts of the Apostles sparked tremendous interest in Paul, which ensured his letters (or recently forged letters in his name) would come out of the woodwork and fill a demand for more material on such a heroic figure (as per Luke).

Price, as expected, eventually embraces Marcion is the ultimate Pauline collector/creator, including the reigning ur-Lukas hypothesis (a hypothetical primitive version of the Gospel of Lucas that supposedly circulated long before it evolved into its present form, popular in certain circles of New Testament schools). Unfortunately, he does not spend time defeating arguments for a first century, non-Marcionite authorship of ur-Lukas as much as he does (expertly) demolishing the scaffolding for the competing collectors hypotheses, but one can expect only so much detail in one book. Such as it is, Price manages to construct a plausible -- if not complete -- intellectual framework for a second century origin.

Chapter 4 deals with the apocryphal Pauline literature.

In this chapter, Price explores works from the second to fifth centuries CE, that never made it into the forming Catholic canon. Countering that Church Fathers and early apologists avoided Paul's writing altogether (i.e., Clement, Polycarp, Justin, etc.) because Paul was used by the "wrong" Christians (i.e., Marcionites and Gnostics) as Tertullian's "Apostle of the heretics," Price finds hints and traces of the Pauline epistles in such works as the `Prayer of the Apostle Paul,' the
`Revelation of Paul,' the `Apocalypse of Paul,' the Coptic `Apocalypse of Paul,' `Third Corinthians,' and the `Acts of Paul.' Herein, Price argues that this marks a movement, coincident with the gradual acceptance of Paul by Irenaeus and Tertullian in the late second century, towards a "Catholicizing" of Paul and the Pauline material.

Chapter 5 deals with Jewish Gnosticism and the concept of Apostles.

This chapter offers a thought-provoking analysis of second-to-fifth century apocryphal `Acts' literature on the formation of the original concepts of apostleship and docetic Christologies. Price argues, weakly, that these represent the original initial outlines of the Christian sect within a Hellenized Judaism, infused with proto-Gnostic philosophies. The intellectual, philosophical discussion is expert and engaging, even though its historical analysis is somewhat lacking. For instance, there
is no adequate debate of dating materials and chronological cogency, but he offers one powerful insight that cannot be ignored: Paul never mentions the apostles by numbers (i.e., the Twelve), save in one established posterior interpolation.

Chapter 6 deals with the propagandistic nature of early Christian historiography.

This chapter explores, through a precise and concise case study approach of the canonical Acts of the Apostles compared to the non-canonical Acts of John, how it could be argued that the Lukan work reflects later (second century) congregational strifes, and attempts to mollify them. Price's overarching theme here, however, is to lay the ground for further discussion of how the Pauline literature will be (or has been) used later to establish and settle posterior discords.

Chapter 7 deals with Simon Magus.

Simon Magus might well be the most important subject of the book, in Price's own estimation. It certainly is the most important chapter in the first section of the book, the longest chapter, the mid-point of the entire book, and probably the most controversial discussion therein.

Expertly building on the material discussed in previous chapters, Price tracks the narrative evolution of Simon Magus through the canonical Acts, to other second century writings of Clementine and the Acts of Peter, the Ebionite Preachings of Peter, then onto fourth century pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Recognitions. Paralleling the literary evolution of the Magus with the real life stories and conflicts of Marcion of Pontus, Price creates a compelling, albeit controversial,
case that Simon Magus might've been a literary construction partly based on, partly used to malign, Paul and some of his (alleged) heretical teachings.

Then, further down the controversial river, Price sides with Detering in the supposition that the Magus (a historical figure known to Josephus) was the real personage while Paul of Tarsus became a fictive literary device onto which certain theological expectations could more easily be pinned.

Price's case for conflating both Simon Magus in the Christian literature and in Josephus is quite compelling, and while his argumentation regarding the conflation with Paul is sketchy, it is not entirely irrational and illogical. Drawing heavily on Josephus' accounts of Simon and his dealings in Queen Helena's court, Price reconstructs a relatively well documented view of the historical Simon. He then proceeds to extrapolate from numerous other less obvious (and less trustworthy) accounts that hint at the magician. His final historical reconstruction is of a splintering sect rudderless after the sudden death of its spiritual leader (i.e., the Essene Teacher of Righteousness or John the Baptist) evolving into diverging factions under different leaderships (e.g., Ebionites, Sabeans, Mandeans, Nasoreans, Gnostics,
etc.). Some of the leaders emerging from this traumatizing event might have included Simon the Samaritan (a.k.a. the Magician), Jesus the Nasorean (a.k.a. the Anointed), and later, Marcion of Pontus.

Price then moves to re-creating a compelling narrative for early Christian evolution, though not without problems. His allusion to the Toledoth Jeschu (the Generations of Jesus Gospel) is thought-provoking and exciting (Simeon is Paul for the Nazerenes), but he fails to contextualize its very late date of composition and obvious polemic (read: suspicious) nature. Also, his review of Marcionite evolution is, although reasonable, mostly devoid of actual historical documentation.

The argumentation and the documentary/literary evidence is interesting, compelling, and intellectually sound, if convoluted and sketchy at places. No one, however, could possibly excuse the frailties of the historical framework better than Price himself: "...if someone objects that the whole procedure is subjective and circular, I deny it. Right or wrong, I have laid out my criteria, derived from a paradigm of widely attested religious evolution. If someone charges that my endeavor here
is wholly speculative, I congratulate him on his grasp of the obvious."

Regardless of whether Price is correct in his precise historical reconstruction (viz. regarding Simon Magus and Paul of Tarsus), he elaborates on very important, substantive points. Expanding F.C. Baur's notion of Christian factions and D.F. Strauss's notion of emerging cults, Price asks whether the Corinthian mention of Paul, Apollos, Cephas, and Christ does not suggest a fossilized remnant of an ideology of pre-Christian contentions between "rivals, distinct saviors, avatars,
gurus, or gods..." which coalesced into an eventual supremacy for Christ, "with Paul, Apollos (perhaps the same as Apollonius of Tyana), and Simon Peter (Cephas) being reinterpreted as subordinates of Christ". Furthermore, Price's assessment of a possible Marcionite influence in the development stages of the canonical Gospels (particularly Mark and John) is quite intriguing and deserving of further scrutiny.

Specific historiographical problems aside, this chapter is a tour de force in rethinking current paradigms in early Christian history, and might suggest clues for further, sorely needed, research. Every serious Bible student needs to read this essay, and most scholars benefit from engaging it, as well.

Chapter 8 deals with the evolving Christian conceptions of Soteriology.

In this chapter, Price attempts to lay out his own reconstruction of how early Christianity evolved theologically by countenancing what he he perceives are the chronological markers of Christian thought regarding the concept of salvation. He establishes Christianity as moving from Primitive Sacramentalism to Gnosticism, then to Apocalyptic theology, to Marcionism, and ultimately to Catholicism. He describes each theological identity briefly, coupled with succinct expositions as to the rationale behind this historical reconstruction.

Interesting and didactic as an introduction, though entirely superficial (to some, it may be unfulfilling, but it's possible Price might just be working on an entire book on this topic, given his proclivity for writing), to the subject of evolving soteriologies, this chapter seems but a preamble -- a contextualization, of sorts -- for the next section of the book.

SECTION 2

As mentioned previously, section 2 of the book consists of chapters devoted to exploring the texts (generously provided in the main text) of all the Pauline New Testament corpus with extensive annotations and discussions, most especially pertaining to such minutiae as dating the texts, establishing authorship, debating themes and motifs (e.g. Christologies, ecclesiastical structures, theologies, etc.), determining specific sitz-im-leben for the texts, providing summaries of many
scholarly views on specific sections of the texts, and commentary on early Christian fathers' and apologists' approach to them.

The structure of the chapters is laid out thusly: The entire New Testament epistle is transcribed (translation by the author, apparatus unmentioned), in paragraph form but with standard modern verses in upper script (for ease of citation), from 3 or 4 paragraphs to several pages at a time, and printed in red. Interspersed between each block of scriptural text are blocks from 3 or 4 paragraphs to several pages of academic discussion pertaining to the previous citation, usually debating the various Marcionite, Simonian, and Catholic elements in that particular segment, plus a discussion on interpolations from a wide array of sources. Each chapter is prefaced by an introductory essay, of varying length and depth.

Chapter 9 deals with the Epistle to the Romans.
Chapter 10 deals with the First Epistle to the Corinthians.
Chapter 11 deals with the Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
Chapter 12 deals with the Epistle to the Galatians.
Chapter 13 deals with the Epistles to the (Laodiceans) Ephesians.
Chapter 14 deals with the Epistle to the Philippians.
Chapter 15 deals with the Epistle to the Colossians.
Chapter 16 deals with the Epistles to the (I and II) Thessalonians.
Chapter 17 deals with the Epistle to Philemon.
Chapter 18 deals with the Pastoral Epistles (I and II Timothy and Titus).

It should be said, as well, that one of the strengths of Price's discussions and exegeses is that,regardless of making his case or coming across as convincing, he offers excellent summaries of the positions of a large array of differing scholars, and thus paints an interesting picture of what the academic landscape looks like in these particular topics, naturally with precedence of citing the scholars who will provide support for this or that specific issue surrounding his overall theme. While one might complain of undue bias, it only serves to demonstrate that Price's overarching hypothesis is completely within the bounds of current New Testament scholarship.

This section is worth the price of the book by itself. Aside from a very informative, thought-provoking read, it offers an invaluable New Testament study tool, as it doubles as a Pauline New Testament with very long, very extensive in-depth annotations. Undoubtedly, this is the part of the book I will be returning to again and again over the course of the next years, as my own personal studies into the New Testament evolve.

CONCLUSION

Robert Price offers but brief conclusory remarks, probably trusting the merits of his arguments and exegeses to stand on their own. All things considered, the presentation is forceful and reasonable, even if not entirely convincing. Given the paucity of the historical data, and the historical blemish of its provenance, it is entirely unreasonable to expect any argument to be more conclusive than that.

In the concluding words of Robert Price himself:

"If New Testament scholars, at least those who retain any Christian faith, were to lose Paul, they wouldn't know what to do! To whom would they appeal for a true vision of God and his purposes for mankind?" Nevertheless, "[h]ere at the end of this exploration of the amazing colossal Paul, who looms so large over the religious landscape, it is worth asking whether and in what sense we have retained a useful Paul." The main academic and intellectual problem remains that "Paul does not
have a unitary voice, is not a single author whose implied opinions might be synthesized and parroted. He is not even a single historical figure" and that there is "[n]o author, no authority, only texts -- and finally not even texts but fragments." One must conclude, therefore, that "[a]ll we can do, it seems to me, is read them for what they have to say, or seem to be saying and let them strike us as they may. Very likely, many of them will open our eyes to interesting new possibilities, may unveil responsibilities we tried our best to forget we had. Some will edify and some will challenge, and it will no doubt prove to have been well worth reading them, but we cannot hide behind the artificial figure of Paul" any longer.

Reassessing the historical data surrounding the actual person of Paul of Tarsus and, more poignantly, whatever religious philosophies he might have bequeathed us, may be a never-ending proposition, but it may prove enormous academic dividends and it will undoubtedly improve our religious and spiritual understandings.

For the religious, this book provides intellectual stimulation to better contextualize early Christian history and thought, and perhaps allow one's faith to become more flexible and comprehensive, sorely needed traits in a world that constantly flirts with intolerance and destructive dogmatism. For the academic -- and, naturally, for the student -- of the Bible and early Christian history, this book provides a trove of reasoned arguments and historical-critical thought experiments that will enrich and deepen one's own understanding of the origins of Christianity, perhaps even convince and change entire paradigms.

All in all, `The Amazing Colossal Apostle' is an amazing colossal book that provides a concise, though comprehensive, overview of the historical-critical method as applied to a specific theme (i.e., Paul of Tarsus) and an excellent in-depth discussion of the Pauline epistles, that will undoubtedly provide tools and insights for any student of the New Testament, lay and professional, while enlivening -- perhaps changing, even -- the future of academic biblical research.

For the full, unedited review, which includes excerpts and examples of interesting passages, look out for: ["The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul Association for Mormon Letters"]
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
For the hard core bible geek 24 Jun 2013
By Jim Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Author Robert M. Price has been trying to get this book published for some time now. Now that it has finally appeared I'm happy to report that it is an entertaining and informative read but by no means for the casual reader. While one does not have to be a biblical scholar to follow the arguments made in the book one should have at least a firm grasp of modern biblical criticism. If you haven't already I would strongly recommend listening to a few of Price's Bible Geek podcasts and if you like what you hear give this book a try.

The book divides into roughly two parts. In the first Price lays out his thesis that the apostle Paul as we know him from the New Testament is a sanitized version of Simon Magus. Simon promoted his own version of gnosticism, which was eventually adopted by Marcion before being sanitized by emerging Catholicism. Price used many non-canonical sources which are sure to be unfamiliar to many readers.

In the second part Price translates and comments on the New Testament epistles. He relies heavily on previous scholarship but points out places where he differs. His conclusion is that none of the epistles can be considered genuinely Pauline but serve the often contradictory agendas of many redactors and writers.

Like every Price book there are numerous touches of humor and pop culture references abound. On the other hand this is obviously intended as a serious scholarly work and is referenced accordingly. There are some favorable blurbs from Hermann Detering and Robert Eisenman on the rear cover. One wonders if they appreciated the references to Jack Kirby and Star Trek!

Highly recommended. The book is pricey despite the online discount and the prospective reader should take care that he is up to the level of the book. This book will only frustrate the biblical novice.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A seism that destroys harmonization 7 April 2013
By Chris Albert Wells - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
 

This book is great fun to read.

So few scholars are able to trespass on forbidden grounds that this publication is a rare occurrence to appreciate. Students should seize the opportunity offered to understand the Pauline texts differently. Readers will discover a lot of ideas that do not usually hit the news. Nobody is expected to agree with all of Price's thoughts and speculations but they are at least clearly framed and open or reopen neglected fields of research. The effort is welcome after so many normalization attempts dictated by apologists.

Pulling on the threads of the Dutch Radicals, Price denies the historicity of Paul, considers all his letters as pseudepigraphical, and reads them according to a later second century context. It is all very refreshing and shows how fragile the previous harmonizing attempts really are.

A very similar reading of the letters, as exposed in the second part of Price's book, is however possible via a less radical approach. Paul does not need to be eliminated, if only Romans, the archetype of Pauline genius is made to lose its laurels and is set entirely in a second century context. It so obviously belongs there. Paul's remaining letters can then be read as receiving significant additions if not entire chapters coming from the Roman scriptorium giving to Marcionite and Gnostic ideals all the apostolic and early recognition they sought for.

I would also like to draw reader's attention to the fact that Price has a few linguistic bad habits that may confuse some. He abuses of the word catholicizing that gives the impression that a Catholic Church existed very early. Catholic Church only means the Great Assembly. Within the second century Roman Jesus Messiah Assembly the Jewish members were just as 'Catholic' as the Gentile Christians. The Assembly was initially more in the line of a Messianic oriented synagogue run by messiah-minded rabbis with Gentiles begging to benefit from the God of Israel's new mystery. With outside influences run by Valentinus and Marcion, the Assembly inevitably began tilting toward Gentile dominance, as expressed in later 9-11 where Gentile Christians are dictating their rules. Catholicizing Paul is even more obscure. Because the Jewish members would have been against Paul as used by Marcion to reject the law. Paul was initially the hero of Gentile Christians lobbied by Marcion. But Gentile Christians also abandoned Paul when it became obvious that the gospel tradition, known only during the later decades of the second century, hailed Peter and James as Jesus followers, and never even mention Paul. So both sides were finally against Paul. Verses showing how Gentile Christians were secondarily appropriating Peter and James while treading down Paul are very visible in Paul's letters as well as in Luke-Acts.

Price's book is nevertheless one of the 'musts' people interested in the NT should have and regularly consult. There is too much in it for one big gulp.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Price's best 16 May 2013
By Jeffrey Bolden - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would suggest you read Marcello Jun De Oliveira's review below this one it is excellent for the details. I'm just going to add a simpler less detailed view. This book assumes you are already interested in Walter Bauer (orthodoxy emerged from heresy) type theories of Christian origins. It assumes this is not your first book on the topic and have a basic notion like what Marcionism is and what the Gospel of Q is. If you don't this book is going to be difficult to follow. This book does not assume a scholar but it does assume a motivated amateur.

Colossal Apostle presents a simple model of Christian origins: Hellenistic Judaism begat Gnostic Judaism begat Marcionic / Encratite Christianity which begat mainstream Catholicism. The Pauline epistles we have show the flow and the arguments back and forth at the various bridge points. It pulls together the radical critics of the Tübingen school that emerged after Ferdinand Christian Baur with modern scholarship. It represents a clarification of Price's ideas that he presents in a more scattered form in The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-four Formative Texts.

Definitely a recommend for any Price fan. Definitely a recommend for anyone who likes Earl Doherty, Richard Carrier, Vrinder's blog,... Definitely a recommend for anyone who is interested in an introduction to radical scholarship and already has some background. Not a recommend as a first book on Pauline scholarship or a first book on non traditional theology.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A breath of fresh air 1 Nov 2013
By Lostininterpretation - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I titled this review "A breath of fresh air" because this is a more objective and less polemical book compared to Price's other writings of late. However, this is not a book for a biblical novice. Even though Dr. Price is very good at making biblical studies engaging and easy to understand, the reader will benefit tremendously from reading some of Bob's other books (like the Pre-Nicene NT) and have a strong grasp of the NT as well as its cultural climate. These books that NT scholars are trying to write for seminarians as well as the general reader are nice, but they are really for students with prior knowledge of the subject. The novice reader may become overwhelmed.

This book is a tremendous undertaking by Dr. Price who tries to explain his rather complex view of the apostle Paul. I have not read the entire book, yet. It's a difficult read. Difficult to get the big picture to understand how he gets to his conclusions. I've become very apethical towards biblical studies because theories are so filled with assumptions that,... what's the point?
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